In a Tailwheeler’s Journal article called “Late Night Meetings”, I accused all of my students of attending such candlelit meetings in a darkened hangar late at night. Their purpose, I claimed, was to conspire against me and do all the things that students routinely do to drive their flight instructors nuts.
Most of my students realized why I wrote that article. It was a tongue-in-cheek look at the fact that there are certain things which most students do. By learning about those things, the student can avoid flying pitfalls and advance faster.
Recently I was flying with Jim, one of my favorite students and a guy who has taken to flying. I started him a while back and he’s now a Private Pilot. Jim has a mind like a steel trap and sometimes surprises me by quoting me back to myself.
We were working on multiple landings. This is a fun series of maneuvers where a flyer touches down, usually in a wheel landing, then opens the throttle and lifts off (you can see our video on it by selecting this link). But instead of continuing on, he lowers the nose to keep the plane about five feet off the ground. He lets it accelerate, then chops the power and executes another landing, followed by another takeoff. On a five thousand foot runway I can easily do five landing and takeoff cycles. But if a student only does two, he’s already doubled what the Acme Flying School student is getting. Couple that with our practice of flying a tight, low pattern and you may have a student who is getting more than four or five times the landings of his buddy at the Acme Flying School. He’s also developing extra skills during the transitions between each landing and takeoff.
I was sharing a secret with Jim. “Simply keep that nose down on final in order to conserve your energy in the form of airspeed. Sound familiar?” I asked. “How many times do you think you’ve heard me say, ‘keep the nose down’?”
Jim immediately explained, “Oh yeh, we talked about that in the last late night meeting. In fact we all were doing ‘Brian impressions’. We took turns like a bunch of parrots, saying, ‘keep the nose down’, ‘more right rudder’, ‘Ray Charles can see that, ‘hear that flapping? It’s a chicken coming home to roost’ and so on.”
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, I’m properly flattered. We all love it when we find out that someone is actually listening to us!
I’m also reminded of what fun it is to fly with folks who get as big a kick out of this game as I do.