Friday, May 14, 2010

Power On Stalls - My Client and I Both Need Some Practice, I Believe...

Had a very interesting day Thursday. I didn't think I'd be flying, so I headed to Mom's house, about 18 miles away, to clean some of my things out of her basement, and do some laundry along the way. As I was passing the airport, the chief instructor called me, but the phone connection didn't allow us to actually communicate (love AT&T). I decided to just stop in and see what he wanted. He had just wanted to let me know about another opportunity to clean vehicles, and also wanted to see if I wanted to call a few long-lost customers to check up on them.

Before long I was on the road again. I threw some laundry in the machine and drove the 4 blocks to my grandparents' house to visit for a while. I had been there for about 40 minutes (and eaten some tasty hot dogs) when one of the clients I had left a message for earlier called me back. He wanted to fly in 30 minutes, sooner if possible. I pulled radar up on the computer really quick and then hopped in my car, headed for the airport, about 25 or 30 minutes away!

We met, briefed the weather situation, and elected to fly. It was a very typical late summer afternoon, with some building clouds and possible thundershowers (none in the local area). I wanted the client to get some experience making this kind of decision, so we talked about it and then I let him decide what to do. After he elected to go, I told him about some caveats related to this type of weather pattern, handed him the airplane key, and sent him to do the preflight while I sold some fuel to a guy who had just walked in the FBO.

We took off and headed to the practice area. I wasn't doing anything except observing and offering advice - exactly the level of proficiency a future private pilot needs to obtain. We reviewed some of the maneuvers learned on previous flights, then moved into power on stalls. I am trying to implement some of the instructional methods I have been reading about in books like "Train Like You Fly: Guide To Scenario Based Training" and "The Savvy Flight Instructor," including offering only one opportunity to have the student demonstrate a "best ability" attempt at a procedure, and trying really hard to allow mistakes to develop enough that the guy who is paying me actually learns something.

We did power on stalls at 65% power, 100% power, with the wings level, and while banked. Quite a workout for both of us, and it was humid enough that I could see little beads of sweat on the client's face! Next time, I'll open the windows, and show him how the windows will shut themselves when approaching the stall (and keep us cool the rest of the time).

I was doing the best I can, but some more experience would be nice. I was trying to think of different ways to explain the stall recovery - my client is having trouble keeping the plane from wanting to spin during the stall break. Also, about half the time he wants to dive rather than gently reducing the angle of attack.

We are both making progress, and I am excited for the next lesson, when we review stalls and start throwing in some ground reference maneuvers like turns around a point, but I have some planning to do in the meantime.

Also between now and then I am looking forward to my main student, Dustin, coming back from vacation, and I have a few ideas I'd like to propose to Russ and Dola about finding more students and marketing-type activities. I'm thinking that some collaboration in trying to get more students for all of us would alleviate some of the tension around the airport.

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