- Less Advice, More Questions
The Right Questions
One could simply assume that every word spoken has also been fully understood but in reality, assimilation of new information takes time and repeated exposure before it is truly committed to memory. Discovering what a student doesn’t know has been an often overlooked but crucial step in determining readiness for flight and asking the right question is an art unto itself. It encourages critical thinking and it is also a useful tool to prepare the mind for the particular challenges that lay ahead. The basics of flight are relatively simple to understand but forgetting, overlooking, or misunderstanding even one factor can be disastrous. Like an avid investigator, one of our commitments is to uncover the topics which remain a mystery in the student’s mind, to poke holes in faulty logic and to identify false assumptions which may lead to unsafe behaviors. Mastery of this process is the foundation upon which our instruction is based because when good questions reveal incorrect assumptions, mistakes can be avoided. A typical, reactionary situation that new instructors typically find themselves in goes something like this:
Junior Instructor: “Why did you do (not do) that?”
Student: “I didn’t know I was(n’t) supposed to.”
Anticipating what a student is likely to misinterpret or assume incorrectly is an awareness enhanced by years of experience watching hundreds of students fly for the first time. But there simply is no substitute for a thoughtful and deliberate series of questions based on each individual student. The day is not done just because the lectures on the syllabus have been given. We are not satisfied until our students are truly thinking like pilots and are ready to apply what they have learned in training. But another hurdle remains…
Even with a perfect conceptual understanding of the basics of flight, there is still the practical application of the processes and principals involved. This is where the greatest value from instruction is to be had; The Essential Feedback Loop. “Am I doing this right?” It’s not a question you want to ask while piloting an aircraft and, unfortunately, you won’t get a proper answer from a book or video. However, a qualified and experienced instructor CAN answer that question and others like, “How can I do this better?” or “How is my technique overall?” and “What are some bad habits I might be developing?”
In fact, the progress through the learning phases can be dramatically faster and safer with the right instructor by your side. The insight provided by a great coach can lessen beginner frustrations and help the student groom the right attitude necessary for piloting such a unique aircraft as a paraglider.
Let’s look at some of the feedback topics that our school specifically addresses and that translate to a better piloting skill set overall.
- Turn Timing
- Body Position/Posture
- Attention Management
- Site Analysis & Flight Planning
- Fundamentals of Weather
- Gear Fitting
- Launch/Landing Technique
- Active Piloting Measures
To be a great coach, you must help others see a path forward by asking a series of questions. The analysis of their responses coupled with the observed practical application of newly learned skills is the basis for our Flight Training Programs. The Essential Feedback Loop describes the relationship between instructor and student which facilitates a deeper understanding of basic flight principals and ultimately, the employment of that knowledge in a real world scenario where lives hang in the balance.
There simply is no replacement for professional coaching/instruction. Get your progression on the fast track with a local USHPA instructor or call us today to find out how to enroll in our Certified and Insured Flight School here in Sunny Southern California! Access to a suitable flying site and generous weather is enormously beneficial and is one the distinguishing characteristics of our particular region. Join the flock today!