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Managing your Preparatory Groun

Preparatory Ground Instruction for Basic Maneuvers, Levels 1, 2, and 3


Basic Maneuvers, Level 1

This PGI focuses on the how section of the basic maneuvers, and there is very little theoretical or conceptual background required.  Essentially, you should present the separate maneuvers of straight and level flight, climbs, descents, and turns, in sequence.  They are unified in the sense that they formed the basic maneuvers, but each is different, requiring a separate sequence of actions.


Provide definitions of straight and level flight, climbs, descents, and turns, be sure to paralleling the definitions that appear in the students Flight Training Manual.


The aim of the exercise is for the student use the attitudes and movements learned during the previous training flight, and apply them so as to maintain accurate straight and level flight, conduct climbs and descents systematically and with reference to a specified altitude and heading targets, and execute turns using constant angle is a bank and while maintaining constant altitude.

Explain to the student that each one of these maneuvers, for the most part, has specific action sequences which the pilot has to apply correctly.  Explain also that, for the first time, the student will be flying for the purpose of pursuing specific performance targets.  The performance targets, in general terms, are specified altitudes, specified headings, and constant bank attitudes in the case of descents.


Explain that accuracy in heading and altitude control is crucial in flying, as separation between aircraft flying in opposite directions can be as little as 500 feet.  Explain as well that heading accuracy is crucial, especially in areas like the lower mainland where control zone and TCA boundaries are complicated and must be respected for safety sake. Point out that accuracy and efficiency and climbs and descents is a crucial skill and learning how to conduct takeoffs and landings.  Finally, point out that adherence to performance targets is critical for successful completion of a qualifying flight test for pilots.

Background Knowledge

As part of the background knowledge section of this PGI, your discussions here should prepare your student for learning effective traffic scanning, effective aircraft trimming, and compass errors.  Explain to the student that the skills will be included in the day’s flight and that you simply want to give them some background information that will get them ready.

Traffic Scanning

Explain to the student that you will map out the seven sectors that form the basis of effective traffic scanning.  Sketch airplanes vertical profile on the whiteboard and map out the sector positions with lines radiating from the cockpit in the appropriate position.  Then explain that the method of scanning used must counter the effects of what is referred to as empty-field myopia.  Explain that empty-field myopia renders pilots potentially blind because the natural resting position of the eye produces a focal point only 4 to 6 feet in front of the observer, thereby making it difficult to detect objects in the distance.  Explain that effective countermeasures for this condition simply requires the pilot to focus on the distant object when scanning for traffic.  Explain that this forces the eye to focus in the distance, thereby making peripheral vision possible.  Explain that distant targets will be detected not directly, but by way of peripheral vision whereby the apparent movement of the object is easily detected.  It is critical that the eye does not sweep the landscape, as this is ineffective.

Explain to the student that you will be selecting for each sector a high key and low key point of reference for the eye to focus on.  The high key point should be located at or slightly above horizon, and should include, for example distant mountain peaks, or cloud formations.  Focus the eye on this key point for a few seconds so as to permit the eye time to detect movement.  When this upper portion of the sector is cleared, choose a low key point located approximately halfway between the horizon line and the part of the aircraft structure which forms the bottom of the vantage point.  A landmark should be selected, typically, and again the eye focused on this landmark so as to enable peripheral-vision detection of a moving target.

Your next teaching task is to point out to the student how you manage the sectors and their scanning during the normal course of flight.  Explain, if it is the case, that you use a random scan pattern, whereby you work left and right sectors, as well as high and low key points randomly during flight, especially in the forward positions ahead of the aircraft (approximately 45° either side of center).  Explain that steering left turn, the scanning emphasizes the left side of the aircraft in the direction of the turn, and that the same applies to rate turns.  By the way, if you do not use a random scan pattern, but instead use a different method, simply explain this to the student.  My experience is that most pilots use a random scan pattern.

Also, explain that is important to keep the head moving forward and back during a scan so as to minimize the effect of cockpit blind spots created by the airframe structure, engine cowling, etc.

Take a few moments, also, to talk about the significance of targets that appears fixed, and how they represent a possible collision course.  Point out how you will try to safely demonstrate this during the course of the flight if the opportunity presents itself.

Aircraft Trimming

When talking about aircraft trimming, you can get lost in the detail, so you should make every effort to keep your discussions in the PGI to a minimum.  Ask yourself: what does my student need to know before I demonstrate how the trim systems work?  The point is that trimming is very much of a visual and physical thing, and that you can therefore waste a lot of classroom time trying to explain how to do this without experience cause-and-effect.  There is a diagram in the Cherokee Pilot Operating Handbook that shows the pitch trim wheel and the rudder trim knob, and you might simply draw attention to this, pointing out that these will be manipulated during flight to affect trim changes.  Point out that, if you wish to trim the nose up, you move the top of the wheel rearward, and that you move the trim wheel forward when nose-down trim is required.  Point out that the rudder trim knob is used to trim off roll tendencies of the aircraft resulting, for example, from lateral weight and balances, typically associated with cabin loading and fuel tank volumes.  If the aircraft has a right roll tendency, the rudder trim knob is rotated in the opposite direction, and vice versa.  The rudder trim strategy is simply trial and error.

Compass Errors

Point out to the student that you will also show them the errors of the compass.  Explain that the heading indicator of the aircraft must be set regularly to the compass indication, but this should not be done during aircraft speed changes, or during turns, as this produces erroneous errors of the compass indications.  Explain that you will review this with the student in the air.


In presenting the how section, your whiteboard should be divided roughly into two sections, the first is used to list the action sequence associated with the maneuver, and the second is used to sketch as required—for example, the profile of an aircraft during straight and level flight, climbs, leveling, descents, and of course leveling again, on the cockpit view during a turn.  The profile line can be useful in graphically demonstrating the action sequences for climbs, descents, and leveling.  The cockpit view can be useful in showing the scan pattern used during a turn maneuver. 

Straight and Level Flight

Straight and level flight is somewhat unique in that there is, in fact, no sequence for the student to memorize (unlike, of course, climbs, and descents).  It is perhaps a good start to say that straight and level flight is easy schmeasy and, to be honest, there is not much to say about it.  Explain that the cruise attitude is converted to straight and level flight once the pilot begins to pursue target headings and altitudes.  Explain that the heading targets are simply derived from visual landmarks which the pilot targets, and that altitude information is simply derived from the altimeter indication.  Pretty straightforward indeed, but the pilot has to continually be aware of the targets and monitor the success in maintaining them.  Explain that, in the case of heading targets, the pilot must use very subtle roll and bank inputs to return the aircraft to the desired heading when a deviation occurs (drift).  Point out that the aircraft is always inclined to move off the target reference and that the bank inputs are continually required, but should be done smoothly and gently.  If the aircraft has deviated to the left of the heading target, a gentle right bank should be inputted until the correction is completed.  In the case that the aircraft has migrated vertically off the target altitude, very gentle pitch inputs should be used to maintain the subtle nose up and nose-down attitudes required to return the aircraft to the altitude target. Explain that these are ongoing throughout the cruise phase of flight. Importantly, explain that your student should always be aware of the heading target with which the aircraft is aligned, as well as the altitude target which is being proceed.

Before moving on to climbs, descents, and turns, emphasize that straight and level is simply the platform from which the other maneuvers are conducted.  You begin these maneuvers from straight and level flight, and you resume straight and level flight when these maneuvers are completed.


You are going to write the how list on the whiteboard, and this should be done jointly with the student.  "Let's suppose we want to climb from 3000 feet to 4000 feet. Let's look at the sequence of actions that we do. Before we begin a climb but should we do related to safety, Frankie?" You will therefore begin your numbered list with the item “Traffic”, or something like that. In working a list on the whiteboard, remember that you first say the item, and then talk a little bit about it, providing the student with meaningful detail, such as looking ahead and on either side of above the aircraft. The next item on your list should attitude, and explain to the student how they should produce and control the nose up attitude just as they did in attitudes and movements.  Explain that this should be done smoothly, yet with purpose, and there should be effort to keep the nose reference for the aircraft (the cowling piano hinge, in the case of the Cherokee) aligned with the heading target.  The third item on your list is, of course, power.  Explain that the power should be applied smoothly and fully, and that there must be simultaneous right rudder input to counter yaw produced by asymmetric thrust.  The last item on your numbered list is of course trim.  Discussed briefly how this is done, how you hold the nose of the aircraft on the horizon with your left hand, and simultaneously trim with rearward rotation of the pitch trim wheel until the pressure on the control column required to hold the nose up is relieved.  Now begin a second list to show the leveling sequence.  Provide sufficient detail as necessary.

You may wish to summarize the sequences for climbing and leveling using the flight path profile line.


The descent sequence is next, and I won’t belabor you with the repeat description, other than to point out that the action sequence and number list will be parallel to that used for climbs.  Just a reminder that you should always state the descent targets before you begin your sequence so that the student is reminded that performance targets are an important part of the exercise.  Also, you have to sort out the power setting you wish your student to use for descents.  I would suggest that you simply require your student to set descent power at the halfway position between 1500 RPM and 2000 RPM.  In the next lesson plan, power off descents will be practice using various speed assignments.  Finally, with respect to descents, important reference to point out to the student is the point of zero-movement in the descent, which is of course the point visually discernible on the ground where the aircraft will land if the descent continues to the ground.  The idea here is that we get students familiar with the point of zero-movement as soon as possible in air training, so that they will be effective in its recognition during critical forced approach maneuvers later on in the training.  With respect to discussion of the point of zero-movement during the PGI, simply point out how the point is recognized, and if significance with respect to continued descent.


The action sequence of turns is quite different as you have to write a list on the whiteboard, but you have to also include a repeat or recycle component.  Also, when you explain the turn sequence, it is sometimes useful to have a cockpit view of the board so that you can pictorially described the scan pattern.  The first item on the action sequence list is still clear for traffic in the direction of the turn.  The item on the list is to pool the airplane so as to establish a medium bank attitude.  The visual reference here is the glareshield relative to the horizon.  The third item on the list is to scan the altimeter and make pitch adjustments as required to maintain a constant altitude.  The fourth item is to scan for traffic in the direction of the turn.  You may wish to use the cockpit view in this case to show approximately where you wish the student to scan.  At this point, also, you begin the cyclical feature of the scanning sequence.  After scanning for traffic, your student should observe and adjust if required the angle of bank of the aircraft to ensure it is constant, and your student should then observe the altimeter and make necessary pitch adjustments so as to maintain the target altitude.  From the altimeter, your student should return to the traffic scan, then the scan for correct bank, and then the scan for proper altitude control, etc.  The sequence is therefore traffic, bank, altimeter, traffic, bank, altimeter (T-BAT), etc.  This is the scan pattern used during turns.  You should then remind your student that they have to keep an eye out for the rollout target, and that the rolling of the wings to level attitude should be anticipated and initiated with consideration to timing the rolling movement.

It is a good idea in this presentation on turns to discuss the point of zero movement above directly above the glareshield in front of the pilot's position, where the position of the horizon line during the turn movement will remain constant.  As you move left and right along the horizon from this point of zero movement, the horizon line will show distinct notion above and below the glareshield.  While it very well may be difficult for student to perceive this rotation point during the turn, at least they will be thinking about it and hopefully looking for it.

Reference to the attitude indicator and specific angles of bank is deferred to the next lesson plan.


With respect to safety, review the procedures for transferring control between instructor and student.  Also, review how the position of observed traffic is communicated between crewmembers using the clock system.  The emphasis on safety with respect to basic maneuvers should focus on airspace clearing prior to conducting a maneuver, especially when it comes to climbs and descents.  Point out, in the case of low wing aircraft, how descents are far more at risk for collision owing to the position of the wings and the associated blind spots.  Point out that the reverse is the case with respect to highway aircraft.  Finally, point out that it is critical not to get fixated on instrument indications, and that proper scanning must be continually executed throughout maneuvers, with only periodic reference and crosschecking of instrument indications.


Here you could clear the whiteboard, and then ask your student to recite sequences for the various maneuvers.  You can also ask your student which rudder is required to offset yaw when power is added for the purpose of climb.

Basic Maneuvers, Level 2

This PGI is essentially a carry-on of Basic Maneuvers, Level 1, and supports the air instruction outline in Transport Canada’s Lesson Plan 3 found in the Flight Instructor Manual.  In this interpretation of the Transport Canada’s Lesson Plan 3, the student’s flying is to progress to pursuing the additional flight targets of power changes during straight and level flight, airspeed targets during climbs and descents, and specified angle of bank during turns.

Keep in mind—at this point—that it is unlikely that the above three skills can be taught in one PGI/training flight cycle, so be prepared to defer turns at specific angles of bank to the next PGI/training flight cycle (one strategy is combine turns at specific angles of bank with basic training in collision avoidance maneuver).

This PGI—Basic Maneuvers, Level 2—is best presented as a refinement of the Basic Maneuvers presented in the last flight (which were based on flying attitudes with just straight-tracking and altitude-holding).

In the Background Knowledge section, the yaw associated with power changes should be reviewed.  In the case of turns at specific angles of bank, the bank indications of the attitude indicator should be review.

In all cases, the PGI for Basic Maneuvers, Level 2 should be an emphasis on the “How” section.  In the case of power changes, the affects of a power-increase and power-decrease on straight and level flight performance are review, with a review of elementary yet essential corrective process of balancing power changes with changes in angle of attack (pitch).  Students should be ready to take cues from the indications of the altimeter as guidance for pitch inputs.  The power changes should oscillate at dramatic setting just above the slow flight power setting (say approximately above 2100 RPM in most cases), transitioning between 2150 and 2500 RPM.

In the case of climbing at specific airspeeds, this “How” section should review the basic climb sequence from the last lesson—Attitude, Power, Trim—and should simply now in include “Attitude, Airspeed, Power, Trim”.    This interpretation suggests the speed targets of 100, 90, and 80 MPH/KTS be used in both the climb and descent sequences, pursuing specific altitude targets.  It also suggests that power-off settings be used in the descent so that effects of airspeed on the point of zero-movement is emphasized—of course the need for acute control of pitch to maintain the speed targets is also emphasized for the student.

In the case of turns, the T-BAT sequence from this previous flight should be reviewed—Traffic, Bank, Altimeter, Traffic, etc.—should be refined to include a specific Attitude Indicator bank targets, for example, “Traffic, Bank (Attitude Indicator), Altimeter, Traffic, etc.

Collision-avoidance maneuver training stands alone and should be taught early in the training.  Students who have thus for been taught to treat the aircraft smoothly and gently, must now learn to pitch and roll aggressively by smoothly as a means of changing the aircrafts altitude and heading as quickly as safely able.  An interpretation is teach the pitching/rolling movement in slow motion first, having the student speed up the maneuver as a feel for the inputs is acquired.

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