Pilots love to extract wisdom from a particularly challenging flight or advance their proficiency by comparing their decision making with their peers and the pros.
Exploring such questions is what scenario-based learning is all about: It offers a practical approach to learning by applying a set of facts and circumstances to a hypothetical flight set in a real-world flying environment, challenging you to apply your knowledge and experience to making good piloting decisions under the stated conditions.
The new release is VFR Mastery, a series of online, scenario-based workshops that test your knowledge and hone your decision-making skills.
Available as a month-to-month subscription, the VFR Mastery series of workshops can be run on Windows PCs, Mac, iPad, iPhone, and Android devices, and is a natural follow-on to the PilotWorkshops IFR Mastery series, said company founder Mark Robidoux during a recent visit to AOPA Headquarters in Frederick, Maryland. The IFR Mastery series launched in 2010 and recently published its ninety-eighth scenario for the thousands of pilots who are members.
Pilots with an appetite for in-depth exploration of flight scenarios will find themselves face-to-face with a full menu of decisions in the VFR Mastery scenario titled Short-Field Barbecue. In the scenario, a pilot and his two children are flying home from Florida to Pennsylvania in a Beechcraft V35 Bonanza, make a fuel stop in South Carolina, and decide to drop in for lunch at a nearby 2,500-foot strip that’s famous for its barbecued food (but not for its tall trees at the end of its narrow, sloped runway).
It is a warm day and getting warmer, so the after-lunch departure from the strip “leaves you deciding between departing uphill and upwind, downhill and downwind. Trees off one runway end complicate matters further. Don’t wait too long; this fair weather won’t last,” teases the scenario’s introduction.
Unlike a basic chatroom discussion or a casual debate in a pilots’ lounge, the workshop takes you in an orderly and engaging series of six steps starting with an overview of the scenario, followed by an evaluation of your decision options. Make your decision in a community survey of the available choices and instantly see what other pilots decided to do. That step is followed by an instructor-guided expert response to the scenario; in Short-Field Barbecue, it was presented by veteran instructor Tom Turner, who directs the education and safety arm of the 9,000-member American Bonanza Society.
Step 5 is a roundtable discussion between an “all-star team” of active general aviation pilots assembled by PilotWorkshops to examine the options and explain which ones they’d choose. Among the panelists discussing Short-Field Barbecue were AOPA Air Safety Institute Executive Director Richard McSpadden and AOPA Pilot Editor at Large Dave Hirschman.
Those who want to keep the discussion going can move on to Step 6 by visiting “the Hangar” to share their experience with other pilots.
As a bonus, on completion of the scenario a participant also is eligible for credit under the FAA’s Pilot Proficiency Wings program. For more information visit the PilotWorkshops website.