When to manage the throttle?


May 26, 2019
This is a somewhat tedious post about a fine point in flight training so if that is not your interest you can stop reading now.

In my current syllabus I teach pitch for speed and throttle for altitude. After an hour long briefing I give the learner all the controls three minutes into their first flight and help them sort it out.

We go out to my practice area and do turns around a point; left and right and S turns over a road.

The goal is plus or minus ten knots and plus or minus 100 feet of altitude.

Even if they don’t meet the standards we typically come back to the airport in about an hour, I demonstrate a landing and have the learner try a landing where I have the throttle and the pedals and the learner has the cyclic. Their job is to manage the aircraft over the centerline and round out and flare at the correct rate and time. I talk them through the approach, round out and flare.

I recently had a particularly stubborn learner with no aviation experience that insisted throttle was for speed and the cyclic was for altitude. This is a common misunderstanding as it is how the throttle works in an automobile.

I did as I often do, I took the throttle and he just managed the cyclic.

With most of my clients the use of the controls is an ongoing challenge and things begin to work for them when they truly understand that throttle is for altitude and pitch is for airspeed. The more they have their eyes away from the instruments the sooner this becomes their reality.

I am wondering if we would be better off just giving them the cyclic until we were much further along in the syllabus perhaps laying a more solid foundation.

I recently helped a learner with over 100 hours of dual instruction with five flight instructors get his Private Pilot, Rotorcraft-Gyroplane rating and the day before I signed him off he still believed he could not descend without lowering the nose.

As a high time pilot it is sometimes hard to remember the learning process so I am particularly interested in what low time gyroplane pilots feel about this.

Please help me to become a better flight instructor by sharing your thoughts.
Vance- i’m always interested in your insight in posts.
I would expect there is a vast difference between peoples mechanical understanding and oast experience with engines in general.
For me, it was quite natural.
Coupling the relationship only needed to be suggested once. Like you, I have vast engine experience with gokart raving, motorcycle racing, father owning a motorcycle shop etc.
For someone that has no feel it may be quite different.
I have been behind people in a car, climbing a hill and they appear to not feel the relationship with the need to add more power for the car to maintain the same speed as they had before the hill.
Conversely that same person allows the car to accelerate way beyond reasonable on the descent.
They probably have been driving for years without consequence outside of pissing everyone off behind them.
I suspect that there will never be a cookie cutter procedure that fits everyone.
You will know who you have pretty quickly and will do as you have been doing for years, adjusting for the student until they get it.
Thats why some of us take 20 hours and some take 40.
If in the end, you have signed off pilots who accomplish overcoming their own limitations with understanding and competence , you have done your job well.
Keep up the blog. It does newbees good