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Certified Flight Instructor, Commercial Pilot, Training

Lesson Plans, Whiteboards, and Autorotations

September 21, 2014

Total Hours: 70.7


This week went pretty well. I appreciated my new schedule and the time it gave me to work on my lessons before presenting them. Nonetheless there were moments of stress and dismay. While I did a good job overall of simplifying my lesson plans for the rough drafts I still stalled out at times while trying to decide how much material to include. And then I would worry about the “what ifs.” What if a student wants more detail and I’m not prepared? What if a student asks a question and I don’t have a good answer? And what if these aren’t “what ifs?!?” After all, I’m sure it is just a matter of when not if.


But these must be the dilemmas every teacher faces. Being asked a question that you don’t have a good answer for is far from the end of the world. Really it’s simply a learning experience for the teacher and the student. Actually, my dad (a great teacher himself) had a good suggestion for me. When I do start teaching and get those questions from left field I should try to make sure I understand what the student wants. His point was that sometimes a student feels confusion but doesn’t really know how to explain what they are missing. Part of being a good teacher is anticipating those sticky spots in the lessons and recognizing when a student hits them. I guess it’s not really a suggestion for the lesson plans, but I hope to put it to use one day all the same. Overall I am happy to say that I am getting quite comfortable with the idea of teaching and presenting information whatever the reality may be like down the road.


I’ve just about wrapped up all the lesson plans for stage one of the private. The other big things I have to learn are the whiteboards. We use whiteboards to draw out maneuvers, aerodynamics, and other principles that are sometimes more easily seen than simply talked about. Now, I’m not much of an artist so this has proved to be a challenge. Overall it’s a fun one though! Who doesn’t like drawing cartoon helicopters and vectors? In all seriousness it has occasionally been very difficult to understand how I am going to present all the required material on one board. Once we are actually teaching we have a bit more flexibility in our methods but things will be pretty specific for the checkride. Just like every other certificate there will be a checkride for the CFI rating and it involves teaching the designated examiner lessons. They have certain things they want to see and whiteboards are on the list. Besides needing them for the checkride I want to learn the boards as I think they’ll be a great way to teach once I get more comfortable with making and explaining them.


And just in case all the lesson planning and whiteboarding wasn’t enough I am also trying to study for my three knowledge tests. The goal is to knock these out next month. I’ll have one for the commercial, one for the CFI, and a short one about the FOI’s. Yes, remember those? Ah, the fundamentals of instructing. I can say the studying has been going well for the exams and I think I am well on my way to a passing grade. However just passing isn’t quite enough. FOI’s are a likely subject for the oral exam during my checkride and we all know that choosing the right answer on a multiple choice and explaining a concept are two very different things. I have many pieces of FOI information that I must attempt to lock away in my poor overstuffed brain. Seems impossible at the moment, but I guess I’ll get there.


In the flying department I’ve mostly been working maneuvers. Autorotations and approaches are the big ones. I know that these are maneuvers I’ll be practicing for my entire training. And then I’ll be practicing them with my students. Maybe one day I’ll be really good at them, who knows? I really enjoy the auto training. It’s a wild and demanding maneuver that can’t really be described. Hopefully you’ll never have to experience one though. Unless of course you are training to become a pilot yourself! It wasn’t all maneuvers though as I did get in a kind of fun flight out to Waimea. A quick cross-country jaunt with a few engine failures and emergency procedures thrown in. We even made an off airport landing on a cinder cone. You know, the standard stuff.


Overall I can’t believe how the time is moving. It will be three months since I started before I know it. Suddenly a year of training doesn’t seem long. And then hopefully just another year of teaching and I’ll be looking for real world jobs. I continue to be very optimistic about the possibilities. It seems that there will be plenty of options and I think that this career could take me almost anywhere. Of course at this point I’m still hoping for a trip back to Antarctica. Actually, despite doing something I am so driven to accomplish I find it a little hard not being there right now, as it is the season. But as much as I would like to be down South I don’t have much interest in returning for another season of electrical work. No, all my thoughts about the frozen continent involve helicopters! Perhaps one day, and perhaps that day is not that far off. Thanks for reading.

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About Orin Bakal-Molnar

Besides aviation my biggest passion is climbing. I love spending my free time on the side of something big! But I'm almost as happy doing anything outside in the wild. Travel, photography, and fly-fishing are a few of my other pursuits. And of course there's nothing like meeting new people and sharing good conversation.

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