Understanding and Practicing Basic Flight Maneuvers

It’s important to understand the purpose behind teach and learning certain basic flight maneuvers.

Jennifer Roth

With technology continually changing in the aviation world, flying airplanes has become more automated. With glass panel navigation to autopilot controls, the pilot can at times seem ALMOST not necessary. However, we all know that is not true and technology is well known for malfunctioning, especially at the worst times. With all that said, many of the basic flight maneuvers that are taught in flight school may seem very outdated to pilots. It is important to not only know how to do the maneuvers but why they are still being taught to student pilots.

Any flight student, current or past, will tell you there was never a shortage of training maneuvers. From basically day 1, students begin learning stalls, slow flight, steep turns and of course emergency procedures. Each of these has their own set of skills that safely teaches a new pilot how to handle the airplane in specific configurations. It creates a useful training environment to teach the student how the aircraft handles, what to watch for and how to adjust accordingly depending on what is happening or required.

Basic Flight Maneuvers – Stalls

One of the first maneuvers introduced are stalls. Many times, people do not have a clear understanding of what a stall is. Anyone uneducated in aviation tends to say or think it is an engine stall. In reality, is the loss of lift. Stalls can occur at high airspeeds as well as low. Stalls are taught utilizing flaps up, flaps down, throttle out as well as full throttle. The student will set the stall up in the specific configuration and if they are working for their Private pilot certificate, they have to bring the aircraft to a full stall. The purpose of this training maneuver is to teach a student to recognize a stall before it occurs as well as being able to safely recover with minimal loss of altitude and heading change. When a pilot goes on to the airlines, the airplanes will be bigger and faster, but they can still stall, and it becomes way more dramatic, dangerous and scary for passengers. So, pilots are taught how to deal with stalls and prevent them early on. Stalls are practiced at higher altitudes so a student can make mistakes in order to learn, but it’s important that they understand a stall can occur at any altitude, especially takeoff and landing when they are low to the ground. When they are low to the ground, they do not have the luxury of altitude for recovery and many low-level stalls have taken the lives of many pilots on takeoffs and landings.

Basic Flight Maneuvers – Slow Flight

Another flight maneuver that is introduced is slow flight. The purpose of this maneuver is to put the aircraft in a nose high, slow speed, unstable situation. There are two configurations required, with full flaps and with takeoff flap setting (depending on the aircraft). The student will set the aircraft up to the airspeed and pitch just below the stalling point. The stall warning horn will be going off. They are then required to make two 90-degree turns, one to the left and one to the right. Depending on where in their training they are at, private or commercial, they have specific standards to maintain such as how much bank angle they can exceed or how much altitude they can gain or lose. If the turn is too steep and become uncoordinated, the plane can easily go into a stall and if too uncoordinated could become a spin. A student may think this situation won’t happen on a “normal day, normal flight” but this situation can happen very easily especially coming in for a landing. They begin to sink too quickly and the student will then pull back causing a nose high, low air speed and because landing is a busy stressful time, they may not even realize what is happening. And as previously discussed, stalls at a low altitude are many times, not successfully recovered.

Basic Flight Maneuvers – Steep Turns

Steep turns tend to be considered a more “fun” maneuver. They are steep turns, usually 45 to 50-degrees of bank while at normal cruising speed such as 100 knots in a Cessna-152. The point of this maneuver is to teach the student to do 2 360-degree turns in both directions while maintaining their airspeed and altitude and rolling out on their starting heading after each turn. The purpose of this maneuver is for a pilot to know how to do a high-speed steep turn safely without placing themselves in an unusual and unsafe attitude. As discussed previously, it is easy for a pilot to become overwhelmed, like on landing and be asked to make a sharp left or right turn, and then they panic or get behind the aircraft and then they can lose their bearings, pitch the nose up and place themselves into a high-speed stall, or even a spin. Making student pilots practice steep turns teaches them to have a proper scan of all the instruments as well as the horizon and to pay attention to all cues they are being given.

Basic Flight Maneuvers – Emergency Procedures

The training and practice of emergency procedures is a given with any situation that can result in a crash and possible death. In aviation the procedure that is practiced almost every single flight is engine-out procedures. A flight instructor will pull the throttle to idle when the student is not expecting it, on takeoff, landing, practicing maneuvers or just basic flying. The student has to immediately set the aircraft up for landing. They follow their emergency checklist and begin setting up for full shut down and landing wherever the best field, or location is. They have to remember where the winds are coming from, take account of power lines, fences, homes etc and never stray too far away from the location they choose. Depending on what altitude they are at, it will affect how much time they have and how much altitude they have as a buffer. Unless over an airport, instructors will usually decide if the student would have made their field and tell them to go-around. The unplanned procedure allows for the student to learn to adapt and operate under pressure, as much pressure as a fake emergency can allow.

Just like with anything else, practice makes perfect, and continually practicing emergency procedures allows a student to rely on that in an actual emergency. They will tend to revert back to training, and it becomes almost automatic for them. Instructors will also ask students to recite what they would do in other situations such as loss of communications with air traffic control, or an engine fire, or bird strike. Anything that can occur, flight instructors try to teach students to prepare for. Of course, the reality is that no matter the preparation, you can never be prepared for everything. However, until that point, continual training and practice will lay a foundation for a student to rely on as much as possible.

In Conclusion

Even with today’s technology and ever-expanding intelligence of airplanes, pilots are still the ultimate authority and decision maker in the aircraft. If all resources failed, it then falls on the pilot. So even though autopilot is wonderful, it may not be there one day so it is important that a pilot never stop learning, practicing and keeping a lookout for danger when flying. Too many times complacency gets the best of people and that’s when mistakes are made. Pilots should always revert back to their training, and remember why they were taught what they were taught, such as basic flight maneuvers, even if in the moment it seemed tedious and monotonous.

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Flight Training Videos: How Relevant Are They?

Mary Ann O’Grady

The term andragogy, which is defined as “the art and science of helping adults learn,” was used as early as 1833 but it was popularized in the United States by Malcolm Knowles in the 1970s (Whitmyer, 1999, p. 1). Originally, andragogy was contrasted with the term pedagogy, which focused on helping children to learn but over time. However, the term pedagogy became so entwined with educational or instructional design that the two terms have become synonymous. According to Knowles, as cited in Whitmyer (1999), andragogy is based upon four primary assumptions regarding adult learners and how they differ from child learners. First, their self-concept shifts from dependence to self-direction. Second, their expanding reservoir of experience serves as a resource for learning. Third, their focus on learning becomes oriented toward the developmental requirements of their social roles. Fourth, they immediately want to apply what they have learned to the challenges of real life. Accordingly, their academic orientation shifts from one of subject-centeredness to one of problem-centeredness as illustrated by the following assumptions:

TopicPedagogyAndragogy
LearnersDependentIndependent
Subject matterOnly one right wayMany ways
Motivation to learn, change or improveExternal and dictated by othersInternal response to personal or career needs
Role of experienceUnimportant, discountedResource that serves as a basis for learning, change or improvement

Must be integrated

LearnerRequires outside directionAbility to self-direct
Learning orientationSubject-centered, Logic-orientedLife/career-centered

Process centered

ObjectiveMinimum requirementsSelf-improvement/betterment

(Whitmyer, 1999)

When entering flight school training, which includes ground school (theoretical), flight school (practical application), and testing (written and practical/flight test with an FAA examiner), the mastery of the course material as well as the practical application is often supplemented by flight training videos. These flight training videos are available through various sources including the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and not-for-profit aviation associations. The format of the FAA broadcasts provides one-way videos and two-way audio satellite broadcasts that conduct short training and briefing sessions. All broadcasts that are classified as actual training courses are videotaped and close-captioned and made available as Video Self Study Courses. For example, two FAA videos specifically addressing aircraft certification service/air worthiness directives are available through Keybridge Technologies, Inc., and additional information pertaining to the ATN may be found on the FAA’s website.

Since the 1930s, not-for-profit associations have purported their mission statements to include the education of pilots, non-pilots, and policy makers alike, and remain dedicated to protecting pilots’ freedom to fly while keeping general aviation safe, enjoyable and affordable. Such associations continue to meet their education goals by providing flight training videos addressing a number of topics:

  • Weather and go/no-go decisions
  • Collision avoidance
  • Weather and pilot error
  • Weather and IFR flight planning
  • Weather and VFR flight planning
  • Avoiding power-on stalls
  • NOAA’s Aviation Weather Center (ADDS)
  • Gathering information about weather
  • Angle of attack indicators
  • Forced landings

The Internet also offers access to information relating to IFR risk management, instrument flying, GPS strategies, practical airmanship, and the strategies for becoming an adequately prepared pilot.

In recent years, the more typical list of instructional videos has been expanded to address more advanced aviation contexts, such as crew tracking, flight simulation, virtual chart plotter, aviation charts, business aviation navigation solutions and business training solutions; fatigue data collection, and mobile TC for the Samsung Galaxy Android Tablet. Updated training products, such as computer software, electronic books, and optional subscriptions that allow access to all the terminal charts and airport diagrams via tablets have begun to replace the traditional hard copy format. Instructional flight training videos appeal not only to novice pilots but also to pilots who are in the process of returning to flying as evidenced by the videos that address the issues of pilot currency requirements, TSA security awareness, the ever-challenging crosswind landings, and non-tower airport communications.

Videos are in a unique position to illustrate both of the two broad categories of practical examples posited by the academic research conducted by the teaching assistant fellows at the University of Wisconsin (1995). First, videos that aid in the explanation of theory and new concepts, and second, videos that illustrate the practical application of basic principles. These practical examples can also be sub-divided into different types based upon the format in which they are being used: analogies, observations, demonstrations that are experimental or mathematical, sensing phenomena, and observing secondary effects. When combined with one or more of the effective teaching strategies (practical examples, show and tell, case studies, guided design projects, open-ended labs, the flowchart technique, open-ended quizzes, brainstorming, question-and-answer method, and software) videos effectively serve to reinforce or anchor the course content for the student.

The guidelines underlying andragogy echo the need for the simultaneous development and presentation of a theoretical and practical foundation since neither one is useful without the other. However, andragogy also reflects adult students’ ability to self-direct as well as their ability to employ multiple means of assimilating the aviation course content. Since the construction of a culture of continuous improvement is a collaborative effort between aviation students and their flight instructors, the access to flight training videos aids in the successful acquisition of the flight school’s learning objectives. Access to advanced technology and the Internet provides aviation students and flight instructors with the capability to conveniently download instructional videos to their computers, tablets, and smartphones. Video programs also allow the production of short videos by flight instructors and their students that can be posted within an online course room or on social media for mutual viewing.

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References:

Strategies for Effective Teaching, A Handbook for Teaching Assistants. (1995). University of Wisconsin – Madison College of Engineering. Retrieved on February 26, 2016, from http://www.engr.wisc.edu/services/elc/strategies.pdf Whitmyer, C., (1999). Andragogy versus Pedagogy. San Francisco, CA: FutureU Press.

ULA Students with Flight School Training Support Rescue Missions

Upper Limit Aviation is known for launching student pilots into careers flying commercially – taking students from flight school to flying helicopters and fixed wing aircraft for a living. ULA students get real-world flight school training experience during their time with us.

What makes Upper Limit different from other flight schools is their commitment to real-world flight experience training. ULA students train under a scenario-based philosophy for the purpose of being uniquely prepared for real world “industry experience”. ULA students get actual industry experience as a part of their flight school training, distinctively preparing them for their first job as a commercial pilot.

Upper Limit Aviation (ULA) flight students participate in real-life rescue missions in the Utah area. ULA has flown ten life-saving missions since the program began in August 2013. ULA student Chris Powell states, “When we jump from a scenario-based training to an actual real-world situation, that’s what we’re all hoping for as students. It’s always fun.”

What does “real world experience” mean to prospective flight school students researching a variety of flight schools? Essentially, it means that ULA is one of the top-flight schools in the US. The aviation industry, particularly employers, are aware that ULA trained pilots are more experienced, and better prepared to start flying commercial missions.

ULA – The Pathway to a Commercial Pilot Career

When looking at flight schools, most prospective students want the best pathway to a commercial career. Danielle Vogel, ULA’s Director of Admissions, states, “we talk to hundreds of prospective students each month. Almost all of them are locked on a dream to fly commercially. This is their dream job, their passion. But they want to know if ULA is the school that will take them from being a student to landing a top job.”

Michael Mower, ULA’s Chief Flight Instructor and Director of Schools, explains that ULA students are the only students in the industry to take part in rescue missions. ULA students have supported rescue missions as “coordinators and spotters”. Mower explains, “If we are able to get the students in the plane, seeing what is going on and seeing what they would be doing on these missions once they receive their license, that’s a huge advantage,” he said. “Anything to get the students more involved on these missions is great experience for them.”

Rich Cannon, the Assistant School Director, and ULA graduate stated that ULA students are frequently part of the search and rescue missions and that the experiences students receive through ULA’s unique training approach is invaluable.

ULA is committed to teaching students through real-world flying situations, opening them to incredible opportunities whenever possible. ULA flies, on average, 103 flight hours per day, 11,000 flight hours per semester. Prospective students want the real world experience because they know it will give them an advantage in the job market.

Mower shared that a few of the rescue missions have been in coordination with local law enforcement – searching for homicide suspects and juvenile runaways, including one a girl who ran away and was stuck in the nearby mountains. Mower’s team of professional pilots, along with support of ULA aviation students, spotted the girl just before sunset – they might have saved her life.  Through ULA’s efforts, they were able to get her to safety within 30 minutes of learning about the missing girl.

Get Started With Your Flight Training Today

You can get started today by filling out our online application. If you would like more information, you can call us at (844) 435-9338, or click here to start a live chat with us.

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