Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 24

Thread: Student's First Lesson

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Posts
    1,529

    Student's First Lesson

    I watched a student's first lesson, was surprised at how it was done.
    He was a 17 year old local high school boy, according to his Mom he has been studying the book and really wants to learn to fly.
    He had a two hour time block.
    The flight was less than 20 minutes. One takeoff, one landing. I don't know what air work if any was done.
    They spent about 1 and a half hours on the preflight and start up. Before they ever untied the plane they were inside with the master on and checking the nav lights. It was in the middle of a sunny day, not a cloud in the sky. But they gave those nav llights a good checkout.
    I don't know if the boy even got to touch the controls.
    I do know that when he came back into the FBO he was not smiling, frankly he looked about like he had just been to the dentist.
    I am not sure, but as he went out the door I think I heard him tell his Mom that the CFI flew the whole time, the student did not get to fly.
    The plane is a old Piper, fixed prop, fixed gear,mechancial flaps, standard engine, standard panel; no glass cockpit or complicated stuff. Almost the same thing I flew 30 years ago when I learned.
    I can't comprhend what items one could find to stretch out a preflight that long on this plane. They were not adding fuel or oil or air in the tires or cleaning the window, just checking things.
    The senior CFI told me this was the way a lesson should be done, that they had to be thorogh because they were liable.
    The actual CFI in the plane is new to this location. I don't know him, but I do know that he is working here because the other location just went out of business. I'll bet those nav lights were working well at the other location, right up unti the time they shut the doors.
    Maybe I am out of date, but it seems to me this isn't the way to market a service or sell a hobby, especially in these tough economic times.
    It is if a customer came into a bar and asked for a cold beer and they first gave him a lecture on how the hops are grown and harvested.
    I think the boy may come back,but I also would not be surprised if he found another hobby, especially with school starting in a few weeks.
    We have another CFI here who did a first lesson/discovery flight with a guy I know who has always been afraid to fly. They had a great sightseeing flight over the area, and came back and did 3 landings. My friend did the last two landings himself , the last one without the CFI even touching the controls. He did not mention the nav lights.
    He was so excited that he is talking about taking lessons, but has a confict with a busy work demand.
    What do other students or CFI s think a first lesson should be?

  2. #2
    steveinindy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Indiana
    Posts
    1,449
    Personally, I've flown with several CFIs before deciding on one. Most of the ones I passed over were exactly like the one you described (attention paid to things that folks don't need to know from step 1, not allowed to touch the controls, etc). Congratulations to your local flight school for likely costing the GA community a new member.

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    St. Louis/Omaha
    Posts
    107
    If the person that is taking the first lesson seems seriously interested, this is what I do:

    First, we meet for about fifteen minutes to introduce ourselves and to discuss how the lesson will go. They are told, from the very start, that we will take about 5-10 minutes to get a weather briefing from a briefer. They are also told that they will be taught how to pre-flight the airplane, and that this will take about 20-30 minutes or so. Then, we will fly for 40 minutes. We also discuss exchange of controls, and that, at 500 feet AGL, they will be flying the plane until I want the controls back (if they're sharp and wind is calm, I may not want them back until we're on the runway). The lesson itself is devoted to the four fundamentals, and I do very little actual flying.

    OK, back to the WX brief and the preflight, because I know some of you are already aghast. I first give the student the number and tell them to listen and try to understand what they're hearing. I reassure them that I'm responsible for the information, but this is a way of getting information that is vital to every flight, and they'll soon learn what they need to know. I then call Flight Service on a speaker phone, explain to the briefer that there's a brand new student listening, and request the briefing. 99% of the time, the briefers are accommodating and slow down and enunciate even more clearly than usual. After the call, I ask the student what they got out of it. You'd be surprised, even if some of the details are wrong, how well they get it. We discuss any areas of misunderstanding and then go to the plane, if the weather isn't a stopper.

    During the preflight, we both do all of the checks, me explaining why we do them. BTW, this includes the nav lights at noon on June 22nd. Why? Well, two reasons: if one is burned out, it's a lot nicer for the night renters to get the thing replaced while the mechanics are on duty (who here has not been aced out of a night flight because of a dead bulb?). Also, if the breaker or some such should open when the switch is flipped, we have a bigger problem, don't we (yes, it's happened to me)? After the preflight, we go fly, obviously. BTW, once we're away from tight quarters, I let them taxi.

    Why do this at the beginning? Well, it's an attempt to pull them into the game as it were. After all, this real pilot stuff we're talking about, so they get to feel a little puffed up at the beginning. Also, I'm trying to get good habits built early on. Doing this stuff from the get-go is a way of doing so. I want WX briefings and preflight actions to be more than learned behavior - I want them to be ingrained. By the way, I do not hide this from the newbie; I spell right out what my motivations are.

    Now, if this sounds onerous, remember it's all in how it's sold. Do it right, and you'll make it an interesting part of the experience. Remember, Tom Sawyer's friends all thought that whitewashing a fence was fun...

    One last thing: I have never, ever lost a student of any age using this technique.
    Last edited by Bob Meder; 08-07-2011 at 09:49 PM. Reason: CRLF's

  4. #4
    rosiejerryrosie's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Carlisle, PA
    Posts
    392
    Bob, I must say that I concur with your approach 100%. When learning something new, a person remembers best what they are told first. Best to learn the right way first than to have to relearn something that was taught wrongly initially. As we all know, most accidents are the result of poor judgement rather than the result of poor mechanical skills. Teahcing good practices from the beginning is the best apporach. Not that a preflight should take an hour and a half. Good prep makes for good flying, and as much of that as possible should be done by the student.
    Cheers,
    Jerry

    NC22375
    65LA out of 07N Pennsylvania

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Posts
    1,529
    Bob, If one of the very first things the CFI and the student focus on is the nav lights on a sunny very day for a noon flight then what does the student concentrate on? What does he learn first? That flight safety if mostly a matter of a small light that you don't use anyway in the daytime? Seems to me that when you walk up to a plane, especially one flown in a flight school, there are 3 real things you want to see. First and foremost, how much fuel is in the plane? On every flight you use and need fuel and that is the one item that changes with every flight. Nav lights, static ports, even tire pressure and oil level are not likely to change much after the previous hour flight. Maybe it is because I have flown across the U S and Canada, and to the Carib, some of it in planes with limited range; that I want the student to be concious of fuel, and oil. Item 2 is to drain the fuel sumps, and 3 is the normal walk around that includes all the hinges pitot cover, control locks and surfaces etc, in other words the things you see on a normal visual inspection.
    Now some CFIs may say that spending I 1/2 hours on preflight is good, affter all the student needs to know how to do it, and soon he will be doing it solo. But he also needs to know how to do weight and balance, would you spend the majority of the first lesson having him learn and calculate that also?
    There has to be some common sense, some sense of proportion.
    What are the risks of a first flight? There is not really much danger of crashing, the record with the CFI discovevery flight is very good. Young Eagles has done over I 1/2 million and I think there has been only one fatality last time I heard.
    The other risk is that the student get some bad habits. To me, being casual about the fuel on board is one of these, and giving equal importance to a light you are not going to use with fuel is silly.
    But really THE BIG RISK of a first flight, Discovery or lesson is that the student is bored and won't come back or tell his friends how much fun and how easy it is.
    A lot of flight school have closed over the years, a lot of CFIs out of a job or at best a subsistence living. Used to be most every airport and most FBOs had a flight school. Not anymore. Why did they fail? Sure wasn't because a nav light was not given enough attention on a CAVU day. The real risk is the CFI and school going out of business because their marketing and people skills are bad. Of course the economy and cost of flying are part of it , maybe the biggest part.
    By the way, I think your brief exposure of the student to the weather is good. I am not sure how much he learns from that , but at least he gets the idea there is one. Before solo and final test is the time to go deeper into this subject which for me is most of what I need for a safe outlook.
    Finally, you and I and I and CFI s know the student CAN LEARN, CAN become a pilot. BUT THE FIRST TIME STUDENT DOES NOT KNOW THAT. In fact he may have some big doubts,and if the first lesson does not leave him with some positive feeling he may not continue. I think I have read 40% of students drop out, is that about the facts?

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Posts
    310
    Jeez, I think my first CFI handed me the controls before we climbed through 100'... and didn't take them again except to show me some things, stalls and stuff, until just before the landing flare. I don't remember doing much beyond the usual 10 minute preflight, either.

    I've never even owned a plane with navigation lights...

  7. #7
    Admittedly it was 42 years ago and I have very little memory of my first hour of dual. What I do remember is I was in the left seat, we started the takeoff roll, the instructor pulled back on the yoke we were airborne. We were barely above the runway and he said, "YOUR airplane." I flew the remainder of the time until landing. I was in a C-150 I had 11000 feet of runway (the B-52s used it regularly) and I was flying, not well or pretty but I was PIC. That was an aeroclub at Ellsworth AFB and immersion was the SAC way, even off-duty.

  8. #8
    Anymouse's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Homeless
    Posts
    224
    First lesson, I taxied, took off, did maneuvers and flew to final. Obviously the CFI was there for back up and to tell me what to do, but it was me that was actually doing it all. For the landing, he had me on the controls to follow him, but he's the one that did the actual landing. First attempt at landing was the 2nd lesson. Instructor did the flare of course.
    I'll come up with something profound

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    St. Louis/Omaha
    Posts
    107
    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Greenwood View Post
    Bob, If one of the very first things the CFI and the student focus on is the nav lights on a sunny very day for a noon flight then what does the student concentrate on? What does he learn first? That flight safety if mostly a matter of a small light that you don't use anyway in the daytime? Seems to me that when you walk up to a plane, especially one flown in a flight school, there are 3 real things you want to see. First and foremost, how much fuel is in the plane? On every flight you use and need fuel and that is the one item that changes with every flight. Nav lights, static ports, even tire pressure and oil level are not likely to change much after the previous hour flight. Maybe it is because I have flown across the U S and Canada, and to the Carib, some of it in planes with limited range; that I want the student to be concious of fuel, and oil. Item 2 is to drain the fuel sumps, and 3 is the normal walk around that includes all the hinges pitot cover, control locks and surfaces etc, in other words the things you see on a normal visual inspection.Now some CFIs may say that spending I 1/2 hours on preflight is good, affter all the student needs to know how to do it, and soon he will be doing it solo. But he also needs to know how to do weight and balance, would you spend the majority of the first lesson having him learn and calculate that also?There has to be some common sense, some sense of proportion.What are the risks of a first flight? There is not really much danger of crashing, the record with the CFI discovevery flight is very good. Young Eagles has done over I 1/2 million and I think there has been only one fatality last time I heard.The other risk is that the student get some bad habits. To me, being casual about the fuel on board is one of these, and giving equal importance to a light you are not going to use with fuel is silly.But really THE BIG RISK of a first flight, Discovery or lesson is that the student is bored and won't come back or tell his friends how much fun and how easy it is.A lot of flight school have closed over the years, a lot of CFIs out of a job or at best a subsistence living. Used to be most every airport and most FBOs had a flight school. Not anymore. Why did they fail? Sure wasn't because a nav light was not given enough attention on a CAVU day. The real risk is the CFI and school going out of business because their marketing and people skills are bad. Of course the economy and cost of flying are part of it , maybe the biggest part. By the way, I think your brief exposure of the student to the weather is good. I am not sure how much he learns from that , but at least he gets the idea there is one. Before solo and final test is the time to go deeper into this subject which for me is most of what I need for a safe outlook. Finally, you and I and I and CFI s know the student CAN LEARN, CAN become a pilot. BUT THE FIRST TIME STUDENT DOES NOT KNOW THAT. In fact he may have some big doubts,and if the first lesson does not leave him with some positive feeling he may not continue. I think I have read 40% of students drop out, is that about the facts?
    I've read your post, really thought about it and...

    [Shatner voice]I'm not changing a thing.[/Shatner voice]

    OK, I need to clarify a bit, obviously. I'm not talking about a 90 minute preflight. That's just crazy. Last night, I gave a CFI candidate his first CFI lesson. Part of his lesson was to "teach" me how to preflight an Arrow. Even with me interrupting to coach or play "dumb student", it only took 25 minutes. That included checking the lights, BTW.

    As I stated before, it's all about how it's "sold". Read Greg Brown's The Savvy Flight Instructor: most CFI's don't realize the importance of allowing their enthusiasm to shine through. Done correctly, this stuff is all way cool, not a drag. So, why introduce it early? Well, to counter your argument, to show them that, y'know, this flying stuff ain't really that hard, while showing the importance of doing it right the first time every time. They can be pilots!

    To pick on what is clearly a sore point with you: Sure, you can't see the lights during the day, and I get mad at people that burn them unnecessarily during the day. However, as I said, it's actually a consideration for other renters to check them so they can be addressed if there is a dead bulb. Besides, it is an airworthiness issue - if the lights don't work correctly, why don't they work correctly? Could be a dead bulb. I've also had to deal with a dead short in the nav lights.

    The fact is that as someone that has been a 141 check airman and does a lot of flight reviews, there are a lot of pilots out there that don't understand airworthiness issues, only check the ATIS or AWOS before flying, don't understand the AD's for their own airplanes, etc. I lay this squarely on the shoulders of CFI's that don't teach good habits from the start.

    I'm not perfect by a long shot, and I'm still learning every day, but we can and should do better. The first lesson, which is supposed to be a learning experience, by it's very nature, is a darned good place to start.
    Last edited by Bob Meder; 08-09-2011 at 12:15 PM. Reason: CRLF's, CRLF's, CRLF's...

  10. #10

    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Posts
    1,529
    Bob, I was just using the nav lights as an example; that instead of focusing the first time student on what is really important, starting with fuel, the checklist and that CFI begin with nav lights.
    It can be any other item. When you have checklist that are probably written by a lawyer or law clerk or someone who is so liability conscious that common sense goes out the door and they are going to try to cya on every small point

    Today was a great example. My Bonanza is in for annual, and I needed to get back home. I got a flght in a Diamond D40. The checklist covers all the small points, tells you when to put the key in the ignition, etc. At least 3 o4 times it has us checking pitot heat, despite it being 75 degrees out, not a cloud in the sky, and we are flying both VFR and VMC. But boy did we check that pitot heat, over and over and in big print. So we get through our runup and as I get ready to takeoff, there are no figures for best angle or best rate on climb. So I ask the CFI. He shows me another page in the checklist with a small diagram at a climb angle and VERY SMALL PRINT there is the 66K and 77k figures. I have 20-20 vision, recently passed my medical exam as such, no glasses needed for normal vision, and I can barely makeout the fine print clearly. But hey, what's best angle or best rate? Not nearly as important as pitot heat on a August day in vmc, eh?

    I recently flew with a student pilot, now private pilot, who just passed his checkride that morning. We were in a Gobosh, an LSA with a glass cockpit. He could work the gadgets just fine, he could look on the panel and tell me what the wind aloft was. But he had a hard time landing the plane. After we did a go around, and were on downwind, I asked him what the wind was. He looked on the panel and found a figure. I explained to him that I was talking about the wind on the ground, at the runway that he was trying to land on . The idea of looking at the windsock had never occurred to him, even though we flew right by it on the first time. As we came around the 2nd time he did a little better job after I
    pointed out to him that there was about a 12 knot crosswind. He didn't get the centerline, but you could see it nearby.
    I'll bet he was really good at checking nav lights and pitot heat. And I hope he gets better at finding the center of the runway. By the way he learned at APA where the runway is 10,000 by 100 so doesn't require much.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •