Saturday, October 20, 2007

Bill Hill - Teacher, mentor, cross-country guru



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Bill Hill attaching my tow rope on runway 26, Moriarty, New Mexico
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Bill Hill was one of my first glider pilot instructors at Sundance Aviation in Moriarty. Our first lesson started with me asking him not to have a heart attack because I did not know how to land the glider yet. He retaliated by waiting for me to make a mistake in the air and responding by screaming "Oh my god, we are going to die! We are going to die!" x
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Bill has never let me succumb to my own fears. Later in my lessons when I would ask him for help in the sky he would pretend to not hear me. He knew when I really needed help and forced me to think for myself. It is because of him that I continued in this sport. x
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When did you start teaching glider flying?x
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I started teaching in 1963 at the Ft. Rucker Glider Club in Headland, Alabama.x
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Have you taught how to fly power planes also?x
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Yes, I started teaching in motorized aircraft in 1966.x
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What do you enjoy better?x
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I enjoy them both the same because in each case there are different challenges.x
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You taught glider flying to one of the Blue Angels once, what was that like?x
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He was one of the most adept students on tow because he had an in depth knowledge and innate ability to fly in formation. But, because he flew jets he had forgotten what rudder pedals were for. Once I reminded him of the function of the rudder pedals and gave him a little practice he picked it up very quickly.x
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What was your best experience with a glider student?x
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The best experience was taking a student who was very abrupt and hand-fisted, and over the course of two hours teaching her finesse and how to fly to glider smoothly. x
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What was your worst experience with a glider student?x
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Having a student get far enough out of position on tow that the tow rope looped back and wrapped itself around the step of the glider.x
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How did you get out of that?x
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Kicked the glider into an abrupt skid to the left to allow the rope to uncoil itself from the step. It was pretty exciting.x
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Have you ever motivated someone to become a glider pilot?x
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Yes, I gave someone an introductory flight once from Moriarty. We release at 1,500 feet above the ground, then climbed in rotor lift to about 11,500 feet above ground level. Then we proceeded westbound to the Sandia Crest. We then got into the primary portion of the mountain wave and again climbed to just below to the base of class A airspace (18,000 MSL). From there we flew south to the eastside of the Monzano mountains, then turned eastbound back to Moriarty. We flew about 50 miles in the course of an hour.
He was so impressed that he joined the glider club the next day and went on to become a pilot. He eventually purchased a single place high performance glider which he flew on cross country flights.x
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What advice do you have for new instructors?x
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One of the most important things for a new instructor to convey to a student is "Who is flying the glider?" The prudent instructor will tell the student when he has the flight controls by stating, "I have the flight controls." The student will be taught to respond, " You have the flight controls." And the reverse is true when the flight instructor returns the flight controls to the student. By starting the student off in this manner it is clear who is in control of the aircraft. x
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How do you know when a student has what it takes to be a pilot?x
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Flying a glider, or for that matter any aircraft, is nothing more than a skill set involving hand-eye coordination. Very few people are so uncoordinated that they cannot learn how to do this. What separates those who will go on to solo from those who will not is the ability to overcome whatever reservations the individual may have about flying. x
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What is the utmost importance is that the student demonstrate a willingness to exercise common sense and good judgment. x
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In New Mexico you can learn how to fly gliders at http://www.soarsundance.com/.

1 comment:

Jonathan Price said...

I like his approach to your fears...very funny...and commonsensical.

Best,

Jonathan