SNFO Flight Planning/Philosophy of this project
Every year, a group of instructors gathers to incorporate errata, changes, and revisions to each and every Flight Training Instruction (FTI). This process typically involves many hours of painful meetings where every change—from major procedural modification to typographical correction—undergoes intense scrutiny. Without fail, as soon as the updated version arrives from the printer, people begin to notice mistakes.
Why does this occur? Despite the best intentions and vast collective experience of those charged with revising the FTI, they are but a small subset of its users, and can't possibly keep track of and correct every error to everyone's satisfaction. Even if every instructor or student who thought of a correction or suggestion while reading the FTI sent that input in to the committee, there would still be items overlooked or, at the very best, phrased ineffectually.
By locating this document in a venue where anyone has the power to edit, revise, clarify, and make corrections to it, we hope to capitalize on the collective knowledge and intelligence not only of every instructor involved in the program, but also that of the students, as well as military aviators serving in other training and operational commands, and even civilians who may bring fresh insight to what has been, until now, a largely closed instructional guide.
What this document is not
First and foremost, it should be emphasized that this version of the Flight Planning FTI is not the official source for anything! Since it may be modified, in any way, by any person, and at any time, it should always be regarded as gouge. It is, of course, the goal of this project to facilitate a continuously evolving improvement to every printed version, and in that sense, it should usually be a better reference. However, in any conflict between this Wikibook and the printed verson, the published FTI and its offical errata shall be considered authoritative.
In addition, it's important for those not directly associated with this training curriculum to remember that this document is not necessarily, nor is it intended to be, applicable to flight operations in general. In particular, although military aviation is subject to many of the same regulations as civil aviation, there are also many instances where service or local directives take precedence and may diverge from FAR Part 91.
Similarly, while we also train U.S. Air Force Student Navigators, as well as officers from several allied nations, all of the flight operations conducted in this program fall under U.S. Navy flight regulations. Please try to remember that the ultimate audience of this text is Primary Student NFOs/Navigators, and avoid cluttering it with material that, although it may apply to certain subsets of them in the future, is not applicable to the environment at hand. When in doubt, check to make sure any additional material directly supports the terminal and enabling objectives of the course.
Finally, there may be instances when this publication is more restrictive than any governing regulation. Again, because we instruct students in a relatively early stage of flight training, it is often necessary to provide more direction than is actually required by the rules under which Fleet aviators operate. Changes modifying these procedures on the grounds that they are not specified by governing directives should be made cautiously.
How to contribute
Everyone who reads these pages is now part of the group of people described above, charged with making corrections and improvements to this FTI. The difference is, you don't have to sit through hours of painful meetings or have a grand plan for overhauling the course. That's the advantage of the Wiki philosophy. It doesn't matter if you're a student in the Flight Planning class right now—you can still provide valuable input. We're eager to have your assistance, but before you get started, please browse through the help pages to get a feel for what a Wikibook is all about and how to contribute.
There are several ways in which you can help make this coursebook better:
- Fixing typos or inconsistent formatting – even without any particular knowledge of the subject matter, just about everyone is capable of identifying and addressing this
- Copyediting for clarity – this can range from rephrasing paragraphs for grammar to rewriting entire sections in order to explain topics more effectively (often, students are the best source for this, as more seasoned aviators may take certain things for granted that really do warrant a more thorough explanation)
- Making modifications to content – more rarely, you may find that changes to governing instructions have rendered material factually inaccurate or you might have suggestions for substantively changing what we teach
When editing, don't be shy—be bold instead. If you're pretty certain that something needs to be changed, it probably does. Don't worry too much about making a mistake. Every version of each topic is retained in that page's History, and it's simple to revert back to a previous version if something is changed in error. That having been said, if you're at all unsure, do your research. Talk to your peers, call the course manager, or, better yet, try to verify your changes using official sources. (The References page is a good place to begin looking.) This will help make sure that your edits benefit the project instead of leading others astray, and it will also have the added advantage of increasing your professional knowledge.
If you think that something needs to be modified but you don't know how to phrase it, can't figure out if it's factually accurate, or if your change is potentially controversial, consider beginning a discourse on that module's Discussion page instead. Others will chime in to help come to a consensus, at which point you, or someone else, can modify the module accordingly.
At this point, I'm sure you can readily see the advantages provided by, and incredible potential of, collaborating as a group on this project. However, you may also be asking yourself a few nervous questions:
- What keeps someone from editing an article and accidentally including incorrect information?
- What keeps someone from editing an article and intentionally including incorrect information?
- What stops someone with malicious intent from vandalizing the entire work?
- Who's in control of this whole Wikibook thing?
The answer to all four questions, of course, is you! An active community of benevolent readers and contributors is much more powerful than a single bad apple. Any errors that are introduced—accidentally or intentionally—can be easily reverted with a couple of clicks from a page's History. For an incredible example of how the Wiki concept can succeed in creating an accurate reference while remaining completely open and free, take a look at Wikipedia.
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