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What to do with stress as a flight instructor?

Asked by: 2212 views , , ,
Flight Instructor, Helicopter

Hello, I am a relatively new flight instructor, with around 100 hours of instruction given.

I find myself nervous or anxious about flying. I'm comfortable when I am the one flying, but I find myself anxious thinking about flying with students. Maybe it is because it is all my responsibility to make sure the aircraft lands safely without damage/exceeding limitations. 

I have certainly become more comfortable over the little while I've been instructing, but I think I'm just not used to it being all on me. 

So my question is this: Is it normal to feel this anxiety as a new flight instructor? What are some steps I can take to raise the comfort level and lower stress? Especially when a mistake could mean serious injury/death?

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2 Answers

  1. Bob Watson on Sep 01, 2014

    It sounds like you have more confidence in your ability to fly than your ability to teach people to fly. Maybe try some teaching exercises (e.g. ground school) where you can get some practice teaching without the pressure of potentially fatal consequences. Ask an experienced instructor or two to sit in and provide some feedback on your interaction and then practice applying their suggestions until you find what works for you. That can improve your teaching, which should improve your confidence.

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  2. Kris Kortokrax on Sep 02, 2014

    I see the key to your anxiety in your interest areas. You are instructing in helicopters. Most everything (except for takeoffs and landings) we teach in airplanes can be done at altitude and affords ample time for corrections.

    In helicopters, most of what we teach is performed in very close proximity to the ground (slope landings, hover autos, learning to hover, quick stops, and the flare from an autorotation while descending at about 1500 ft/min.)

    Things can go wrong in a heartbeat.

    It doesn’t do much for student confidence if you are closely guarding the controls, but if you don’t guard them closely enough, then you might be involved in a accident.

    You can do some things to hedge your bet.

    I always perform hovering autos on a hard surface. Skid shoes are cheaper than helicopters.

    I never simulate an engine failure if I don’t have a place to go where I could do a touchdown without damage to the ship. (I have had the engine quit in an auto)

    When performing practice autos to a runway, I always aim for the fixed distance marker or a spot around 1000′ past the threshold. That way, if we end up short and have to touch down, I have a solid surface beneath me (instead of approach/threshold lights).

    With slopes, don’t pick a slope that is too steep.

    During an auto, if you reach 100′ AGL and the parameters are not correct (speed, RPM, trim, alignment), GO AROUND.

    For now, you will probably step in and take control sooner. As you gain experience, you will let students go astray a little farther before stepping in.

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