All pilots remember the good old days of flight training when every spare moment was spent thinking about flying and eagerly awaiting their next lesson. Lessons were scheduled in advance weeks at a time, the budget was accounted for, and flying was as large a priority as it would ever be for many of us. One thing that many low time pilots fail to realize is that this is also a time that, despite having little experience, many of us are at the height of our proficiency. Flying frequently, under an instructor’s critical eye, and with their heads in the books between flights explains why student pilots of all levels are generally the most proficient pilots in the sky besides the minority of pilots who continue on to a professional career in aviation.
You are taking the first step to accomplishing what has probably been a nearly life long dream. You are going out into the unknown in search of your dream, a thrill, or even the romance of flying. The first step in most things is usually the most difficult. When facing the journey to becoming a well-trained and safe pilot this may seem more like a leap for many. So, what should you expect on day one? This article will spell out what a typical first lesson should be like at many flight schools.
Whether we should control the airspeed of our aircraft by using pitch or power is a hotly debated topic in the flight training community. One school of thought is that we should use power for adjusting our airspeed, the other thinks that pitch should be used to control our airspeed. While it might be instinctual to use power to increase our speed like we do in nearly all other motorized vehicles, I am going to outline why in my experience as a flight instructor and pilot, that it is easier to understand and control our aircraft's speed using pitch, not power.
It is the applicant who has no plan for an emergency on takeoff that breaks my heart. Or the one who can’t demonstrate to me how to properly recover from a stall or perform an effective emergency descent or other safety related tasks. A lack of knowledge or abilities results in a letter of disapproval. There is no shame in failing a test, but training is required and must be taken seriously. My job, as is the job of the instructor, is to do our very best to keep the student from making the headlines. Not to crash or have an incident.
Marc Nathanson is the FAA Boston Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) Designated Pilot Examiner (DPE). His role with the FAA is to administer Practical (flight) and Oral (1-on-1 knowledge) pilot exams for a wide range of pilot certificates and ratings. He has taken the time to share with us some of the current trends he is observing during his recent check rides.
"Attitude is everything". I first heard this in Undergraduate Pilot Training (UPT) at Reese AFB in Lubbock, Texas in 1971. One of my classmates exhibited an attitude that was too strongly type A. He had an inflated ego, which was trying to make it clear to everyone that he would become an excellent pilot, better than all of his classmates. Needles to say, this did not endear him to his peers as we were all trying our best, yet found a way to keep our egos in check. It was my instructor who told me and my briefing table mate that we needed to keep our egos in check. That no one wanted to hear how good we were, or could be. That we had to prove ourselves through our actions.
An applicant for the Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) certificate rating rushed trying to insert the airport code for the airport he was to fly his first instrument approach into the GPS. US airport codes that are to be inserted into GPS begin with either the letter “K” or a number. The letter “K” is to be omitted when entering a code that begins with a number.
The airport where he was to execute the procedure began with a number. In his rush...