Back on the CFI training track, not that I've been off per se ... but I haven't flown for training in a while because one of our Arrows had an engine problem and the other Arrow with brakes for the right seat was finishing in the shop. Finally 55X, my favorite Arrow from my commercial training is ready to go and I'm back in the skies!
My day started well. I took the FAA Fundamentals of Instruction test this morning and passed with a 96%. Then I did my normal work day and took to the skies for a quick flight sitting in the right seat. My assignment was to practice a maneuver and talk through it. A preview of what I'll be doing all of the time as a flight instructor. Considering how little I talk in the first place and how hard it was to get me to talk for my commercial rating, I expected talking and flying to be hard.
After a long wait in the run-up I was cleared for takeoff downwind. The plane climbed strongly and I quickly overtook the Cessna that departed before me. It was fun to be in another fast plane. After passing the Cessna I turned towards the practice area. Then I sighed. I have to talk. This is going to be weird.
I decided to pretend to be training someone named Renee. First I told her how we would slow down the plane, pointing out that I had to pitch up slowly and re-trim the plane to make it easy to maintain level flight as the airspeed slowed. Then I figured I should start her with some gentle clearing turns, explaining why we do them and emphasizing keeping the plane level by looking off the nose of the plane and visualizing shooting bullets to the horizon.
I got into the flow and talked through the desired airspeed for a steep turn and what qualifies as steep, how to set up for one with a good visual reference point, etc. Then as I did the turn I explained what I was going to do before doing it, talking about having to add back pressure to maintain altitude and some opposite aileron to counteract over banking. When to start looking for the reference point, how to roll out and go into a turn the opposite direction.
It was weird. Once I started talking I was flying smoothly. And, unexpectedly, I did all of the steep turns after the first one to commercial spec, from the right seat. I was told not to worry about doing it to spec, just to focus on the talking. I think maybe the talking helped me maintain the flying to spec? I am not sure if the talking I was doing was teaching, narrating or reporting. But the fact that I was able to open my mouth and talk and fly was just amazing to me.
After a while I got tired of the turns and the talking. I wasn't learning anything anymore I felt. I decided to head back to RHV, stop talking and just fly. On the return to RHV I mistakenly tried to identify the plane I was in as a Bonanza and laughed. Then I got behind the plane on the approach and ended up quite high. Dump the flaps, cut the power and an aggressive slip and I was back on glide slope over the mall for an OK landing. Proving I can still get behind the plane, especially right seat flying. It still takes conscious thought to translate the motions and process of landing that are now second nature from the left seat into conscious moves from the right seat.
I'll go back up and do the same thing tomorrow. If things go normally my second flight will be worse and then the third will be better. Fortunately the third will be with my CFI. On that flight I'll find out if my talking is the right kind of talking, with the right content, at the right time - and - if I can talk in front of a person!