Kid in airplane

Time to Review

4 min read

Earlier this week, I was talking to a few students from my Fundamentals of Instructing class about a presentation that they have to do for my class. The presentation requires the students to teach an individually assigned maneuver to the rest of the class while evaluators judge their performance. As we discussed these presentations and sources of research material, the topic of finding out they had been doing a maneuver incorrectly came up.

Procedure Not Understood

flight school1The maneuver in question was the Power-Off Stall. The students were doing it correctly now but apparently did not understand the correct procedure until working on their Commercial pilot certificates. I don’t know if the students’ primary instructors did not teach the maneuver correctly or if the students simply didn’t understand it as well as they should have. Regardless, they shouldn’t have gotten as far as they did without understanding it fully.

I won’t go into the details of the missing elements of the maneuver here but I would like to take the opportunity to review instructor and student responsibilities when it comes to teaching and learning maneuvers.

Instructor Responsibility

The Aviation Instructor’s Handbook has a chapter dedicated to Instructor Responsibility. Other chapters discuss planning, techniques, and a variety of other topics. I only have a few paragraphs in this blog post but you can find much more information in this book and several others.

As an instructor, it is your responsibility to teach your student the proper way to do a maneuver from the beginning (recall that Primacy thing from the FOI exam?). This means that you need to know the proper way to do the maneuver yourself. If it has been more than a month since you last picked up a copy of the Practical Test Standard for the rating, the Airplane Flying Handbook, or a good maneuvers guide, you are likely short changing your student. It doesn’t matter what you think that you know or how long you have been instructing, you need to review and refresh yourself on a regular basis.

I don’t recommend trying to sit down and go through a review of everything every month. Instead, plan a schedule for reviewing individual Areas of Operation in much greater depth. Over the course of a year, you should cover everything, but go for narrower and deeper coverage on a monthly basis. When going for depth, include the Flight Instructor PTS as a source in your study. It includes topics and common errors that you may have forgotten.

It is your responsibility to set appropriate standards of performance and ensuring that your student obtains these standards. While the PTS provides minimum standards for the rating, you can set intermediate standards to be met while the student is in the learning process. The key is for the student to know what is expected and for you to be consistent in your application.

Student Responsibility

As a student, you should not expect spoon feeding of information from your instructor. It is your responsibility to come to each lesson prepared for the day. This allows your training to go faster and will save you money.

A good flight instructor will use a syllabus that lets you know what is coming up. If your instructor doesn’t, consider a change or at the very least, ask “what’s next?” before leaving from your prior lesson.

Knowing what to expect, you should review the maneuver in the Airplane Flying Handbook, the Practical Test Standard, or a good maneuvers guide. Also check to see if the manufacturer of your aircraft has anything to say about the maneuver. The manufacturer’s recommendations will be found in the Pilot’s Operating Handbook or a reprint of this document.

If you get an opportunity, “chair fly” the maneuver in the privacy of your own home or while sitting in the cockpit of the airplane if this is allowed at your flight school. This will help you to develop muscle memory and you can have the procedure handy in case you forget a step.


Whether instructor or student, highly experienced or brand new in your role, you need to take time to review the material that you are teaching or learning. Instructors owe this review and refresher to their students. Students owe this review to themselves. Take some time and start planning today.