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Phrases every pilot should know and use

Posted by on October 24, 2007 1 Comments Category : Flight Instructor Blog

I have been doing some multi engine flight training lately with some “advanced” students. These “students” have their commercial and instrument ticket and are looking to get checked out in complex, fast, multi-engine airplanes. As we are flying through the instrument system, I find myself passing on some knowledge to them that I have been fortunate to have received from my various instructors through the years and I thought I would pass this knowledge onto you. I actually thought that everyone had been taught these but apparently, according to my students, that is not so.

1) What is my next altitude and when do I go there?

2) Power Up, Pitch Up, Clean Up, Talk Up

3) The 5 T’s

1) “What is my next altitude and when do I go there?”

sgh_vor.jpgThis phrase was taught to me by one of my instructors at a regional airline I used to work for. It was taught to us in the context of learning to fly non-precision approaches in the simulator for the regional jet I was training for. It was actually a phrase to be asked of the non-flying pilot in a two-crew aircraft. I teach my students to ask themselves this question or of their co-pilot, every time they level off at a step-down or intermediate altitude on a non-precision approach. This can be used when using an autopilot; when the autopilot captures the assigned altitude, that is the perfect time to ask this…”what is my next altitude and when do I go there” It forces the pilot to think ahead of the aircraft and to use situational awareness to identify their location on the approach and prepare for the next action.

2) Missed Approach: Power Up, Pitch Up, Clean Up, Talk Up


First the credit is given to a local DE who taught me this while preparing for my MEI (multi-engine instructor) exam.

A missed approach is NOT an emergency situation. By remembering this idiom you can calmly react to the situation where you need to go around. It is a quick aborted landing checklist. I can’t say how many times after seeing a student leave the gear down several minutes after an aborted approach, that I wish they had used this phrase.

Power Up – Very smoothly advanced the throttles (or thrust) to full making sure that before you do the props and mixtures are rich if applicable. If your airplane is equipped with a flight director and go-around buuton on the throttle, this would be a good time to push that as ewell.

Pitch Up – If you are one of the fortunate ones who has a flight director, then smoothly raise the nose of the aircraft and pitch up to the flight director settings. If not, then smoothly bring the nose up to a Vx or Vy attitude.

Clean Up – “Positive Rate, Gear Up” Make this a habit but, don’t forget about flaps! Your “clean up” job is only half through unless the flaps also accompany the gear retraction.

Talk Up – this is last for a reason. (you remember aviate, navigate, communicate right?) Tell Tower, Approach or Common Traffic Advisory Frequency (CTAF) that you are executing the missed approach or simply say, “Aircraft XYZ, going missed”

3) 5 T’s – very helpful in holding and procedure turns on a full approach


I was shocked when 2 different commercial pilots told me they had never heard this before. In real-life line flying do I use this…no, but you train enough the procedures get drilled into your head. You unconsciously do them without saying it aloud

TIME – either at the expiration of, or as a reminder to start the timer

TURN – Turn the aircraft, either manually or the heading bug

TWIST – Turn the CDI to your next inbound course

THROTTLE – verify you are complying with FAR speed restrictions and or speed assignments

TALK – if Air Traffic Control asked you to report procedure turn inbound, outbound or at a specific time (say, EFC) then this would be a good reminder to do so

I hope that reviewing these phrases has maybe reminded you of some phrases that has helped you become the proficient pilot you are. Or maybe you too have never heard these before and you can implement them into your flying or instructing (as appropriate).

1 Comment

  1. Arthur Hill on Feb 15, 2009

    Thanks Paul.

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