The weather hasn’t been too conducive to hangar work lately and today wasn’t forecast to be much better, so I decided not to go out to the airport. Instead, I thought I’d see what I could do about that list of Aviation New Year’s Resolutions that I came up with way back last year.
I was inspired by the newest issue of AOPA Pilot magazine. In the January 2009 issue there are at least three articles that either deal with aeronautical decision making or follow a pilot’s thought process as he/she works through an in-flight maintenance or operational issue.
I logged into the AOPA Air Safety Foundation(ASF) website, accessed the list of online safety courses and scrolled to the one titled Do the Right Thing: Decision Making for Pilots. It looked interesting, so started progressing through the course.
I was very impressed with the professional presentation of the course material. It is programmed primarily in Flash and is very interactive, using both animations and sound. There are plenty of links to supplementary material related to the course both for additional reading and for downloading. The course is broken down into seven sections. The last section of the course is made up of flight scenarios, three VFR and two IFR. You must complete at least two of the scenarios in order to complete the course, but if you are like me you’ll try all five of them just for the experience. At various points in each scenario you are given decisions to make and provided at least three options for continuing or terminating the flight. Once you make your decision, the flight continues from that decision point using the option that you have chosen. You can later return to that decision point and chose a different path and see how the outcome of the flight will change.
The final section of the course is a quiz consisting of 15 questions covering the material in the course, including the More Info material associated with several of the sections. A passing grade is 80%, so you must get 12 of the questions correct to be awarded the course completion certificate and credit for the Wings program. If you miss more than three questions you may go back and review the course material and retake the test.
Although I thoroughly enjoyed the course and will definitely take more of the ASF courses, I did have a couple of problems with the program.
The first problem appeared when I selected the end of course quiz. The “loading” symbol appeared in the center of the screen and continued to rotate, indicating that it was downloading the questions, but it stuck in that mode. I tried logging out of the course and then logging back in and re-selecting the quiz but received the same result. The following morning I logged in again and selected the quiz. This time the questions appeared almost immediately. I am going to assume that either my server or the ASF server had a problem that night and it was an isolated incident.
The other problem appeared when I attempted to print my course completion certificate. The course information does not (at least not the parts I read) warn you that you must allow pop-ups for this function to work correctly. My computer is configured to automatically block pop-ups, so the certificate printing process aborted with no way to make it continue. I had noticed that each of the course sections had a link to FAQs, so I re-entered the course and clicked on one of the FAQ buttons in an early section of the course. Within the information found in FAQ there is a reference and a link to your individual ASF online course transcript. When you access your transcript you can see all of the online courses that you have taken or are taking. If a course has been completed, your test score is shown and you are provided with a link to print or reprint your course completion certificate. Make sure you allow pop-ups, click on the link and the printing process will begin.
The ASF Online Course Do the Tight Thing: Decision Making for Pilots is well worth your time to complete. The information is presented in a clear, conscise manner and is reinforced with interactive flight scenarios. As a bonus, completion of the course qualifies for the safety seminar portion of the FAA Wings Pilot Proficiency Award Program.