View Full Version : support for instructors

7th Jun 2009, 23:34
had an interesting flight today, one i NEVER want to repeat, giving me a whirring mind and no sign of sleep. I can't help but feel that the chain of events was my fault as an instructor, even though all signs point to the fact I did the best I could in the situation my student presented me. my relative inexperience means I possibly didn't respond promptly enough, though its hard to tell as the mind gets clouded by whatifs and whys. All survived and all credit to the great training aircraft which put up with both the student and my recovery with no signs of damage. I fear the damage is more to my confidence in my own abilities and what i am really asking is 'is there anywhere you can go as an instructor where you can get constructive help in dealing with the terrifying 'i almost died today' or ' I didn't die this time but what if I find myself in that situation again, will I be able to catch it quickly enough' feelings.' I say feelings, as I think this is what it really boils down to. I can look at the situation and rationalise it, but I find myself shaking when i think about it. I have had a lot of encouraging 'cliches' and war stories from fellow instructors and friends about it, but somehow it doesn't quite 'help'.

any advice?

8th Jun 2009, 01:29
Good question and I'm interested in hearing what everyone's opinions are.

I would think of it as a learning experience, you will not allow the situation to repeat itself, especially such a significant one.

I'm sure there are psychologist/counselors that deal with this type of thing, although probably not aviation specialists.

Btw what happened? Bad landing?

8th Jun 2009, 06:41
Get back on the horse

8th Jun 2009, 06:59
....Man up

8th Jun 2009, 07:39

Over a long career in instructing I found that the best and safest way to operate the aircraft was to " the Student's standard " and not to yours ( should be much higher). If you let a Student go into a situation that is beyond his ability to recover, you only load the gun against yourself and the Student does not learn. As he improves in standard you can let him go further into the problem area before recovery action is taken.

It will work and hope this helps.


8th Jun 2009, 07:39
The jitters from the event go after a few days, the effects of the buried stress/trauma will last a bit longer. -Be sure not to snap at people and be self conscious of your reactions for a while, get some exercise and have a few drinks perhaps at the end of the week. Learn from it, and know that next time you see similar events unfolding you will stop it before it gets even close to the same again! Self preservation kicks in...
Depending on the event, if it is something else, like what I have experienced once such as a student being psychologically unstable and going nuts in the air and at the controls, then some outside help to specifically discuss it would be wise.

8th Jun 2009, 07:49
Get back on the horse

amen to that

In one of my first few instructing flights my dear student rewarded me with a spin entry. It was quicker than a fart.
I think we made a snap roll (rolled over our backs) and around 1/2 a turn (180degrees) and lost around 600-800ft, I don't remember now.
Thanks to the fact in JAA-land FIs don't get spin training it was kinda hard for me to recognize the situation, it was the first spin entry ever. As soon as the student got scared and released the controls the a/c recovered itself I just needed to pull up a bit from the dive . But there wasn't rotation.

Did he get really frightened and kept crossed controls today I wouldn't be here.

Sure I learned a few lessons that day:

1st one -> expect the unexpected !!! :D the kid did something I would never think of.... slam the throttle all the way up with the a/c stalled and dropping one wing (the left).

2nd one-> if the student is sick, stressed, etc... cancel the flight and call it a day. That kid had a lot of peer pressure because he was like 10hrs behind the rest of his classmates (teenage stupidity), and that day wasn't our day. a/c went tech, after start up his headset tore apart (a loose bolt) etc...
Obviously he wasn't fit to fly, and it wasn't a bright idea to go practice exciting full stalls in a TB200
I had a similar experience a few days ago with another student, this time in the sim. Everything he could do wrong, he did it wrong. When he was setting up the cockpit in the beginning I was thinking of cancelling the session, but felt he might even feel worse about it. But tbh it was a 1:30 wasted for him and for me.

3rd -> don't trust the student. I mean... let him believe that he has your confidence, but inside yourself get ready in case he makes a mistake.
And here come really wise words from a experienced colleague: ¨it will be your best student who will kill you¨
The bad students... you are really watching them because you know that they are gonna make a mistake anytime, be it lack of skill or lack of attention.
But.. the good students... they do well... so eventually we as instructors get overconfident.

And well... most of you guys will have many more stories to tell, probably more interesting ones.

As with every situation... there were 1000s of factors leading to the final outcome. Best thing you can do is learn about it, rather than just thinking what was about to happen.

Btw... I wonder as well what was your situation. Not because of gossip, but maybe I can learn a free lesson from someone else.


8th Jun 2009, 09:51
Thanks to the fact in JAA-land FIs don't get spin training it was kinda hard for me to recognize the situation, it was the first spin entry ever.

That is not quite true, certainly in the UK spinning is a compulsory part of the FI course and the FI skill test.

However to answer stumpy, just analyse what went wrong, learn from it and move on. None of us is infallible!! I ended up facing the opposite way in the corn recently after a student ground looped us on landing in an Auster and despite a couple of thousand hours of tailwheel time I could not recover it, the best I could do is keep us upright and prevent damage to the aircraft. There is a very fine line that we tread when instructing!!!

Get back in the saddle!

8th Jun 2009, 10:29
Thanks guys. I did get back on the horse (so to speak) an hour or so later after a cuppa or two! the second flight of the day was much less eventful and did a lot to calm me down. The third and fourth were even better. It wasn't until I got home and had time to think that it hit me how (seemingly) close a call I'd had.

I would like to stress that this is all relative, and the view from inside the cockpit can differ completely from those observing from outside. There were two incidents on this flight which shook me, but all in all it was a combination of factors. The student was a lapsed PPL holder who used to have his own aircraft but isn't flying regularly now (a breed I am still learning how to deal with) who wanted to take a couple of friends up.

The takeoff run was too long and the gentleman pulled up too early and too slow. I had to struggle to take control from him, get our speed up and get us up. I should have aborted the T/O earlier but hindsight is a wonderful thing.

during the flight the weather slowly deteriorated and we headed back to the airfield low level.Very 'moist day' and a couple of moments where the engine note changed, I fear we had some carb icing and was scanning for fields just in case for the majority of the flight.

I talked him through the approach set up and landing, advising that at our current height we would have a smaller circuit and to be prepared for that. After 4 missed appoaches (He was insistent on landing) he flared far too high (ignoring my 'instruction' or infact anything I said at this point) and we experienced a neck jarring bounce, to which his reaction was to pull the controls back towards him while applying full power with full flap and me 'I have control' - ing loudly clearly and in the end roughly. I can only imagine how high we bounced, or what it looked like from outside, but inside everything was wrong. When he relinquished the controls properly I managed to get it under control and climbed back up to a slightly less threatening height. It wasn't just the bounce, in doing this we had veered off the runway centrline, infact off the runway at extremely low level. I have just the flashing of the airfield buildings cars and other aircraft out of the corner of my eye. I told him I would take control for the rest of the flight -I think i made some small joke about him sitting back and enjoying the view - and advised the tower that I was departing the circuit for a few minutes. I went away and composed myself, came back and made the approach (funnily enough one of my better landings - I think because the mind was so concentrated by this point).

I know that it doesn't sound much, and people have heavy landings and incidents fairly often, but this was all my own and not someone elses passed on story, so it was very real and very scary. My airfield is situated in such a way that an aborted T/O too late will result in getting wet, very wet!

I learned a lot. it is making me shudder to think still but my head is clearer and I can look back and see where I went wrong.

Thanks again, its helped.


8th Jun 2009, 11:45
The takeoff run was too long and the gentleman pulled up too early and too slow.Unless there was something wrong with the aircraft, this seems to be a contradiction.

Years ago before the word Rotate filtered down from the large aeroplane World, pilots used to feel the aircraft off the ground, when it was ready to fly.

8th Jun 2009, 12:03
yes sorry, not the clearest of descriptions. I meant we hadn't reached a safe speed to 'rotate; and climb before the decision point (yes a decision I should have made sooner and enforced but didn't). there was nothing wrong with the aircraft. As I say, I didn't handle to flight as well as I possibly could have. I know it, and I want to improve it. I just have to get over the feeling of terrifying myself first. I take responsibility, It would be all too easy to blame the student, but I was PIC and should have done some things differently!

8th Jun 2009, 12:29
I take responsibility, It would be all too easy to blame the student, but I was PIC and should have done some things differently!

That is your strongest point and the one that makes me believe that not only are you prepared to learn from mistakes but understand the role of the Instructor. I think that understanding alone is the makings of a good Instructor. Well done.

8th Jun 2009, 13:15
specialised aviation trauma pshychologists :

Stiftung Mayday - English version (http://english.stiftung-mayday.de/)

8th Jun 2009, 13:16
As Bose-X says, well done!

Plus you can buy me a pint the next time I see you!!!

8th Jun 2009, 14:51
Lapsed license holders can be a very dangerous breed. Often unaware of how rusty they have become but often determined that they only need a quick circuit and a sign off.

I was warned not to relax and not to make notes during landing and departure. They can often put in a flawless session of stalls steep turns etc and then really screw up the landing.

Sounds like you have learned that lesson so don't worry but you do need to be assertive and sometimes downright authoratitive. Remember you are the instructor and they do what you say.

Add to your departure briefing "If I say I have control then let go of the stick and feet off the rudder" - You can discuss events after landing during the debrief. Stony silences are often encountered after taking control but that is preferable to an incident or accident.

8th Jun 2009, 15:23
Hi guys

yes... I agree the important part is learning the lesson yourself after a negative situation.

About what you mention about taking over, there's a really nice method that Mr. J.S. Denker uses (I adopted it too, and brief my students about it):

Pilot-In-Command Decisionmaking [Ch. 21 of See How It Flies] (http://www.av8n.com/how/htm/decision.html#sec-instructor-comm)

* Ideally, I don’t need to say anything. If we are facing an energy-management challenge, you can notice it (the sooner the better) and deal with it.
* If you don’t deal with it on your own, I’ll start asking questions, such as: “How’s your energy? Are we high and fast, or low and slow?”
* Then come more-explicit statements: “It looks like the angle from the horizon to the aim point is growing. If you don’t do something we’re going to overshoot the runway.”
* Then it escalates to an instruction: “Go around.”
* Then the instructions become more detailed: “Add power. Raise the nose. Start retracting the flaps.”
* Finally: “I’ve got it.”

21.2.3 I’ve Got It

If I say “I’ve got it”, that means I am taking command of the airplane and I don’t want any delay or any question about it. (We will discuss it afterward.)

Notice the important distinction:

* “How about I fly for a bit?” or “Would you like me to demonstrate that maneuver?” Those are simply questions, perhaps verging on suggestions. Those are negotiable.
* “I’ve got it.” This is not a suggestion. This is absolutely not negotiable. This is necessary to preserve safety.

8th Jun 2009, 18:22
Sounds to me like you did the right thing by saying "I have..." but he was possibly so stressed by the flight (out of practice, low cloud, friends in the back etc..) he couldn't hear you. One more thing you can try is to put your arm across his front to break him from his concentration.

I bet he'll be fine the next time you go up with him.

Lesson learned, carry on.

8th Jun 2009, 18:42

Let me add an observation from my past as relate it to instructing.

When I was much younger I spent my weekends as a rubgy referee.
Early on I learnt the dangers of watching the game rather than being more active.

The prolem with watching is that you end up behind whats going on and one incident led to an almighty punch up which caused a problem through out the game.

By being more active as a referee ie like another player, I was not watching, but being an active participant and as such able to tackle incidents before they got out of hand.

There was nothing worse than sending off the retaliating player and the initiator got away with a warning.

So being able to read the game enabled me to anticipate what was going to happen next and step in to prevent the initiator doing anything which eliminated any possible retaliation.

How does this relate to instructing? Read the game, be a participant not a student watcher other wise you are playing catch up. Never assume anything either. as my wife says assume makes an ass out of U and me.

Anyway recognising the issue is half the solution.

Danny boy
8th Jun 2009, 19:02
Not sure what you are on about..students do try and kill you from time to time...

Generally brightens up my day....

Its the control reversal near the ground is always the terrifying one.....

Or the student who has a overwhelming disire to pull the nearest engine lever on a twin even though you keep say..touch drills only..

Great eh what a way to earn a crust...:)

8th Jun 2009, 19:32
dont know how you get along with your cfi but i got along with mine great and he was a great mentor. i was never afraid of telling him things and you would usually get a smile and then a "oh yes, one time i had a".... You get the rest. puts you at ease and there will be some good advice thrown in for good measure.

Your CFI will also be saying to himself "yep he has learned that lesson" which of course is to never take your eye off the ball especially with ppl or ex ppl holders..

you wont let that happen again soonhttp://static.pprune.org/images/smilies/wink2.gif