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Multi Engine Flying and Teaching Tips, CFI Training on Your Own, and the Whys Behind the Steep Spiral.

May 2022

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Multi-Engine Flying and Teaching Tips (3 of a 3 Part Series)

  1. Never switch fuel tanks after run-up or in the vicinity of an airport before landing. This can lead to problems in fuel delivery problems.

  2. In the event of an emergency enroute – Divert to an airport with approach aids and with a runway of at least 6000 ft. unless a more significant emergency exists.

  3. Always verify that the nose compartment is closed and locked. If this opens in flight, it can separate and, in some cases, fly into one of the propellers.

Why CFI training can take a long time on your own.

One of the big things we hear from our students here at CFI Bootcamp is how many times they tried to finish their CFI and how frustrated they became. In our program, we have everything arranged, including the checkride, before having a student on campus.

One of the reasons that CFI training can take a long time on your own, or with a CFI who does one or two now and then, is that things like the Fundamentals of Instructing knowledge fade upon disuse. So even though a CFI may have more than two years and more than 200 hours dual given (the FAA minimum time to instruct initial CFI applicants), the knowledge of the FOI is usually at the rote level. Not in every case, but in a lot of cases. Their solution is usually to just read the book to you during a lesson, or they will have the book open and ask you questions about what you read. Definitely not a good way to learn the material.

Also, the make a binder crowd insists that you make your own lesson plans. The reason for this, by the way, is that most students' aeronautical knowledge isn't where it needs to be able to teach. Making your own lesson plans makes you learn what you either forgot or didn't know in the first place. The difficulty with this approach is that it takes way too long, and there can be a considerable drop in motivation. Using this approach, you need to create about 150 lesson plans for all maneuvers in the Private and Commercial ACS and then a plan for all technical subject areas. Each lesson plan will take you about an hour if you are good at this. That's 150 hours, almost four weeks of full-time work to finish. We have been teaching people to fly for over 100 years, just like we've had Calculus for a few hundred years. University professors aren't constantly making lesson plans for something there are already lesson plans for. What's important is that you understand the content and are instructed on how to use and teach from a lesson plan.

So, that's what we do. You learn to create a lesson plan and are assigned one, and that's it. The rest of the time, you learn to use and teach from ours.

But, what about the other reason for creating your own lesson plans, getting the aeronautical knowledge up to speed? Our solution was to create an online course that would do that along with the CFI stuff. That takes roughly 60 hours to complete. Couple that with a "How to use the information ground school," like our 7-day immersion course, and you now have had about 100 hours of ground instruction from an online and in-person/live streaming course. That's about what it takes.

Another issue I see a lot is that many CFIs who can teach initial CFI students don't do this a lot. There are so many things to know that aren't practiced frequently by working CFIs like this. For example, most CFIs teach Student pilots to Private Pilots and the occasional Commercial Pilot program. It's pretty rare to see training that addresses Helicopter to Airplane etc. So, these areas aren't familiar to most CFIs, and therefore they can't really teach that to you. Find someone that does this a lot. They will understand the FOI and these problematic areas.

Lastly, spinning your wheels looking for the cheapest way or taking your time just costs you money. Add up the wasted time, no plan, etc., and you've spent a lot with no certificate. Not always, but a lot of times, it works this way.

Our program costs around 6 to 10K. It seems like a lot, but you'll be working as a CFI sooner, making more money, and getting seniority faster. So, in the end, the money you spend to do this at a good pace is worth it.

TIP: If you are doing or going the self-study/local CFI route, make a study outline for every day. Put the topics you will study, or tasks you will do, the resources needed, and time estimation on an outline for the day. Create this for all lesson plans and technical subject areas. This will show you how many days you need before you are done. It also lets you tweak these by adding more or less as you go.

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Why is the Steep Spiral entered upwind? It's a combination performance and ground reference maneuver, so why upwind?

Here is one of those "Why" questions. I don't know about you, but I like to understand why I'm doing something in a particular way. It makes it more real to me. It's not just something that will be on the test, although there are some things like that. Sometimes the "why" isn't in plain view. This is the case for the Steep Spiral.

To review, a Steep Spiral is a performance maneuver that can be currently tested for Commercial and CFI applicants. It consists of three 360-degree turns of a fixed radius over a point on the ground with bank angles of up to 60 degrees. So, it's more like a performance and ground reference maneuver together.

In all other ground reference maneuvers, the entry is from the downwind. This is because if you want to keep a, say, ½ mile distance to a pylon, your first turn will be from the downwind. It needs to be the steepest turn because most ground reference maneuvers are limited to bank angles of up to 45 degrees. So, if you start the turn and find you are already at 45 degrees and the radius will be over ½ mile, at least now you know it isn't possible, and the radius will need to be more. If you started this maneuver upwind, maybe you needed to use 30 degrees right then to hold a ½ mile radius. Well, to keep the same ½ mile radius at the downwind, you may need well over 45 degrees which, of course, isn't allowed.

In the Steep Spiral, the bank angle allowed is 60 degrees. So why on earth would you start this maneuver upwind? The answer was tricky to find. Something I have learned about the FAA handbooks comes to bear here. In each revision, some of the information about a specific maneuver may not be carried through to the handbook they are releasing now. The previous information may have either been wrong, considered unnecessary, or maybe they just forgot, or it got overlooked. Whatever the reason, this happens a lot.

To chase down the why upwind question, I went back through every airplane flying handbook prior to this one and looked at their maneuver description. I found many things that weren't carried through, like how drag increases or decreases with bank angle and how that affects the airspeed. That was in the 2004 version. Nothing was mentioned about why the maneuver was started upwind. It was the 1965 Flight Training Handbook that solved the riddle. If you look at the diagram of this maneuver, you'll see that it's begun over the approach end of an airport. The idea was that you would do a number of 360-degree turns while keeping over the approach end of the runway. When you felt it was time to stop the turns, you would be into the wind lined up on the runway you wanted to land on. If you were too high, you could do a modified traffic pattern to bring you back around.

So, to wrap this up, the reason the Steep Spiral is begun upwind is so that when the turns are done, the airplane will be lined up on the runway of choice into the wind.

Click here to get a copy of the 1965 Flight Training Handbook (Free)

Product updates

A lot has been happening with our training materials. We are in the process and very close to completing revisions to each of our custom books. If you have purchased any of our products within a year of today, you can get the latest version for free. You will have received an email from us with links to the latest versions. If you have CFI Essentials, that product has already been updated, and the latest copies are already there. CFI Essentials is a Dropbox folder, so everyone who has it is updated automatically when I make a change.

Here is a list of the products that have been recently updated:

  1. Teach Brief-Fly! Instructor Edition

  2. Teach Brief-Fly! Student Companion Guide

  3. Endorsements and Scenarios

  4. Checkride Quick Self Study Guide

  5. Flight Instructor Lesson Plans

  6. CFI Workbook

  7. CFI Self-Study Guide (For the Online Course).

Visit our online store now.

We are currently working on updating the other books during this quarter. Expect an update on that by the end of June.

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