The overall purpose of primary and intermediate flight training, as outlined in this site, is the acquisition and honing of basic airmanship skills. [Figure 1] Airmanship is a broad term that includes a sound knowledge of and experience with the principles of flight; the knowledge, experience, and ability to operate an aircraft with competence and precision both on the ground and in the air; and the application of sound judgment that results in optimal operational safety and efficiency. [Figure 2]

Introduction to Flight Training
Figure 1. Primary and intermediate flight training teaches basic airmanship skills and creates a good foundation for learners
Introduction to Flight Training
Figure 2. Good airmanship skills include sound knowledge of the principles of flight and the ability to operate an airplane with competence and precision

Learning to fly an aircraft has often been compared to learning to drive an automobile. This analogy is misleading. Since aircraft operate in a three-dimensional environment, they require a depth of knowledge and type of motor skill development that is more sensitive to this situation, such as:

  • Coordination–the ability to use the hands and feet together subconsciously and in the proper relationship to produce desired results in the airplane.
  • Timing–the application of muscular coordination at the proper instant to make flight, and all maneuvers, a constant, smooth process.
  • Control touch–the ability to sense the action of the airplane and knowledge to determine its probable actions immediately regarding attitude and speed variations by sensing the varying pressures and resistance of the control surfaces transmitted through the flight controls.
  • Speed sense–the ability to sense and react to reasonable variations of airspeed.

An accomplished pilot demonstrates the knowledge and ability to:

  • Assess a situation quickly and accurately and determine the correct procedure to be followed under the existing circumstance.
  • Predict the probable results of a given set of circumstances or of a proposed procedure.
  • Exercise care and due regard for safety.
  • Accurately gauge the performance of the aircraft.
  • Recognize personal limitations and limitations of the aircraft and avoid exceeding them.
  • Identify, assess, and mitigate risk on an ongoing basis.

The development of airmanship skills depends upon effort and dedication on the part of both the learner and the flight instructor, beginning with the very first training flight where proper habit formation begins with the learner being introduced to good operating practices.Every airplane has its own particular flight characteristics. The purpose of primary and intermediate flight training, however, is not to learn how to fly a particular make and model airplane. The purpose of flight training is to develop the knowledge, experience, skills, and safe habits that establish a foundation and are transferable to any airplane. The pilot who has acquired necessary skills during training, and develops these skills by flying training-type airplanes with precision and safe flying habits, is able to easily transition to more complex and higher performance airplanes. Also note that the goal of flight training is a safe and competent pilot; passing required practical tests for pilot certification is only incidental to this goal.