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Flying Instructors & Examiners A 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!


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Old 18th Dec 2012, 16:30   #1 (permalink)
sp6
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: UK
Posts: 73
How to improve when you are older...

Hi all,

Does anyone have any advice or examples of how to improve handling skills, situational awareness & ability when nearing the big 50?

I did a PPL quite late (38), got a CPL and FIC age 40 and have spent the last few years microlighting & GA instructing. I'm now on approx 1300 hrs and am doing regular aerobatics, but the aeros are exposing some poor handling skills. I'm going to keep looping & rolling away (with at least 4000' agl) but I'm wondering what else I can do to get the SA and handling better. I'm also flying a new type with a CSU & lots of radio kit and it is a bit of a shock after a 3 axis microlight!

Would something completely different - like an IMC help, or is the solution more Aeros? Does anyone have any similar experiences of getting into flying relatively late and struggling?

cheers

SP6
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Old 19th Dec 2012, 10:04   #2 (permalink)
 
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Aberdeen,Scotland,UK
Posts: 10,270
I would say go find a cracking instructor who will push you past your limits then let you rest and then repeat.

IMC will expand your capacity and SA but that will be short lived if you don't use it.

Maybe give ontrack a call and see if one of there ex-mil instructors will put you through the mill.
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Old 19th Dec 2012, 12:15   #3 (permalink)
sp6
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: UK
Posts: 73
Thanks Mad Jock. Ontrack Instructor Seminar in Feb, FI reval probably with DHH at Perth should help.

Problem is, I've just been doing the aeros training with a current Mil QFI and that's what has exposed the glaring faults & weaknesses! I'm just hoping I'm not past it and I've reached the limit of my abilty.

I've got a reading list for Xmas, and I'll be doing some relaxed recreational flying before instructing again, that may help before the seminar and FI reval.

regds

SP6
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Old 19th Dec 2012, 12:39   #4 (permalink)
 
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Aberdeen,Scotland,UK
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I can't really think of anything more stretching than a FI test with DHH.

See if you can get him to take you up in his pitts and see what the problems are.
You are more than likely stronger in others areas so that you don't need to be shit hot at handling.

Doesn't make you a bad pilot.
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Old 19th Dec 2012, 12:53   #5 (permalink)
 
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: Near Stuttgart, Germany
Posts: 623
Hello!

Quote:
... improve handling skills, situational awareness & ability ...

I'm also flying a new type with a CSU & lots of radio kit and it is a bit of a shock...
Stay ahead of the airplane as much as you can, as trivial as it may sound. If it takes too long for you to collect the information from your instruments and operate the radios, the only thing that can really help is practising. Get the airplane connected to a ground power unit - or the battery of your car with jump cables if nothing else can be arranged - and sit in front of your panel for an hour or two every week. Scanning instruments and operating radios must become second nature, something that you don't need to think about. You need 100 percent of your capacities for other duties when instructing!

Do what all the youngsters do: "Play" with a flight simulator (Microsoft or X-Plane, which can easily be configured to more or less match the panel of your aircraft) on your PC for an hour a day. If emulation software is available for your instrumentation (for most Garmin units for example it can be downloaded free of charge!), use it. After some initial difficulties, our students now _have_ to familiarise themselves with the Garmin kits installed in our training aircraft before their first flight using the training software.

If you can use a procedures trainer at your FTO, use it as much as you can. In our FTO, instructors are encouraged to practise their own flying skills by "flying" in the FNPT whenever they want.

Regarding the aerobatics, I can't say anything, as I have never done that myself. But I know from my experience that instrument training does help a lot to improve situational awareness and flying skills.

I have been flying for quite some time, but started flying jets at age 45. That was almost like learning to fly again, as everything happened twice or even three times as fast as before. I strongly doubt,that any kind of "military drill" would have helped me to improve my skills. What I did whenever I had a chance (and still do if I havent flown for a week or so) was to sit in the plane whenever there was a chance, turn on the avionics and do "touch drills". Simple and efficient.

Quote:
I've got a reading list for Xmas,..
In my experience, flying skills can only be improved by flying (or training in the environment of an airplane), not by reading. But everybody is different.
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Old 19th Dec 2012, 13:06   #6 (permalink)
sp6
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: UK
Posts: 73
What Next

Oh great - thanks! You've just exposed my other Achiilies heel - Avionics & IT. Good point well made though. There is a GNS430 & Sandel EHSI and I will try to download the PC trainer. This is one of the reasons I love 3 axis Microlights is everything is so simple, and teaching PPL Nav is mental DR & stopwatch - NO GPS ALLOWED, fab!

OK, I'll work on the Luddite tendencies.

cheers

ps DHH did my CPL skills test and I've survived one FI reval with him already. I use these facts to tell myself I can't be that bad!
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Old 19th Dec 2012, 13:11   #7 (permalink)
 
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Aberdeen,Scotland,UK
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Your more than likely more than good.

Just remember that being a good instructor is actually less common and harder than being a whizz jockey on the stick.

Practise and yet more practise and currency are a huge factor. After a couple of weeks of visual approaches and my procedural approaches are rubbish. A couple of days in crap wx and they get back to being tight again.
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Old 19th Dec 2012, 16:16   #8 (permalink)
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Strathaven Airfield
Posts: 591
A mix of things required. 1200 is not a lot, especially if instructing.

Good instructor has their hands and feet of the controls for most of the time, so the student knows they are doing the flying. So can be difficult to keep up to speed on some of the exercises, especially as a newly-minted FI.

I often use a trial flight to allow me to demonstrate just one thing - ie a climbing turn, a levl turn at 60 degree bank, a PFL etc.

So, Mr/s Bloggs, if you decide to carry on your training, we look at situations where you have to co-ordinate power, pitch and roll. We normally demonstrate the manouvre, then talk the student through it with them at the controls and then let them have a go. Let me just show you: and into speil and demo.

I then offer them the talked through part, but if they decline that it doesn't matter: I have had the "hands on" with some tight parameters.

And there is still the 25 mins to see their house from the air.

Then there are the times when the airfield is quiet and you cut the engine at 2,000ft and glide down - my fave was to aim for the third stripe along at Cumbernauld - then if I was a little short, I still made the threshold! (and I could then assess just how short I was!)

And just get those checks etc well off pat. Leaves the mind free to concentrate on other things, such as "situational awareness"

Basically, developing instinctive reactions.

That only comes with practice, practice and more practice.

But it has to be focused practice - with measurable targets to be assessed and attained.

As an instructor, you should be already doing this and teaching it to your students so they can self-improve.

I don't think aeros and IR is going to help: it is just learning more about new things instead of improving old ones.
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Old 20th Dec 2012, 09:36   #9 (permalink)
sp6
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: UK
Posts: 73
Thanks Xrayalpha, but I'm reasonably happy with my instructing. Circuits, PFL's, Stalling all ok either taught or doing it myself. What has caused me to stop and think has been the aerobatics, and it is this that I need to improve.

Paul Craig makes the point in "The Killing Zone" that going off and doing something different helps other areas - ie an hour of IMC is worth 5 of GH. I was wondering what other disciplines would help me improve my SA and handling in aeros, or whether just more aeros was the answer. You make a valid point about the checks, and following What Next's advice I'm going to spend more time on the ground with the avionics.

I may think about getting my "no aeros" restriction removed on my FIC. If I am teaching aeros at a basic level then it should improve my own, in the same way that instructing ppl has improved my ppl flying.

cheers for all the comments
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