Starting Them Out Right!

by Dave Weiman
Published in Midwest Flyer – April/May 2020 issue

Unless you have skis on your airplane, you are probably ready for spring as much as I am. Not only are we welcoming the warmer weather and look forward to flying more often, but our grandchildren are looking forward to going flying as well.

Our three-year-old granddaughter has energy to burn, especially after spending much of the winter cooped up indoors. Her latest thing is to walk around the house with her arms stretched out saying, “I’m flying!” This behavior started right after I told her that I would take her flying when it warms up! She is definitely excited, and so am I.

I am also anxious to get our 10-year-old grandson back flying with me and have been talking with flight instructors to get their feedback on how best to get him familiar with the basics. Do I cover everything at once, or show him one instrument at a time on each flight? Maybe I will just let him take the controls to get the feel of what happens when he pulls back on the yoke and pushes it forward, and makes some turns.

According to CFII Harold Green at Morey Airplane Company in Middleton, Wisconsin, our grandson doesn’t need to adhere to any specific knowledge sequence. “It should be sufficient to show him a couple of gauges, such as airspeed and altimeter with the explanation that these instruments show how fast we are going, and how high we are. Those are two things a 10-year-old will be interested in immediately. Then let his curiosity take over. Answer his questions in a direct and simple manner. After a couple of flights, he will get to know what is what, probably faster than you think.”

Green continues: “Frankly, the best thing you can teach him at this stage is simply to use the controls to make changes in airplane attitude and to use the horizon to hold level flight. If he gets that nailed down, the rest will be a piece of cake. Understanding true airspeed and the other stuff will come when it is time.”

If our grandson enjoys flying enough to study the manuals, the next step will be to get him signed up for ground school.

Whether our grandchildren pursue a career in aviation will be up to them, but at least we want to make them aware of the opportunities that await them.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This issue of Midwest Flyer Magazine is dedicated in memory of my brother, Kenneth John Weiman (December 18, 1946 – February 29, 2020). RIP Ken!

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