Posted on October 30th, 2012 - By Alexander Burton BA, MSc, ATPL, Selair Pilots Association, Abbotsford, BC, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
“Good teaching is one-forth preparation and three-fourths theatre.”
Individuals and a number of well funded institutions with experienced, professional staff have entered into the field of producing aviation related and focused training videos for various aspects of aviation and have made these resources available at no cost via YouTube. Instructors are beginning to incorporate and use these materials in their ground school and flight training programs with excellent results.
Many of the videos available for free via YouTube are one-off adventures highlighting particular events or moments; some are well researched, well orchestrated materials specific to training. Both of these types of materials can be very useful to pilots, pilots-in-training and instructors.
Many pilots continue to be interested in improving their skills and knowledge but may not be able or willing to target personal funding to avail themselves of additional training materials which can represent considerable investment. Most smaller flight training units do not have the resources, personnel or funding to produce training materials of the quality and depth now available for free on the internet. The production and availability of these materials can be of tremendous benefit to the aviation training community by making high quality training materials available to anyone with a basic computer and access to the internet.
In aviation, it is extremely difficult to know too much. Talking advantage of the wisdom and experience of others is an excellent plan, regardless of where on the learning progress continuum we may find ourselves.
One excellent example of a one-off production is a video filmed by the passengers of a beautifully restored Stinson 108 attempting a high density altitude takeoff resulting in a subsequent crash. It is a unique, first-hand account of an accident filmed from the cockpit. No doubt the intention of the videographers was not to film the sequence of events leading up to and progressing through the accident and its aftermath, but that is what was achieved.
The video provides an outstanding learning/teaching aid for exploring the challenges of high density altitude operations and the inherent risks involved. It is also an excellent, “set-the-stage” teaching aid to kick off a discussion and exploration of the pilot decision making process, the importance of incorporating SOPs into our practice, and flying techniques required to mitigate risk in potentially difficult situations. In this particular case, for example, failure to properly lean the engine to achieve full power on takeoff was, most likely, a contributing factor to the end result as was the failure to establish a go/no go point prior to initiating the takeoff roll.
To view the video on YouTube, visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yDu0jYiz-v8.
I have made use of this little video in both private and commercial ground schools with excellent results. The video provides a rare, “you are there”, view of the events: the difficulties experienced by the pilot on takeoff, the failure to achieve altitude, and the subsequent crash in rising terrain.
Prior to showing the film, I will normally have covered the basic groundwork of defining and calculating density altitude, exploring the takeoff and performance charts and tables provided in the aircraft POH, and working through various example problems involving aircraft performance from various airports and aerodromes for which information is available to the students. A discussion regarding pilot decision making, SOPs, and the importance of appreciating the concept of accelerate stop distance and risk mitigation will also be included in the lead up to viewing the film.
Once students have a basic understanding of density altitude and its effects on aircraft performance, pilot decision making models, and risk mitigation based on a reasonable understanding of aircraft performance in various conditions, I will show the film as a good starter for discussion and exploration.
I find giving students an opportunity to see, as though they were sitting in the cockpit of the aeroplane, the full sequence of the accident provides an excellent motivation to, “dig in” and analyze the various factors leading to the accident and to focus on how such events can be prevented.
On a broader scale, there are a number of excellent video series productions, available on YouTube, created specifically for flight training. As examples, I have found the materials produced by the University of North Dakota aviation program and, the series produced by Mr. Ray Preston, former Chief Flight Instructor at Selkirk College, very useful.
The University of North Dakota is one of the leading university aviation programs in North America. They have created a series of training videos which are well organized, well presented and very useful both for training and for increasing pilot knowledge. While some of the references in this series of excellent videos are specific to the UND training program and UND SOPs, I highly recommend an exploration of these materials to pilots, pilots-in-training, and instructors. I use a variety of these materials both in ground school and for flight training and believe they have been extremely helpful both for pilots-in-training and for me as an instructor. The topics covered in this series extend from ab initio through advanced training. To explore this series of videos, visit: http://www.youtube.com/user/undaerocast?feature=watch.
For instructors interested in anything from executing normal landings, dealing with wake turbulence or successfully completing an ILS approach, these videos can be an excellent resource.
Mr. Ray Preston, former Chief Flight Instructor at Selkirk College, has produced a series of videos designed specifically to help teach initial instrument rating candidates the theory and procedures of using GPS to execute that difficult manoeuvre, the hold. The videos take a detailed and in-depth look at using GPS to facilitate hold entry and maintenance of a successful hold, including compensating for various wind conditions. For both students in the process of learning instrument procedures and instructors involved in teaching these sometimes complex procedures, this series of videos is an outstanding resource. To explore this series of videos, visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4H7QcWCDIzQ.
These examples do not in any fashion represent the totality of the resources available; I encourage pilots, pilots-in-training, and instructors to investigate the wide variety of available materials that may be useful and helpful to their specific purposes.
The availability of valuable and free materials that can be used to enhance and personalize a learning environment and program with very positive results is growing. While the materials themselves do not provide a full learning environment, incorporating them as part of a lesson can assist an instructor to provide students with an experiential and personalized component. It may not quite be quite as effective as actually having an experience, but it may allow us, as instructors, to come much closer to achieving, in a classroom environment, a very positive and productive learning environment.
Editor’s Comment: Here are four more free training videos available on the Internet. Submit a training practice telling your peers how you use one of these (or other pilot training videos) when instructing your students: