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).