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Old 02-28-2018, 02:53 PM   #1
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Default What Will I Take For Granted?

Hello APC,

As a new student pilot, what is your opinion on what will be the top five (5) things that I will have a human tendency to take for granted the most throughout my training and how will taking those things for granted come back to haunt me later in my personal flying career?

I'm trying to get ahead of the power curve here. I have no intention of purposely taking anything for granted at the start of my flight training. However, I'm sure others felt that way and ended up taking something for granted by omission that cost them re-training or worse later on in their personal flying careers. I'm looking to mitigate risk wherever and whenever I can. This is one approach to doing that.

Is there anything you can think of that you took for granted at the start of your flight training that you later wished you had caught earlier, corrected and learned the right way or did more efficiently before you get yourself into trouble, or found yourself needing to re-train or re-learn something you thought you knew cold?

Or, said another way - what are the top five (5) things you wish you could have done different in your initial flight training (Private and/or Instrument)?

Anything you have to offer here will help. Thanks!
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Old 02-28-2018, 03:28 PM   #2
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You, and possibly your CFI, will take collision avoidance for granted. Try not to. It's hard to be sufficiently vigilant while doing flight training, particularly instrument training.
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Old 02-28-2018, 05:00 PM   #3
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Don’t take for granted your experience in life—business, college, even sports— means anything to an airplane. Lots of new learning in a strange environment. Many new pilots believe being a passenger and reading about flying means they understand it. They don’t.

This sounds over dramatic, but flying a light jet is much closer to flying the Space Shuttle than driving a Tesla to the office. The Shuttle and the light jet operate in environments that are very hostile to life, environments that can fool the unwary, environments that require similar systems to support life while carrying their passengers and crew. Be humble.

I always thought military pilot training was about “how to be comfortable in inherently uncomfortable situations”.


GF
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Old 02-28-2018, 08:13 PM   #4
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You, and possibly your CFI, will take collision avoidance for granted. Try not to. It's hard to be sufficiently vigilant while doing flight training, particularly instrument training.
Collision Avoidance. That was interesting. It was interesting because I had not thought of it - just as you suggested. I was leaving it up to the Instructor while receiving dual. Wow. Thanks.

Got anything else I had not thought of as my responsibility while receiving dual?
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Old 02-28-2018, 08:43 PM   #5
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Don’t take for granted your experience in life—business, college, even sports— means anything to an airplane. Lots of new learning in a strange environment. Many new pilots believe being a passenger and reading about flying means they understand it. They don’t.

This sounds over dramatic, but flying a light jet is much closer to flying the Space Shuttle than driving a Tesla to the office. The Shuttle and the light jet operate in environments that are very hostile to life, environments that can fool the unwary, environments that require similar systems to support life while carrying their passengers and crew. Be humble.

I always thought military pilot training was about “how to be comfortable in inherently uncomfortable situations”.


GF

Interesting, indeed. By the way, I flew the C5 Galaxy for a whopping whole 15 minutes as part of a four (4) cadet ROTC incentive program back in college between Travis and Columbus. We went there for one week of "shadowing" UPT students. We did what they did. They ate. We ate. They flew. We flew. T-37 and T-38 rides with a little stick time in each.

I washed out. Failed my last Class I, early detection of nearsightedness. No RK or Lasik back then that I would trust and acceptance of such procedures was next to nil. The highest AFOQT return in my detachment. 4.0 GPA up to that point.

The ultimate goal was to apply to TPS at some point, then the Space Program (we still flew the Shuttle back then!). None of that ever happened. I became so disillusioned with not even making it to UPT, that I walked away from everything, crushed. I came back to college one year later, finished my BS and then went on to earn my MS and eventually a PhD. The pain of failing to get to UPT was enormous back then - it was all I ever wanted to do. However, I never forgot the fun we had at Columbus that week! Oh, the memories.

I am fully prepared to engage and respect the process along the way. I am willing to do what is necessary and prudent to become the best I can possibly be. Love learning new things. A bit older and hopefully a lot wiser these days - so I am hoping that makes me a better student.

Thanks for the input and the walk down memory lane with your UID.
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Old 03-01-2018, 06:34 AM   #6
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Funny. I went to Columbus-by-the-Sea for UPT, 77-05. The only class, at that time, to graduate the exact same 30 pilots who entered the class. No wash-outs, no wash-backs. In ‘76, a pretty sleepy base.

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Old 03-01-2018, 09:41 AM   #7
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Funny. I went to Columbus-by-the-Sea for UPT, 77-05. The only class, at that time, to graduate the exact same 30 pilots who entered the class. No wash-outs, no wash-backs.
Pretty impressive. Did you go TAC, SAC or MAC? Or, did you get FAIP, first?
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Old 03-01-2018, 02:39 PM   #8
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Hello APC,
what are the top five (5) things you wish you could have done different in your initial flight training (Private and/or Instrument)?
Few things that come to my mind:
1) Tempering my 'BS' radar too much on a subconscious notion that my instructor is wiser and therefore never wrong. Trust your instructor - they are wiser, but the whole-person concept is real, students and instructors are human and can make mistakes. i.e. I had an instructor tell me that we're good to go (I'm still preflighting) and I insist that I haven't rolled the tires yet to check the tire tread on the hidden spot. Low and behold a major amount of cord was showing and we had to cancel the flight because they didn't have a spare tire available. That would've had a high chance of a tire blowout if I locked up the brakes on the same spot of tread. If something like an overly casual instructor makes you pause and say, "wait a minute, but..." then pause and actually wait a minute. It doesn't mean you need a new instructor. Just pause and evaluate the situation.

2) Blocking out interruptions during training. Including work, family, etc. You might do well to multi-task, but I do poorly when constantly interrupted so I need to be very proactive about communicating with my family and work when I am not available. My phone gets turned off.

3) I've taken for granted what I was doing and where I was going.
Plan your cross countries to a place where you want to be (maybe a beach-side restaurant if you don't live by the beach?). Don't forget to have fun.
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Old 03-02-2018, 11:48 AM   #9
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Few things that come to my mind:
1) Tempering my 'BS' radar too much on a subconscious notion that my instructor is wiser and therefore never wrong.
Again, something that I never thought about. Thanks! As a "Student," I would obviously accept anything my Instructor told me about flying. And, of course, I would trust them. I have to.

However, you make a very interesting point. I think you just opened up a Pandora's Box. At the very least, you gave me something to think about. I'll have to admit, this is a very strange one for me personally and it opens up some very serious questions in my mind:

- How do you know when your Flight Instructor is either fully wrong or partially wrong?

- How do you approach your Flight Instructor about concerns you (a mere student) may have about what could be an error made by the Instructor?

- What do you do (as the student) when you've confirmed the Flight Instructor was fully or partially wrong, brought the matter to the Instructor's attention, where the Instructor then denies being wrong and tells you that in effect you (the student) are in error and need to correct? Wow.


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I had an instructor tell me that we're good to go (I'm still preflighting) and I insist that I haven't rolled the tires yet to check the tire tread on the hidden spot. Low and behold a major amount of cord was showing and we had to cancel the flight because they didn't have a spare tire available. That would've had a high chance of a tire blowout if I locked up the brakes on the same spot of tread. If something like an overly casual instructor makes you pause and say, "wait a minute, but..." then pause and actually wait a minute. It doesn't mean you need a new instructor. Just pause and evaluate the situation.
You know, this really does get into that whole Mythification thing. We do it with our Parents, primarily. We do it with our Teachers and later in college, we do it with our Professors. So, we are good at doing it. Thinking of your Flight Instructor as "Gawd" might be a bit easier when flying above the ground and you don't yet have the skills necessary to land a plane, as just one example.

When being taught something new during a period of heightened sense of awareness in the cockpit, questioning (even in your mind) "Gawd" might not ever occur to a mere student. You then accept the error (in error) at the conscious level, but subconsciously you know that there might be a reason to "pause" and deal with the issue at some point. Do you deal with it during the flight or after the flight?

I think I hear you simply saying: Trust the Flight Instructor. Don't Glorify the Flight Instructor to the point where you feel uncomfortable asking for clarification, or even directly challenging something you've confirmed to be otherwise.

This really does place ultimate responsibility for Learning right back on the shoulders of the Student, where it belongs. Ultimately, were' talking about taking Personal Responsibility, here.

Thanks a bunch for making this post! I now recall reading a book on Flight Instruction a while back ago where the author basically gets around to making a similar point about students not being afraid to question what they are being told. The author goes on to say that such a scenario could set-up the potential for Instructor/Student conflict, but that if the Instructor were professional, they would accept their error, correct it with the student and encourage the student to remain vigilant in the future without fear of bringing up potential conflicts or errors of the Instructor.

All of this gets back to my point of finding the right Instructor, who recognizes that they too are human and prone to error.



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2) Blocking out interruptions during training. Including work, family, etc. You might do well to multi-task, but I do poorly when constantly interrupted so I need to be very proactive about communicating with my family and work when I am not available. My phone gets turned off.
Done. I've got that one nice and tucked away. I'll have 10 hours per day for Training once I get going. If I need 12, I can do that as well.



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3) I've taken for granted what I was doing and where I was going.
Plan your cross countries to a place where you want to be (maybe a beach-side restaurant if you don't live by the beach?). Don't forget to have fun.
I've got a nice Training Range mapped out. Fun is function of flying - so I'm gonna have that anytime I'm around airplanes.

Thanks for your post! Really thought provoking.
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Old 03-02-2018, 05:48 PM   #10
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What you'll take for granted? The list is nearly endless. You'll take for granted what you don't know, and you won't know what you don't know.

Navigation. Today's pilot breed are children of the magenta line. That means snot nosed kids who don't know anything more about finding a destination than following the little colored line on their GPS, and I see a lot of it. Don't be one of those. It wasn't that many years removed when such stuff was not found in most cockpits, and we all flew with paper maps first, before acquiring other things in the cockpit. Understanding how to navigate without crutches is important before tackling automation, because if you wait, you'll likely never go back to properly learn the fundamentals.

Pilots today are shocked at the concept of executing a forced landing off-airport. There was a time, not so far removed, when a foundation of elementary flight training was being able to put the airplane safely back on the ground in the event of a power failure. Today it's hardly taught, given a slight wave by instructors who have never experienced it themselves, and aircraft are had with parachutes that are treated like alternate airports. Pilots blast off into conditions they should not, in light piston powered airplanes at night and in bad weather, with the misguided notion that the it's okay because the parachute is there to save them. They take this false sense of security for granted and think nothing of it.

I was recently in a simulator when a grey-haired instructor asked about a reciprocal (opposite heading), and I saw someone with the familiar deer and headlights gaze. It's second nature if someone understands the concept of flying a non-directional beacon, but foreign to someone who does nothing but fly the magenta line. Understanding fundamentals, even for things that aren't used much today, is still foundational for flying skills and may save your life. Don't take today's modern technology for granted.

Included in that technology is ADS-B and TIS, features you'll learn about which, among other things, aid in avoiding collisions with traffic. FAR, FAR too often, I hear traffic reported by air traffic control, and pilots respond with the second most idiotic thing they can think of, which is "got 'em on the fish finder." Don't let your equipment look for traffic on your behalf. You look. Look out that window and scan aggressively like your life depends on it, because it does. So does mine.

I hear far too many pilots who reach the departure end of the runway, while taxiing, and announce in their best cigar-choked drawl, "Shouldawouldacoulda Four Five Niner departing runway Three Three. Any inbound traffic please advise." They're taking something for granted; not everyone is listening, not everyone is reporting, and not everyone is replying, and nobody is required to do any of the above. Letting one's radio look for traffic is among the most stupid things a pilot can do, save for putting too much air in the fuel tanks before departure.

Speaking of air, it's said (rightfully so) that air above you on takeoff does you very little good, as does air behind you on the runway, and most of all, air in your tanks. Best to replace it with fuel before you go fly, and be conservative. Carry lots. Especially in light airplanes. Don't trust gauges. Or instructors who are wet enough behind the ears that they've never seen or experienced and engine failure, a fatality, or a real emergency. That's most of them. Don't get too pie-eyed about the instructors, either; they may seem like authorities, but most are no-experience, no-flight time know-nothings with fresh, wet commercial certificates who were just recently student pilots themselves; you're receiving training in most cases from the absolute lowest common denominator in the industry. Keep that firmly in mind before you let that person kill you.

There was a thread here not so long ago by an individual whose instructor took on a night cross country flight, and struck a deer. The instructor insisted it was okay to fly the airplane home, which is definitely not the case. It wasn't legal or safe. Trust, but verify, and then forget trust. Just verify. There are a lot of ways to get hurt or killed in aviation: the trick is to avoid discovering another. Or celebrating one of the many knowns that keep happening.

It's trite, but keep your airspeed up. Especially close to the ground, such as turning to final approach. Avoid get-there-itis, the inherent need to complete a flight or maneuver in spite of weather, fuel, mechanical problems, health issues, etc. There is no flight which must be made. None. I've flown time-critical organ recoveries with hearts and kidneys, combat zones, fire and law enforcement, and all kinds of other duties, utilities, and missions, and I have yet to see or hear tell of any flight which MUST be made. Don't take for granted the word "no." It's short, easily overlooked, and one forsaken by many. Your job, when you arrive at the airport, is to look critically for any excuse to say "no." Only if you can't find one after an exhaustive search, should you fly, and then keep it in mind at all times.

Learn the maintenance aspects of what you fly. MOST pilots take this for granted, and most probably couldn't tell you squat about what they're seeing when they do a pre-flight inspection on an aircraft. Know. Your life depends on it. Should that fiberlock nut be there? Ask the dead P-51 driver at Reno how many times on can be used, and where it should be used...because the wrong use of the wrong fastener not only killed him, but burned up a grandstand full of spectators. One little nut. How many threads must protrude past the end of the nut? Pilots look, but 9.99 out of 10 couldn't tell you, and that's exactly the kind of thing, taken for granted, that can kill you. Know. I was gently encouraged to read the bible on aircraft maintenance, AC 43.13, when I was a student. Encouraged might be underselling. It was crammed down my throat until I bled, and I did learn it, and I am alive because of it...many times over. Don't take anything for granted.

The fueler knows what he's doing. He wouldn't put Jet-A fuel in your avgas piston Cessna. Or would he? Don't take that for granted. The weather channel said everything would probably be okay, no need to check and update weather. Or is there? It's just over the counter medication. They wouldn't sell it if it posed a danger. Or would they? It's just one beer...you get the idea. The mechanic who did the engine overhaul said everything was okay. The oil under the cowling, on the nose strut, is just some that someone spilled right? I wouldn't take that for granted. I wouldn't take for granted that the brakes are safety wired correctly. Or that the work was done correctly, or at all...check everything you can. Open, probe, touch, check.

As a CAP cadet, I was called for a search mission that was urgent. It was close to the end of the day and they wanted an airplane in the air fast. Three of us showed up, pulled the airplane out. I walked around the back and the elevators were missing...the parts that control the up and down. Actually gone from the aircraft. Removed. Take nothing for granted.

I returned from a mission in Iraq one night and parked; the aircraft needed fuel. I ran to the dining facility on base before it closed, and when I came back to check on the aircraft, it was gone. The individual who took it got airborne before apparently discovering no fuel, and when he got on the ground, he was irate that I hadn't ensured it fueled. I asked why he elected to take an aircraft with no fuel on board and he said he didn't check, that he trusted everyone to ensure it was fueled after a mission. How much traction that get him? Take nothing for granted.

Graveyards are full of people who didn't look for traffic, who didn't calculate performance, who assumed they had the instrument flying skills that they lacked, who trusted the other guy in the cockpit a bit too much. Eastern Airlines put an airplane in a swamp while three cockpit crewmember tried to troubleshoot a lightbulb. A mechanic assumed oxygen generators were safe and the crew trusted the mechanic; the aircraft caught fire and dove into the swamp outside Miami, killing everyone. A first officer (copilot) didn't speak up on a takeoff in Washington DC and rode the airplane into an icy river, even though he knew the airplane wasn't producing power. Cooperation is one thing, but blind faith in instruments, air traffic control, other crew, mechanics, management, aircraft manufacturers, the FAA, or anything else, is very dangerous. Flying should be fun, but safe. It can't be if anything is taken for granted.

I was working in a shop when several new, low time pilots bumbled in. We asked who preflighted the airplane. One proudly jabbed his thumb at his chest and claimed he did. I asked him about his tire pressure. He checked it with a calibrated pressure gauge, he said. How, I wondered aloud; the gauge is off being calibrated, and nobody asked for mine, out of my tool box. I dug it out. Check the pressure. 50% of what it should have been. A recipe for a blown tire, damaged wheel, loss of control, even hydroplaning, uneven braking, control issues, excess tire wear, etc The pilot admitted he'd just looked, assumed it was right, and used his "calibrated eyes." Don't assume. Don't take for granted.

I took a parachute for granted many years ago, but woke up in intensive care on life support, a big memory gap, a lot of stitches, and an unbelievable amount of pain. I'd made some assumptions along the way, and like the chain of events that leads to most mishaps (there are no accidents), I failed to prevent what nearly killed me. Don't assume. Know.

Pilots don't like to train in severely underpowered airplanes these days. You don't see people rushing to find Luscombs and Cessna 150's and Cubs to fly on hot days...they like performance. Performance hids judgement errors and bad decisions. Comfortable, easy-to-fly airplanes hide bad habits; nosewheels mask landing errors that tailwheels would never permit. I don't see pilots forcing themselves to land on the numbers much these days. Don't take for granted. Don't let power or performance or instrumentation lull you into complacency.

The military insists on aerobatic training, makes it's pilots explore the flight envelope. Civilian training doesn't, and most pilots never bother on their own. Today many enter the pipeline to learn and earn the bare minimum, rush to a regional airline cockpit, and therein lies the extent of their effort for the remainder of their career. They don't know what they don't know. I see far too many who think the industry and their career should be handed to them on a silver platter, learning and training injected by osmosis. Learn, study, sweat. Treat your flight training like your Phd studies. Your training airplane may fly low and slow, but can kill you just as dead as a high speed, low drag fast moving piece of flashtrash; it doesn't matter what you're flying whether it's an F22 or a lowly Piper Cub; respect it, learn it, and don't take it for granted. Tens of thousands died to form the bedrock of the regulation, safety standards, maintenance and flying practices that are in use today, and yet we continue to see people make the same mistakes with controlled flight into terrain (running into mountains and trees and powerlines), and fuel exhaustion. Don't take for granted the deaths and lessons that came before; you'll never meet them, probably never read about most, but the lessons are as cogent today as ever.

Remember that it's the traffic in flight that you don't see that kills you.
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