Train to do it Wrong, Part One


Throughout the course of our flight training, we work constantly to perfect our flying. Whether it’s air show flying, professional flying or just flying around the traffic pattern, we strive to do it better. We are looking for that perfect landing and that smooth approach. In air show flying, we strive to hit the numbers and to do it perfect 1000 times before we add it to a show sequence.  

While practicing a maneuver or a routine until you can do it in your sleep is important, it’s also important to train for failure. As instructors, we train our students to go-around when the landing isn’t right. In instrument flying we “miss” the approach when we can’t see the runway or we aren’t lined up well enough to land. Air show flying is no different. 

You aren’t always going to hit those numbers. Your airspeed may be low or high. You may not have made the altitude you always use for the next maneuver or you may be at high density altitude and your engine just doesn’t have enough air to breath. This is where training can make the difference between success and failure. 

Dealing with a blown maneuver is pretty obvious…Abort the maneuver and recover the aircraft. It’s when the maneuver isn’t blown, but it isn’t quite right when the decision is more difficult.   

When was the last time you climbed up high and trained to do a maneuver wrong? Can you do that maneuver safely if you are 10 MPH slow? How about 20 MPH slow? How will you deal with that situation? Can you amend the maneuver or should you abort it? In air show flying, the near instantaneous decisions that have to be made very close to the ground have too often had catastrophic results. The only way to know beforehand how you will deal with a maneuver that isn’t quite right is to practice doing it…not quite right. Aborting a maneuver or a sequence needs to be as routine an event as completing one. You wouldn’t think of flying a show routine without practicing until you can do it right. Why would you fly one if you haven’t practiced intentionally doing it wrong?

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The International Council of Air Shows (ICAS) is a trade association dedicated to building and sustaining a vibrant air show industry to support its membership. To achieve this goal, ICAS demands its members operate their air show business at only the highest levels of safety, professionalism, and integrity.