by Woody Minar
Published in Midwest Flyer – June/July 2018 issue
The student’s job is to learn and have a safe flight. The instructor’s job is to help make that possible.
A student of mine was on an accelerated course to get her private pilot certificate (it took 18 days) and she was doing quite well except for this one day. We were doing takeoffs and landings and she was all over the place on final. She kept saying, “Dude.” (She liked calling me Dude.) “You gotta help me.”
My cool, calm reply was, “What should you do?”
“Dude! Dude!” (I’m sure she was fearing for her life trying to prevent premature contact with the terrain.) “You gotta help me!”
Again, I calmly said, “What should you do?”
“Go around?” she exclaimed.
“That’d be a really good idea,” I responded, as she was weaving back and forth towards the PAPI.
She later asked me, “How can you remain so calm?”
I jokingly said, “I had my eyes closed.”
Being based at a non-towered airport, I like my instrument students to get the experience of getting their clearances from Clearance Delivery at a towered airport. For practice, one of my students would watch videos of pilots getting a myriad of instructions delivered at a rapid pace and he would try to keep up. When the time came to get his clearance, he was ready to copy it with CRAFT written on his note paper:
•Clearance limit, the end point of the clearance (usually, but not always, the destination airport).
•Altitude, the initial altitude to be maintained by the flight, plus, in many cases, a time at which cruise altitude clearance may be expected.
•Transponder (code) & Time (void time).
Knowing how bad he was going to be at this (his words), he asked Clearance Delivery to speak slowly. The controller said, “I can speak very slowly,” as if speaking in sloooow moooootion. He then delivered the clearance “Cleared… Direct to… Osceola… as filed.” My student read it back perfectly and politely thanked the controller.
Returning home from Florida, after Chicago Center gave me a lengthy re-route, Center kept calling another aircraft. After a half dozen attempts with no answer, we heard “Bonanza 12345, if you don’t answer up, you owe me a buck.” I wonder if she collected.
On a local IFR training flight, I heard Minneapolis Approach ask a King Air how the ride was at their altitude. “There’s not enough o’s in smoooooooth,” was the response.
My student pilot was doing his three takeoff and landing requirements at a local towered airport. As is the custom, I’m in the tower watching. On my student’s second landing, the controller asked me if he could mess with my student. I said, “Sure.” After the student landed, the controller said, “You’ve landed. You can open your eyes now.” Without skipping a beat, the student pilot replied, “Thank you!”
Another instructor and I were up with our student pilots giving lessons when I got a call from the other instructor. “Woody. Are you out there?”
“Yah. What’s up?”
“I’ve got engine problems and can’t make it back to the airport and I’m going to have to put it down in a field.” After some coordination on the radio – he from the ground and me in the air – I found his location, and followed the roads back to the airport, where I got in our car to pick him up, along with his student. Riding back, the instructor asked, “So, what did you two do today? Stalls? Steep Turns? Ahhhh, Search and Rescue?”
I was giving high-performance training in our Cherokee Six-300 to one of our Wild River Flying Club members at Osceola, Wisconsin (KOEO). We landed at St. Paul (KSTP) and after taxiing off the runway and holding on the taxiway to clean up the plane, my student turned to me and said, “They make it look so easy on TV,” as he had accidentally broadcast it with a keyed mic on tower frequency. “Yes, they do,” someone said.
I’m checking out another pilot in the same plane. It was a very turbulent day and he was learning to use the autopilot. It kept alerting him to trim up, then down, and then up. He said, “This autopilot keeps telling me what to do. I could just as well have stayed home with my wife.” His name is safe with me!
Flying a construction owner to the oil fields near Tioga, North Dakota, we would always be wheels up before 5:00 am. One time he brought donuts. I really wasn’t ready to eat at that time of day, so I waited a couple of hours into the four-hour trip. I grabbed a donut and WHAM! Right into the mic. The owner nearly busted a gut laughing. About a half hour later with donut in hand, you guessed it, WHAM! He did the same thing. “Well, Gene, there’s a saying, ‘he who laughs last. . .’” He just smiled and chuckled as he cleaned the powdered sugar off the mic of MY spare headset.
When talking about aircraft performance during a practical test, I’m looking for comprehension of air density and its effect on aircraft performance. I used to ask, in the context of takeoff and landing distances, “What’s the difference between a 90-degree day and a 20-degree day?” The answer I got was “70 degrees.” Later as I watched the applicant check the oil on the preflight, I asked, “When do you need to add oil?” Here it comes… “When it needs it.” Oh my.
And during an IFR oral exam with an applicant, I asked, “You’re at a Class D airport. When would you need to file an IFR flight plan?” I was expecting to hear something about visibility and ceiling requirements. Instead I got, “When it’s IFR.” At times, I can only shake my head.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Woody Minar is a DPE, Master CFI, CFII, MEI, CFI-G, ASEL/ASES/AMEL/AMES based at Osceola Municipal Airport (KOEO) in Osceola, Wisconsin. He was the 2012 Flight Instructor of the Year for the Great Lakes Region, and the FAA Safety Team Representative of the Year for the Great Lakes Region in 2013.
DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this column is the expressed opinion of the author only, and readers are advised to seek the advice of their personal flight instructor and others, and refer to the Federal Aviation Regulations, FAA Aeronautical Information Manual and instructional materials before attempting any procedures discussed herein.