What can students do between lessons to make the most of their training?
Ken Wittekiend is the president and founder of ProMark Aviation Services (promarkaviation.net). He is a Master CFI and designated pilot examiner and was the 2009 FAA Southwest Region CFI of the Year. Ken also teaches for the Bonanza Pilot Proficiency Program. Ken was a founding member of the Society of Aviation and Flight Educators (SAFE). He says:
Successful flight training requires skilled, motivated aviation educators who are committed to their students’ success. But students must understand that they have a critical role to play in the process of learning to fly. They must actively participate in their training in two specific ways. First, following every lesson, the CFI and student should set aside time for a careful and thorough post-flight briefing during which both review the lesson and the instructor asks leading questions such as “what was the most challenging part of today’s lesson?” or “how will you use what you learned today once you complete your training?” This allows the CFI to provide feedback and analysis of the student’s performance.
Second, the student should be given specific assignments to help prepare for the next lesson. Reading assignments, quizzes, online short courses, etc. are part of any comprehensive training program, and the student should be held accountable for completing these on time.
The student’s experience in the airplane during the lesson is intense and, at times, overwhelming. With the CFI talking, the radio blaring and the student trying to perform the tasks required, much of the information is missed. This is where technology offers a huge benefit. We are now using in-cockpit cameras that capture the audio from the intercom and radio as well as video of the flight. After the lesson, this file is copied for the student to review at home. We see a marked difference in the rate of progress for students who do this review. They tell us they learn a great deal when they can listen to the CFI’s comments and truly understand how their performance compared with the completion standards. Plus, they can share their training experience with friends and family, which provides encouragement and support for the students’ efforts.
So, a few of the keys to getting the most out of the training experience between lessons comes down to immersion, engagement, review and preparation.