…please share your years of accumulated wisdom and help young CFIs. Pay it forward!
From a recent FaceBook post by a VFR-only Cirrus pilot:
“First time in 800+ hrs I’ve had to scrub a VFR flight because of weather. The field quickly went marginal to IFR in minutes while I taxied out and did the run up. I waited for 10 min checking the weather and with ATC and it was a losing battle.”
As a responsible flight instructor, don’t the first 15 words of this post ring an alarm bell for you? How likely do you think is it that a pilot could accumulate more than 800 hours of flight time without ever canceling a VFR flight because of weather conditions?
It’s possible, I’m sure, but there was something about the photo accompanying the post that sent chills up and down my spine. It was the juxtaposition of that beautiful, glowing always-VFR virtual reality screen with the obvious IMC conditions outside.
Save the nastygrams, I’m not singling out Cirrus pilots. Nearly all new airplanes these days come with glass panels, and all those easy-to-understand visual displays and additional information can help keep a pilot safer.
On the other hand, I believe that for some pilots all those whistles and bells give the false confidence to burrow ever-deeper into deteriorating weather. On Cirrus aircraft, the presence of the red ripcord handle for the parachute can add to overconfidence for judgment-impaired pilots.
In the early days of glass panels, grouchy old instructors would turn up their noses at non-pilots who bought fast, fancy new glass airplanes and expected to be taught to fly in them. The expression often used in those days was “he has more money than brains.”
Again, I’m not picking on Cirrus. It’s just that this revolutionary aircraft with a parachute was one of the first and by far the most popular all-glass airplane type, and is still a natural choice for well-heeled newbie pilots. In the early years, the Cirrus aircraft accident rate, particularly in weather-involved accidents, was far greater than for other traveling-type airplanes. To its credit, Cirrus redoubled its training efforts and re-emphasized ADM and recurrency for pilots of this type. With that education, the Cirrus’ accident rate now compares favorably with similar GA aircraft.
For CFIs, much of this comes down to teaching pilot judgment. That was difficult enough in Cessna 152s with a single 360-channel navcom, but today some newbies are convinced that all the gadgets in their fancy new technologically-advanced airplane mean it can be used for “anywhere, anytime traveling.” That makes teaching ADM even more important, also more difficult, and that’s where you, the experienced CFI, come in.
SAFE is re-energizing its Mentor program, which allows experienced SAFE CFI members to sign up via the SAFE web site to advise and counsel less experienced CFIs. Such advice might be in marketing, transition training or a hundred other topics, not only on how to teach pilot judgment. There’s a convenient sign-up form on our website to share your hard-won expertise and judgment to the younger generation.
Please share your accumulated years of CFI wisdom and help younger instructors. Login to the member side of the website and fill in the form, we will match you with the many new CFIs seeking an experienced mentor.
And if you are not a SAFE member yet, this is your cue to join our group of aviation education professionals. Support SAFE in our mission of pursuing aviation excellence. The amazing member benefits alone make this commitment painless and fun. See you at the airport.
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