Air Card for Basic Maneuvers Level 1

After completing airport departure obligations, and a review of attitudes and movements, begin this lesson after the student has established the cruise attitude. 

Traffic Scanning

Teaching the student traffic scanning is first.  If scanning is done at the beginning of the flight, the student can apply the scanning techniques just learned during remaining flight time.

Mapping the Scanning Sector

To teach scanning, begin by mapping out the five or seven sectors composing the scan pattern.  Begin directly ahead of the aircraft, pointing out the center position of sector one and the left and right boundaries of this sector, which should come off 20° to 30° off the 12 o’clock position.  Then map out the second sector center point and its left and right boundaries, and repeat for the remaining sectors.

Focal Points

Now that the student has a sense of how sectors are distributed, begin by showing the scanning practices to clear each sector of traffic.  Remind the student that you wish to use focal points for the high so as to counter empty field myopia, and that for each sector the student should have high point and the low point.  The high point should be above the horizon, well below point should be halfway between the horizon and the bottom of the field of view for that sector—for example, halfway between the horizon and the top of the glareshield.  Identify for your student’s benefit the high focal point that you are using, for example, a mountain peak or a point on the clouds.  Tell your student to stare at the point you have just identified, and asked the student if he sees any movement of aircraft in his peripheral vision around that point.  “I don’t see anything Frankie, do you?”  Now select a low focal point.  “Frankie, do you see the red barn just above the nose of the aircraft?”  When the student identifies the focal point, ask again if they can detect any aircraft movement around the focal point using peripheral vision.  Now, have the student identify the two focal points for the adjacent sector.  Point to the center of the sector and asked the student what they are selected high focal point is.  “Do you see any traffic Frankie?”  Repeat with respect to the student’s selection of a low focal point.  You’re just above finished your error instruction on traffic scanning. 

Managing the Scanning Sectors

The next subject you should discuss is how to manage the multiple sectors—that is, you should explain to your student how you move from sector to sector continuously during flight so as to maintain an effective scanning practice.  Point out that some pilots use a methodical front-to-left, or front-to-right pattern, while others employ a random scan, randomly moving between high and low focal points on the left and right sides.  During a left turn, scanning practices are focused on the left side, in the direction of the turn, while the opposite applies in the case of right turns.

Fixed Target Demonstration

A final valuable lesson related to traffic scanning is the identification of fixed targets.  While this lesson is extremely important for students to receive, it must be done carefully.  When the opportunity presents itself, identify a viable aircraft target that is clearly visible, yet at a safe distance.  Have your student identify the target.  Then, with care and attention, adjust your aircraft so that you are positioned in a collision course.  As you do so, demonstrate to the students how the target becomes fixed, and acquires no apparent movement.  Remember, this demonstration must be done at a safe distance.  If a viable target is not visible, defer this exercise to later during the flight when the opportunity arises.

Aircraft trimming

Stabilator Trim

This portion of the air card is accomplished the aircraft trained in straight and level flight.  “Let’s move on to the aircraft trimming, Frankie, and I want to begin with the trim wheel located between the seats.”  Demonstrate to the student the effects of moving the stabilator trim wheel slowly and gently forward, and then slowly and gently rearward.  Have the student observed the movement of the nose up and down, ensuring you do not go above the normal nose-up and nose-down attitude positions.  Return the nose to the cruise attitude using the trim wheel, and then ask your student to do the same.  This will give them an introduction to the wheel movement and its effects on pitch movement. 

Now you want to show your student how the control column feels when the aircraft is not in trim.  Adjust the trim forward while holding the nose in a constant cruise attitude, being sure that there is only enough trim pressure necessary to make it apparent to the student.  Then ask the student to hold the control column so as to maintain the cruise attitude, and ask them what they notice about the control column pressure—“What do you notice, Frankie?”  Then ask them what is necessary with respect to the movement of the trim wheel to put the aircraft back into proper trim—forward or back adjustment? 

Open Palm Method of Trimming

Now demonstrate to the student how to properly trim the aircraft.  Assuming the aircraft is improperly trimmed nose-down, demonstrate to your student how you place an open palm behind the control column to hold the nose in the cruise attitude.  Now show the student how you move the trim wheel rearward until the control column pressure comes off your hand.  Clear your hands from the control column when the aircraft is trimmed—“Vuala!”  You should then return the aircraft the same out–of-trim state, and then allow the student to repeat the exercise.  Repeat again for practice.  When this is done, provide a second demonstration of correcting nose-up trim situation.  Student practice should be repeated.

Rudder Trim

As in the case of stabilator trim for the Piper Cherokee, begin your lesson on rudder trimming by having the student explore how the aircraft responds to left and right rotations of the rudder trim wheel.  When this is completed, take control of the aircraft, and place the rudder out of trim.  As was the case with the pitch trim, ask your student to hold the control column so as to keep the cruise attitude, and then ask him which way the rudder trim wheel has to be rotated in order to maintain wings level.  Then demonstrate to the student how to rectify and out-of-trim state.  The method of trimming here is different.  Using a simple trial-and-error method, adjust the trim wheel and then test to see if the wings keep level, adjust and test, adjust and test, etc., until the wings remain level.

Straight and Level—the Platform

With the aircraft trimmed in the cruise attitude, you are ready to move on to straight and level flight.  “Let’s move on to straight and level flight, and guess what Frankie?  Yes, this is straight and level flight.”  Explain to your student that the cruise attitude becomes straight and level flight when specific targets are maintained—that is, the aircraft is tracking straight towards a target and the altitudes remains constant.  Identify for each student the visual targets you have align the aircraft with, and the altitude that you are maintaining.  "This is real simple stuff, Frankie."  Demonstrate to your student how you make slight roll and bank adjustments to correct the position of the nose when it deviates from the street target.  Similarly demonstrate how you make slight adjustments to the cruise attitude to move the altimeter back to its target reading.

As student practice, move the heading of the aircraft slightly off its heading target (10° to 20°), pass control back to your student, and ask him to return the aircraft to the original heading.  Repeat left and right.  Then take control of the aircraft, move its heading off target again, but this time place the rudder out of trim using the rudder trim control wheel; pass control back to your student and asked them to make the necessary adjustments to the heading and trim wheel.  Repeat the exercise left and right.


Now you are ready to move onto the climb sequence, and of course you should begin with a demonstration.  Start with a clear transitions statement: “Okay Frankie, let’s move on to climbs, and I want to be with . .”  Ask your student to recite the climb sequence (remember airspeed is not include).  “That's right Frankie—traffic check, attitude, power, and trim . . and what do we have to remember when we apply power? . . . that’s right, Frankie—control yaw.”  To demonstrate, begin by establishing the targets for your climb—altitude leaving, altitude climbing, where you are going to put the nose (on the horizon), and what your straight track reference mark is.  “Any questions Frankie?”  Be sure to draw attention to the yaw ball during the climb and demonstrate the effect of the corrective rudder input.

When you are done, the student repeats.  When they are done, take control and provide feedback.  Remember not to interrupt the student during their practice with comments, unless of course they are necessary.


Descents are of course a repeat, with of course the necessary variation.

Combinations of Climbs/Descents with Turns

A first way to do this is to simply maintain a constant bank during the climb or descent, levelling the wings as the aircraft is levelled at the target altitude.  Then you can progress your student to turning to specific track references (visually, not in reference to the heading indicator) during the climb or descent.

Compass Errors

Begin by demonstrating the acceleration/deceleration.  Align the aircraft along the east/west grid lines, and then pitch forward for acceleration, and pitch up for a deceleration, noting the variants on the compass.  Have your student try it.  Then align the aircraft on the north/south grid to show an unaffected compass.

For the turning error, begin at straight and level flight on a northerly or southerly grid line.  Perform a 20° banked turn through 360°, noting the variations between the compass and the cardinal points of the grid lines.