Journal of Aviation/Aerospace Education & Research

Additional Author Details

This paper was presented at the 32nd National Training Aircraft Symposium (NTAS) March 2 - 4, 2020, in Daytona Beach, FL.

Click the following link to view the conference presentation Backwards Chaining – Accelerating Solo Flight Training





Key words

Flight Simulation, Backward Chaining, Automation, Ab initio, Pilot Training


Flight simulation has made progressively significant inroads into pilot training at all levels of a pilot’s career – typically starting with training for the Instrument rating in light aircraft and concluding with Type Certification in transport category jetliners. This research was designed to explore if significant training inroads could also be offered to ab-initio pilots, those with no prior flight experience. An experimental group of four pilot trainees, without prior flight experience, were exposed to flight in a backwards-chained simulation starting from 4’ AGL (Above Ground Level). Graduated, exponential increments of both altitude and distance from landing were successively added to the simulation experienced by the pilots all the way through a standard FAA General Aviation traffic pattern to return the student pilot to the start of take-off. Once the pilot trainees had completed the backward-chained simulation, they flew the traffic pattern conventionally, in a forward chain prior to being placed in an identical aircraft (Cessna-172/G1000) for an actual flight with an appropriately-rated Certified Flight Instructor (CFI). After receiving a demonstration of a complete circuit in the traffic pattern by the CFI, all four pilot trainees were able to complete three, unassisted circuits in the traffic pattern. Backwards-chained initial flight instruction appears to have significant operational potential in accelerating (reducing) the time required for first solo of new pilots. It also warrants further investigation by other pilot training research institutions.

First Page


Last Page




To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.