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Flight Maneuvers - Why?

I have recently started working with a new private pilot student with over 40 hours of flight time and just 3 solo flights, and no cross country flight time.  Although he hasn't flown in over a year, most of those 40 hours were over a 6-8 month time period.  Naturally, I was curious how a student with that amount of time had such little solo time.  I have had students in the past who have taken longer than the average student in judging the flare, etc, but I was curious to see what the delay was with this individual.  

To my surprise, the student was actually really good for having not flown in a year and for having such little solo time.  He flies out of a fairly busy controlled field, which does account for some of the delay in soloing, but most students still solo within 20 hours, not 40.  When we took the airplane up, he flew a really good traffic pattern and a nice, stabilized final approach.  He did, however, have trouble judging the round out and flare.  He told me that his previous instructors taught him to power out when he had the runway made, level off 5-10 feet above the runway, pull back when he saw the airplane drop, and hold the yoke back until the airplane touched down.  He said he was frustrated because some of his landings would be ok, then on some he would balloon and bounce.  When he performed his flight maneuvers, he knew the basics on how to set them up and execute them, but had no idea how the maneuvers correlated to his real world flying.  This is a case of a really good, quality student, that got frustrated because a series of instructors frankly didn't know how to effectively pass on the necessary knowledge.  As a result, he quit for a year and only started back because I knew him from a previous business relationship and he knew I was a flight instructor.  I fear we are losing many good pilot candidates this way.

I worked with him on slow flight and power off stalls.  I explained to him that this maneuver was designed to simulate an approach to landing, with several goals in mind.  First, to understand what the aircraft feels like just before, during, and after the wings stop flying.  Second, to understand the importance of keeping the ball centered and coordinated flight.  Third, to fine tune the use of pitch and power to control altitude and airspeed.  And finally, to learn to recover from a stall in as little altitude loss possible.  We then took a different approach, what I used to call a correlative approach to flight maneuvers where I give the student a mock scenario, and tailor the maneuver around that scenario.  The term now used for this is scenario based flight training, but I have effectively used this for years.  I instructed my student to start the maneuver at 4000 feet in slow flight, with full flaps. I then told him to pretend the ground was at 3500 feet, power back, and start a descent at the airplane's recommended 60 knots approach speed.  When we approached 3500 feet("the ground"), I told him to bring the nose up level to the horizon, look strait ahead, and try to use his periperal vision to keep pulling back and hold the airplane level at 3500 feet until the airplane stalled.  Once it stalled, I told him to recover in as little altitude loss possible.  After I demonstrated once, he tried it and did great.  I explained to him that he needed to do exactly what he just did when we got back to the traffic pattern.  On final approach at 60 knots with the runway made, I instructed him to power back, level off, bring his eyes up to the horizon just as he had done on the power off stall, and hold the airplane just off the runway until it stalled. The first time, he didn't bring his head and his eyes up following the flare.  He was looking directly off the end of the nose and hit hard and ballooned. We taxied back and I made him aware that he needed to think back to that power off stall demo scenario where he had to look at the horizon after he levelled off to properly guage the aircraft's sink rate.  The next few times around, BAM! He nailed the landings.  I also had to let him know that if he is carrying a bit of extra speed and starts to balloon, it's perfectly ok to release back pressure on the yoke to keep from ballooning.   Seems obvious, but to student pilots that are nervous, maybe not so much.

The point is that all of your maneuvers were designed to accomplish a very specific task, and most maneuvers relate in many ways to different areas of your flying.  If you are practicing a maneuver and have no idea why, ask your instructor to explain how learning to perform that maneuver can help you better understand and correlate it to other areas of your flying. If they can't, it's perfectly ok to ask to fly with a different instructor.  It's your money, spend it wisely.

kmoberlypilot 31.05.2015 1 2230
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kmoberlypilot
Excited about the new site layout and format. Great things ahead!
31.05.2015 (1057 days ago)
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