“Overlearning” Defeats the Startle Effect!

Intuitively, savvy educators know any skill achievement or learning progress, though gratifying, is very perishable. Especially in a high-stakes environment like aviation, deep learning, with consistency and reinforcement is essential. The impatient “got it and move on” attitude does not serve us well for enduring success and safety. We know from recent neurological research that “over-learning” more deeply embeds skills into our preconscious so these skills are available in times of stress and cognitive unavailability (panic). The implications for all learning are many, but for LOC-I deep practice prevents the “startle response” often central in these tragic accidents.  Recent deep practice at the edges of the flight envelope is essential to stay safe as aviators.

Neuroscience is just starting to understand the details of this learning process. You may have read “Thinking, Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman. We humans utilize largely parallel processors for understanding and controlling our world; one thoughtful and slow and one rapid and reactive (built on habits, previous experience, and heuristics).  The majority of our daily activities are handled automatically according to stereotyped reliable frames-of-reference. The usual example – driving home and passing the convenience store (I meant to stop at) is a phenomenon we are all familiar with. Typing fluidly on a keyboard, but unable to list the keys from left to right, is another. Pushing deeper, in times of severe stress (as in an aviation upset occurrence) our brain reaches down to the level of our last recent training to react correctly (or not). Sudden upset is not a time to “pause and ponder” but requires an immediate and correct response. This is where “over-learning” is essential.  We must practice often to have a proven technique available “on automatic” to avoid a startle and panic response.

The first system can be considered fast thinking. It is thinking done almost automatically or instinctively.- The second system is slow thinking.It involves thinking that is more complex and more mentally draining. It takes concentration and agency of the person to process the thoughts

Once we have successfully accomplished any new behavioral repertoire, it is neurologically essential to “stabilize” it by continued training well past the point of simple proficiency; “got it and onward” is not enough. Scientists call this technique “overlearning” and have observed it in every field where human skill mastery is critical; from first violin to martial arts. A recent study reveals that “overlearning” reinforces a skill and embeds it in a different part of the brain, installing it chemically in an entirely different way so it will not be overwritten by new learning. Critical piloting skills must be impervious to forgetting (and this is also why the initial imprint must be accurate) and fluidly available. This new study shows that if you stop training a skill as soon as it is first successful, the brain stays in its “ready-to-learn state” and the new skill is highly perishable. Reinforcement changes your actual brain state and chemistry. The study shows that repetitive training beyond the point of proficiency will “hyperstabilize” the skill and prevents”retrograde interference” from newer inputs. Fly safely (and practice often).


SAFE CFI-PRO™ workshop  is open to every aviation educator at every level (even if you are working on your CFI?)

Join SAFE to support our safety mission of generating aviation excellence in teaching and flying. Our amazing member benefits pay back your contribution (1/3 off your ForeFlight subscription)! Our FREE SAFE Toolkit App puts required pilot endorsements and experience requirements right on your smartphone and facilitates CFI+DPE teamwork. Our CFI insurance was developed by SAFE specifically for CFIs (and is the best value in the business).

 

Learning Tools for the Educator!

The best student you ever had as an instructor probably was the one who was “on fire” to learn.  That totally motivated learner is mostly effortless for an educator, like feeding a hungry child or watching a vigorous plant grow. You just provide the content and direction-some guidance and feedback-then stand back and watch in astonishment. I can think of five students I worked with to get a private in only 35 hours (part 141) and all turned into better pilots than students plodding along with 100 or more hours.

And similarly, our best personal learning experiences are when there is the correct combination of challenge, excitement, opportunity, and accomplishment. This magic zone of optimal challenge and experience in education creates an experience that is efficient and rewarding for both the educator and the learner. But unfortunately, this is not the usual experience in aviation; both educators and pilots-in-training comment and complain about friction and motivation problems. Every lesson seems like a struggle rather than a breeze. How can we create and retain this learning magic in every lesson?

The secret to motivation and achieving that “zone of proximal development” is the dynamic educator and learner relationship.  If either side is not alert, energized and motivated, the fire is quickly extinguished and the learning process becomes a chore. Most typically, too much control and micro-managing on the part of the educator is the problem. The CFI is most often guilty of excessive caution or lack of caring and involvement.

  1. Students are more motivated academically when they have a positive relationship with their teacher.
  2. Choice is a powerful motivator in most educational contexts.
  3. For complex tasks that require creativity and persistence, extrinsic rewards and consequences actually hamper motivation.
  4. To stay motivated to persist at any task, students must believe they can improve in that task.

Sometimes the reasons are valid since we have to ultimately create a safe environment for learning and instill an attitude of responsibility in the future pilot. But we usually overdo this end of the equation (especially initially) and put out that initial fire of motivation. The usual combination I see is a jazzed up, excited learner and a jaded, “not so fast sonny” educator with the brakes on. As soon as that first exciting “sell them” discovery flight is over, we educators clamp down with the “burden of responsibility” and excessive caution and correction.

So lately, I have been trying to very carefully retain and build that initial fire of excitement and discovery into every lesson, providing the fun and benefits to the greatest extent possible. That initial spark of excitement is too precious to waste. Flying can be intrinsically motivating through continuous accomplishment and mastery. I personally think we can instill caution and care as we proceed without diminishing the motivation (if we are careful).

As an educator, I work hard on my personal attitude and approach to avoid burn-out. Reading and podcasts- focusing on the craft of teaching- are very helpful (Try the cult of pedagogy?) We not only have to grow as pilots but also as educational professionals. SAFE has an extensive library of resources for educators. And consider our next SAFE CFI-PRO™ coming in June at Sporty’s for some collaborative fun and learning. Fly safe out there (and often).


SAFE CFI-PRO™ workshop  is open to every aviation educator at every level (even if you are working on your CFI?)

Join SAFE to support our safety mission of generating aviation excellence in teaching and flying. Our amazing member benefits pay back your contribution (1/3 off your ForeFlight subscription)! Our FREE SAFE Toolkit App puts required pilot endorsements and experience requirements right on your smartphone and facilitates CFI+DPE teamwork. Our CFI insurance was developed by SAFE specifically for CFIs (and is the best value in the business).

“Ready For Anything?” – Training (Useful) Emergencies

Last spring a Citation 550, flown by an air ambulance service, lost both engines over the Atlantic and dead-sticked into Savanna, GA with no injuries or damage. Because everything worked perfectly, with lucky weather and masterful piloting, there was absolutely no coverage of this event in the news. This dual-engine flame-out, as dramatic as Sully and Skiles (but with more altitude and options) even landed a runway this time. Successful outcomes to bizarre emergencies like this clearly demonstrate the value of superior piloting skills but also the need to “stress test” our pilots during flight training to develop coping skills and resilience.  Too often in these situations, pilots succumb to our ancient biological “startle response” and cease to be proactive pilots and decision-makers. (GAJSC pdf) During flight training, we must build some mental toughness into our pilots to allow them to effectively cope with scary situations. Teaching the ability to “self-calm” and work the problem is essential. This training requires creativity and care on the part of the aviation educator. And just performing “standard ACS emergencies” by rote is certainly not enough.

GAJSC: Fatal general aviation accidents often result from inappropriate responses to unexpected events. Loss of aircraft control is a common factor in accidents that would have been survivable if control had been maintained throughout the emergency. In some cases pilot skill and knowledge have not been sufficient developed to prepare for the emergency but in others it would seem that an initial inappropriate reaction began a chain of events that led to disaster. Humans are subject to a “startle response” when they are faced with unexpected emergency situations and may delay action or initiate inappropriate action in response to the emergency. Training and preparation can help pilots to manage the startle response and effectively cope with unexpected events.

For both CFIs and pilots-in-training, there is a sense of what is “useful and fair” during pilot training. No one wants to add extraneous frills and cost to this project. But merely sticking with the ACS script and “teaching to the test” will never raise the pulse rate and build real resilience and emergency capability in our pilots. For future safety, educators need to present some realistic challenges (with a sense of urgency) to every pilot to develop coping skills.  When something alarming happens in flight, it is up to the PIC to resolve the emergency effectively and safely. We know from accident data that far too many pilots fail to respond correctly (if at all) in emergencies when simple actions would have improved the outcome.

Training surprises is tricky since we do not want to unnecessarily scare our pilots by presenting surprises too early in training (or without the proper preparation). Reading through historic occurrences such as Air Safety Institue’s “there I was” literature and Flying’s “I Learned About Flying” are good preparation once basic aircraft control is mastered and emergencies are on the menu. Your client’s buy-in for these new “rules of engagement” is essential to gain value from some “surprises.” Productive learning requires a discussion and mutual agreement that from now on “things will happen” and the pilot-in-training needs to handle them independently without instructor assistance; work the problem! Unfortunately, aeronautical decision-making is often making the best of a bad situation that we do not ask for. We play the cards we are dealt. Fly safely out there (and often).


SAFE CFI-PRO™ workshop  is open to every aviation educator at every level (even if you are working on your CFI?)

Join SAFE to support our safety mission of generating aviation excellence in teaching and flying. Our amazing member benefits pay back your contribution (1/3 off your ForeFlight subscription)! Our FREE SAFE Toolkit App puts required pilot endorsements and experience requirements right on your smartphone and facilitates CFI+DPE teamwork. Our CFI insurance was developed by SAFE specifically for CFIs (and is the best value in the business).

 

Auto-Land is Here for GA – Ready?

Congratulations to Garmin on the announcement of Autonomí, their new emergency autoland technology. Though obviously a high-priced entry and not available to most, it is a smart and definitive aviation game-changer. And we all know it will very quickly evolve beyond the current emergency application to normal operations. Lots of comments in our popular FaceBook post had many people warning “watch out pilots” as our jobs may soon be totally automated. The current technology is only available in the Piper 600 turboprop and the Vision Jet (and for emergencies) but possible early application would be in any aircraft using the Garmin 3000 system and having autothrottles; Honda Jet, Embraer, and TBM Turboprop.

If you have not seen this technology, watch the video here. On command (or potentially with a metered inattention period) the Garmin unit takes full control and decides on the nearest suitable runway, alerts ATC and directs the plane to a safe landing; all while alerting the passengers to not touch the controls. This clever system crabs for a crosswind and switches to a slip during the roundout and touchdown.  Autonomí even applies the brakes on the runway and shuts down the engine for a safe deplaning!

Evolving beyond the safety application for nervous fliers, this technology automates one of the most challenging parts of flying for future GA fliers. This can potentially open up aviation to a whole new market of people who may be stymied by the personal challenges or physical dexterity required to land an aircraft reliably. As a lifetime CFI, I have close to 50,000 landings logged. Teaching safe and accurate landing is one of our primary challenges as CFIs. And we all know this subtle art can be more than some people can master reliably and consistently. Autoland has the potential to eliminate this barrier and open the doors to many more future pilots. Whether this is a good thing will be debated for years, but the change is now upon us. Technology is rapidly subsuming every human challenge in our amazing world of abundance and automation.

Personally, one of my favorite activities after a long charter trip is getting out my 7AC Champ and landing in a series of different nearby grass fields, each with its own challenges and rewards. Autoland is not for me (at least for normal operations), and usually I fight with our SOPs to get more hand flying time in the jet (that is why we fly?) Let me know what you think. Fly safely (and often).


SAFE CFI-PRO™ workshop  is open to every aviation educator at every level (even if you are working on your CFI?)

Join SAFE to support our safety mission of generating aviation excellence in teaching and flying. Our amazing member benefits pay back your contribution (1/3 off your ForeFlight subscription)! Our FREE SAFE Toolkit App puts required pilot endorsements and experience requirements right on your smartphone and facilitates CFI+DPE teamwork. Our CFI insurance was developed by SAFE specifically for CFIs (and is the best value in the business).

Model Excellence; Earn a Master CFI (LLC)

The secret to inspiring pilots to be eager lifetime learners is to embrace this commitment (and model it) ourselves. Educators are the “influencers” in aviation and continual improvement is essential both as an example and to stay sharp. If we are not curious and excited – seeking new knowledge – inevitably cynicism and glassy-eyed complacency begin to set in. We all know these CFIs, rusting in the right seat and motivating no one. They renew every other year with the cheapest FIRC they can find and struggle with changes to the regs and new technology. This problem is also everywhere in daily life; statistics reveal that 70% of  US workers on the job are “disengaged” and uninspired.

To maintain your edge and excitement in every profession requires a commitment to continual growth and learning. In aviation, this does not only mean pursuing new ratings but also building professional credentials by pursuing a Master Instructor Certification. Cutting edge educational institutions like APS (Aviation Performance Solutions) require this certification of all of their educators.

An essential component of our unparalleled instructional philosophy, APS instructor pilots achieve the Master Certified Flight Instructor-Aerobatics (MCFI-A) designation by the end of their first year with APS and are required to maintain currency. Learn more about the MCFI and its rigorous requirements here.

The Master Certified Flight Instructor – Aerobatics (MCFI-A) designation is an FAA-recognized national accreditation from Master Instructors. To achieve the MCFI-A designation, an instructor must demonstrate an ongoing commitment to excellence, professional growth, and service to the aviation community and must pass a rigorous evaluation by a peer board of review. The designation significantly surpasses the FAA requirements for renewal of the candidate’s flight instructor certificate.

Like every other certificate, a new CFI is a “license to learn.” Look at the Canadian CFI system  (which has four levels of instructors) to see how perfunctory our FAA preparation can be! A new CFIs in Canada is not even allowed to initially teach unless supervised by a senior CFI. In Canada, a new CFI needs further training and certification to “go solo.” Even as a senior educator, maintaining a “beginner’s mind” makes the difference between “a thousand unique hours of experience and one hour a thousand times.”

The accumulation of hours and experience is often regarded as the sole criterion of honor and excellence in aviation. But unfortunately, piling up hours can easily result in increased complacency thus diminishing safety. Unless we are actively and eagerly pursuing excellence on every flight we usually are developing “right seat rust.”  As pilots, we are only as good as our last landing; there is no “safety inoculation” from historic hours (especially when we are just “talking a good show”)! On the professional educator level, we should always be adhering to a Professional Code of Conduct.InstructorCodeOfConduct.png

Give Master Instructor LLC a try and prove your worth as an aviation educator. And sign up for our SAFE CFI-PRO™ workshop (next at Sporty’s in June 2020) to bring new ideas and learning into your teaching. Expand *your* personal and professional flight envelope. Fly often (and safely!)


SAFE CFI-PRO™ workshop  is open to every aviation educator at every level (even if you are working on your CFI?)

Join SAFE to support our safety mission of generating aviation excellence in teaching and flying. Our amazing member benefits pay back your contribution (1/3 off your ForeFlight subscription)! Our FREE SAFE Toolkit App puts required pilot endorsements and experience requirements right on your smartphone and facilitates CFI+DPE teamwork. Our CFI insurance was developed by SAFE specifically for CFIs (and is the best value in the business).

Roger Throwing CFIs Under the Bus…

If you are a Roger Sharp fan I apologize in advance for my lack of love for his most recent rant about “stupid CFIs” at Migration.(Please click this link and watch a while…) His negative attitude toward all CFIs has progressed over the years from crappy to corrosive and my tolerance for his sarcasm reached a tipping point on this one.  And the only solution offered (at this Redbird gathering) is, of course, GIFT – the clever, self-guided software training that will (presumably all by itself) teach you to be a safe pilot (I don’t think even Redbird would back that claim). Totally trashing CFIs and trying to remove them from the educational equation – technology will save us yet again – is not the answer. Creating and supporting high-quality aviation educators is the necessary answer to our aviation future. Encouraging DPE/CFI dialogue (not diatribe) would be an even bigger step in the right direction.

Clearly, the Redbird experience in San Marcos with flight training has been painful. Their flight school closed a few years ago, and their Skyport FBO closed last month “without making a dime in eight years.” The bitterness of these failures has obviously left its mark on Redbird and Roger. But that is no reason to go to war on CFIs. As DPEs there is already too much hate directed at our profession. A much more productive course would be fostering more CFI/DPE collaboration and teamwork.

Though Redbird GIFT may be wonderful and valuable (I confess I have not sampled the glory of this package), at most it is a standardized exposure to the maneuvers in the ACS and cannot teach the context, meaning, and judgment necessary to be safe.  GIFT can only “teach to the test” and a Redbird is still very different from a real airplane. Even if you master a bobbing box run by software, at some point our potential pilot will have to learn to fly “the real thing.” Adapting to the real airplane with the stress and responsibility is a necessary transition for every pilot in command that requires a high-quality aviation educator.

I know from my recent experience with our SAFE CFI-PRO™, that there are many amazing, committed professionals out there doing a great job educating future pilots. Good examiners working closely with new CFIs to build their skills and enable excellence is the future of the flight training industry. Not every new CFI is the lost cause that Roger depicts. It might be hard to remember, but we were all a bit clueless when we started out as CFIs and good mentors and a helping hand make the essential difference.

I stand with the CFIs here and re-emphasize SAFE’s mission of building proficiency and enabling excellence in aviation education. Roger’s whining doesn’t help.  Fly safe out there (and often) register for our next CFI SAFE CFI-PRO™ workshop  June 10/11th at Sporty’s Academy in Ohio.


SAFE CFI-PRO™ workshop  is open to every aviation educator at every level (even if you are working on your CFI?)

Join SAFE to support our safety mission of generating aviation excellence in teaching and flying. Our amazing member benefits pay back your contribution (1/3 off your ForeFlight subscription)! Our FREE SAFE Toolkit App puts required pilot endorsements and experience requirements right on your smartphone and facilitate CFI+DPE teamwork. Our CFI insurance was developed by SAFE specifically for CFIs (and is the best value in the business).

Caring is a Critical Aptitude for Educating!

When I present to groups of pilots and experienced aviation educators and ask for key traits of great aviation educators, the most often mentioned attributes are never taught or tested by the FAA. These are the qualities of caring and compassion, patience and clear communication; the skills of emotional intelligence.

There are two very different components working together to create an amazing aviation educator. First are the obvious piloting skills and knowledge – the physical manipulation of the controls and associated skills. But more importantly, a great educator must be blessed with compassion, empathy and an ability to communicate clearly. A great educator has a well developed caring personality with a deep well of patience. A great CFIs is usually a  “people person” with a passion for seeing others succeed and a “warm heart.” Unfortunately, this personality trait can be hard to find in aviation. The ALPA analysis of the pilot personality lists pilots as most often controlling and dominant, somewhat intolerant and emotionally cold.

Pilots avoid introspection and have difficulty revealing, expressing, or even recognizing their feelings. When they do experience unwanted feelings, they tend to mask them, sometimes with humor or even anger. Being unemotional helps pilots deal with crises, but can make them insensitive toward the feelings of others.

If you apply this lens to “CFIs you know” you will quickly realize that some CFIs are really great pilots but are emotionally cold and fail miserably at the skills of empathy and caring. To these people, compassion and patience feel more like a burden or weakness; something required by the job but not central to their personality. Their teaching ability is often less than wonderful. The enigma for me is why a person like this would seek a CFI certificate since they actually dislike the time spent working through other people’s problems and inspiring insights. Part of the answer may be that the “aviation ladder” almost requires a CFI certificate to build the required hours for a career. Another reason is the CFI certificate represents another “pelt on the wall;” a certificate gained and perhaps required for advancement. In these cases, the unfortunate students pay the price for CFI aviation advancement and hour building.

In most cases, the physical manipulation of flight controls, knowledge and judgment can be taught to a wide spectrum of people so they reach commercial level flight proficiency. But can emotional/educational aptitude be taught? In 25 years of operating a flight school I would argue that there are definite limits in the success of conveying emotional intelligence unless you have a motivated learner. And in the FAA testing system there is no metric or ACS code for “warm heart and caring.”

This very same enigma is a central problem in the medical field. Some of the least effective physicians are impersonal technicians that lack warmth and “bedside manner.” They should be in the lab, not dealing with patients. Their technical competence may be impressive but if they fail to connect with the patient on an emotional level and their interventions are less successful.  Superior emotional intelligence not only improves the ultimate results in aviation and medicine, it enhances the quality of life for the caregiver (and CFI), preventing burn-out and depression.

For aviation educators, the  skills of caring and communication are most often more fully developed in a person with more life experience at work and in a family situation. The ability to interact, care and share develop with time and practice. Many aviators do not realize the heart of professional aviation CRM also requires emotional intelligence, creating a stronger flight deck team and crew environment. There is also in aviation an unfortunate confusion of strength and competence with the historic “military model” of toughness and stoic struggle.  Many people are not aware that the Marines now practice mindfulness and every Army recruit is now trained in emotional intelligence. These skills are now regarded as required for leadership and promotion in the Army.  (The traditionally understood model of “strength” is changing even in our military) These mental/emotional skills are worth learning for resilience, strength and certainly for successful educational effectiveness. Fly safely out there (and often).


Our next scheduled SAFE CFI-PRO™ workshop is June 10/11th at Sporty’s Academy in Ohio. This is open to every aviation educator at every level (even if you are working on your CFI?)

Join SAFE to support our safety mission of generating aviation excellence in teaching and flying. Our amazing member benefits pay back your contribution (1/3 off your ForeFlight subscription)! Our FREE SAFE Toolkit App puts required pilot endorsements and experience requirements right on your smartphone and facilitate CFI+DPE teamwork. Our CFI insurance was developed by SAFE specifically for CFIs (and is the best value in the business).

Fancy Footwork; Yaw Canceling (for Safety)!

We had 45 professional aviation educators at the “You Can Fly Center” for our SAFE CFI-PRO™ workshop this week. These dedicated professionals (half with more than 20 years teaching) really inspired me to present some deeper flight fundamentals. Proper rudder usage – yaw canceling – is often skipped in early flight training but is critical to flight safety. Most new pilots can program a G-1000 but not coordinate a climbing turn. And unfortunately, misuse of the rudder here leads to the “stall-spin accident” (really a “stall>yaw<spin accident”). Understanding and compensating for yaw takes a little effort since rudder effects are very non-intuitive (stay with me here!) If you don’t develop this critical skill in early training, you are probably skidding all the way around the pattern (an “airplane driver” and not a pilot). Please check your skid ball as you make your next crosswind turn; here is the “how and why” of that maneuver.

First, please watch this short video from Gold Seal. Russ does a great job clarifying adverse (temporary) yaw.

Adverse yaw is a transitory yaw effect caused by aileron deflection and gone once the aileron is back to neutral again. By contrast, spiraling slipstream produces constant yaw on every plane as long as power is being produced. Airplanes fly in a continuous spiraling vortex of air created by the propeller. Manufacturers engineer out this force in level flight at cruise power by offsetting the vertical stabilizer and other mechanical tweaks. But spiraling slipstream must be compensated for in the climb; your plane is slower here and the forces in a climb are more prominent due to angle of attack.

To be coordinated while climbing straight ahead (spiraling slipstream plus torque and P-factor), there is a neutral point of rudder balance (yaw canceling) requiring constant right rudder pressure while the nose is up in a climb. As we roll our climbing plane left, some left rudder (or reduced right rudder) is required to compensate for the temporary adverse yaw of the aileron deflection. But once in a constant bank left climbing turn, we are back to the original right rudder pressure for spiraling slipstream and other forces. Constant right rudder is required in a climbing left turn. Rolling out of this left turn oto downwind requires a huge amount of right rudder (you often see noticable left adverse yaw as a novice tries to pick up the left wing with just aileron). Rolling right in a climb requires compensating for the additive effect of spiraling slipstream and adverse yaw. CFIs must carefully monitor their pilots in training to be sure both the understanding and actions are correct here.

 

Thinking-Doing
Two different cognitive domains; we need BOTH!

I know all of this seems complex and non-intuitive, but various simple rudder exercises practiced at altitude make yaw sensing more natural. These forces must be understood first on the ground with a briefing  then practiced and reinforced in flight (see a rough draft of our SAFE Extended Envelope Training) Keeping your eyes directly over the nose outside (guideing your student’s perception) makes, yaw more easily apparent. Another clue is your body’s natural leaning right or left to compensate for the yaw (very obvious from the back of a tandem aircraft). Once yaw canceling becomes natural it is transparent and habitual  and part of a safe pilot toolkit. A coordinated plane responds correctly and flies more efficiently. As an added benefit,  your passengers feel physically better without the yaw too.  Fly safely out there (and often)


Our next scheduled SAFE CFI-PRO™ workshop is June 10/11th at Sporty’s Academy in Ohio. This is open to every aviation educator at every level (even if you are working on your CFI?)

Join SAFE to support our safety mission of generating aviation excellence in teaching and flying. Our amazing member benefits pay back your contribution (1/3 off your ForeFlight subscription)! Our FREE SAFE Toolkit App puts required pilot endorsements and experience requirements right on your smartphone and facilitate CFI+DPE teamwork. Our CFI insurance was developed by SAFE specifically for CFIs (and is the best value in the business).

Thank-You! Super Stars at SAFE CFI-PRO™

SAFE CFI-PRO™ is all set for next week and I am overwhelmed with both the attendance and the quality of our presenters. Thanks to everyone for supporting this important safety initiative, this is exactly the mission SAFE was created to address 10 years ago. We have five National FAA GA Award winners presenting (and several presenters have won these national awards in several different categories)! Both Doug Stewart and Rich Stowell have presented at the NTSB regarding Loss of Control-Inflight (one focus of this workshop). The SAFE CFI-PRO™ Workshop is off to a good start.

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We had a web snafu yesterday with SSL certificates (the site is back up now). For those registered, or curious, the info flier is here and the map here shows where everything is. We have added a happy hour at the Airways Inn and our amazing pilot BBQ is just down the road at the National Aviation Community Center  Attendees will get the best local BBQ in the presence of the AOPA sweepstakes RV-12 and some other interesting planes. MOre information is on the event website; available again!

Mike McCurdy from IFR6 had a family illness and will not be presenting (best of luck Mike) but good friends Bob Hepp and Adrian Eichhorn (both FAA National Award winners) graciously stepped up and will be presenting on Thursday. Adrian presents at all the AOPA Regional events but will be directing his comments specifically to the CFI-level airworthiness concerns. Bob operates Aviation Adventures with three locations in the DC Metro area.

A very exciting part of this show will be Community Aviation and Mindstar Aviation (the company that wrote the RedBird software) collaborating to demonstrate scenarios for LOC inoculation prepared specifically for the RedBird Simulator at AOPA. These will be broadcast from the sim directly into the auditorium with Billy Winburn and Stasi Poulos. There will be opportunities after the show to try the scenarios on the sim. This training is an amazing extension of the original SAFE Pilot Proficiency Project and we could not be more proud and excited!

If I created enough interest with the above description, be aware that we *can* accommodate a few walk-ins if you call soon (the catering order is already in so please call) We also have announced the date and location of the next SAFE CFI-PRO™ at Sporty’s Academy on June 10th and 11th.


Our next scheduled SAFE CFI-PRO™ workshop is June 10th and 11th at Sporty’s Academy in Ohio. This is open to every aviation educator at every level (even if you are working on your CFI?)

Join SAFE to support our safety mission of generating aviation excellence in teaching and flying. Our amazing member benefits pay back your contribution (1/3 off your ForeFlight subscription)! Our FREE SAFE Toolkit App puts required pilot endorsements and experience requirements right on your smartphone and facilitate CFI+DPE teamwork. Our CFI insurance was developed by SAFE specifically for CFIs (and is the best value in the business).

Imagine the Worst, Plan for the Best!

Mike Patey very bravely took full respnsibility for his public crash of Draco this week: “this is on me, I made a bad decision.” We need to respect and honor that (rare) honesty. But Mike also clearly laid down the challenge for every pilot to practice better risk management and learn from his personal tragedy with enhanced risk-management awareness.

Personal honesty and accurate self-assessment (which Mike modeled beautifully after the Draco crash) are probably the most underdeveloped human skills; especially in aviation – “let me die first rather than dishonor myself.” This lack of honesty can clearly get us in trouble quickly in aviation when we are planning a flight and facing challenges enroute; are we up to the task or should we consider an alternate. Even a great pilot flying a super-powerful and capable machine can get caught by bad “mental math” when the P-A-V-E elements do not line up correctly. How can we protect ourselves from being caught in the same trap?

One proven antidote to risk taking and over confidence has been advocated by some of the bravest and best aviators; maintain a modicum of fear. Chuck Yeager wrote that fear was always a motivating force to goad him to exhaustively study  systems and carefully prepare for each flight. A Vietnam pilot I know (with 125 combat missions) advocates “nurturing fear” as one of the best pre-flight actions to defeat complacency and clearly surface the risks in a plan.  It is critical to carefully remind yourself before every flight that mishandling aviation can be embarassing, expensive and painful.

This “premeditation of evils” or “negative visualization” was practiced by the ancient Greek Stoics to avoid disappointment before every contemplated action. And though this totally gloomy  outlook can quickly turn you into Eeyore, there is value in reminding yourself, “I don’t want to end up like Draco here,” and exploring safer alternate courses of action. A take-off briefing with all the stated possible problems and reactions is a great example of “negative visualization.” Keeping the worst in mind (stoic attitude) makes us work more diligently to calculate a safe path and mitigate risks.

We all have a natural cognitive bias to rapidly “normalize” every life experience through repetition and stereotyping. This creates the two-fold problem of not properly seeing a “clear and present danger” through “predictive perception,” but also pushing harder to get the same excitement and adrenaline buzz. Without specific pessimism applied in every operation, we can easily forge blindly into risky circumstances with our baked in optimism. For example, remind ourselves that every take-off has an equal chance of engine failure and have a plan ready. (Though this seems like the simplist operation in flying, it accounts for 28% of fatalities.)  And if we are educators, it is necessary to both encourage and carefully develop risk management in our pilots during training.

A “safety culture” of standard, safe operating limitations (and trusted advice) is another great antidote to risky behavior. Some external oversight expands our limited viewpoint and can defuse our normalizing tendencies. Known normative standards and a friendly “what are you thinking” can break the illusion of invulnerability and surface the risks to which we all can become blind. “Friends don’t let friends fly unsafe.” Fly safely out there (and often)


Still time to register for the SAFE CFI-PRO™ workshop Oct 2/3 at AOPA. This is open to educators at every level (even working on your CFI?) There are four National “FAA CFIs of the Year” among the presenters!

Join SAFE to support our safety mission of generating aviation excellence in teaching and flying. Our amazing member benefits pay back your contribution (1/3 off your ForeFlight subscription)! Our FREE SAFE Toolkit App puts required pilot endorsements and experience requirements right on your smartphone and facilitate CFI+DPE teamwork. Our CFI insurance was developed by SAFE specifically for CFIs (and is the best value in the business).