Aviation In Canada

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Flight Instruction

A recent comment about one of my posts (regarding engine failures and instruction techniques) prompted this post. The context is about student preparation, and I find this very interesting.

A friend of mine who is a flight instructor told me about one of his steps in preparing a student. This particular step involves an "in-flight fire" on the outside of the airplane. The drill starts somewhere along the way up fairly high, 5,000 feet or so (land around my neck of the woods is mostly below 500 ASL). At an opportune moment (instructor's point of view, of course), the instructor tells the student he has a fire in the nose cowl. Typically, by the time the student gets this little scenario, he recognizes the altitude they have is sufficient and begins the dive to 100 knots (C172, BTW) as the emergency procedures indicate, attempting to blow the fire out prior to executing a forced landing if one would be required. He continues to tell the student that the fire doesn't go out. His goal is to see if the student has taken any glances out the window for a field nearby, since it is an unknown factor just how long the fire would take to be extinguished. What if you end up burning all your altitude trying to overcome the fire and by the time it is out (maybe it doesn't go out), you can't make anyplace suitable, or even half-suitable? It's an interesting exercise, and not proposed as a pass-or-fail test, but it hopefully makes the student realize the checklists don't necessarily cover every situation, nor every possibility within a situation. Flying the airplane is always the #1 priority.

From a student's standpoint, I can see them hating it. From a licensed standpoint, I have a great appreciation for it. Anything that makes you think can broaden your horizons, and maybe make you just a little better at what you do.