There will come a time in every pilots career that they will have to transition to a new airplane. Coming from another piece of equipment you will be tempted to compare everything to the previous aircraft because that is what you are familiar with. This is not necessarily a bad thing; try to utilize the similarities and differences constructively with a ven diagram. The human brain is wired to take data and try to put order to it. One of the many ways it does this is by comparing and contrasting new information to something that is already understood. Adding a second, third, or fourth type to your certificate should be exciting and will get easier after each additional type because systems have similarities.
Going through long term training is difficult in and of itself. Before you start your training make sure that your family affairs are set on autopilot for the next month and half, because you may not be able to get back and take care of something while in training. Let your family know that for the next month you will be there as much as you can for them, however, you will be under added stress. Before heading to training try and read up on the new aircraft. If you have any friends that fly the new airplane, ask if they might be able to give you an idea of the quirks and characteristics of the new airframe.
While at training you should already have an idea of what to expect because this is an additional rating; so you know that your days will be long filled with a plethora of new information that you will be expected to breakdown digest and be able to regurgitate accurately in a matter of weeks. Flashcards work great for wrote memorization and should be utilized via electronic means or the old school pen and paper. There are plenty of flashcard apps available for your smartphone, I prefer freezingblue iflashcards, just because it is free. Study groups are also a great way to learn form each other we all have our individual strengths and weaknesses; more than likely if you don’t understand something someone in your study group should be able to explain it, if they cant that it is a hole in the training department and should be brought to their attention. Along with the study group mentality it is a good way to judge how you are comparing to the other pilots that are in the same class.
Aside from studying and going to class there are items that you can do to improve your retention and understanding of the new information. Sleep. Make sure you get the proper amount of sleep that your body requires. Do not try to study through the night burning both ends of the candle because you feel you are falling behind. Your mind is able to run through scenarios while sleeping that help it understand the new information being presented. It has been proven that when rats were aloud to go through a maze once and then aloud to sleep and do the maze over the next day. They had better timed trials than the rats that were aloud to continually run the maze over and over again. The reason being is while the rats slept their brains were actively remembering where to turn and how to get the cheese enabling them to run the maze faster the next day.
Aside from sleep make sure you eat as well as possible. Your brain is just like a mussel and needs the proper nutrition to give the optimum results. Going through training is just like working out; you wouldn’t work out and expect to bench press your best if you just ate a deep-fried sandwich, so don’t expect to remember everything from the lectures at ground school if all you ate was fast food. Make sure you allow some time just for you. If you need to watch a half hour of television to just veg out do it, whatever your body needs to recharge make some time for it so that you are able to perform to the best of your ability throughout training.
By Bart Adams – Line Check Airman/APD