Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Of Crash Courses And Self-Discovery


Who knew there could be so much to learn in the game?


I talked to the sponsoring aviation training company afterward and found that they don't control their own curriculum. It's drawn entirely from an FAA Advisory circular that clearly delineates what has to be covered and what to emphasize.

Looking back over the weekend, it's easy to see what the FAA's hot buttons are these days. Runway incursions apparently still haunt them, because I couldn't believe how much time was being spent on runway signage and analyzing accidents on some of the world's most complex airports. I had to grin considering that most of us fly off of single-runway airports. Plus, grass runways don't have a lot of markings on them. I learned a lot during the discussion, but none of it would apply to my own operating environment.

Another hot topic was Aviation Decision Making, ADM, which I'll admit is a fascinating subject. It was obvious that a lot of thought had gone into the audiovisuals of the computerized presentation, with a lot of major titles and pithy subheads. But, of course, you couldn't actually digest all of the subheads because there were too many of them, and none of them were explained in a way that we could actually apply in our instructing. We soaked it up by rote so we could pass the little tests and then promptly went back to how we usually teach. This means we figure out what works for a particular student and custom fit our explanations and demos to the way he or she appears to learn best.

Incidentally, I'm hereby issuing a warning: Although nothing was said during the long discussion on airspace definitions and rules, I'm positive they're going to change the airspace titles and definitions again. The reason I feel that way is because they've changed all of that stuff at least twice since I started flying, and I struggled with it every time. During the presentations, I realized that I already knew most of what they were talking about. So, since I've finally gotten to the point that I can discuss the different airspaces because I understand them, I can almost guarantee that they're going to change them again.

Incidentally, and I know this goes back probably 75 years, but I don't know what genius decided to use magenta and that faded blue (I think) color for low-level airspace boundaries. He apparently forgot that a lot of us are color-blind and can't tell one from the other.

Everything about the weekend was regulations and mostly IFR-related, and not about flying. Neither the skill nor the passion that is flight was even mentioned. I was so terrifically glad that the non-flying public hadn't been subjected to the torture that I endured over the weekend. Had they been, we wouldn't see a single new student start for the entire next generation. It was a blizzard of requirements and complexities that would be off-putting to anyone not already an astronaut. It made flying look absolutely impossible to either understand or do.

There's a lot to be said for a Cub and a grass runway. And, it's comforting to know that part of the aviation world is still flourishing. That's the nice thing about passion: You can't regulate it out of existence.



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