We have seen some recent accidents where “student lock-up” is a strongly suggested causal factor. This fear reaction is common in flight training; 65% of SAFE CFIs surveyed reported forcibly taking the controls from their panicked learner . “Lock-up” is a result of “extreme fear” which puts the brain directly into the “fight or flight” mode. This neurological state is identical to the “startle response” that any pilot may encounter with a surprise upset incident. “Startle” is a major cause of Loss of Control Inflight (the #1 pilot killer).
Obviously we all need to understand (and avoid) this built-in reaction to extreme fear (both dual and solo) for greater safety. Here are several SAFEblogs dealing with this topic (all hyperlinked). As a CFI it is essential to avoid frightening our learner. Not only is their a distinct danger of lock-up, but no learning is happening if your client is severely fearful. For experienced pilots, self-calming techniques are an essential safety resource. Here is a typical NTSB (non-conclusive) dual lock-up accident.
For deeper understanding of this subject, I recommend this book by Jeff Wise. BTW, many important resources for pilots are not specifically in the aviation ecosystem. Learning more about human psychology and basic educational techniques are a huge benefit for every pilot and educator. Review the books and courses (free) in our SAFE public resource center and on the SAFE Toolkit App; #flySAFE!
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