Lesson Twenty
8 January
Ground--3.25 hours

Rain rain rain.  So Adam had me try to sort out some things on the ground, especially the altitude stuff--altitude with respect to mean sea level, true altitude (height above the ground), pressure altitude (indicated by an altimeter when you set it to standard pressure, 29.92), density altitude (pressure altitude corrected for non-standard temperature), and their relation to take off distance and the distance required to clear a 50' obstacle.

At one point we went out on the ramp and fiddled with an actual altimeter, so I could get the effect of setting the thing and the indicated altitude into my body.  Higher is higher!  That is, if you turn the knob to make the setting read a higher pressure, the needle winds around clockwise, showing you at a higher altitude than before.  And the reverse is true, of course:  lower is lower.

I'd been meaning to do this on my own for weeks, but hadn't gotten around to it.  Now that my hand has experienced it, the rest of me gets it, too.  (Important to remember this physical learning--and it's related to the ground school instructor's demonstration last evening of the way VOR (i.e., omni) works.)

This altimeter stuff is also related to the saying, "High to low and hot to cold, look out below!"  The idea is that when you fly from a high-pressure area into a low-pressure area (or from a warm area into a colder one), your altimeter will indicate that you're higher than you actually are.  That's why you have to keep checking the local altimeter setting and readjust yours accordingly.

Now here's something else about teaching and learning:

Near the end of the session Adam asked whether I'd prefer him to keep on the controls, making corrections all along, or stay off them, leaving m to learn by trial and error,.

That interested me, of course, because I'd been thinking about it myself for some-time.  Adam had asked the same question a few days before Christmas.  I almost told him then that I'd rather make my own mistakes, but didn't think he sounded serious at the time--it seemed an offhand .sort of question--and kept my peace.

Adam said he has another student who asked him specifically to stay on the controls and show or guide him through everything.  That seems nuts to my intuition, but it evidently makes that student feel better.  I'd think it must make him or her (hm--which? --significant?) feel  less confident, though.

We chatted about teaching and learning styles for a while, and eventually I told him I'm writing about teaching and that I was studying my own learning of flying.  So that cat's out of the bag.

And of course I told him that I'd prefer trial and error.

Maybe next week I'll let him know I'm not afraid of making mistakes.  After all, in my own teaching I encourage students not to fear mistakes. They can probably learn more by screwing up than by being too careful.

Of course, the trick is to ensure that the mistakes aren't fatal--and that's somewhat easier in a writing class than in an airplane.

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