By Jon Pickering
It never ceases to amaze me the bad habits that pilots have either been taught or adopted through their flying, neither does it surprise me that these pilots have any real concept of the controls that they are manipulating, what they do and why. Pilots are and always will be at a low standard until these deficiencies have been corrected. Trying to convince these pilots that what they are doing is wrong, and in some cases, downright dangerous can be difficult. They have been flying like that for so long and no-one has ever taken the time to show these pilots correctly, and more importantly to show them theoretically on the ground how it all ties together in the air. I find as a CFI (Certified Flight Instructor) that once they have been shown the correct way there flying improves dramatically, and their landings are safer and more consistent. When it comes time for a pilot to undergo a BFR, (biennial flight review) this is the perfect time for this training to happen.
The job as a CFI, is to show the deficient pilot the error of their ways and correct it, even if it means withholding the endorsement and begin some recurrent training. CFI’s are mostly reluctant to do that because of many differing reasons, but first and foremost many CFI’s are not at a high standard themselves, they have been instructed incorrectly and consequently are turning around and instructing the very same bad techniques. It seems to have become acceptable by all parties that when a pilot pays for a BFR, he or she thinks that they are paying for a sign off, they are not, and it’s time for this kind of thinking to stop, pilots should be embracing the BFR as an oppurtunity, not something they want to get done and over with as soon as they can, or as few pilots have said to me, “Just make it quick and dirty.” This is not the kind of attitude that pilots should be adopting, pilots are required every two years as per Title 14 CFR Part 61.56, to obtain a flight review and it is at this time the CFI has not only the opportunity, but the obligation to all concerned, including you people who remain on Terra-Firma, to make a difference in the pilots flying and GA. A BFR as mandated by the FAA requires at least one hour of ground review and one hour of flight review. Of course the CFI has the option of extending this time he/she thinks it’s warranted.
As a FAA certified flight instructor, here is how I start the actual flight review. After some introductions and general chit chat and a few well-aimed questions at their recent experience and expectations, I ask them the following three questions.
- What is the air-plane designed to do? From an engineers and pilots viewpoint. (Do not say fly.)
- What control determines climb or decent?
- What control determines airspeed.
If the pilot can answer all three questions correctly, (please don’t look in the book first) this tells me the pilot is at a good standard theoretically, however it may or may not relate directly to his or her ability to pilot the plane. If they get one wrong, I find they usually get them all wrong. and I know that I had better be on my toes, or else i might be in for a few surprises.
When all is said and done though. my final responsibility when signing my name and CFI number in their logbook, is to instil in the pilot that when they walk away and every flight thereafter, that they need to hold themselves to a higher standard and continue to learn and ask themselves, “Could I have done that better.”
My name is Jon Pickering CFI/I, here in Kona, HI. Next article will be delving deeper into the questions I ask at the beginning of a flight review. I expect this article to be completed by end of March. Please visit my new website, http://www.hawaiiflighttraining.com.