Training While the Hobbs Meter Doesn’t Move

How can you get beneficial recurrent training in your airplane while it’s tucked away in a snowed in hangar and your instructor is in Florida or some other winter retreat? There is a way; it’s not the same as flying with your task master but it is helpful non-the-less and it’s free. Here’s the way it goes: Light up the interior of your airplane in your nice warm hangar. Turn off the radio, your cell phone and your 72” wide-screen TV. Hide your car so as to leave no evidence you are there. Avoidance of visitors is best when you’re trying to focus on a learning experience. Take your place in the Captain’s seat and open your POH to the emergency procedures chapter; section 3 in most airplanes.

Then, slowly go through each emergency procedure while touching the appropriate knobs, levers and switches. Think critically about why the procedure is written the way it is. Approaching the procedures this way will raise questions which will lead you to the systems chapter; section 7 in most airplanes. This will lead you to a better understanding of your airplane.

Count the number of emergency procedures for your airplane. For example, most Caravans have 51 emergency procedures, Cessna 152s have 15. There are 4 engine failure procedures for Caravans and 3 for Cessna 152s. Bunch the similar procedures together and ask this question: “What is the same and what is different among these procedures and why?”

Think about this educational experience for a moment. Prior to this, your exposure to emergency procedures includes flying the airplane or simulator while the instructor is guiding, prompting or cueing. That means there is a lot going on and true, it is great training but this method does little to enable the pilot to have a conceptual understanding of the procedure. Psychologists tell us it is difficult to capture cognitive understanding while performing what they call “side tasks.” We call it, “Flying the airplane while all this other stuff is going on.”

At the end of this exercise you should have a better understanding of your emergency procedures and the airplane’s systems. It may come in handy someday and the cost of this experience is just a little bit of time.