Analysis of Lesson Plan 2

Lesson Plan 2 is one of the more challenging and rewarding lesson plans in the sequence as it incorporates all the elements of getting the training aircraft up in the air with a “blank slate” student buckled into the pilot seat—in real life, student progress through the lesson plan items is typically extremely varied and requires that instructor keep their expectations in check.  Give the student lots of cookies.  Lesson Plan #2 is best NOT viewed as an exercise sequence with specific targets spelled out that the student must achieve.  Instead, take the instructor perspective that you are presenting an organized lesson plan that is effective in allowing the student to safely and systematically interact with the aircraft.  The focus is of course to engage the student in the pre-flight and pre-takeoff sequences that must be learned and practiced by the student over the next three flights or so (excluding the standard operational variations in these, including weather and airport conditions, etc.), but the primary focus of training throughout this lesson is the student learning the crucial “cause-effect” relationship between control inputs and aircraft behaviour.  If this lesson plan is done right, and the student is given the time to “feel” the aircraft through control inputs, you are setting a foundation for the student understanding and student confidence—the latter, you will learn, is the most important ingredient in all pilot training.

Lesson Plan 2 as Two Flights

Dividing this Lesson Plan into two flights, the first focuses on allowing the student to work through the three movements—this is the “feel” part of the student-aircraft relationship—and how these are used to generate the four attitudes—cruise attitudes, nose-up attitude, nose-down attitude, and banked attitude. 

Emphasize Aircraft Handling

Teaching a student how to ‘handle” the aircraft during the movements training is crucial—teach them from the start to be smooth, gentle, yet firm. Teach them to be purposeful in their aircraft handling—controls must never be jerked or moved suddenly.  Instead, aircraft handling should be akin to smooth and graceful movements associated with ballet or Tai chi!

Teaching the Movements

The challenge for instructors is to develop air activity that enables students to practice the graceful yet purposeful pitch, roll, and yaw movements.  Student can practice the “normal range” and “full range” of movements, returning to the cruise attitude after each left/right or up/down movement sequence.  Instructor demonstrates, then the student practices with repetitions.  The normal pitch range is with the nose position roughly from the horizon down to a normal descent attitude, and the normal roll range is from a gentle bank (approximately 15⁰) left and right, while the full ranges are roughly doubled for the so-called full range of movement. 

Yaw Instruction

Yaw movement must be treated with reverence as improper rudder inputs can put inexperienced pilots in trouble—unlike the movements of pitch and roll, which are “produced” by the pilot, yaw movement is “controlled” (at least for the most part of flying anyways).  Nevertheless, the student experience pertaining to yaw and the operation of the rudder pedals should NOT be avoided like the some dark force—students must learn as well the cause-effect relationship of rudder movement, but in a “cautious and controlled environment”—the instructor controls the pitch and roll state of the aircraft (by maintaining a cruise attitude) while the student experiences consequence of the yaw—including the visual, physical, and instrument indication of this movement—as the rudder pedals are gentle yet firmly manipulated.  This experience will take away the mystery of the rudder pedals early on in their flying.

Teaching the Attitudes

With the exception of yaw, movements are tied into attitudes—pitch is to the nose-up and nose-down attitudes, as roll is to the left-bank and right-bank attitudes.  The air lesson should branch-off to these attitudes as the movements become master by the student.  The statement of “produce and control” must permeate the instruction patter while teaching the connection of movements to attitudes, and the student should observe and experience the behaviour of the aircraft (trimmed only for the cruise attitude but unbeknownst to the student!) when the individual attitude is produced but then let go—that is, letting go of the control column, and observing phugoid oscillations in the case of pitch, or whether wing position is stable in the case of banked attitudes—this is absolute prime opportunity to demonstrate and student the aircraft behaviour in this regard, and you don’t want your student to miss it. 

Once the connect between movements and attitudes is made, the air instruction should transform into a series of repetitious requests made by the instructor to produce specified attitudes—initially through the platform of the cruise attitude, but more advanced variations, such as from the combined nose-up and left banked attitude to the nose-down and right banked attitude.

Moving from Teaching Movements to Teaching Attitudes

During instruction on aircraft movements, the starting point is recognition of the cruise attitude, and then from here begin the movements instruction.  The instruction of movements should begin with generating very slow and slight movement using equally slow and slight control column pressures, then observing the movement of the control service outside the cockpit (through rapid yet slight feathering of the controls), then the normal range movement, and finally the full range of movement.

The governing theme for attitudes instruction is of course recognition—here the “VPI” cycle can be used by the instructor: the visual clues associated with the attitude, including the forward perspective of the nose or glareshield position (depending on the eye height of the student) relative to the horizon, and the side perspective of the wing tips relative to the horizon, the physical clues, including seat sensations and sound sensations (wind and engine), and the instrument confirmation (excluding the attitude indicator, heading indicator, VSI and turn-rate indications—leaving you with the altitude, speed and yaw indications).  As your student to recite these clues as you work them through their attitudes and movements drills.  Also, get them to produce the attitudes only with reference to the wing tips.

Yaw Instruction

Yaw instruction should be deferred to the end of the pitched-based and roll-based attitudes.  This should include exercises on controlling yaw during roll movements, power changes, and during climbs, demonstrating these manifestations first without yaw control, and then with proper yaw control.

Okay, this outlines in very general terms the attitudes and movements portion of Lesson Plan #2, and now let’s progress with the second part of the LP#2, known as “basic maneuvers”—straight and level flight, climbs, descents, and turns.

Teaching Aircraft Trimming

Proper trimming is an integral part of basic maneuvers, and this should be the lead off of the primary exercises before basic maneuvers are started.  Begin by simply allowing the student experience the cause-effect relationship between trim wheel movement and the movement of the aircraft.  Then teach the student the “open palm” method of trim whereby needed control column pressure is first maintained by hand, and then the pressure trimmed off to a “hands free” state.  Practice with repetitions.  If the aircraft is equipped with a rudder trim mechanism, repeat to keep the wings level.

Teaching Basic Maneuvers

Teaching basic maneuvers requires specification of performance targets that are to be maintain—keeping a heading reference constant, maintaining an altitude, and turning from one reference point, using a constant bank, to another reference point.  Basic maneuvers also require the execution of specific pilot actions in the correct order of sequence—APT for climbs, PAT for descents, and TBAT for turns.  Begin with straight and level flight and demonstrate how minor bank and pitch are used to maintain the respective heading and altitude targets—with pitch place the trim out and ask the student to regain the altitude target.  Straight and level flight is simple, but importantly, it is the platform from which the other basic maneuvers are conducted.  For climbs and descents, targets and pilot actions should be emphasized.  Climbs are always with full power, while descents should be accomplished with approximate power settings targeting halfway between 2000 RPM and 1500 RPM.  With turns, a calm, effective, and efficient cycle of actions should be emphases, with the bank target simply being a gentle bank.

In teaching basic maneuvers, repetitions are the key for student learning, but it is nevertheless a straight forward air card to deliver.

The Secondary Exercises of Lesson Plan 2

For both attitudes and movements and basic maneuvers, there are a number of secondary exercises to be delivered.  For attitudes and movements, the pre-flight activities (e.g., the technical dispatch of the aircraft) should be undertaken by the instructor as lead, and the student playing a supporting roll, while with the second basic maneuvers flight, these rolls should be reversed.  Taxiing practice for both flights should include centreline tracking and “stop-start” exercises, with the student learning to keep the aircraft rolling straight while the brakes are applied.  The run-up should be treated like the pre-flight, while the takeoff and landing should be a “shared responsibility” affair, with the student working the rudder pedals, and then the control column.  The navigation exercise should entail the student identifying and tracking prominent geographic features out and back.

With regard to traffic scanning, the clock system should be demonstrated and used on the first flight, while the second flight should begin with detailed and effective review of the scanning sectors, the scanning practice for individual sectors, and the systematic scanning of sectors is maintained throughout the flight.  Compass error can be demonstrated at the end of the second flight.