Flying Instructors & ExaminersA place for instructors to communicate with one another because some of them get a bit tired of the attitude that instructing is the lowest form of aviation, as seems to prevail on some of the other forums!
Had a problem recently with a returning student which has left me troubled.
Returning to the school, the student had initially trained with me but moved some time ago. He returned having completed all his flying requirements (ppl) but wanted a refresher as he'd not flown in about a month.
He asked to do a few circuits having completed his training at a small grass-strip operation (worried he'd forgotten the radio differences etc at a large airport).
Conditions were a little turbulent with strong updrafts during upwind / crosswind. On initial rotate, the a/c was allowed to veer off the runway heading over-flying the grass with excessive inputs to correct. When hit with the updrafts, the student began to chase the airspeed resulting in a large pitch-up from the student. I repeated that "smaller inputs" were required, and "don't chase the airspeed" / "maintain the attitude". I was drawn into taking control to correct and eventually called it a day, stating that I can't be fighting for control during this phase of flight.
With that, the student give up, saying it was a waste of time flying with me etc,etc. I took control and landed the a/c with little more said in the cockpit.
Trying to discuss what had happened on the ground I was left feeling I'd failed some kind of test and that my involvement in the flying was "not letting them learn".
I've tried to trace my steps. I was sure that safety was being questioned but was unable to get this across and so now I'm both unsure where I went wrong or if indeed I was. A confidence drop has occurred and thought I'd seek advice from others. Have you been in similar, did you deal with it differently? Etc
Any help would be greatly appreciated. The student is a mature student and a high-flyer. Not sure if being told things was a hit on their ego, but I had expected that if they were within a few hours of test, I should have seen better control or understanding than what I did.
Hey bb, yes the ignorant/arrogant/inexperienced pilot.
Many students or recently qualified pilots do not understand the potential for disaster as they have never really encountered it. I suppose it all starts with your demeanour which, with an inexperienced pilot, should be a relaxed "do your own thing but I'm not going to get us both killed". In other words, he/she should be aware that your intervention will only be because he/she is about to kill you. Of course, if the apparent experience differential is less than the norm, things get difficult.
I normally try to laugh away such conflict - " the mother in law is around for dinner and I'm dead if I don't get home in time".
Conversely, if your chap is not willing to discuss, then just let him find his own destiny.
Final point - don't thrash yourself to death. The World is full of many, diverse characters.
Mate, the most significant words in your story were "high flier."
I had a similar incident, some years ago. We had a pilot who had gained his PPL, but that was before I had joined that Flying Club. He went to the USA on a job assignment, and while he was there, he got his US Flying Instructors qual. He was a "high flier" in his profession, which was education, at Government level.
When he returned to our neck of the woods, he booked a test to qualify as a local FI, and I was the examiner. The candidate had flown a recency check with another FI, so was cleared to fly solo again.
Briefly, his handling was so appalling that I curtailed the test after 15 minutes, took control and landed. After a detailed debrief, I revoked his solo clearance, which did not go down well with him and his mates. I then spoke to the Chief Flying Instructor, explained what had transpired on the flight, and he gave me his complete support.
The candidate had a few hours of remedial training, after which he regained his solo clearance. He never qualified locally as a Flying Instructor.
Do not allow anybody to bully or coerce you. Go with your experience and gut feeling.
I had a similar student once, I had done a couple of hours with him and then he went off to the USA and completed one of these PPL's in 3 weeks jobs. He returned to the UK and booked an hour with me to do his checkout at our club. The whole flight was a shambles, from radio work through to handling etc.. When we got back after I cut the check short, I advised the student that I couldn't sign him off and recommended a short course of around 5 hours before he continued with another checkout flight. He called me all sorts of names as unknown to me he had all his mates in the car who he was going to take for a flight in the next slot. CFI was called in and backed up my judgement, the student then went to another school on the airfield. The next time I saw him was just after he had stuffed a landing, hit the prop and written off a nice new engine, all with his 'mates' onboard.
Stick to your guns mate, your judgement is the best tool you have, if it feels wrong it probably is.
I tend to say only what is needed to a student an aircraft is the worlds worst venue for a classroom. If I feel safety is going to be compromised to an extent where a serious incident could occur I take control and fly the aircraft to a safe place and discuss the problem. In the incident you describe it sounds like you are saying that the student failed to correct for the drift experienced on lift off, not an uncommon fault by any means and usually helped by bad pre flight preperation and not helped by lack of a take off brief.
Knowing how far to let an incident or event go is part of the art of being a professional flying instructor and it is noticable that some instructors, even experienced ones, intervene far too early. We all learn the best lessons from the mistakes we make, so before you wrestle the controls off the student and shout fowl you need to ask yourself- "am i taking control because the student is not doing it the way i would do it or are we heading for disaster"? If its the former sit on your hands and enjoy the ride, you may learn more about yourself than you could ever imagine!
Thanks for all the feedback so far - helping a lot
Pull-What: I mentioned the drift on take-off simply to set the scene. As it were. Obviously, there is only so much latitude I can give at a main airport before we're actually just completely out of position, but generally, to me, it was merely a quality of departure issue - especially from someone apparently ready for test.
That said, I felt I had far less "buffer" in just being a passenger, when I'm say there at 2-300ft watching the a/c being increasingly pulled nose-up, into and beyond the upwind/crosswind turn.
I'd like to think I'd be ok when that outer wing stalls, but realistically it's game-over. A colleague suggested I should have waited till the warner went off then there would have been no question, but that low down, I'm not that brave (after all, who's to say it would go off and recognising buffett in turb conditions?) besides, I, like most ( I think) would Have at least said something before it got that far (which I did) but with no response from the student, actually followed by a verbal rejection of my instruction to lower the nose, as he continued to pitch up, poking the IAS, saying we're fine - didnt make me feel I had anywhere else to go with it other than push on the stick and call the flight to a halt.
I guess the prob for me was following a gut reaction That enough was enough, but then getting that response from him made me wonder. Did I jump in when most wouldn't?, was "lower the nose" as opposed to "I think it would be better If you lower the nose when you're ready" me "barking" at him?
Location: Quite near 'An aerodrome somewhere in England'
I was once asked to do a checkout on a UK pilot with an FAA PPL. No problem, I assumed, as he'd owned a Bonanza in the US.... The licence type was irrelevant - he turned up as a PPL holding aircraft owner, so any reasonable person would have assumed that he should only have needed a quick famil and checkout.
On the first flight, my concern was first raised when he did the 'controls full and free' check pre-start. This consisted of rotating the control column as rapidly as possible, whacking it hard against the end stop....
I advised him why this wasn't a good idea. After some prompting we started up and eventually got airborne. He was simply dreadful - he let the aeroplane do the flying and grabbed at it when it didn't go where he was expecting. His landings were attempted in a similar vein. I decided that the poor little aeroplane needed a break from his hamfistedness and landed. Then told him he needed more instruction before I'd check him out again.
The next time I flew with him was on a mini-navex to learn the vagaries of LARS, UK altimeter setting procedures, MATZ crossings, overhead joins etc. After a comprehensive brief, we set off. I was rapidly convinced that he probably wouldn't have been able to find his own ar$ehole without a mirror, so awful was his navigation.
He eventually went back to the US - and we never did clear him solo!
I am not an instructor. However I have done a lot of checkouts and familiarizing flying with less experienced pilots, and received a lot of instruction from a happily broad range of instructor types. I also find myself being sent with instructors for insurance reasons while test flying some aircraft. (that's always interesting!) From this, I will offer the following comments:
Safety is first, and as the more experienced pilot, that will be your responsibility. You must prevent an unsafe situation, above all other things, and you should feel confident in your decisions to do that. Your level of comfort with what "safe" is in any given aircraft type is obviously dependent upon your experience.
That said, as long as safety can be maintained, I agree with Pull what. Let the candidate pilot get far away from the ideal, while remaining safe, so they get a sense of what is not acceptable, and how to both fix, then next, prevent it. Of course, a whole bunch of talking from you, to point out the excursion from ideal is important. Added to which, if the candidate's workload is already going up to get back on track, your chatter will drive his/her workload even higher, and give a true sense of what it's like when things go wrong. If that has not worked, then pull off some power (just enough to notice) and say your engine has quit, land on the remaining runway!
A pilot only learns so much seeing an aircraft flown ideally. Sometimes things have to get out of hand a bit. Without wanting to sound harsh to you, I hope that you can increase your own level of comfort with conditions of flight which are not ideal, but still safe, so that your students have a suitably wide path within which to learn. I hope that you have the use of the aircraft solo a bit, so you can refly your candidates mistakes yourself, to get a sense of how much wiggle room you actually had left - sometimes it's more than you think!
While taking helicopter training, I was amazed at how far beyond what I was willing to accept, the instructor would let things get. I recall actually asking him to take control, and he would not, he said I could do it - he was right. This is important; as I thought I had exhausted my skills and not accomplished the controlled flight I knew was required, I kept trying 'till the point when I knew I would hand it back to him. That allowed a kind of finality to develop for me. However, in the midst of things not going well, then to be told that no one is going to take over, and get you out of the mess, you've got to work extra hard to overcome your "someone's going to get me out of this" mindset, and fly the thing! Other times, I was told "I'm sorry that I have to keep my hands so close to the controls, but there's just not enough time for me to reach to correct, if I need to". That's when I realized I was doing something (as I had been instructed) which had no wiggle room at all. I had to really concentrate. It was those times where I adjusted my own abort threshold, and would brief that if I did not like the look of it, I would back off, and try again. This always went well, and I received complements for good decision making.
Let them scare themselves, just make sure that they know that they did! You are the judge of their skill and attitude during that flight. If it is not good enough for you, either train them more, or decline to do so, but don't sign them out. A very thorough briefing to them for the reasons, in either case, is only fair.
if it got unsafe just sweetly take over till downwind with a one sentence explaination why and a quick follow through on what to improve on in the next circuit. Let it flow on into some rapid learning if possible. Im a ppl and looking back to the early flights after getting my licence, I must say i had no idea how much experience I didnt have. I guess the intructor job is to keep emphasising the degree of attention, care , skill, and supression of ego such students have to acquire to stay alive till 500 hours....thats the magic figure when one's risk of death subsides noticeably.
Desert Strip: I do mean outer wing - think AoA change during a climbing turn - now add a rapid updraft into that - hence my worry - dont think ive got that wrong?
Pilot Dar: dont get me wrong - it wasnt about a fractrion off perfect = take control, but it was obvious to me that the situation was continuing to worsen. I started with telling him to lower the nose & try and fly the normal climb attitude -- nose continues to rise -- lower the nose, its getting too high --- nose continues to rise - enter upwind/crosswind turn (nose rising) etc - i stopped the flight after letting this occur 3 times (3 circuits) and the reason - primarily because of his refusal to accept my advice/instruction.
After i called it time, he just let go of the controls and started at me - not agressive, but certainly a polite telling off he told me that I was barking at him, there was nothing wrong as he was maintaining the standard Vy speed and that he's not that bad and i shouldnt get involved.
Mimpe: i agree & tried - as soon as he was on downwind, it was fine - he just refused to take instruction during departure (thats what it felt like).
Ive thought a lot about this - it could be he's since been taught to fly an airspeed on departure, not maintaining an attitude that should settle on an airspeed, nor have the same thoughts/understandings/concerns I have regarding doing this - especially when hit with an updraft. Bottom line, i was left feeling reprimanded, and that i had little idea - almost as if his return was an exercise in marking me against his current schooling, with that being correct.
Dont stew on it mate...its a tough environment. No one should feel bad about wanting to fly safely. Ive been in plenty of situations where the intructor had a shout at me. I just took my medicine , and tried to not let it get to me.
The worst time was almost breaching controlled airspace west of Sydney due to massive 500-800 feet thermals going up the down every few nautical mils. The instructor has a bit of a scream but i was doing the absolute best i could.In fact him getting grumpy was significantly degrading my performance, combined with the airsickness and so on. I was ready to just give him the ship and let him fly it home! I told him later that if it had got any worse I would have thrown up in his lap and that wouldnt have helped at all! Only then did he see the funny side of it...
There is no place in the cockpit for shouting as mentioned by some - if you've experienced this it is an abject failure by the instructor. The worst should be 'I have control' in a loud and clear voice if the student is slow in giving up control.
I absolutely detest all talk of crashing / death and students killing people, it is complete tosh. I've heard far too many instructors talk rubbish like 'yeah so and so nearly killed me on his last landing' etc... Well, if he did the instructor isn't fit to hold an FI rating then!
I hate thread creep so please excuse me, but when you say outer wing stall in the climbing turn, do you not mean inner wing?
Which wing stalls first will depend whether the aircraft is in balanced flight or slipping or skidding in the turn. The easiest way to show this is (at an appropriate altitude/airspace) do a climbing turn stall and deliberately put in a bit of into and then out of turn rudder and watch which way the aircraft rolls as it stalls. The aircraft will roll in the direction the rudder is applied. That is inside rudder ( for example right rudder in a right turn will induce a skid and the the aircraft will roll to the right when it stalls)
Of all the instructing I do I think "check outs" are the hardest. The vast majority will exhibit less than ideal skills in some/all skill areas. The question then becomes "how good is good enough". There are often no clear cut answers to this so I end up using the "would I sit in the back seat of an aircraft this guy/gal is piloting". If the answer is no then he/she doesn't go solo.
One thing I have found that really helps is to have a defined check flight profile with expected speeds/procedures/sequence of events. This gives you a clearly defined standard with which to rate the flight.
So Big Budda if you tell the student to climb at XX airspeed and he is climbing at XX minus 15 kts and then started turning then you have a framework to discuss what happened.
As a general comment I find that the experience of most instructors, myself included, is that they will take over control under fewer and fewer circumstances over time. This will occur naturally and in the mean time the bottom line is if you are worried about the safety of the flight you must take over.