Aviation for Girls


Aviation for Girls is a special annual member publication of Women in Aviation International for Girls in Aviation Day. Articles feature young girls living their aviation dreams, career ideas, and education resources.

Issue link: https://afgdigital.epubxp.com/i/742227

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Page 25 of 35

24 AVIATION FOR Girls 2016 When I began my journey toward becoming a pilot, cer- tified flight instructors (CFIs) were easy to find but hard to keep. At that time, qualified pilots were quickly being hired by the airlines and it became a little tricky for students to get consistent flight training. As I got passed from one in- structor to the next I saw a variety of teaching styles, and naturally, some CFIs were more effective than others. I also couldn't help but notice there were dif- ferences between male and female in- structors. You may be well matched with your instructor regardless of their gen- der, but male CFIs will naturally think and teach from a man's perspective. More than once I had the deeply frus- trating experience of a male instruc- tor not understanding how to teach me while we were in the air. They would try to explain, I would not get it, and we were stuck. It was frustrating both for me and for them. If there is a concept that is critical to a maneuver or an im- portant aspect of flight, I need to "get it" before my brain can move forward. I cannot simply set it aside and continue with something else. The guys could not understand what was hap- pening in my head that would not allow me to move on, and I could not understand why I was told to "forget it for now." Other female pilots have shared their training stories with me, and some of their stories were much like my own. Over the years I found that my greatest success was with flight instructors who were women. They seemed to understand my frustrations and took the time to make sure that I genuine- ly understood what I was doing. They also understood when I needed a moment for a tiny celebration for nailing a maneuver or greasing a landing. My shortcomings were an opportunity to improve and my strengths a foundation to build on. The en- couragement I got was priceless, but more than that, they gave me the insights I needed to figure out what type of instruction I needed, and to learn how to develop my own learning style. My favorite instructor, a girl named Janis, who I am still friends with, was the one who took the time to figure out what would work best for me. As it turned out, I just need- ed more ground instruction. I needed a clear idea of what we were trying to accomplish in the air and why, and to understand the under- lying concept. Some people only need to listen to a lesson in order to benefit from it. I am a visual learner, and need to see in print what it is that I need to know. Until I knew that, every time an in- structor had tried to teach me without enough ground preparation we were both just spinning our wheels, wast- ing time and money. You, as a student, need to know how you learn, and then work according- ly. Do you need to redraw diagrams, or make audio recordings? Perhaps you need a really strong study partner, someone to puzzle through the tough questions with. Find out what it is that you need to succeed and create that envi- ronment for yourself. Airlines and other companies do not have the luxury of tai- loring a training program for each individual student, they simply have too many pilots to train for that to be possible. As you progress in your training and in your path to the cockpit of ever larger and more powerful planes, it will become clear that you will need to rely more on yourself than on any in- structor to teach you what you need to know. The best thing you can do today for your success tomor- row is to find the instructor who will help guide you to the strongest version of yourself. While that person today may be a male or a female, your best instructor going forward will al- ways be a woman. It will be you. ✈ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Devan A. Norris, WAI 13890, is an avid observer of people, and has had many wonderful opportunities to both watch and inter- act with them in her current roles: as a first officer for a major airline on the 737, and as an apprentice air show air boss. The best thing you can do today for your success tomorrow is to find the instructor who will help guide you to the strongest version of yourself. I n aviation, just like most other aspects of life, men and women think differently. Spoiler alert: They tend to teach and to learn differently too. In the 15 years since I began flying, I have come to believe that this difference is not just important, but that it can be pivotal in our learn- ing process, becoming one of our biggest stumbling blocks or our strongest stepping stone. YOUR BEST TE ACHER I N T H E P U S H D E V A N A . N O R R I S

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