Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Upset Recovery Vs. Aerobatics

How upset do we have to be to get good training?

There are many pilots out there with the "right stuff," but some people just don't have access to the kind of flight training they deserve. The student is only as good as their instructor. We're taught to obey rules and procedures. If the governing bodies in aviation don't provide us with the best training system, how will student pilots know what they're lacking in terms of good airmanship?

Wikipedia defines airmanship as "not simply a measure of skill or technique, but also a measure of a pilot's awareness of the aircraft, the environment in which it operates, and of his own capabilities." And my favorite: "Discipline is the foundation of airmanship. The complexity of the aviation environment demands a foundation of solid airmanship…and a positive approach to combating pilot error."

The buck has to stop somewhere. Until drones take over the world and we don't have to worry about our feeble behavior, human factors will remain a critical part of the safety chain.

The "law of primacy" in flight instruction states: Things learned first create a strong impression in the mind that's difficult to erase. The FAA is now requiring an ATP certificate and 1,500 hours total to fly a commercial carrier. This is another layer of regulation intended to make things safer, but I'd much rather be sitting in the seat behind a 300-hour first officer who knows the basics of stick-and-rudder flying than a pilot with 10,000 hours but missing these basics.

Throw away the current FAA practical standards and go back to basics—airmanship, stick-and-rudder, real stalls, spins—and aerobatics should play a part in a student pilot's basic and advanced training. Upset training or akro? Take your pick. The accomplished aviator will be good at both. If some instructors can't teach those things, then let's give them remedial training. If the airplanes we train in aren't suitable, then let's build new ones or modify existing ones. Let's insist that flight training gets back to basics of stick-and-rudder skills and understanding angle of attack. It's never too late.


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