Nomenclature - Sport Pilot Training

Had an interesting experience this morning. I was flying with a student who was preparing for their practical test. We had been up for about 45 minutes and had completed a review of the Sport Pilot Weight Shift Control Practical Test Standards flight maneuvers in accordance with 61.311 in preparation for the practical test. I asked him to return to the field and demonstrate a steep approach for a landing with a specific touchdown point he could pick. Well, things got confused at that point since at mid field the student cut power and began a steep turning dive for the runway. "Well this is interesting" I thought. Since there was no other traffic in the vicinity lets see what happens. At about 20 feet over the runway I called for full power and the student immediately complied and climbed back out. Once back at pattern altitude I repeated my request for a Steep Approach for the landing and suggested the end of the runway might be more appropriate. The student continued downwind in the pattern announcing his landing spot but again cut power and began a steep turning dive. He rounded out, got centered over the runway, and touched down with a little bounce. Not to bad but not what I had requested. We went back to the hanger and discussed the maneuver. It turns out that he interpreted my request for a steep approach, which is defined by the Practical Test Standard, as a diving turning approach which he had never been taught. This resulted from the reading materials he had been using. His reading materials had been published during the transition period and the terminology was not 100% consistant with the PTS. While there are many resources available for student weight shift pilots the terminology found in the PTS is what counts during the flight portion of the Sport Pilot practical test. The DPE will ask for specific maneuvers with specific terminology. Failure to perform the maneuver according to the PTS will result in a pink slip. So the moral of the story is the PTS is the FAA’s guidebook, not something that was purchased since it may or may not have the correct terminology. Students should avail themselves of the resources the FAA provides when preparing for the practcial test. No pilot looks good in pink and the paperwork is a bitch.

I then went back to the house, showered and changed out of my soggy underwear. We will finish the landings review later.

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