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We have a new instructor at Sky Sailing and since one of our requirements is to have all of our pre-solo students do spins, I figured it would be good to brush up and review the spin lesson that we like to see.

Somewhere in our conversation we started talking about having students try to relax. Watching their shoulders, holding the stick with 3 fingers, not double fisting the stick etc. I wrote about one student a while back that did a good lawn-dart landing in the 2-33 with me. There was no way I could overpower him, granted his biceps were the size of my thigh.

This got us talking about accidents and accidents with a second pilot. What if someone had a medical condition or something that caused them to pull the stick back… couldn’t that second person over power them? How hard would it be to push the stick forward?

So we tried it, I spun the 2-32 and told Pablo to recover, meanwhile I held the stick on the aft stop…Needless to say I won and he could not recover. He was able to get the rudder neutralized, but that didn’t really do anything for us and we kept rotating around until I let go.

I have had this with students where they get excited and grab the stick with a full ‘white knuckle death grip’. Rides will sometimes grab the stick in turbulence, but generally let go when you remind them what they are holding onto. There is an importance to having them relax and loosen their grip.

One way to help relaxing and being able to take over the glider is just using 3 fingers while flying. If you have not seen Dawn Flight, you are missing out!! There are some good stick gripping shots.

I have also used tape to tape students fingers to the palm of their hand so they only could use 3 fingers. My recommend is to use medical tape or some type of low stick tape. Duct tape tends to be more memorable removing though.

Make sure when you are flying that there is a positive hand-off of controls. You do not want any confusion as to who is flying. You also want to gain control of the aircraft back. So having a student that is used to releasing the stick when they hear “My glider” and re-grabbing the stick when they here “your glider” and respond with “my glider”. If that is a natural behavior for them, then it might be easier.

When all else fails you can always use force. In which case a 2-33 is pretty nifty when you are sitting soo close the front seat. (Side note: Those of you that watched my videos from the 2018 WGC, Mike and I did fit in an EB-29DR. You can easily alternate foot for shoulder messages while on task. If anyone gets a 29DR I will gladly give massages from the back seat…) They are an easy reach across and whack backside of the head. I am not saying to hit your students. However its a better option then them holding the stick all the way back into the ground.



Banner Photo:  Petr Kolmann


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garret willat  Garret Willat holds a flight instructor rating with over 8000 hours in sailplanes. His parents have owned Sky Sailing Inc. since 1979. He started instructing the day after his 18th birthday. Since then, Garret has represented the US Junior team in 2003 and 2005. He graduated from Embry-Riddle with a bachelor’s degree in Professional Aeronautics. Garret represented the US Open Class team in 2008 and 2010 and the Club Class team in 2014. Garret has won 3 US National Championships.