10:30 From: E-Pilot
Judith Bradt Sub: Go-arounds
would you have done if your student was executing a poor approach
that verged on dangerous and really ought to have been abandoned
for a go-around? How long would you wait?
I'd have sat
there, silent, until the aircraft was just at the point of crashing
before taking over; the flight lesson would have ended there, and
we'd go someplace without distractions to talk. Since spanking is
politically incorrect, I'd have grounded you for thirty days if
you hadn't realized WHY I took over. In fact, I might have grounded
you anyway to get your attention. Some lessons you can NEVER afford
think that if my instructor had been with me, we would have had
the kind of discussion that you and I are having here about how
important it is to go around, and how dangerous to fixate on "gotta
land it, no matter what".
is not a classroom: it's a laboratory. As an instructor, you don't
teach theory or discuss it in an airplane: you demonstrate and allow
for trial and error practice. Mistakes are welcomed so that a pilot
can learn from their experience to recognize what they can and cannot
do with an aircraft. We are both on our way to learning that.
You have to
understand the difference between salvaging an approach while correcting
mistakes or for prevailing transient conditions, and going around
because you weren't in position to land, or you were in the wrong
The lack of
a stabilized approach will kill more professional pilots than any
other cause, other than traffic accidents. It is the third leading
cause of general aviation fatalities, overall, behind continued
VFR flight into IMC, and fuel starvation. Substantially reducing
flaps -- what you did -- was dangerous enough in a light aircraft.
What were you flying? It probably grossed out at 2000-3000 lbs.
You were descending with greater than 50% flaps, likely without
a lot of power. You mistakenly reduced the flaps you had by 50%
-- that's one-half the lift, and four times less drag. I don't know
what altitude you were at when you reduced the flap setting, but
if it was less than 200 feet, you probably come very close to making
a very hard landing. Why?
Did you have
the good sense to add full power?
You were also
very close to a stall. Why?
re-read your first note about this, I see that the stall warning
horn "honked" during this episode. Do you have an idea
of why that happened?
Do the same
thing in an airplane weighing 15,000-30,000 pounds, and you're in
a bonafide emergency. Add a swept-back wing and turbofan engines
to the equation, and you likely would have crashed.
for FULL elevator/stabilator trim movement just before takeoff.
You live on the east coast, where there's a major storm every 10
days in the winter: there's likely to be slush on the takeways which
you're likely to pick up on the tail -- AND THE TRIM MECHANISM.
How do you know that the trim hasn't frozen if you don't check full
movement of the tab VISUALLY? Fail to check your trim in Alaska,
New England, the northern U.S. East Coast, or Canada after taxiing
in slush, and someday you'll have a very, very unpleasant (and abruptly
You said you
were thinking of changing instructors. Are you worthy of a better
instructor? Do you practice at every opportunity; read and study
aerodynamics, FARs, the AIM, and meterorology at every opportunity;
go out to the airport every chance you get just to watch airplanes
and think about what the pilot is doing? Are you going to the simulator
to improve your scan and situational awareness -- every chance you
If any of the
answers are no, what good is a better instructor going to do for
in flying comes, in part, through self-reliance. I'm hearing that
you're still nervous about flying solo. Before you go out looking
for a better instructor, you better be the best pilot you can be.
Being too lazy to study or lacking interest in working hard is poor
reason to seek a new instructor.
is mainly a matter of hard work and study. It's a matter of learning
from experience, good and bad. It's learning from mistakes, and
-- using wisdom, knowledge, insight, perception, judgment and memory
-- avoiding mistakes.
me, how did you find your good instructors, and how did you decide
to lose the ones you didn't like?)
Most of my
instructors were, at best, lousy. I've flown with two good instructors
-- the experience and opportunity of which I didn't nearly take
advantage of, mainly because I was too self-absorbed and lazy, and
I've met two, maybe a third, who were excellent. All instructors
that I've worked with I sat and talked with first, to --
1). see if
we can get along well together;
2). see if
we speak the same language;
what their experience level and qualifications are;
how well they understand flying;
5). to determine
their basic level of honesty, character, and commitment are; and
6). get a feeling
for their personal motivation for flying, teaching, and flight instructing.
I will NEVER
fly with someone who is building time. NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER
NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER. Even when checking
out in a new airplane, I go with the business owner, chief pilot
or chief flight instructor. One chief pilot asked why I wouldn't
go with Joe Dull-normal: I asked him if Joe was a better pilot than
he was. No, Joe wasn't, I was told. Good, I replied. I don't fly
with better when I can fly with best. It cost more to do that sometimes,
particularly when the Chief Pilot wasn't nearly as good as he thought
he was: in that case, I went to Joe later. By and large, it has
usually worked out for the best.
relationship with an instructor is a fairly simple matter. Much
like a landing, you have to know when to fish or cut bait when there's
only one pole. After talking with the person about what I perceived
to be differences in styles or teaching techniques in an attempt
to reconcile differences, I usually end the relationship on a good
note, placing the blame on my shoulders. I cite that I learn differently
than the particular style in which they teach -- so that the emphasis
is not on who's right, but what's right. Understand the difference?
You may not
realize it, but there's three, possibly four ways in which people
learn (auditory, visual and kinesthetic). By this example:
(1). Some people
learn by watching. They can read a ton, listen to lectures, etc,
but they won't effectively learn until you reach them visually,
showing them videotapes, drawing diagrams, or letting them see it
in real life.
(2). Some people
learn through hearing. You can show them anything and everything,
but they won't understand until they hear how to do it. This student
will relate exactly how you explained a stall, but probably wouldn't
be able to draw a diagram unless they talked their way through it.
(3). Some people won't learn unless they're doing it, feeling for
themselves the right and wrong way. This pilot learns immediately
the difference between a skid, slip or straight and level. They
store the information by body-sense: ask them what they saw or heard,
and you'll get a "I dunno." Ask what they felt, and you'll
frustrating situation develops when an auditory teacher is in charge
of teaching, say, a visual student. The styles are incompatible,
and both teacher and student get completely exasperated trying to
reconcile their differences. Such frustration usually results in
destroying the student for they eventually feel stupid, incapable
of learning or understanding. The teacher usually feels that the
student is slow or stupid because they cannot grasp the concept,
not understanding the lack of student intellectual response to their
teaching style. (This is terribly destructive to elementary school-age
children, and usually sets a pattern for life.)
A good instructor
listens for clues from a student, such as "What should I see
(or, be looking for) at this point?" or "I didn't hear
you say that." or "This doesn't feel right." With
these clues, an excellent instructor adjusts their teaching style
to see if there's a sudden, marked improvement in the student's
I need to point out to my instructor the different styles of storing
information and learning, in order to show them that their method
of teaching isn't the most effective for my particular style of
learning (information storage and retrieval). This way, they understand
that I'm not rejecting them. There are differences, not right or
wrong on an interpersonal sense, which cannot be rectified or remedied.
The "WHO is right" conflict is avoided in favour of "What
is right". Options are left open to all.
I run into a situation, tough I have, where my learning ability
has out-stripped the instructor's teaching ability or experience
level. It does happen, but in your case, I think something else
is operating here. What, I don't know exactly.
say, aviation is a very small community. I know people today who
know others I have flown with 15, even 20, years ago. In this business,
what you do can haunt you later to an even greater extent than any
other occupation, with the possible exception of nuclear power plant
operators, police and fire personnel.
Sunday I was on my own, and so I made my own decisions. Afterwards,
I decided that I'd made a collection of poor moves. I did it differently
the next time.
in order here? I'm glad you relied on yourself, that you did things
differently the next time. Take advantage of that, young woman:
you might not get a "next time" next time.
Here, I'm not
suggesting that you fly reactively out of FEAR, but temper your
decisions responsively with wisdom, insight, and a keen sense of
knowing EXACTLY was is going on with YOU AND THE AIRPLANE AND THE
PREVAILING CONDITIONS AND OTHER AIRCRAFT AND THE OPERATING ENVIRONMENT
AROUND YOU ("situational awareness") with a healthy skepticism
and suspicion. When all else fails, ask yourself "If I had
to sit before a Board of Inquest, how would I justify my actions
(or lack thereof)?"
what you said about "all *professional* pilots are their
own worst critics." In combination with your opening remarks,
I take it you mean professional in attitude, not just in occupation.
Again, I believe
that First Class is not a seat in the airplane -- it's a way of
life. You don't have to make a living at flying in order to make
decisions like you DO earn a living flying.
again, thank you for the reminder that, noted emergencies notwithstanding,
it's right to go around when an approach is bad -- as in, just
not set up the way I want it done, as well as plain dangerous.
the wisdom of knowing what is salvageable, and what is not. I've
continued approaches I wasn't comfortable with, but because I was
working to correct the approach right up to the point of touchdown
-- where I have the option of continuing to landing OR going around.
to say that I haven't made mistakes. We both know that I have. But
I really strive to avoid doing anything by default, landings and
is a hallmark of being wise. Going around too often is an indication
of lacking skill, experience, good judgment; cowardice; or all of