Flight Lesson 1

A long time ago, in a plane far far away...


Your first lesson in the aircraft is a completely normal one. In this lesson you'll be introduced to the PAVE process, the aircraft and how it's operated safely.

You'll want to soak up the sensations of flight in this lesson, you're instructor is there to keep you safe, so at every chance you get, feel the yoke, feel the rudder pedals, move the throttle and start to understand how You make the aircraft fly. 


Going into this lesson you should have already watched the following videos:

1. Preflight


3. Passenger Briefing

4. Engine Start

5. Taxiing

6. Runup

7. Normal Takeoff

Instructor Notes and Duties

  • Have your student run the checklist while you accomplish the engine start procedure.
  • Emphasis on: 
    • yelling clear prop
    • Holding the brakes
    • Proper start procedures for hot and cold starting
  • Have student run through after start while you accomplish the items on the checklist
  • Your student must complete the first radio call to ground
  • Key things to make sure your student discovers on lesson 1
    • The airplane can fly better than you can - it is stable
    • Don’t chase the instruments - Let the instruments chase you (Look outside)
    • Relax the death grip - properly handling the controls and using control pressures instead of movements yields better results. 
  • On taxi make sure student knows where to look to maintain centerline, doesn’t drag brakes, taxi too fast or with too much power. 
  • Point out signs on taxi and make sure student recognizes airport signs
  • Discuss how to properly cross a runway - Visually checking for traffic even with a clearance. 
  • Discuss how to orient the aircraft in the run up area to allow for other aircraft and to align the aircraft into the wind for cooling, also noting to avoid blasting people/hangers/aircraft with our prop blast during run up
  • Have the student complete the run up checklist while you demonstrate each checklist item.
  • Have the student complete the before takeoff checklist while you demonstrate each checklist item
  • Complete the abort plan
  • Discuss the process for the student to take the aircraft off, including:
    • Obtaining takeoff clearance
    • Checking for traffic
    • Aligning the aircraft on the center line
    • The proper positioning and use of flight controls
    • Keeping feet off of the brakes 
    • Accelerating the aircraft by using full throttle
      • Keeping hand on the throttle
    • Checking RPM, Oil Pressure, and Airspeed on roll
    • Rotating at 65 mph and pitching for a climb attitude
      • Top of the cowling on the horizon
    • Maintaining flight path over the runway center line and not drifting
    • Climbing to 500’ and the end of the runway before turning
  • Be ready on trim to back them up, and also to help with directional control if needed. 
  • Direct the performance of the takeoff with your student
  • On climb out - help student complete climb checklist when at a safe altitude
  • Navigate to the practice area
  • Usually at this point I have the student let go of the airplane - and all is well when they do, then they get the first impression that the airplane is stable and they can relax a bit. 
  • Now it’s time to talk about the level off and how we lead the level off
    • Start level about 50 feet prior to altitude
    • Lower the nose and reduce throttle to cruise of 2300 RPM
    • Let aircraft accelerate to cruise speed and stabilize
    • Make sure trim is set correctly.
  • Help the student understand the effects of trim in level flight
    • Trim the aircraft in a nose down condition - then alleviate the trim to demonstrate the control forces being alleviated
    • When trimmed for cruise retard the throttle to demonstrate how the aircraft will maintain cruise speed and descend
    • Apply full power to demonstrate how aircraft will maintain cruise speed and climb
    • Setting the trim in essence is setting a speed for the aircraft to maintain
    • This is a good opportunity to demonstrate the stability of the aircraft by pitching up and letting the aircraft return to cruise
  • Guide your student through some gentle turns and discuss how to clear the area prior to turning
  • Discuss how to roll the aircraft into the turn using a medium banked turn as an example, and how to apply back pressure on the elevator to maintain altitude. 
  • Have student practice some turns
  • Demonstrate the use of the rudder and dutch rolls (Be careful not to make student sick first time out)
    • Roll the aircraft back and forth without rudder use to illustrate adverse yaw
    • Roll the aircraft back and forth with rudder to show coordination
    • Anytime you use ailerons you must use rudder to counteract adverse yaw!
  • Have your student practice a glide
    • Explain the difference between a dive and a glide. A glide is at constant airspeed.
    • Have student practice leveling off from a glide
  • If student is apt and ready (Best judgement) demonstrate slow flight that will be performed on the next lesson. 
  • Discuss the process for returning to the airfield
    • Get the ATIS/AWOS
    • Get the tower frequency or CTAF
    • Discuss where we are 
    • The radio call to be made
    • How we should expect to be directed for the pattern
  • Guide the student through the process of returning to the airport
  • Assist with the decent and in range checklist
  • Help student enter the pattern at pattern altitude - point out key reference points along the way. 
  • Discuss with student how you will be demonstrating the landing and you’d like them to follow along with you on the flight controls.
  • Demonstrate the landing
  • Use correct radio phraseology and radio work to emphasize importance with your student
  • Make sure student is not on brakes prior to landing
  • Exit the runway and have student perform after landing checklist
  • Have student make radio call to ground to obtain taxi clearance
  • On taxi back ask your student what the highlight of the day was?
    • What did they learn the most?
    • Have a discussion about what they felt and took away from the lesson?
      • Don’t ask yes or no questions
      • Don’t judge your students performance
      • If they are critical of themselves you should reinforce the positive and put things in perspective for them
  • Have student perform shutdown checklist
  • Post flight inspect the aircraft and make sure student:
    • Secures items in the cabin
    • Records times
    • Check for leaks
    • Check the tires and wheel pants
  • Optional : Tell your student you have a chiropractor appointment you need to schedule after that landing. 

Student Notes and Duties

There's no failure on this lesson. Just enjoy the flight. You'll be drinking from a fire hose, don't be afraid about missing things because you're going to cover the same things again on the next lesson. 

Here are the 3 big concepts you need to take away on this lesson:

1. The airplane can fly better than you can. The airplane is stable and it doesn't want to do weird things. The plane is always trying to get back to straight and level somehow. 

2. Don't chase the instruments, let the instruments chase you. You should be looking outside of the airplane 99% of the time. Why look at that artificial horizon when you have the real one outside? The key to properly flying the airplane is knowing where to look at the right now. Start training your eyeballs now. 

3. The people in the Tower are just people. Everyone has mic fright when they start talking on the radio. It's normal. Just remember it's OK to make mistakes, it's OK to miss a call, it's OK to totally butcher it up. You're learning and your instructor is there to guide you through it. But remember the more you're instructor is talking for you on the radio, the less you're learning. 

SRM Comments and Concerns

SRM is Single Pilot Resource Management. From here on out we'll consider the risk factors of our flight lessons and talk about mitigating those risks with SRM.

The biggest risk on your first lesson is who is in charge of flying the airplane. You as a student will be flying the airplane the majority of the time, unless the instructor needs to take control for safety or to demonstrate something. 

When pilots change who's controlling the aircraft there should be a positive exchange of controls. We do this by instituting a dialogue between the two pilots in the cockpit. It goes as follows:

Pilot taking control: I have the controls

Pilot releasing control: You have the controls

Pilot taking control: I have the controls

We do this to make sure there is no doubt who is flying the airplane at any point on the flight. 

Lesson Video

Lesson Plan

Lesson Quiz

Student Comments