…please share your years of accumulated wisdom and help young CFIs? Pay it forward!
From a recent FaceBook post by a VFR-only Cirrus pilot:
“First time in 800+ hrs I’ve had to scrub a VFR flight because of weather. The field quickly went marginal to IFR in minutes while I taxied out and did the run up. I waited for 10min checking the weather and with ATC and it was a losing battle.”
The pilot’s photo accompanying the post shows the his brightly illuminated all-glass panel, while outside visibility is nearly zilch in heavy rain. As a responsible flight instructor, don’t the first 15 words of this post ring an alarm bell for you? How likely do you think is it that a pilot could accumulate more than 800 hours of flight time without ever canceling a VFR flight because of weather conditions? It’s possible, I’m sure, but there was something about the photo accompanying the post that sent chills up and down my spine. It was the juxtaposition of that beautiful, glowing always-VFR virtual reality screen on the panel with a VFR-only pilot and the obvious IMC conditions outside that sent chills up my spine.
Save the nastygrams, I’m not singling out Cirrus pilots. Nearly all new airplanes these days come with glass panels, and all those easy-to-understand visual displays and additional information can help keep a pilot safer. On the other hand, I believe that for some judgment-impaired pilots they only give false confidence to burrow ever-deeper into deteriorating weather. On Cirrus aircraft, the presence of the red ripcord handle for the parachute can add to overconfidence. In the early days of glass panels, grouchy old instructors would categorize pilots who bought a fast, fancy new glass airplane and expected to be taught to fly it as “having more money than brains.” Again, I’m not picking on Cirrus, but this revolutionary aircraft with a parachute was one of the first and by far the most popular all-glass airplanes. It was often the natural choice of well-heeled newbie pilots. Also during those first years, the Cirrus aircraft accident rate, particularly in weather-involved accidents, was far greater than for other traveling-type airplanes. But a dramatic change occurred. Cirrus redoubled it’s training efforts and took steps to re-emphasize ADM and recurrency for pilots of this type. With education, that Cirrus’ accident rate now compares favorably with similar GA aircraft. SAFE was credited with aiding in this educational transformation. Bravo, Cirrus! Shared wisdom resulted in a safer outcome! We are attempting this culture change with new CFIs.
For CFIs, much of our safety input comes down to teaching pilot judgment. The advent of technologically-advanced airplanes can easily fool newbies into believing they can be used for “anywhere, anytime traveling” making ADM issues even more important, and difficult. SAFE is re-energizing its Mentor program, which allows experienced SAFE CFI members to sign up via the SAFE web site to advise and counsel less experienced CFIs. This is in many areas from marketing to transition training, not only on how to teach pilot judgment. There’s a convenient sign-up form on our website to share your hard-won expertise and judgment to the younger generation. Please share your accumulated years of CFI wisdom and help younger instructors. Login to the member side of the website and fill in the form, we will match you with the many new CFIs seeking an experienced mentor.
And if you are not a member *yet* this is your cue to join our group of aviation education professionals. Support SAFE in our mission of pursuing aviation excellence. The amazing member benefits alone make this commitment painless and fun. See you at the airport.
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