Pilot training | flight instructors #2.

   Continuation of the series Pilot Training | Flight Schools | flying instructors #2.

  From the previous discussion about which direction you want to take in flying and which school to choose for that, we move on to the topic of choosing the right flight instructor. You will spend most of your time with him and it is he who can annoy you or encourage or motivate you. He is therefore a key element that is directly related to how much the pilot training will cost you, how effective it will be and what you will actually learn.

Choose the instructor who will teach you to fly carefully!

There are flight schools that employ very good and experienced pilots as flying instructors, who have flown many thousands flight hours on transport aircraft around the world and have a great understanding of their environment and the profession. But in fairness such great pilots may not be great instructors.

They may not be people pleasing, easy going, nor may they be able to properly teach and recognize the psyche of their students and their moods, concentration skills, etc. Often they may be grumpy, fed up with life, or having lost their job in a big company or in the army. They are subliminally annoyed that they have to fly a "takeoff and landing carousel" in a narrow cabine where they feel very uncomfortable with "troublemakers" who are unable to learn even downwind procedures...

Such training can then be effective, but very uncomfortable, as the instructor is used to a different comfort level and total obedience and great knowledge of the co-pilot from big transport flying or the army, and this will often lead to you finding flying with them uncomfortable from a human point of view, as they strictly require the necessary knowledge.

They usually teach theory in a thorough to pedantic manner.

You have to come to such training perfectly prepared and that takes a lot of time before the flight lesson. These teachers will rarely practice complex safety landings or emergency landings with you.They are usually too comfortable, but they are also very careful with the aircraft, which comes from their many years of experience with a major carrier, so they usually won't ruin their employer's aircraft.

These instructors, with great exceptions, will not usually teach you to know more and fly better than what is described in the aircraft flight manual because they, themselves, do not know how and, more importantly, condemn such things on principle and follow strictly the employer's instructions. They would rather fly with you on the convenient for them flights to other distant airports in nearby foreign countries and flights similar to IFR instrument flight rules. With them you will always have the aircraft perfectly balanced, you will fly exactly on course in the required climb or descent according to the instruments, they will be great at teaching you rather practical but also regulatory correspondence, they will explain the differences in correspondence but not willingly practice emergency  landings with you, to absolute perfection.

Photo description- An unnecessarily stretched and stalled Tecnam P 2002 Sierra:


For a given engine power, it can be flown in two modes:

Slow and stretched on a higher angle of attack, speed about 130km/h, RPM 4800RPM, vario at zero. The pilot immediately sees this on the vario and on the airspeed gauge indicator and thinks it is correct. The wing has high lift, but also unnecessarily high drag. The student has not angled the nose of the aircraft to the correct angle to the horizon depending on airspeed, altitude, temperature and weight. The pilot has already set an unnecessarily high wing angle of attack, is not working with instrument errors and delays, has a poorly balanced airplane - nose heavy, while still pulling in and wondering about drag in the controls, doesn't feel the airplane stalling, and the knipl is  soft. The pilot doesn't even notice the roll. The usual flight of an "engineer" pilot watching the instrument readings fixed on the Vário...  Or a pilot error, who had a poorly balanced plane, sends an input to the ATZ.  Transmitting and what the student has to transmit takes away a significant amount of brain capacity he has no more capacity to properly control the aircraft...

Another far better mode is to throttle back slightly relative to the horizon and balance, the Vario will initially show a descent, but later as the airspeed increases and stabilizes at about 150km/h due to the 4800 RPM ROTAX 912 engine speed the wing will show more lift and the Vario will return to zero. This will allow the student to reach the correct airspeed at the given engine power setting. The student knows that instruments have delays, especially the Vario and knows how to work with this. The nose of the plane is better adjusted to the horizon. Better feedback from the stick is felt. Then he doesn't have to drive the airplane because it is steering itself with the correct balance setting and he can remember what he should actually report to the radio, his brain capacity just freed up by balancing and steering the airplane correctly by feel...

Some schools employ very young, smiling pilots dressed in pilot uniforms with gold braids on their suction cups and snow-white shirts. They are such idols of immature girls and women. Unfortunately, it's not going to be a big deal here either - unless you're an aspiring female pilot in the 17-plus age group. These young instructor pilots are using your money to keep learning to fly, to get more operational experience, to fly more hours, to pursue their dream career as an ATPL transport pilot.

These instructors are usually very cool, easy-going, friendly, but they will pass on much less information and skills than experienced pilots.They may not teach the theory as thoroughly as needed because they don't realize its impact and have no interest in the effectiveness of the training. In fact, they are subsidizing their lack of flying ability and low experience with their mostly great and friendly manner, which is what you and your money will allow them to obtain!

The wonderful thing is that in this category of Instructor Sometimes they want to try things that they couldn't or weren't allowed to before. Such instructors often use paid flying with you to increase their own skills and are not afraid to explore with you the magic of flying that is not described in the manual!  And "ouch"- sometimes it may not quite work out and sometimes something gets damaged, or and sometimes you have a more "mentally significant experience" than originally planned at the same time.

Young instructors will probably not constantly chastise you for not knowing the theory or procedures or techniques perfectly. They will simply tell you. It's not entirely in their interest to make your pilot training too effective for you, then with whom would they fly their required hours?

Instructor fluctuation in this type of flight school is high, which is due to just the continued professional growth of young instructors. It is true that even these instructors have something to pass on to absolute novices!

Other, mostly private flight schools have one or two owners who are both pilot-instructors and aircraft owners. The aircraft used for training are often their only valuable possessions. Most prefer to have no employees and they know why.

This is where you usually find the most balanced personal access along with the efficiency of obtaining valuable experience. With few exceptions, the steely rule of "Our Customer Our Master" applies here. Their greatest challenge is to teach you how to fly as quickly and efficiently as possible so that they can rent you a plane in the shortest possible time. Renting their planes generates a profit for them, which is more enjoyable than hanging out on the circuits in the hot weather, constantly watching five planes in front of you, two behind you, and a student.

These instructor-owners will sometimes set the small difference between the price of a rental plane and the price of pilot training to their own detriment, i.e. the price of the instructor, when they have confidence that they will teach you to fly well and you will rent a plane from them.

They will practice safety and emergency procedures with you very seriously to make sure you make an emergency landing with precision. Sure, they're all about the mohee. They are renting you their plane, the one on which their continued business and often their lives depend. So it is crucial to them that you are able to complete the flight and land safely if the weather worsens to non-flightable.

The owner-instructors versus the instructor-employees from the previous two cases are aware that only a live pilot can subsequently be involved in any damage following the aircraft. So they teach you to fly so that you always survive! With flight school owners who are also instructors you may partly and to a limited extent encounter the first and second instructor approach described above. It depends on the personality, flying ability, personal setup and skills of the instructor in question.

What you will always get from owner-instructors, as opposed to flight school instructor-employees, is that they will thoroughly retrain you on the airplane and control the methods and modes of control to suit the airplane and to fly as economically and efficiently as possible, thus teaching you to fly as cleanly as possible.

I can give you a specific example that I can think of, and we don't even have to take off:

The instructor-employee usually doesn't care if you taxi at an increased idle and gradually, or occasionally apply the brakes on the wheels to regulate forward speed because you didn't realize that it is possible to set the idle lower so you don't have to brake. It is important to the instructor-employee that you are moving in the correct direction at a reasonable speed on the moving surface. He doesn't care much about the cost of operation. And you won't learn any additional technical and operational information that this instructor never had to deal with or otherwise address!

In contrast, the instructor-owner of the aircraft will explain to you that you are doing two completely contradictory and totally unnecessary things:

1. You have the throttle set to an unnecessarily high RPM, which is consuming more expensive fuel than is strictly necessary, and the aircraft is then taxiing faster than you would like or than is necessary to get up that hill. This increases your operating costs.

2. You are unnecessarily braking disc out the Goldfren brake discs and brake pads made from the same company's sintered materials, which were chosen as the most effective in terms of price-brake performance and durability, and which cost 2500,- CZK per wheel. Usually, the situation when braking for a long time on a taxiway of about 750m long, the brake discs of the wheels get twisted by hot and then they get stuck on the pins of the brake discs and then it is necessary to change them together with the worn out disc pins two or three times a year, while once every two years would be enough. This again increases operating costs many times over.

And so one could go on with every single activity of the pilot's training. So it can be said that with private aircraft owners you usually learn a lot more not only about flying, maintenance but also about aircraft design. This knowledge, which you normally don't learn in flight school with employed instructors - never to the same extent as with an aircraft-owner instructor, will come in handy. This will give you a lot of key information that you will use as a possible future owner of your own ULL or GA aircraft, and even if not you will at least have a much better feel for the aircraft and other potential operators will sense this and loan the aircraft to you rather than anyone else. If they see you have a genuine and unadulterated interest in flying and aviation technology they will allow you, if you are interested, to help them with routine maintenance such as oil changes, joint service flights, brake pads replacements, etc. Your pilot education will then be much more comprehensive!

On the other hand, you get a lot more information in a limited amount of time, which you may not always fully absorb and can sometimes be annoying - that subliminal chatter.

An instructor-owner who does not take the matter lightly should realize this in time and repeat such additional information calmly and in an unchanged voice without excitement even more times until the pupil becomes totally aware and practically mastered, at the same time not overloading the pupil performing other tasks of the flight syllabus! But you can be sure that when the aircraft suffers, the instructor - the owner suffers with it.

Most of the time, however, the instructor-owner has such self-denial and the need not to lose the client that he can handle it mentally. If not, and such iritating annoying nervous instructor still corectit you - don't be afraid to tell him/her!

If the instructor-owner does not want to lose the client, he will necessarily try harder to create a more pleasant atmosphere on board! Maybe he will pay more attention to the possibly sloppy flight training, or tailor the training to your abilities and volume of perception and conception of the subject.

Another advantage with owner-instructors is usually that you only pay per hour flown. This is so that you have time to warm up the aircraft properly and are not forced to taxi unnecessarily fast and rush to takeoff with an under-warmed engine.

Whatever school you are considering flying at, always try to get feedback from multiple other students on training at this or that school and especially on specific instructors. Eventually you will find that you only want to fly with one instructor out of many. Again, that realization will help you think more clearly about where you want to spend your hard-earned training funds, but it's also closely related to how much will be spent and how comfortable you'll be on board.

The website may be a showcase for the flight school, but you'll hardly know the attitude of the instructor and how much they'll teach you regardless of their character!

Filip Zejda - author.

Will be continue.


V roce 2014 jsme se umístili na skvělém druhém místě v anketě "Letecká škola roku" ve kategorii škol věnujících se výcviku pilotů ultralehkých letadel.



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