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Not Making Progress?
2007-10-11

Not Making Progress?

I doubt that there is a pilot flying who has not at one time or another felt the twinge of doubt that his learning curve is not going well. The emotions involved can run the gamut, self-doubt, blame, resentment, and anger. Quit, seek support, change instructors, and kick the dog are typical initial reactions.

We begin expecting that flying will be much as we have seen it in the media and read in books. We often assume that our prior experience and even expertise in another field will transfer into flying and expedite the learning process. Not so. A very important part of learning to fly is to unlearn all the preconceptions we have acquired since childhood. It is very difficult to overcome first learned ideas. We are very used to adding power to go faster. Yet, just adding power to an airborne airplane makes it go slower. Pointing an airplane up does not mean that it is going or will go up. Instinctive reactions can be very dangerous when applied to flying airplanes. Illusions exist and will be believed by even the best of pilots.

Much of the difficulty in giving flight instruction arises from communication problems. The instructor has acquired an experience 'bank' from his own training and teaching. The instructor's problem is to fit his knowledge and presentation of it into your learning requirements. The student is not a blank slate. As the previous paragraph indicates the student is loaded with flying information. The student doesn't know what he doesn't know. What he knows he knows may be all the way from totally correct in concept and application to just the opposite and anywhere in between.

This is the 'playing field' of flight instruction. The student and instructor must communicate information and understanding back and forth. This communication can be verbal, demonstration, emotional and even extra-sensory. Instructors want every student to be a successful student. Every student wants to succeed. When it doesn't work out it is most often a failure to communicate.

Written by Gene Whitt

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