Thursday, November 27, 2008

Preflight Inspection - Does Your Instructor Join You?

During my student's preflight inspection the other day, I was thinking to myself about how so many of my other instructors never bothered to come out and join me, until it was time to hop in the plane and go. I don't want to come out and say that if your instructor doesn't join you and help you out on your preflight inspection that he/she doesn't care. What I will do is tell you why I DO.

First, I don't want the student to feel like I'm just there to put in my hour or two, and tally up my hours. I always liked it when my instructor came out with me to help me out with the inspection. It gives you a feeling that you fully have their attention, and they are concerned about the lesson.

One of my pet peeves has always been when my instructor sends me out to do the preflight, when all they are doing is just standing around the FBO, shooting the breeze with other people. Or when it is really cold out, and they just don't feel like getting chilly. No I admit, preflight inspections can be uncomfortable when it is below the freezing mark, but if I go and help out my student, it goes a little quicker, and we can fire up the engine and get the cabin heat going that much sooner.

With all that being said, here is the REAL reason I join my student for the inspection: I want to make sure it is airworthy, because my life depends on it.

My body will be in that airplane just like my student's will be, and I want to check everything first hand and make sure it is in good shape to fly. After all, these are STUDENTS that I'm flying with. Students are prone to miss things. Not that I'm not, but if there are two eyes checking everything, it gives us a much greater chance to catch anything that should prevent us from conducting a safe flight.

Once again, if your instructor doesn't always join you on your preflight inspection, it doesn't make them a bad instructor, so don't go and confront them about it. I'm just telling you why I do. I'd love to hear comments.

P.S. Happy Thanksgiving!!


Gary said...

My instructor does a walk around and ALWAYS checks my fuel and I've known him since my PPL lesson days 2.5 years ago.

I don't take that as a bad thing but instead think more of the CFI for looking out for himself and double checking me.

Good post....people should take the time to notice these things.

Paul said...

I don't mind that the instructor doesn't preflight with me. Without him I don't feel any pressure to get done quickly...not that he would rush me but I think about what I'm doing as I'm doing it and I don't want to be distracted with thoughts of, "am I going too slowly?" I run my checklist thoroughly and if I have any questions I either write them down or if I think they're significant enough I call him.

If the aircraft is available I'll preflight before the start of the lesson so when he arrives we're ready to go (after planning, filing, and dispatching).

Mark said...

I agree that it is important for an instructor to be involved in every preflight, however, I don't think it necessary for an instructor to be present for the whole process every time. Of course, when a student is learning how to perform the preflight, then common sense says the instructor should be present to demonstrate and then observe the student. I remember when I first learned how to perform a preflight, and how my instructor (the CFI) allowed me to do it "on my own" on my third full lesson. It gave me a real sense of confidence. Only later did I learn that my instructor was watching my from the school lobby to make sure that I didn't make any huge oversights. Finally, my instructor did always make a point of checking the fluids and the landing gear. A prudent move, and one that I am in the habit of doing with my students now that I am an instructor.