It’s true. Let me explain. I am absolutely convinced that the average general aviation pilot is sadly deficient in fundamental flying skills. To overcome that, I teach a style of flying that requires more skill. I help develop those skills by teaching maneuvers that have been developed to do just that. By guiding you through those maneuvers, I can keep you out of trouble while you increase your flying skills. But if you don’t have me with you, you’ve lost the lifesaver that every flight instructor is supposed to be.
Remember, the two major roles that a flight instructor must fill are that of teacher and protector. If you practice some of my maneuvers or methods without my personal guidance or that of another, qualified flight instructor, you MAY be missing half that formula, the protection part. So be smart. If you practice by yourself, use common sense and ease into some of these maneuvers. Let me give you an example: I have a little drill that all my students get to try. We simply try to see how much altitude we lose in a power-off, 360 degree turn. By using a relatively steep bank of from 45 to 75 degrees and a low airspeed bordering on stall, we can do that turn without losing any more than three to five hundred feet. This manuever teaches us about the relationship of bank angle to altitude loss, the importance of minimum sink airspeed and the effect of “G” force on stall speed.
Even though we do this at a safe altitude, many of my newer students are terrified by this maneuver. Depending on the airplane, a person could get into trouble doing it, especially by not concentrating on the coordination of rudder and aileron while in the turn. We also use the knowledge and skill gained from this maneuver to make a pretty low turn from downwind to final during our practice of the power-off circling approach to a landing. Without the attentions of an experienced flight instructor, some fliers could get into trouble trying that one. You can certainly practice this maneuver by yourself by easing your altitude down bit by bit and being ready to apply power any time you feel that you may be too low to complete a power off turn to the runway.
So here’s the bottom line: Select the maneuvers you plan to practice very carefully. If you have any doubt about your ability to remain safe, consult with a trusted flight instructor. You should also know that my help is just an email or phone call away. If you have questions or concerns, just give me a buzz.
We can enjoy “happy swooping” while remaining safe.
Next week we’ll examine that circling approach and the power off 360 that makes it so effective.