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March 22, 2023
Ask a new student pilot what they’re most intimidated about, and you’ll find that “talking on the radio” or “making a mistake when talking to air traffic control is high on the list.
That’s understandable. It’s easy to feel self-conscious about hitting transmit knowing the controller and all the other pilots on the channel are listening.
Plus, when you first get started, there’s the issue of being in one of the first stages of learning for both piloting and communicating. Before we signed up for flight school, we were all unconsciously incompetent pilots. In the case of comms, we had no clue how to talk on the radio, any aviation radio terminology, and definitely no awareness of how large our knowledge gap was, but we were about to find out.
The second stage of learning is conscious incompetence.
We, pilots, are consciously incompetent shortly after we sit down for our first few ground school lessons. We quickly realize the incredible amount that we don’t know about flying and talking on the radio while doing it.
There’s always been a knowledge and skill gap, but now we are hyper-aware of it, and it can be an overwhelming feeling if we don’t manage it.
So, what’s the solution for student pilot radio training?
Do we all just need to white-knuckle our way through a challenging and slow route to radio communication proficiency, or is there a better option?
The trick is not to panic about all you don’t know but instead trust your instructor to walk you through the learning process. Second trick is to use extra tools and resources to help bridge the gap (more on that later) and get you to proficiency as quickly and with the least amount of pain as possible.
Once you’ve learned the basics and in theory, know how to communicate on your pilot radio, you’ll need to apply that book knowledge.
As you wipe the sweat off your hands and select your radio frequency, you may be:
For the most part you know what to say, but you are using a lot of effort and brain power to concentrate on it.
Welcome to the conscious competence phase of learning. This is where you start building muscle memory and putting in the repetitions that will take you to the final and most rewarding phase of learning – unconscious competence.
Unconscious competence is the ability to perform a task without the need to focus on each step and remind yourself of the details.
An easy example we can all relate to is tying your shoe.
When you were a little kid, someone else tied your shoes for you. At first, you didn’t even realize that tying your own shoes was something you should learn to do – unconscious incompetence.
Then you saw everyone else tying their shoes and started crying because you didn’t know how but you wanted to – conscious incompetence.
Some patient adult probably spent time guiding you through the process, or maybe you were a precocious child who watched a YouTube how-to video and learned how to do it. At first you talked yourself through the process of making two bunny ears and wrapping them around each other or making one ear and looping around it. Either way, you had to focus carefully on each step to make a properly tied shoe happen – conscious competence.
Then, over time, you got better. You put in the reps by tying your shoes every day, and now as a grown adult, you don’t even think about the process of shoe tying (unless it's time to teach the skill to a child in your life). You just grab your shoes, put them on, tie them up and head out the door, all without a thought – unconscious competence.
Wouldn’t it be amazing if your aviation radio proficiency could match your shoe-tying abilities and you could achieve unconscious competence without taking years and years to get there?
That’s where tools like ARSim software come in. We all need to practice, but how frequent are your flight lessons, and how much radio-specific repetition do you get?
ARSim is your personal radio comms instructor, but unlike your CFI, you don’t need to pay this trainer by the hour or book ahead of time. Just pull it up on your computer. ARSim is available for iOS and Android phones and can be downloaded on the AppStore and Google Play.
Your new comms instructor, trainer, and examiner will guide you through listening and responding to simulated radio communications, plus provide immediate feedback at any time of the day or night.
When you study and practice with ARSim, you:
We all need to go through the four phases of learning, but it doesn’t have to be pulling teeth. Tools like ARSim software and the comms manual bring a speed and ease of learning that is missing from standard training.
Check out the radio communication training program that is a proud partner of the FAA Safety Team and training partner of the U.S. Air Force so you can jumpstart your easiest route to aviation radio mastery.
September 22, 2023
You aren’t the first, and you won’t be the last, but knowing that you’re not alone probably does little to help you feel any less nauseous as you reach for the infamous “barf bag” mid-flight.
We’re sorry you’re suffering from airsickness, but it is not hopeless - far from it. Let’s talk about airsickness & motion sickness in pilot training.
June 21, 2023
When you close your eyes and imagine the career of your dreams, what does that life look like?
For many pilots, the perfect job is sliding behind the controls as a pilot in command of a scheduled airline flight or charter.
March 22, 2023
You’ve made the bold leap and are chasing your dream of becoming a pilot. Congratulations – we know how it feels to count down the days to earning your wings.
Today we’re talking about the timeline from starting training to earning your certification, plus ways to shave time off that journey while maximizing learning. So, how hard is it to become a pilot? Read on to find out.
Are you ready? Let’s get you up in the air!
PlaneEnglish created this blog to provide aspiring and current pilots a resource for all things related to aviation radio communication.
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