Accelerated Programs

I’ve always wondered about such programs. The latest one I heard of was Sport Pilot in a week.

This is encouraging in one way, in that it fosters interest and excitement in aviation. In addition, the short time and the financial commitment doesn’t allow the student to loose interest, or get sidetracked by other external factors.

The problem as I see it, is a lack of percolation time for higher levels of learning, combined with a lack of diversity in training. Any student needs time to comprehend, and apply new knowledge. In a weeks time, they can obtain a great deal of rote knowledge and skill. However, that is just not enough time to get to the higher levels of learning where one can apply it in other areas, or to derive new concepts and ideas.

To some extent, I liken it to my old boss Mike Connel, who would teach non-flyers how to fly. The marketing concept was to give them the absolute basics, such that if their pilot spouse or significant other became incapcitated, or needed help, that the non flying spouse could assist. The primary concept, although one not used to sell the program, was to get over any fear of flying, and make the experience more enjoyable for both pilot and spouse/significant other. It was amazing, Mike could take a person who had never flown before, and in a matter of an afternoon, or maybe a couple days, they could operate a radio, navigate, and safely land an airplane. That was an example of rote learning at its highest.

However, such a student was no where near ready to fly solo, to fly in marginal weather, or ready to handle any type of emergency. It was just to get them part of the way there, and maybe generate enough interest that they might want to pursue further instruction, or at a minimum, increase their enjoyment of flying.

Now, the accelerated programs do go further than that of course. They have the same checkride and PTS that every one else has to pass. The problem beyond percolation time, is that they miss out on diversity in weather, traffic, and to some extent even hanger flying. In the ideal case, one would earn their pilots certificate over a few months, so that they can experience the major seasonal differences, as well as wide ranging weather phenomena. The most obvious is the performance difference between flying at 5 deg F, and 105 deg F. Sure density altitude and charts and graphs will show their to be a change. But when you are cruising down the runway at a ground speed of 90mph, combined with a climb rate of 300 fpm in the heat of summer with calm winds, compared to a ground speed of 40mph, and a climb rate of 1300 fpm in the winter with high winds, it is really really different. I think its best if such learning can be accomplish in a training environment, instread of experiencing it for the first time on a familiy vacation.

That being said, I’m sure the accelerated training providers do bring this up, and really emphasize periodic recurrent training. I would expect that many of them even give out a syllabus at the end of the course.

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