Experiment in Optimal Learning

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Experiment in Optimal Learning

Learning to Aviate with Rich Stowell


Next month, the Pilot Proficiency Center (PPC) at AirVenture will become a hub of interactive learning. In place of the lectures and à la carte simulator scenarios of years past, we’ll be offering immersive workshops.


Imagine the PPC as a test kitchen. The instructors are the talented chefs creating and delivering impactful learning experiences. Their challenge: to innovate and engage.


Attendees will be active participants during four-hour training blocks. Their challenge: to play with the given ingredients; to consume and critique the content.


The Teaching Model

This experiment in optimal learning involves probing, stretching, questioning. Exploring teaching and learning methods. Thinking deeply. Striving for correlation-level learning. All while remaining grounded in the fundamentals.


A five-part teaching model is guiding the content. The model “reflects a learner-centric and outcomes-driven instructional philosophy [and] aligns with principles of adult learning.”[1]


Graphic 1 - The Teaching Model


Workshops will be sandwiched between briefing and debriefing periods. Each workshop has three, 40-minute parts:


- Interactive Discussion
- Activity Lab
- Simulator Lab


The Lead Instructors

Our lead instructors include award-winning flight instructors, designated pilot examiners, and former military instructor-pilots. All are passionate advocates for better aviation education. They will be supported by other capable instructors throughout.


The Workshops

- Questioning your Way to Correlation with Jason Archer

- Think, See, Fly in 3D with Rich Stowell

- Mindset Matters with Tammy Barlette

- The Sweat Factor:  Tabletop Scenario-based Training with Pete Reddan

- Where'd those Transferrable Skills Go? with Adriana Barragan

- Don't Let your Enthusiasm Exceed your Energy with Rob Dumovic


The Research Piece

The pilot proficiency project debuted at AirVenture in 2012 as a cooperative effort between SAFE, EAA, and Redbird Flight Simulations.[2] Over 700 people attended 14 forums. Many also participated in 20-minute simulator sessions. Attendee surveys led to a published report.[3]


Because the concept was well received, EAA, Redbird, SAFE, NAFI, and others expanded the initiative.[4] The result was the annual EAA PPC. In 2022, the PPC moved into a permanent, state-of-the-art facility next to the EAA Museum. The new venue now hosts proficiency programs year-round.


Graphic 2 - When Was The Last Time


Like in 2012, attendees this year will be part of an experiment. Surveys will be taken before and immediately after participating. A follow-up survey will also be taken some months after AirVenture.


The surveys will be straightforward. Five to eight questions. Attendees can complete the surveys on paper or via their smartphones.


Researchers at Central Washington University will analyze survey responses to see if the workshops influenced behaviors or attitudes. The results will guide content for future workshops.


Community Aviation will also create a documentary-style video of the activities.


Register Online

Attendance is free and is expected to be at capacity.  Early registration is encouraged.  For more information and to register, go to:



[1] ChatGPT, “Critique of the Teaching Model,” December 30, 2024, OpenAI, https://chat.openai.com.

[2] SAFE is the Society of Aviation and Flight Educators; EAA is the Experimental Aircraft Association.

[3] SAFE, Final Report on the Proof-of-Concept Pilot Proficiency Project, August 20, 2012.

[4] NAFI is the National Association of Flight Instructors.


>> This post was written by a human <<

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