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Training and Safety Tip: The power of conversation

The preflight briefing is an essential element of good flight training procedures. Your CFI should take the time to explain exactly which tasks you will be working on during this lesson, accounting for your experience level and performance on previous flight lessons.

This is also the perfect time for you to ask questions and get clarification about any aspect of the planned lesson you are not comfortable with or knowledgeable about well before you climb into the aircraft.

The preflight briefing is best accomplished in a private, quiet setting where you can think and speak freely without distractions or external pressures. The benefit of a good preflight briefing is severely degraded if your CFI decides to do it in the aircraft with the engine running.

Don’t skip the preflight briefing, even if you feel like you don’t need one. Establishing the habit of always participating in a productive preflight briefing will improve performance, lessen frustration, and potentially lower the overall cost for your training.

An equally productive postflight briefing should occur after every flight lesson.

Like the preflight briefing, it is best conducted in a quiet, private setting. An office in the flight school or FBO is a good choice, but so is the cockpit of the aircraft after the engine is shut down and the aircraft has been secured.

This is the time to review the lesson and accept your CFI’s gentle critique of your performance. It is also an ideal time to ask questions, the answers to which may fill in blanks in your understanding of the tasks you have just completed.

Overall, this postflight debrief can give you a real boost that gets subsequent lessons off to a more productive start. A preview of what your CFI expects of you on that next lesson is a great addition to your postflight debrief discussion.

Rest assured, if you and your CFI devote yourselves to the regular use of productive, well-executed preflight and postflight briefings, every aspect of your flight training experience is likely to become more productive, more enjoyable, and far more satisfying—all because you took the time to have a couple short, well-planned conversations.

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