Introduction to Flight Training

The overall purpose of primary and intermediate flight training, as outlined in this site, is the acquisition and honing of basic airmanship skills. [Figure 1] Airmanship is a broad term that includes a sound knowledge of and experience with the principles of flight, the knowledge, experience, and ability to operate an airplane with competence and precision both on the ground and in the air, and the application of sound judgment that results in optimal operational safety and efficiency. [Figure 2] Learning to fly an airplane has often been likened to learning to drive an automobile. This analogy is misleading. Since an airplane operates in a three-dimensional environment, it requires a depth of knowledge and type of motor skill development that is more sensitive to this situation, such as:
  • Coordination—the ability to use the hands and feet together subconsciously and in the proper relationship to produce desired results in the airplane.
  • Timing—the application of muscular coordination at the proper instant to make flight, and all maneuvers, a constant, smooth process.
  • Control touch—the ability to sense the action of the airplane and knowledge to determine its probable actions immediately regarding attitude and speed variations by sensing the varying pressures and resistance of the control surfaces transmitted through the flight controls.
  • Speed sense—the ability to sense and react to reasonable variations of airspeed.

Airplane Flying Training
Figure 1. Primary and intermediate flight training teaches basic airmanship skills and creates a good foundation for student pilots

Airplane Flying Training
Figure 2. Good airmanship skills include sound knowledge of the principles of flight and the ability to operate an airplane with competence and precision

An accomplished pilot demonstrates the knowledge and ability to assess a situation quickly and accurately and determine the correct procedure to be followed under the existing circumstance. He or she is also able to analyze accurately the probable results of a given set of circumstances or of a proposed procedure; to exercise care and due regard for safety; to gauge accurately the performance of the airplane; to recognize personal limitations and limitations of the airplane and avoid approaching the critical points of each; and the ability to identify, assess, and mitigate risk. The development of airmanship skills requires effort and dedication on the part of both the student pilot and the flight instructor, beginning with the very first training flight where proper habit formation begins with the student being introduced to good operating practices.

Every airplane has its own particular flight characteristics. The purpose of primary and intermediate flight training; however, is not to learn how to fly a particular make and model airplane. The underlying purpose of flight training is to develop the knowledge, experience, skills, and safe habits that establish a foundation and are easily transferable to any airplane. The pilot who has acquired necessary skills during training, and develops these skills by flying training-type airplanes with precision and safe flying habits, is able to easily transition to more complex and higher performance airplanes. It should also be remembered that the goal of flight training is a safe and competent pilot; passing required practical tests for pilot certification is only incidental to this goal.

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