ASF Online Courses: Keeping Your Head in the Game

By Scott Spangler on October 19th, 2008

ASF When the urge to fly strikes me, but inadequate weather or funds make the satisfaction of this desire impractical, I often turn to the AOPA Air Safety Foundation Interactive Safety Courses. Spending an hour online isn’t the same as one in the air, but at least my head is flying, even if my body isn’t.

And all it costs me is an hour, because the courses–there are more than two dozen of them–are free. If you’re not an AOPA member, signing up for a free ASF account takes as much time as providing your name and address. What’s more, most of the courses qualify for the AOPA Accident Forgiveness and Deductible Waiver Enhancement  program and and the FAA Safety Team Wings Pilot Proficiency Program.

JetWhine_ASF_Video On a beautiful sunny afternoon before last payday I discovered a new course, Do the Right Thing: Decision Making for Pilots.  Getting into the seven-part course, I learned that I would, indeed, be flying that afternoon. Using videos of different VFR and IFR situations created in Microsoft Flight Simulator X, complete with ATC, pilot, and passenger communication, I had to choose one of the listed decisions using what I’d learned. The video then played out the flight based on my choice (or choices).

JetWhine_ASF_LearnMore But before I went flying in Act 6, Practicing ADM, I refreshed my knowledge of aeronautical decision making in the five acts that preceded it: 1, Introduction; 2, What is ADM?; 3, Personal Minimums; 4, Go/No-Go Decisions, and 5, In-Flight Decisions. In almost every frame is a learn more button that provides more information related to that page in the course, and one included an audio presentation by the ASF’s chief instructor, JJ Greenway, about the importance of having a backup plan if  a pilot plans to launch into marginal weather “just to have a look.” 

JetWhine_ASF_Scenarios Deciding the outcome of the video flights was addictive, and I “flew” each of them, and I went back and purposely made the wrong decision, such as pressing on into bad weather, to see what would happen. I didn’t die, but several of them were close calls that clearly offered never-again lessons.

JetWhine_ASF_Quiz2 It took me more than an hour to complete the course because of my extra-curricular flights. And in Act 3, Personal Minimums, from the Learn More link I downloaded the free Decision Making for Pilots Safety Advisor, which includes a template for creating your own personal minimums. I read all of the Learn More links, and that was a good thing, too, because the 15-question quiz at the end of the course had a question or two on the information they provided. To pass and download a certificate of successful accomplishment you must get 12 of the multiple guess and true-0r-false questions right. — Scott Spangler

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