Cross Country lessons

Following our cross country to Sacramento Executive airport last week I had the student put together some things he learned firsthand. Sometimes talking about these things don’t make the impression it should, but living through them does. The tough job as a CFI is in letting things go just enough wrong in order to make a teaching moment out of it to get the point across, but never so far as to make it a hazard to anyone else or us.

These are the thing he learned from our short cross country, I hope they help you too.

1. Prepare better.
I could have taken planning more seriously. Would have helped to avoid picking the wrong runway to land on and I would have been familiar with their taxiways. The result was one irritated off ATC person.

2. Navigating at night is totally different from daytime.
Water and hills become voids. Familiar terrain becomes a sea of lights that I need to interpret. GPS will make you lazy, VOR navigation can help you if the plane is so equipped.

3. George is your friend
Not having to worry about drifting off course while i’m reading a map is great. (But never forget that hand flying is an important skill to maintain.)

4. Make sure to copy everything the nice man in the tower says.
We had him repeat a somewhat complex taxi instructions 3 times, boy was he cheesed off.

5. Sightseeing is great if you are a passenger
Pilot has to fly the plane at all times, this gets busy during certain phases of the flight like copying ATIS, Tower landing clearance, landing, taxi to park. When the wheels stop, you can look around.

6. Think 2 moves ahead
Do not get behind the aircraft. Think of the next thing to be done.

7. Know your place
Where am I, where am I going, How to get there, what do I do next.
(Asking yourself this will prevent getting lost or behind the airplane.)
8. The CFI is not going to save you
Don’t rely on them too much and get lazy. The point is so you can do this yourself.

9. Calm the heck down
You make more mistakes when your pressured. Flying is fun, enjoy it with the mistakes and all.