#20 Those Late Night Meetings

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A couple of years ago I was flying with one of my most talented students. She did something that irritated me. I don’t even remember what it was; perhaps cutting the corner to final while high, making the resulting approach even higher.

I asked, “Do you go to those late night meetings?”

Late at night, a group of Brian's students gather in the hangar to compare notes.

“What are you talking about”, she inquired.

“You know, those meetings late at night that all my students attend. The ones where you get together and discuss all the things you can do that annoy Brian.” She didn’t think it was funny.

It’s become a running gag with several of my students and the mental image of all of them gathered around in a candlelit room plotting about all the things they can do to get their instructor’s goat always tickles me. But, like most humor, this gag gets its basis in fact. There are many mistakes or foibles that many, if not most, students make. You’d think they collaborated about them.

I don’t place much value on the instruction techniques advanced by the FAA, but two items from their “Flight Instruction Handbook” are apt and do stick in my mind. One is the idea that instructors should always warn their students about the most common error made in the performance of a particular maneuver. I love that one. If I see the same mistake being made by many students, I can warn you about it and help you avoid it.

Here are just a few of those common actions:
Maneuvering the plane so that you can see the windsock… and I can’t.
Making an early turn from base to final when you are already high. It makes you even higher.
Reducing power to below the green arc in order to descend to a pattern when still several miles out. It wastes time.
Late at night, a group of Brian’s students gather in the hangar to compare notes.
Blasting down through pattern altitude on downwind when a simple pitch adjustment would conserve your altitude and slow you to approach speed.
Diving for the plant in a wheel landing before the wheels touch. It’ll result in a hard touch and may even start a cycle resulting in damage to the airplane.
Flying a course to someplace near the airport when we are GOING TO the airport.

Perhaps the above are all actions that are discussed at those late night meetings. I wouldn’t know because I’m not invited.

If, like that first student, you don’t see the humor in my reference to the late night meetings, just remember the point I’m actually making in my own fumbling way: Our tendency to make many of the same mistakes also gives us the opportunity to share some information so that we can avoid those mistakes and learn faster.

Oh, and the second item in the Feds’ book? It’s the axiom, “when the student fails to learn the instructor has failed to teach”. I love that one. It may not always be accurate, but it keeps me honest and true to my craft.

Happy Swooping!