Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Secret Agent Code

I'm so embarrassed. They say the way to make sure you get things done is to let the world know what you're trying to accomplish. The social pressure will force you to keep on it.

Well, I guess that's true, since I did revisit the CFI written this morning after a long stretch away from studying. I have gotten preoccupied with other things on my to do list and usually by the time I thought about studying I was too tired. I do not want to make a habit of this and draw out my training for my flight instructor ratings.

The good news is that the learning I had accomplished previously did not entirely leave me and I scored a 97. One of the questions I got wrong was:

To communicate effectively, an instructor must:

maintain a positive attitude while delivering their message.
recognize the level of comprehension

provide an atmosphere which encourages questioning

I thought it would be to recognize the level of comprehension. Which is wrong; hence the big red X. It was "to maintain a positive attitude." Huh? Yeah, that's important but I would think it would be to pay attention to whether the recipient was getting the message the instructor was sending. You've got to know your audience, like Jean, a Girls With Wings role model and Master CFI advised, "When I work with former airline types, they always try to flare 10 stories up. Pretty hard on the gear :-) "

I've heard that before, so I'm not actually starting completely from scratch. Though if I were, these photos I've attached would certainly make me more familiar with the parts of the airplane. This is a South African airline with a great sense of humor. Thanks, GWW Role Model Erin, for sending them to me.

Usually people become a flight instructor in the progression from student to private pilot after they get their instrument and commercial ratings. The traditional route is to "build time" here on the way to get an airline job. Some people remain flight instructors their whole lives, either because this is their dream job or it is something they do in addition to a career like a cargo, corporate or airline pilot. As I have mentioned before, I skipped this step going from the military to the airlines. I've been researching how I should best go about this new phase in my flying career. I actually asked Jean to give me some more advice as I transition to a professional airline pilot to a CFI, or certified flight instructor.

"As a long time CFI/II I have been asked to do many things but this current request from Lynda is quite unique. As many of us know she has been furloughed and finds herself in the same position as too many folks these days. The positive of being unemployed is that one has lots of time to train for a new position. Lynda has chosen to become a flight instructor way down here at the lowly level of the General Aviation Pilot. I think that this challenge for her would be like asking me to train someone as a Long Haul driver in a Mack truck. I know nothing about “over-the-road” driving and less about how to shift into 20 different gears in a 60’ semi.

Lynda finds herself going all the way back to the kindergarten of flight school. She will essentially be a “student pilot” in a training airplane. I remember my early days in a Cessna 150 in the right seat for the first time in the traffic pattern facing Santa Ana winds that required landings in the opposite direction from the normal traffic pattern. This was bad enough but combined with the turbulence and my less than patient older male instructor the lesson was abysmal. As I walked away from the debrief, I overheard Mr. Impatient tell the flight school owner, “she will never make it”. Well, this just fired me up and to make a long story short, I not only made it, I did it on my first try – which is rare – for the CFI rating. Well, I digress. This is not about me, but about how Lynda is going to accomplish her goal of becoming a CFI/II.

She has an excellent start by studying the Fundamentals Of Instruction, which can be challenging, but will make since once she starts “teaching” and applying the principles of the Fundamentals. My advice at this point, books, lots of books. A typical CFI library consists of but is not limited to: A Pilot Training Standard (PTS) for each rating, a current Airport Facility Directory (A/FD), current charts – both VFR and IFR. (I find the Government issue to be the most popular with students), current issue of an FAR/AIM, Flight Training Handbook, Instrument Training Handbook, and various Advisory Circulars as a start. Additionally, a syllabus for each rating is a must.

There are a few ways Lynda can enhance and shorten her training time. One example is to buddy-up with another CFI candidate and take the opportunity to join training flights. Once proficient with the Private and Commercial maneuvers Lynda can “borrow” a student or even a non-student-pilot friend who is willing to be a “guinea pig” and let her practice “teaching”.

Good luck Lynda, you are facing a very rewarding challenge."

Thanks, everyone, for your comments and your support. I WILL get this done. You watch me. (And keep reminding me.)

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