So often in aviation, we as flight schools, flight training specialists, and professional flight operators get the blame for student pilots and younger generation pilots falling through the cracks when it comes to completion of the rating. Often we deserve this because we work in a very technical field, filled with constant changes, advancing technologies and deal with the general public where the innate fear that defying gravity is the most dangerous thing on the planet. Never mind that people drive at 60-70 mph on two lane highways passing literally inches from death over and over as vehicles coming the opposite direction whiz by in the opposite lane, with little to no training and with little regard for others as they are bussing to and fro on the ground. The great solution for us all? Well, there are some simple methods we can employ for each of our clients that makes learning easier, and doesn’t cause nearly as much brain damage as our instructors caused to us back when cussing, screaming and gnashing of teeth was common place.. The distance between student happiness and quitting is often as easy as reading some simple materials you probably already possess.
Most experienced instructors follow a syllabus, and often we know the syllabus, and have to adjust the syllabus to the student pilots style of learning, and bend the tasks to fit geography, and learning curves quite often. However, there is a disease among our clientele, it is very prevalent, and truth be told we each possessed this disease until we had spent close to 20-30K in flight training costs and only changed because we were going to go broke if we didn’t make that change quick. That disease is called ” Failure to Read”. In today’s incredible pace of technological advances, it’s like a cloud has fallen over the universe and few seem to read, much less study these days. Every syllabus starts with definitive instructions explaining what is expected and how to study the material, along with valid expectations to have to achieve objectives for each lesson. If your instructor was good enough to hand you or direct you to a syllabus, my suggestion is to read every item especially the preface thoroughly and then design some type of strategy to deal with how you are going to complete the course. The Preface and Introduction will explain exactly how to use the manual, regardless if it is digital or paper.
Setting the Stage for Success or Failure
Adult education involves quality communication, setting the expectations according to the student pilots goals and aspirations, however it is coupled with the expectation that the adult will complete the necessary materials, and not require hand holding to do simple things such as preparing for a flight, reviewing weather, and coming prepared for the flight. Don’t let this expectation detour you, or disappoint you, because this flying stuff involves 3 and 4D thinking, then comes instrument training and it involves always knowing where you are, yet you see absolutely nothing outside, so yes it’s a lot of new information. However, this is an education business as well and the responsibility and ownership is up to the student, just like the quality of instruction is up to the instructor.
So Whats the Secret? HINT: Flying is 85% Doing | Flying is 15% Doing
As you review the syllabus you will notice completion standards, tasks to be completed ,and usually on the bottom left of most syllabi is the assigned reading/study material to review prior to the flight. Fail to read this, and prepare for the flight guess what? You just burned your $200.00 because you haven’t a clue what is coming at you in that cockpit. That’s right, we expect the student to have reviewed the data prior to showing up. If you haven’t read the material, reviewed any videos, as well as shown interest, the instructor can’t review common errors with you without 1-2 hours of ground time, because you don’t even know what you were suppose to prepare to fly. Flying is literally 85% knowing, and 15% actual doing, that means plain and simple of you don’t know it on the ground you sure won’t knowing up there. You get this equation backwards and you are assured a 100 hour flight course, and you will probably jump from instructor to instructor and have no idea why they are kicking you around like a hackysack. Sure, it probably equates to poor customer service, but with a little communication this problem can be corrected quickly by both parties doing a little research on what communication equates to at a professional level.
What’s the Bottom Line?
You can’t jump in a space shuttle and attempt to repair a space station without a lot of training and knowledge in the areas you plan to work. Flying a plane is nothing like driving a car other than the fact you are traveling at a higher rate of speed than walking. Those airplanes and helicopters are expensive when they are used for training. Insurance costs are often 300% higher, and every tick of that meter indicates another 10-20 dollars you have spent in either intensive training or just “burning holes in the sky”. It really clicked for me when I was in multi-engine training in 1995 and then paying for jet transition training in 2008. I had to know those procedures, I needed to know where I was going and what my strategy for completion was or I would literally start doubling, tripling and quadrupling my cost, and at $10,000 that was not something I wanted to risk. So what did I do? I read every square inch of that manual, every last word in that syllabus and training course outline, I designed profiles, I worked through hours of chair flying and I sweated it out. Of course, back then I was already an instructor 2200 hard hours of instruction and I had an idea of how to not make my previous mistakes. The bottom line? Start reading! right now! Don’t hesitate another minute. If you have flight scheduled tomorrow or the next day and you haven’t prepared call your instructor and ask for an alternative activity, it’s guarantee to be cheaper than burning it with him/her and paying for the plane as well. This is the key to saving money, and the key to knowing where you are going, but most of all it puts you, the future PIC in the pilot seat of your training.