What does a flight lesson entail?
Flight lessons are usually conducted one-on-one with a flight instructor using a syllabus. The syllabus contains a list of all flight lessons for the course - essentially a roadmap for your training journey. Different syllabi may be organized slightly differently but all should include at least the following:
Lesson Objectives – Clear, definable goals to be achieved during the lesson.
Lesson Content – List of discussion points, maneuvers and skills to introduce, practice or review throughout the lesson.
Completion Standards – Definable metrics so you and the instructor clearly understand acceptable tolerances for lesson completion.
Study Assignment – List of items to be accomplished in preparation for lesson. Could be a combination of reading material, exercises or tasks to maximize learning effectiveness.
When meeting with your instructor it is important to conduct a preflight briefing. This is your time to discuss subjects you found confusing when completing study assignments and to brief the intended flight. The instructor may guide the discussion to determine your depth of understanding or simply ask if you have any questions. If you are not prepared for lesson the instructor will need to cover the study assignment material with you which increases the time and cost.
After briefing the lesson objectives and having a clear understanding of lesson intent you will complete the flight. External variables such as weather and other airplanes may affect your plan but that is what learning is all about – applying your knowledge and skill to unexpected situations – which is how you gain experience. Most flights are about 1.5 hours but some may be several hours. You want enough time in the airplane to introduce new content and have ample time to practice. Too much new material can result in cognitive overload so don’t try to cram too much in.
If your school has a simulator it may be part of the syllabus. The FAA allows a portion of the training requirements to be completed in a sim but the training experience is so good and efficient, you may spend more time in sim than the minimum for learning effectiveness. In addition, should a flight not be appropriate due to airplane maintenance or weather, you may use a simulator instead to continue training progress.
The postflight briefing is in many ways the most important part of the lesson. Once back on the ground spend some time reviewing how the flight went. Did the flight go according to plan? What surprised you? Challenged you? What would you have done differently in retrospect? This is the core to the learning process and ample time must be allocated.
Remember, this is your training so take ownership of your own success. Utilize resources available to you at the school and ask for help when needed. There are endless training aids and tools available to help you succeed but you must speak up and ask for guidance.