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"We are the protagonists of our stories called life, and there is no limit to how high we can fly."

PHD. MBA. MHS. Type rated on A350, A330, B777, B747-400, B747-200, B757, B767, B737, B727. International Airline Pilot / Author / Speaker. Dedicated to giving the gift of wings to anyone following their dreams. Supporting Aviation Safety through training, writing, and inspiration. Fighting for Aviation Safety and Airline Employee Advocacy. Safety Culture and SMS change agent.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Instructors Or Students...

Who Is Responsible for the Outcome of YOUR Training?

Blogging information is back, and this week is all about....

"My Best Instructional Moments"

Is it the instructor or the student that creates the successful outcome of learning how to fly? This is a great question. And not everyone connects in the same way, one of the most important things when learning to fly is finding a person who is a good fit. How will you know? You just will. It feels right. 

But just as important, you the student, need to take responsibility for your learning.

Today Ron Rapp asks a great question...  "What makes a good flight student?"

Ron says,

"One of the things I learned after years going through private, instrument, commercial, tailwheel, multi-engine, formation, aerobatic, turboprop, sea plane, glider, and jet type rating courses was that I needed to take charge of my own progress. And I did! A student has tremendous power to mold their learning experience into something that works for them, right down to changing instructors if necessary. Remember, they're not just learners, but "customers" as well...

Learning to fly is much like being a medical patient. There are those who simply put themselves at the mercy of their physician and take whatever they're told at face value, never questioning, researching, or double checking anything. That little voice in the back of your head that says something is wrong? Ignore it -- the doctor said it's nothing. Right?"

I'm not sure about you... but I don't take anything for granted. One thing life has taught me is to not be afraid to question something that does not feel right, or query your instructor if you just don't get it. Your success, and more importantly... your life can depend upon it.
What do you think? 
Who is more responsible for learning...
the student or the teacher?
After you answer that question take a moment to read more on the subject at the The House of Rapp. Ron has an excellent post on this subject you won't want to miss.

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene

Blogging information schedule for the week!

Sun 29th: House of Rapp - Ron Rapp
Mon 30th: iFLYblog - Brent Owens
Tues Oct 1: Adventures of Cap’n Aux - Eric Auxier
Wed Oct 2: Flight to Success - Karlene Petitt
Thu Oct 3: Smart Flight Training - Andrew Hartley
Fri Oct 4: Airplanista - Dan Pimentel


  1. As a life-ling student, and recent instructor, I have to say that the student should take/has the most responsibility. Learning takes place in the student, not the instructor. That said, some of the students (the ones that progress the fastest) take ownership, and some, despite prodding, don't. They learn slower, partly because they don't really know what they know, and what they don't. They're the ones I worry about on their solo cross countries.

    1. D.B. I love this. I posted this across linked in and someone was adamant that it was the instructor.

      I agree with you. We can learn from not so good instructors too. But if you're not a good student, you'll never learn.

      Thanks so much for the great comment!

  2. I really do not like the title of this particular article as it gives the implication that an instructor & student are working against one another. The instructor provides the setting and tone of the learning environment. I've seen some people get their CFI rating, and literally treat their students like the dirt on their shoes (that whole notion of, if you give someone an inch of authority, and they take a mile)

    It falls on the instructor to provide the student with the adequate cognitive knowledge and skills that the student can then use in any situation within the aircraft. If a student doesn't pre-flight the airplane correctly, is it that the student forgot something or that the instructor didn't teach them right in the first place?

    According to the FAA Airplane Flying Handbook, this question is already answered. In Section 1-3,

    "The FAA has adopted an operational training
    concept that places the full responsibility for student
    training on the authorized flight instructor. In this role,
    the instructor assumes the total responsibility for train-
    ing the student pilot in all the knowledge areas and
    skills necessary to operate safely and competently as a
    certificated pilot in the National Airspace System."

    Also, when it comes to a student pilot's flying habits, that falls on the instructor as well because: (FAA; 1-3)

    "Students consider their flight instructor to be
    a paragon of flying proficiency whose flying habits
    they, consciously or unconsciously, attempt to imitate.
    For this reason, a good flight instructor will meticulously observe the safety practices taught to students"

    By the way, Paragon means - model of excellence.

    I would say, that 70% falls on the instructor to teach properly and more importantly, Thoroughly. The other 30% is the student understanding the concepts they were taught, and executing them properly within the airplane; as well as studying at home. 1 hour of ground study, can save 2 hours flight the stereotype.

    1. Ah, the title is just a title. The content of the article belies any assertion that the student and instructor should have an adversarial relationship. The example of a CFI on an authority trip treating students like dirt is one I can't imagine anybody defending.

      You're correct in stating that the FAA places responsibility on the CFI for training the student -- that much is self-evident. The student is clearly not training themselves.

      But if the student is not making good progress, is the instructor always at fault for that? There are conscientious CFIs out there who work hard, treat their students well, and still see significant drop-out rates. Sometimes it's a lack of resources (typically time and/or money). But other times it's something else, a personality mismatch for example. That's what the post is about.

    2. I love the discussion. Ron you are so write about the many reasons a student will drop out.

      Brittan, I think the semantics are the confusing thing when we read the FARS. Yes.. there is a responsibility for the instructor to "teach" all the appropriate scenarios. There is also a responsibility of them to perform them accurately to demonstrate the art of being a good pilot.

      Did you know to hold your ATP you must be of sound moral character?

      The point is... yes....this is a requirement for teaching. But the real question is about "Learning."

      Teachers can only do what they do. But it's the student who determines if learning will take place. If they are a bad match with an instructor personality wise, they must identify that and find another. It's up to the student to study, to prepare, to follow through, to not allow massive time delays...etc.

      Seriously this is a partnership. Despite the rules the FAA outlines for the instructor... perhaps we should make one for the student too.

      Thank you both so much for the comment.

  3. Excellent intro into this week's Blogging in Formation series, Karlene!

    Brittan Kirk (commenter above), I think you may have suffered a "failure to communicate" in reading Karlene's title. I too have been the victim of other's misinterpretation of a blog title, and have no doubt she is somewhat frustrated by your undeserved criticism and somewhat arrogant, lecturing tone.

    I can't really tell (other than by your snippy tone)--did you actually LIKE the post?

    I think her main point was to introduce and raise the issue that we are discussing all week on "Blogging in Formation." In fact, she hasn't even posted HER take on it, yet; she blogs about this topic this Wednesday.

    Ron Rapp DOES address the issue you raise, about the CFI/student responsibility. I believe the majority of CFIs, while probably time-building with an eye toward "loftier" goals, are also very conscientious about the task at hand—that is, doing their best to properly educate the next generation of aviators. But, he does a very good job of raising the point that the STUDENT is equally responsible (as you mention.)

    By the way, that Paragon--model of excellence--is what we are striving for this week on our Blogging in Formation series.

    Maybe you didn't intend for your post to sound so harsh, but to me it did. Perhaps a "failure to communicate"?

    All I know is, Karlene deserves better treatment--and did NOT deserve your tone.

    1. Thanks for the comment Cap Aux... I actually did not take this comment bad, but more interesting.

      While it's been a long time since I read those FARs... it shows the power of the doctrine without taking into what is not written. I summed up my thoughts on that in his comment.

      While it may be the ranchers responsibility to give the horse water. It is still up to that horse if he wants to drink or not.

      Thank you so much for your comment!

  4. Ron's piece is spot on. I don't think students should blindly follow their instructors. A good balance is what's needed.

    1. So true... balance works for so many things in life. Thanks for the comment!

  5. I think the student. Because it is up to his decision to invest on himself, and obviously, how he does it.

    Training materials are different, they have different varieties of information from different sources and different perspectives. Some are more detailed. And I think many books are still very expensive for some students.

    I don't mean they should be cheaper, because it depends on a load of factors to define their prices, but at least more accessible.

    Also, a student that is interested on gaining knowledge is different than the student who is anxious to fly and therefore who just wants to lift a machine from the ground (similar idea from Tom Hill's statement regarding pilots and artistry).

    Plus, to fly solo, I have been decoding some principles that many instructors depend on to promote the student. And one I have been finding quite controversial.

    So, for an instance, if I'm a student and I have my instructor aside, and I am still a novice, but I'm very good with body language (thusly reads: passes an image of confidence), and also very good with speech and rhetorical statements (or similar), the instructor may feel convinced the student is ready to fly solo. So this act can automatically turn into an issue. Which leads me to the following aspect:

    In some cases, students must know when they are ready to fly alone. Otherwise they can become victims of a premature conclusion from their instructor's side. So, for example, if my instructor says I'm ready to fly, it does not necessarily mean I have to start flying solo at this point.

    I do think it is necessary to ask ourselves if we are really ready to fly - If we are confident. It's a machine. And if something goes wrong up there and you haven't been trained to deal with unlikely events, you may experience a bad accident. If not fatal.

    Obviously there are examples of brilliant aviators who were very clever and prodigious in what they did. Same for students. But I meant as an overall perspective.

    In the end, I would like to enforce the fact that expensive books are not always the great ones. Sometimes you can find materials online. But it is vital to be aware that your materials must be an updated version before you use them for training.

    The partnership between student and instructor during training should remain the same, but when the student is studying for his own good, then he must always seek for more knowledge.

    You were right when you said knowledge is power. Instructors are teachers. They will always be there if we need more information. But we have to do our part.

    Students learn from teachers of the present to become the teachers of tomorrow.


    1. Another thing, I did not forget to fly solo we must pass a type of exam. So I didn't put this in to account on purpose.


    2. Alex, this is awesome! I have answered this question in my post on Wednesday. Great minds think alike. I agree! It's the student.

      Thanks for a great comment!

  6. Yes'm! I'm enjoying the ' Formation' series. All of you have wonderfully different perspectives on the art and science of flying and it is fun to read your takes on a common subject. A big thanks to the blogger that began this periodic series. -C. and yes, the captcha machine is killing me this evening.

    1. Thanks Craig! It's very fun to discuss subjects from a different perspective. And don't let that captcha thing get you. If I knew the blogger that started this, I would thank them for you. lol

  7. Great flight training really requires a team effort by both the student and flight instructor. Both need to be prepared for each flight / ground instruction session. Both must work together to overcome training issues (aircraft maintenance and scheduling, weather delays, learning plateaus, fears, other life stuff, etc…). The instructor must bring both their experience and understanding towards each student as an individual as they grow in the new environment. No two students are alike. The student must bring focus and a honest desire to progress in training. Both need to be able to listen and communicate. Great flight training is easily one of the most mutual rewarding experiences around. Flight instruction is truly a great and rewarding profession – it helps to shape the live of others….not only in aviation; the skills gained often translate into other areas of students lives as well.

    1. Steve, Thank you for the great comment. You wrote the perfect combination of the choreographed dance between pilots and instructors.
      Yes... a truly rewarding experience.


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