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The Beginning Student
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...Kelly Learned; ...Women vs. Men; ...Side Note; Training Advice; Good or Lucky? Making Flying Less Expensive; ...Finding the Time to Learn; ...Flight Bag; The Hardest Things about Learning ; ...Getting Started; Items; ...Memory Is the Second Thing You Lose; ...Instructor Selection; ...A Matter of Time; ...Select a Free Lance Instructor (Opinion); ...Best of the Best; Why flying Is Fearful for Some; Making Flying Safer; Overcoming Frustration; The Importance of Knowing What's Next; ...Insanity; ...Insanity in Flying; ... Using 'Dead-time' at the Airport; ...How Does a Student Pilot Evaluate His Instructor? ...Addendum by Jack Allison; ...Learning from Your Mistakes; ...Dealing with Delays; ...Preparation; ...Decisions, decisions, decisions; ...About Questions; ...It's about Judgment; ...Visualizing Your Training; ...Side Notes; ...On Checklists; ...Mad as Hell and Taking It; ...Medical Certification; ...New Changes in Medical Certification; ...Not Making Progress?; ...Recipe for Failure; ...Quitting Training; ...Areas of Failure; ...Gadgets; ...Organizing Flying; .First, Get All the Help You Can; ...A Freshly Minted Pilot's Advice to New Folks; ...Worrying about Possibilities when Flying; ...
1. I learn something EVERY time I go up. Even if it's just T&G's, I always learn something.
2. It is absolutely SHOCKING how little I really knew when I first got my ticket. Some is a result of flying in the LA Basin, but most is the same for anywhere.
3. It is a real effort to keep yourself from getting too comfortable (read: complacent) in the plane.
4. The difficulty of landings is directly proportional to the number of pilots watching. A bad one with one in the plane, and a terrible bouncer with 10 watching stand out.
5. The plane will fly fine when the window pops open. Fly the plane.
6. Turn off the GPS every now and then (or more) to keep you interested in other forms of navigation. They're great, but can make you lazy.
7. Acoustic Noise Reduction (ANR) headsets are worth the money.
8. Judgment is everything.
9. Checklists should get longer, not shorter.
Women vs. Men
--Flight management errors by women leading to accidents occur 80 percent of the time.
--Flight management errors by men leading to accidents occur 48 percent of the time.
--Decision making accidents related to weather or aircraft capability occur to men 29 percent of the time
--Decision making accidents related to weather or aircraft capability occur to women 19 percent of the time.
--Failure to pay attention relates to 32 percent of accidents by men.
--Failure to pay attention relates to 19 percent of accidents by women.
--With age, accidents by men decrease in frequency.
--Men will fly into bad weather more often than women.
By the second year, hand dominance appears. Aircraft are equipped to do things equally well both left and right but American aircraft do things easier to the left. The rest of the world is right handed from scissors, tools, guns, phones, serrated knives, power mowers, binders, desks, keyboards, screws, and knobs. On average, right-handers do live eight months longer than left-handers. Average age difference 66 years to 75 years. Life is not fair. Gene is left handed.
Usually you are relearning prior material. By flying twice a week the process is better and less expensive overall.
Plan to take a lesson with another instructor. You will learn better by being able to compare instructors. Even learning a negative is beneficial.
Plan to take a lesson in a different type and perhaps a more powerful aircraft. This will give you an idea of how your instruction in a trainer is preparing you for the real world.
Get some tail wheel time, glider time, and aerobatic time. You will learn things about the rudder, ground effect, and aircraft performance you never believed possible.
Work on your taxiing skills. Follow the yellow lines.
Different airplanes land differently. Learn to use different sight lines as required by different airplanes.
Learn to land with and without flaps as well as slipping in different configurations.
There are three classes of students that I have distinguished in many years of classroom teaching. There are students who make things happen, students who watch thing happen and finally those students who wonder what happened.
Good pilots seem to know what to do even when they are unsure of the problem. Just luck? Perhaps. I have had one abrupt engine failure in over 10,000 hours now and my pulling the mixture out 9/10 of the way caused the engine to restart. Lucky, yes. I had resigned myself to landing in the trees at 800' but I was still trying to make things happen to my best advantage. Only in 1998 did I find that the engine problem was probably the result of the carburetor float sticking so as to flood the engine to the point of stoppage. Leaning cut off the fuel to the point where the engine restarted. I'll never know how the float became free, but it did.
I have watched pilots freeze up on the controls during landings, especially crosswind landings. The plane begins to drift with the wind and the pilot makes no move to resolve the problem, just going along for the ride. Doing something is always the best option when things go wrong. Even doing the wrong thing may aggravate the problem sufficient to get your attention to do something. Being timid in use of aircraft controls is just a prelude to an accident. Letting things happen is always a poorer option than making things happen.
The FAA in its 20/20 hindsight analysis of pilot actions up to the point of an accident can always find the chain of wrong decisions as probable cause. Occasionally, a pilot will be commended for a belated action that reduced the number of fatalities or the amount of damage. You should be so lucky when (if) your turn comes
Making Flying Less Expensive
--Fly in an older aircraft
--Fly out of an airport not putting local taxes on fuel prices; the smaller the better.
--Once you find a place you like, buy your flight time in prepaid blocks.
--Learn to fly between October and March. Planes will be more available and you get weather experience.
-- Buy your own fuel by renting the aircraft 'dry'. You will learn to conserve fuel and refuel for less.
--Join a flying club or a shared aircraft.
--Working for your flight time will teach you much more than you are worth.
Finding the Time to Learn
--Make a time allotment study for a week and see what you will need to give-up.
--Take charge of your time allotments to maximize aviation time.
--Find a way to reduce the time needed for routine life matters such as laundry and food preparation.
--Eliminate those activities that are not giving you time for your flying commitment.
--Those you care for must support your commitment.
--Plan how you will proceed using time, money and frequency.
--Accumulate money first, select your CFI/FBO; have extra time before and after each lesson.
--Work with your CFI toward a program with sufficient frequency to assure efficient progress.
--Share a programmed syllabus so you can prepare for each lesson properly.
--Anticipate weather or aircraft delays and always have an alternate lesson in reserve.
--One way to prove mastery of what you have studies is by teaching it to another student.
--Chinese proverb: To teach is to learn twice.
--Know that the cockpit is a very poor learning environment.
--Get an aircraft/instructor regular schedule that assures progress and success
--Be prepared before every flight to take advantage of the ground and flight time.
--Consider flying twice a day with study time between flights.
--Expect to hit several learning/progress plateaus. Do not be surprised or disheartened when it happens to you.
--Stay the course with the expectation that a diversion is a part of learning to fly. Fly a different plane.
--Use weather problems as an opportunity to practice minimum conditions flight.
--If it is not enjoyable, find out what you are doing wrong.
--Plan for at least 70 hours of flight time before the checkride.
Rodney asked, "What should I put in my flight bag?"
Excellent question. The longer you fly, the less you will find necessary. When I started as a student I would carry 25 pounds of gadgets, books, etc. Now I carry my headset, a tape recorder, extra tapes, sectional and area chart, hood, and my IFR plates if on IFR flight.
If you are not taping your ground and flight training you are missing a great deal that goes on. You will save money by replaying the tapes and taking notes. Carry extra rubber bands, pens, highlighter, and kitchen timer. A hikers emergency kit might be advisable if flying wilderness areas. Personally, I fly ifr (I follow roads)
For local flights with your instructor you will need your logbook, tape your medical/student license to the front cover. I hope you use a headset, the noise of a plane in the cockpit approaches 85 db. You should have flashlights for any flight with a chance of lasting past dusk. You should make a 6" x 18" plastic or masonite lap board. On the board list all airport, VOR, and universal frequencies that you have in your area. You should know these frequencies but having them helps. Ask your instructor for Tracon and Center frequencies as well. On this board have lists of V speeds, and basic radio procedures such as contacting Flight Watch, FSS, giving PIREPS,
Always dress for your flight as though you will need to walk home. Take something to eat and water. Carry a 'leatherman' tool as well. A cell phone is nice to have. An A/FD is a nice to have booklet but you should learn how to ask for much of that information as needed using the radio. Don't carry all your training books. If you have something you haven't used on several flights, other than the things mentioned above, start leaving things behind.
Hope this gives you some ideas.
The Hardest Things about
From an instructor's side, I have found the most difficult aspect of teaching students to be finding and overcoming all the misconceptions acquired since childhood.
There are a bunch of misconceptions like:
--The rudder turns the aircraft
--Just adding power makes the plane go faster
--A level flat smooth landing is a good landing
--Always land on both main wheels
--A stall is very dangerous because the engine quits
--A good landing is on the numbers
--A spin is very dangerous
--The hardest thing about learning to fly is "not flying."
--It's difficult to decide not to fly when you really want to, but the weather is marginal. Brien
-- Keeping my eyes out of the cockpit and not chasing the instruments. Mike
--Unlearning 'car behavior' . Rodney
--Making consistently good, safe, conservative, and realistic decisions about everything from weather to airplane airworthiness.
-- I'll go with parking the plane!!! Damn that is hard! Brien
-- Coming up with the money.
-- Dealing with the crusty old buzzard who runs the FBO and deliberately crushes his students' confidence.
--For me to become proficient at was flaring at the right time and touching down at the slowest speed possible Kevin Pool
---1. Have enough money so that it is not a part of your problem. Save until you have at least 6-7 K. 9,000 in 2005
---2. Fly as often as you can for the first couple of weeks then you can taper off. It is cheaper to even fly twice a day. Less time to forget. Use a tape recorder as described in my web site.
---3. Fly as close to home/work as you can. Even at higher prices you will have more time to study. Study two or three hours for every hour of flying. Don't take a flying lesson you have not studied for.
---4. Make sure that there will always be an aircraft available. Be prepared to change planes and require one to be available to you. Don't take on an instructor that will not fly early in the day. You can pay more for flying time if ground time is free. A young/new instructor can be better than an old coot.
---5. Ask around the airport. You might find an instructor who teaches out of a hangar in his own plane. Could be best deal. If you are a self-learner don't take a ground school. Everything can be self-taught except for some navigation and weather.
---6. Best deal would be for three guys to buy a C-172 and take in a mechanic as member in exchange for maintenance. Then hire instructor capable of teaching two at a time. Change seats in the air.
TLAR = That looks about right.
Accept something that you cannot change; you will feel better for it.
Using the correct aviation phraseology is most likely to ensure ATC's understanding and appropriate response.
As pilots we seek a full understanding of flying with the recognition that the goal is unreachable.
Excellence in flying is just beyond our capability; still we fly with hand and mind fully extended.
Becoming an old pilot is more than time logged and luck. Planned evasion of all possible unpleasantness enhances survival.
It is better to sound good than be good
The hardest turn to learn in aviation is the 180.
"Find out why you made it (mistake) and do what it takes to avoid making the same mistake again.
Memory Is the Second Thing You Lose
--Think through the important facts just before you go to sleep
--Segment what you want to remember into bits and related pieces.
--Write down briefly what you must remember; read it afterwards and say it aloud in you own words.
--Rote memorization is not as important as is the ability to look for and find what you need.
--Details are usually forgotten until they suddenly become important.
--Definitions exist to clarify the understanding. We can't think without the proper words.
--Relate what you want to remember to something you do remember.
--A one-on-one review is a good way to firm-up your understanding of things you should know.
The teaching is done by the least experienced instructors.
--Good instructors are knowledgeable and comfortable giving instruction.
--Good instructors enjoy teaching
--Good instructors anticipate student difficulties and discuss them before getting into the aircraft.
--Good instructors are organized, exacting and stimulating.
--Good instructors are honest in stating their opinion and evaluation.
--Good instructors chose the safest options and are always situationally aware.
--Good instructors vary the intensity and pace of instruction.
--Good instructors expose students to real life flying situations and conditions.
--Good instructors come in all sizes, ages and colors.
--Good instructors know when to back off.
--Good instructors take time to prepare the student for the lesson.
--Good instructors take time to debrief the lesson afterwards.
--Good instructors will not frighten a student
--Good instructors are not necessarily good pilots but are safe pilots.
Matter of Time
--Being pressed for time causes pilot errors
--Time pressure is internally or externally generated in the pilot by the ATC system, maintenance, FBO service and weather
--Time pressure can be minimized by avoiding places and situations that cause delay.
--Plan your flights so that the time pressures of others do not dictate the departure time.
--Go to the airport the day before to make sure everything about the aircraft is ready for the flight.
--Having personal inviolate minimums before reaching the airport can negate time pressure related to weather.
--Changing weather may force you to change your plans. Adapt to forced changes quickly and safely.
--Time pressure can be reduced by planning shorter flight legs and top off at each stop.
--Use ground stops as information update stops. Check speed of weather changes in past two hours.
--Decisions are better and safer if they are made only in black and white, do or don't do.
--Take a look decisions usually become dammed if you do and dammed if you don't situations.
--Airborne decisions are far more difficult to make safely than those on the ground.
Select a Free Lance Instructor
Your instructor is a more essential element than what you pay or the plane you fly. The difference in your training and knowledge is going to be the instructor. Time building instructors along with unable to do anything else instructors tend to be the worst instructors. Superior instructors tend to be those who fly often and would rather teach than eat. A free-lancer who is available only part time is your best bet. It may take you a bit longer with an employed free-lancer but they will give you the training you need to be a safe pilot
Best of the Best
1. The three most common expressions in aviation are:
"Why is it doing that?"
"Where are we?" and
Historically, animal manure was a major ship cargo. If it got wet it could become explosive. Therefore, it was safer to put it well above the ship's water line. Shipping instructions were to Ship High In Transit or for short SHIT. Nice to know knowledge.
Progress in airline flying: now a flight attendant can get a pilot pregnant.
Airspeed, altitude or brains: two are always needed to successfully complete the flight.
I remember when sex was safe and flying was dangerous.
We have a perfect record in aviation: we never left one up there!
"Though I Fly Through the Valley of Death I Shall Fear No Evil For I Am At 80,000 Feet and Climbing" - Sign over the entrance to the SR-71 operating location on Kadena AB Okinawa.
You've never been lost until you've been lost at Mach 3.
- Paul F Crickmore
The three best things in life are a good landing, a good orgasm, and a good bowel movement. The night carrier landing is one of the few opportunities in life to experience all three at the same time. -Unknown
If the wings are traveling faster than the fuselage, it's probably a helicopter - and unsafe.
Federal Aviation Regulations are written by lawyers to promote violations and lawsuits.
Flashlights are tubular metal containers kept in a flight bag for the purpose of storing dead batteries.
Flying the airplane is more important than radioing your plight to a person on the ground incapable of understanding it.
An accident investigation attempts to place blame on the hapless for brief lapses.
To err is human; to forgive divine - and neither is FAA policy.
When a flight is proceeding incredibly well, something was forgotten.
-Robert Livingston, 'Flying The Aeronca'
The only time an aircraft has too much fuel on board is when it is on fire. - Sir Charles Kingsford Smith, sometime before his death in the 1920s
If you can't afford to do something right, then be darn sure you can afford to do it wrong. - Charlie Nelson
I hope you either take up parachute jumping or stay out of single-motored airplanes at night. -Charles A. Lindbergh to Wiley Post, 1931
Never fly the 'A' model of anything. - Ed Thompson
When a prang seems inevitable, endeavor to strike the softest, cheapest object in the vicinity, as slowly and gently as possible.
- Advice given to RAF pilots during WWII.
The Cub is the safest airplane in the world; it can just barely kill you. - Attributed to Max Stanley, Northrop test pilot
A pilot who doesn't have any fear probably isn't flying his plane to its maximum. - Jon McBride, astronaut
Never fly in the same cockpit with someone braver than you.
- Richard Herman Jr., 'Firebreak'
It only takes two things to fly: --- airspeed and money.
What is the similarity between air traffic controllers and pilots? If a pilot screws up, the pilot dies; If ATC screws up, the pilot dies.
It's better to break ground and head into the wind than to break wind and head into the ground.
Without ammunition the USAF would be just another expensive flying club.
If something hasn't broken on your helicopter, it's about to.
I give that landing a 9 . . . . on the Richter scale.
Basic Flying Rules:
1. Try to stay in the middle of the air.
2. Do not go near the edges of it.
3. The edges of the air can be recognized by the appearance of ground, buildings, sea, trees and interstellar space. It is much more difficult to fly there.
Flying is Fearful for Some
--Concern that comes closer creates anxiety that breeds stress leading to fear and fear responses.
--To become an old pilot you must go through this series of emotions many times.
--Each emotional step of the series has an ever increasing focus of attention.
--The focus of attention early on is an important phase of successful achievement
--Focus of attention contains seeds of destruction where the individual freezes in thought and movement.
--Concern is more of an intellectual than emotional view of the situation coming.
--Anxiety is an emotional apprehension that can increase in intensity to a point of disability.
--The anxiety chain may lead to panic disorder a rapidly recurring episode of 13 different symptoms.
--The anxiety chain may lead to a specific phobia whose fears overwhelm all other considerations.
--A phobic lives in a state of dread, evasion and avoidance that is uncontrollable.
--The anxiety chain may lead to the obsessive-compulsive disorder consisting of thoughts and feelings that involve elaborate and bizarre behaviors.
--The anxiety chain may lead to post-traumatic stress disorder where a terrible event is relived over and over.
--The anxiety chain may leave to a generalized anxiety disorder where the memory of an event persists daily.
--The anxiety chain is hardwired from birth into our brains. Our senses send selective messages to the brain.
--Some are born with genetic susceptibility to a more sensitive anxiety chain.
--Some are born with a nervous system unable to control the sensitizing of the anxiety chain.
--The hardwired brain part (amygdala) detects an anxiety chain before it reaches our conscious mind (cortex).
--The amygdala is the emotional response center that will trigger fear when situation warrants.
--Hearing, vision, smell and touch inform the thalamus and then sends data to the cortex for decision making.
-- Situations that do not trigger the amygdala may go to the stria terminals as concern or anxiety
--When the amygdala reacts to fear it signals the locus ceruleus to activate the required physical reactions.
--Hormones, heart, senses and digestion all react to the locus ceruleus' warning of danger.
--The hippocampus is the memory bank where sense information is stored by the amygdala.
--The system is designed to give fast response when need exists. It does not reverse direction well.
--For the pilot the best resolution of an anxiety chain problem appears to be behavioral therapy. This means gradual desensitizing by exposure to what is creating a concern. Exercise seems to help as does yoga.
--Any chemical solution will not let you fly legally.
--Avoid altitudes below 3000'AGL that are 500s or thousands.
--Never report over a common checkpoint. Report distance to the side.
--New pilots tend to report what the can see as a reporting point rather than what they are over..
--Know where other planes report are in relationship to your situation.
--A 270 departure gets you higher and on course sooner.
--Clearing both bases and final approach only has to save you life once.
--Always tell someone at home where you plan to fly.
--Make your departure radio call as being on-course toward an airport.
--Fly to the right side of valleys and roads.
--Fly ifr (I follow roads) in the mountains.
--Practice some minimum altitude flying daytime to make night-flying safer.
--Go to an unfamiliar airport in daylight before going at night.
--Take every opportunity to talk to the locals about their airport.
--Always drive with an eye out for power lines, towers and places to land.
--Always takeoff with a landing plan for every minute of climb out.
--Know and avoid common flyways.
--Know local IFR approach routes and avoid in poor visibility.
--Know how to do SVFR and when not to.
--A little night flying is hazardous, do a lot or none.
--You will never learn to enjoy turbulence. Plan accordingly.
--What you say on the radio is just as important as when you say it.
--Knowing when to use the radio is as important as how you say it.
--Use suggestive assertiveness to get ATC to say, "Approved as requested".
The last time I posted to this group, I was a student pilot with about 14 hours time looking for advice on how to land without bouncing. At the time, I was pretty depressed about not being able to get the damn plane back on the ground. In fact, I was to the point where I figured I should just give up and find something 'fun' to do with my time instead. I decided to stick with it. That was just over a year ago. Thanks for the advice R.A.S!!!
I ended up getting my private at 55 hours. Then I got my night rating, taildragger, mountain check, aerobatic, and multi engine endorsements. I'm hoping within the next 2 weeks (weather permitting), I'll be ready to fly my Multi-IFR and Commercial checkrides too. Looking back, I can see how quickly my landing problems were solved. A couple hours practice and they were not problems anymore. These days, instead of worrying about landings, I'm more concerned with things like DME arcs, ILS approaches or NDB holds.
Aviation has given me more than I ever could have expected... all the freedom in the world, more adrenalin than I could handle, and there's always that incredible feeling of busting through the clouds and seeing the runway, right where it's supposta be!! I can't count the ways flying has improved my life.
So, to all the new students that can't quite get the landing
flare right, or whatever you happen to be stumbling on, just
stick with it. It gets easier with practice, and it will pay
off in ways that you just can't understand yet. C.
The Importance of Knowing What's Next
--By definition a good pilot is one who is safe due to the exercise of good judgment and a trained ability to anticipate.
--Definition of anticipation is "to feel or realize what is coming or to foresee.".
--The preflight is designed so we can anticipate the requirements for a safe flight before we begin a flight, the things that can go right and those that can go wrong.
--When nearing the airport look for wind indicators and take a 'reading' of wind velocity and direction so that you can compare your skill with that of the ATIS.
--Before taxiing listen and watch to get an idea of the ground and air activity at the airport.
--You want to listen and watch so that you can select an efficient runway
and route on the field.
--You want to do the same during your runup for an efficient route once airborne.
--On takeoff you do not consider an engine failure at any point an emergency, it is a planned procedure.
--At any point on departure you have planned options
--Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
--Denial: Is not just a river in Egypt
--Watching a replay on TV with the expectation that it will be different.
--Repeatedly performing the same act with the anticipation of a different response
Insanity in Flying
--Trying to start an engine with a dying battery. (There is a way to do it.)
--Calling the FSS repeatedly in hopes that the weather forecast will be different. (I've had it change for the better and still get me into difficulty.)
'Dead-time" at the Airport
Consider this use of airport time not spent flying.
Two or more could compete in terms of speed or knowledge.
--Making a Gene Whitt Pizza for your local airport.
--11/12 inch diameter cardboard centered on your airport.
--Flip side all radio call-up points and the call ups.
--Arrange visits to tower.
--Flight planning WITHOUT
--Drawing proportional wind triangles for flights
--Improving and charting checkpoint skills for routes.
--Doing mathematical proportions to solve speed/time/distance
--Practice density altitude procedures
--Knowledge of how airway intersections relate to location or history.
--Visit airplanes and hangars.
--Concentrated study of sectional/terminal charts
--Locating radio frequencies
--Airport arrival/departure possibilities.
--Routes between airports with minimum/maximum use of radio
--SVFR flights between airports when possible.
--Backseat for local IFR flights
How Does a Student
Pilot Evaluate His Instructor?
--Does he show his love of flying in a way that makes me love it too?
--Does he overwhelm me with his display of knowledge and skill and make me less thereby?
--Does he talk down or try to pull me up?
--Who gets to do the flying?
--Do I get to do the radio work?
--Is the just completed lesson reviewed in detail?
--Is the next lesson explained at the end of the concluded lesson?
--Is each lesson reviewed prior to getting into the airplane?
--Do I know the time/experience frame required for mastery of the skills in the lesson?
--Am I encouraged to ask questions, even dumb ones?
--What happens if I am not prepared?
--Who sets the standards?
--Do if fully understand circumstances that should cause me or the instructor to cancel a lesson?
--What do I do if one of us is late?
--Do I have a tape record of material covered?
--How much am I expected to recognize, recall, practice, and master?
--Do I know what to study?
--Do I know what is expected of me?
--Do we use a variety of departures and arrivals to learn both procedures and reference points?
--Do we review before departure?
--Does each lesson include review, higher levels of proficiency and new material?
--How am I progressing?
--What about my 'fears'?
--Does the instructor let me get far enough into mistakes to learn from them?
--Am I learning to make selectively safe decisions?
--Do I know the 'why' of my decisions?
--Do we visit a tower? (Not since 9/11)
--Am I expected to make return visits on my own? (Not since 9/11)
--Are visits to an FSS and Approach facilities planned? (Not since 9/11)
--Is he knowledgeable as to how my mistakes may be normal or abnormal to the learning process?
--Is he teaching just for this lesson to toward a lifetime of flying?
--Would I want him to teach my children?
Addendum by Jack
--Does my CFI make it fun, regardless of me making mistakes? Can we have a good laugh on *each* flight, no matter how good or bad it was?
--Would I want to fly with my CFI anytime, anywhere after I get my ticket?
--Does my CFI make "no go" decisions when the weather conditions
may prohibit us from making progress in our lessons or will they go fly just
so they can make some money off of me and log some more time?
(Gene says: "I take my students up in poor weather to teach judgment, required knowledge, and decision options".)
Learning from Your Mistakes
A mistake is painful because we have been conditioned to experience humiliation and shame. We expect ourselves to be able to perform. When we don't or can't, our internal critics tell us that we should be able to do better. Where an external critic adds to the internal embarrassment we react with fear that all such mistakes will recreate the emotional trauma.
Perhaps the biggest mistake in the exercise of good judgment is a failure to hear the voice of your own experience. Your own experiences are not just what happens to you, it's what you believe about what has happened to you. Your life experience at play or work has prepared you for many of the coming flights. Already you have had to unlearn, practice, study, relearn, and forget. You are about to relive your life experiences again. A mistake is an opportunity to find what works for you--and what doesn't. Recovery from a mistake should give you a good feeling. You have recovered, learned and reflected. All of which will make you a better pilot.
When a pilot enters a situation with uncertainty the chances are that his flying skills will be lessened. He will be spending at least some brain cycles dealing with stress and the fears caused by the uncertainty. Being told to relax by the instructor is not going to help. Your ability to cope will only be achieved by exposure and experience. The unexpected is always present as part of learning to fly. Keep your priorities in order, fly the plane FIRST, navigate and then communicate. You won't learn from your mistakes if you fail to acknowledge it as 'yours'. Denial of your part in creation of a flying mistake will only cause it to be repeated. The most dangerous flying mistake is the one you 'get away' with perhaps by not recognizing it as a mistake.
Flying is an art that takes knowledge, time, intensity, concentration and self-discipline. In the beginning there are likely to be deficiencies in knowledge and self-discipline. There will be excesses of intensity and concentration. A student's perception of success and failure is often based upon erroneous assumptions. Making mistakes is part of the process. Asking questions is part of the process. Being upset with yourself and the instructor is part of the process. A mistake is not a failure. It is a survivable learning experience. The worse thing that can arise from a mistake in judgment or performance is for the person to believe that he can 'get away' with it again.
Making mistakes is the "wake up call" part of the learning/flying process. Mistakes are not an enemy of learning. A recognized mistake is a learning success. Think of a flying mistake as an experiment that failed to produce the desired result. With each mistake/experiment you can eliminate procedures that don't produce desired results. The art of making flying mistakes is to turn them into tools of learning and prevention. Efficiency in learning is through remembering the results of your experiments. Student mistakes are what instructors see best. This instructor critiques student mistakes to make sure the cause, effect, and solution become apparent to the student. Instructor "mistakes" are deliberate efforts to see if the student is paying attention. Yeah!
The opportunity to make mistakes without fear of harm is an important part of the training process. I prefer to let flying mistakes develop in the process of flight training at least to the point of student awareness. I will then, if conditions allow, take a moment to discuss the cause, result and correction. I re-establish the mistake situation and help the student work it out more safely. Otherwise, I save the problem for ground discussion and a next flight review. On occasion, I will deliberately create a situation that calls upon the student to correct a mistake. The safe correction of a potential problem is another essential student skill. All good instructors let their students make mistakes. All good instructors do not allow a specific mistake to become habitual or even occasional.
When an instructor tells you of a mistake, resist the urge to defend yourself or deny that a problem exists. Assume your critic to be right and of having the best of intentions to help you. Learn to live with all your mistakes, especially flying mistakes, without suffering. Use your internal critic to alert you of a coming mistake, but don't allow it to influence your stress level. Always, the instructor's premise is that you can do better next time.
Self-analysis of your flying is important. Develop a curiosity about what part went right until it went wrong. Do this in terms of where you feel weak, deficient, or insecure. Look for your mistakes. A few minutes reading, a short instructional flight, or a solo flight directed to a specific area is money and time well spent. If anxiety exists but you are uncertain as to the area or cause, take a flight review. Proficiency is the best flying insurance policy. You may not know what you don't know, but when you do know there is something you don't know, get help. When you are working to do every-thing right it is never boring.
You will better understand a difficulty or flying mistake by getting feedback from other pilots. Share your experiences and listen to similar experiences shared by others. You will never be able to create a unique flying mistake. Go back to your instructor and review the series of events from beginning to end. This changes a critic into a mentor. In a single-pilot operation, you know there's no one else to remind you so you pay closer attention, or at least you should.
There are good mistakes. A good mistake leads you into finding a better way of solving or avoiding a subsequent mistake. Not every solution will work. Share your solutions. Don't try to re-invent the wheel. Seek the opinion of others and alternate solutions. Read as much as your time allows about the experiences and mistakes of other flyers. Read their post-mistake advice. The advice that is given to others is wiser than the advice we give to ourselves. The objectivity of a story about a mistake allows others to see why specific mistakes are made and how they can be avoided. The highest level of learning is when students benefit from the experience of another.
Dealing with Delays
One of the advantages of learning to fly in the fall is the greater probability of weather delays. A pilot learns to live with and accept delays of any kind as part of flying. The pilot who has an attitude problem that makes delay unacceptable is heading for an accident. Some types of delay can be managed by planning time allowances. Knowledge can be helpful, too. A flyer learns to accept that everything cannot be controlled. Don't try to change those things that can't be changed.
In a club, it is not unusual to arrive at the airport and find that the aircraft is not fueled or may be low on oil. Know how to make a quick check and how to make arrangements. What do you do if the aircraft is not there? Call the answering service. Call the scheduling officer or maintenance. How long will it take to get air into a tire? What if the air filter is loose? I lost my sectional. I left my flashlight home. Allow extra time in your flight schedule to flex with unavoidable delay. You must adjust, flex, and give up. On some days you were just not meant to fly.
The success of the instructional program is directly related to the willingness of the student to study and prepare. It takes a minimum of two hours of study for every hour of flight. Trying to learn too much material too fast is wasteful of time and effort. However, it is important to survey all the material to get an overview of what must be covered and eventually learned. We will not purchase the FAA written test questions until after all the material is surveyed and then studied. You want the latest edition of the FAA test to study.
As a student of flying you will learn in several ways, flying is but one of them. You must talk to other pilots and ask questions. Visit ATC facilities and become acquainted with the people you talk to on the radio. It will make a difference in your desire to improve your radio procedures. Communicate with the instructor as to what you have read and heard. Even misinformation has value when it is perceived as wrong. The more you know the better you will be able to control and predict the occurrences of flying. The highest level of learning is making use of someone's prior experience.
The student or pilot having a flying problem will find that the best and safest solution is a specific lesson from an instructor directed toward the problem. However, more often than not, the student is unable to express or identify what the trouble may be. The unconscious realization that a difficulty exists that cannot be explained creates even more tension. The rapport between the student and instructor must be such that even the weirdest concerns are freely expressed. Often the cause of difficulty can be associated with lack of preparation, turbulence, absence of a horizon, low visibility, or student fatigue.
The intellectual/emotional overloading of a student is a very common and enervating event early in flight training. It can occur because of pressures from the instructor. More commonly it comes because of the student not being able to select the important from the unimportant. What has occurred at home, work, or on the way to the airport can affect the readiness of a student for a flight lesson. It is far better for either the student or instructor to cancel a lesson or at least cut it short if things are not going well or not expected to go well.
You are normally capable of driving an automobile through dense traffic while listening to the radio and carrying on a conversation. Preoccupation with one aspect of flying such as one instrument can create problems. Flying requires that attention be divided between inside and outside the cockpit. This attention must never be so concentrated that radio communications are not recognized. A part of the brain/attention effort must always be reserved for the radio. Hearing alone is not enough. That which is heard must be recognized/analyzed for its significance and appropriate action taken. Every communication has some significance to the pilot. A student's ability to discriminate between the important and unimportant spells the difference between safe and unsafe. The competent pilot has developed his flight skills to the same level used while safely driving a car. However, the student pilot is expending so much intellectual and emotional energy into actual flying that it is not unusual for the student to completely miss radio calls or even airports.
Even the best instruction will not suffice if the student does not show good judgment. The student must always be making a series of judgmental decisions at every phase of flight. These decisions are made, just as while driving constantly and instantaneously. This ability to judge is an intangible but essential part of living and flying safely. What can you do to apply good judgment to flying?
1. Learn by the highest application of knowledge. That is, learn from the experience of others. Read, listen, and ask questions.
2. Fly with other pilots at every opportunity. What you learn
not to do is just as important as learning what to do.
3. Gain your experience a little bit at a time. A few 100-mile flights are better than one across the country.
4. Keep studying, learning and flying. Long pauses in studying, learning and flying are quite wasteful of time and money.
5. Don't hurry a new aircraft checkout. Two flights are much better than one. Develop your own checklist.
A friend was hauling a body from a remote location in Canada. Only a caretaker was around the strip. After considering the trees that lined the runway and the fact that it was getting dark and that deer could be a potential problem, he asked the old fellow about the deer. The ole fellow said" Naw! Don't have no deer problem." This made my friend relax. As he was climbing into the aircraft the ole fellow said" No deer but better watch out for the moose." My friend always says " Remember, If you don't ask the right questions how do you expect to get the right answers."
It's About Judgment
In flying there are as many ways to gain skill and experience as there are pilots. Time alone is a very poor criteria. Once pilot may gain 100 hours of experience while another may gain twenty hours of experience five times.
It is not enough to have the requisite skill and judgment to perform a particular maneuver, you must also have confidence in your ability to perform it as well. Everyone has a particular confidence level in their abilities to perform certain tasks. Through repetition you do certain rather complex procedures without conscious thought, like driving to a nearby shopping center. We have very little concern in doing this yet; statistically we are more likely to have an accident close to home than
on a trip. Thus it is apparent that familiarity and frequency of exposure reduces anxiety and increases confidence.
I have only one known one person who claimed to have no sense of fear. He was supervisor of a ward for the criminally insane. He might, as well been one of the inmates. Our inbred sense of fear is a survival kit. We do not push our activity envelope beyond our comfort and confidence level. We prefer to test the edges of anxiety under guidance and instruction. The ideal is to gain exposure in relatively small adventures before testing the water for ourselves. Thus, we have a reasonable personal limitation. It separates our comfort zone of experience and knowledge from the anxiety zone. Some flying students know the line between these regions better than others do. Survival is the name of the game.
Instructors set limits for student solo, often without explaining just why. Limitations are part of flying. The setting of personal limits is part of every flight we make for as long as we fly. The best pilots know their limits and abide by them. Hair-raising experiences are best left to those who need hair. (In-house joke.) Experience is just a process of expanding the range of your limits.
We will expand our limits for takeoff conditions, crosswind conditions, and every other aspect of our flying. As we grow in experience so will our limits until they become a coherent image of our own comfort and confidence zone. Still, there will be limits, when a pilot senses that the limits are approaching he had better reach into his bag of alternative options. The best of all choices although a most difficult one is to stay on the ground.
Visualizing Your Training
A student pilot, or any other pilot for that matter, can practice flying even while not in a plane. A situation can be visualized and simulated actions can be practiced. Flying is not only with the mind but can and should be in the mind. In your mind, plan ahead of a flight for the combinations of controls, attitudes and maneuvers required to put the aircraft where you want it. Skill is best demonstrated by the manner in which a particular maneuver follows your 'in the mind' planning.
At some point in your training the instructor may cover the airspeed indicator and have you "feel", sense and visualize the aircraft as it proceeds. With allowances for the density altitude and wind you should be able to "visualize" the aircraft around the pattern to a landing. Some flying skill will be acquired subconsciously, but in the main the student will need to rely on their physical senses to control the aircraft. Sight will always be the primary sense for your flying. In the beginning maximize your use of the external sight picture. There will be plenty of time to learn to relate the sight picture to the instrument picture. The other senses have information that is available in the noise, smell, and feel of pressure and vibration. We feel changes in vibration frequency and amplitude. The senses combine to give the pilot an over all feeling of what is both right and wrong with the aircraft. Hearing is a neglected sense. A student wants to learn the several 'constants' of engine rpm and airspeed sounds.
The sense of touch is the most neglected sense. You can only 'feel' an airplane when holding it lightly, very lightly. The sense of smell is best utilized as a danger sense. You can learn the smell of the aircraft when it is performing well. Any other smell serves as a warning. A change in your sensory perception of aircraft performance is the first alert to take precautionary action. You should never smell fuel. The last sense to get the fine-tuning required to fly well is the sense of sight. With practice of the right kind, you will begin to see the nose and horizon relationship that exists in every flight situation. It takes time.
Speed is set visually; touch and kinesthetic sensitivity sense speed changes. If you do not sense these changes you are more apt to misuse the rudder. The body can sense, and be ever more sensitive to the side pressures of a slip or a skid. Modern aircraft make it possible for a pilot to fly dangerously well without being sensitive to an uncoordinated rudder.
The ability to anticipate changes in control pressures required for a particular maneuver must be developed. Failure to anticipate the rudder movement required to move the nose as airspeed decreases is a most common flight error. The behavior of instruments such as the airspeed indicator and vertical speed indicator that lag in relation to sound and attitude changes must be expected and understood. Chasing the airspeed indicator is a common student fault. Even worse is not recognizing that the VSI takes about 12 seconds before giving accuracy indications unless the control movements are exceptionally smooth. Starting the trim from a known position and keeping track of its movements in various flight configurations makes possible rapid/correct trim pressure corrections.
You should accept every opportunity to review your basic skills by airwork and ground reference. This is not a waste of time or money. Exercises that improve your ability to make wind-drift corrections and timing will improve your airport pattern work. You need to make adjustments by anticipation. The only reason your instructor 'knows' when you are high. low, wide, too fast or slow is because of his experience in anticipation. Do whatever it takes to place your aircraft where you want it.
Do you fly around, below, above certain areas to avoid communications? Do you try to enter a certain way into an airport and to avoid others? Do you avoid crosswind-landing opportunities when they become available. Do you ignore practice in ground reference, stalls, slow flight, and night proficiency? Challenge your weaknesses until they become areas of strength.
1. The Law of Firsts (Haviland's) , "The first time you do, you shouldn't have, The first time you don't, you should have."
2. Flying is an situation where the pilot is solely responsible for the welfare of the aircraft.
3. Knowledge can be maintained through reading and study. Judgment is best developed through the experiencing and management of actual flying situations.
4. Pilot skill is a product of physical and mental practice in the airplane.
5. Any flying skill acquired can only improve if exercised. Your skills will never remain static. Skills erode from lack of use; they remain relatively constant with occasional use; they improve only with clearly defined goals that have measurable criteria for performance.
6. A refresher lesson should be based upon a single maneuver. This maneuver should contain a wide set of the four basics. It should be fun but challenging.
7. In flying there is only one person responsible for the actual flying of an aircraft and that person is also responsible for the safety of that flight.
8. Having a functional checklist that fits your method of operation is more important than having a one checklist fits all available. Have the checklist, use it at the same place and time; every time.
9. The more unusual your flying situation the more important it is that you slow down the airplane and use the appropriate checklist.
10. You will avoid one potential ATC 'deal' if you take upon yourself the responsibility to clear the final approach course prior to crossing the runway hold bars.
11. As a student or VFR pilot you should know the terms and positions used by IFR pilots flying at airports where you fly. At unfamiliar fields you should query ATC as to IFR reports to your planned route. The lower the visibility the farther away from IFR routes you should stay.
12. One way to detect maintenance oversights is to make regular changes of maintenance facilities.
1. Flying an airplane requires that a series of relatively complex procedures. A checklist is most viable if a long series is broken into several functionally related sectors.
2. Any error of a checklist should be studied to determine if the error was one of commission or omission.
3. Procedures can become rituals without the mental alertness to confirm what is being done. This ritual checklist leads to the error of expectation. It is not enough to pretend to use a checklist as a ritual. Such a checklist is often very complete, interesting, and pretty, but without use it is a potential danger.
4. There is more to making checklists than just the making. The usefulness of a checklist is proof that the things on the list are worth doing.
5. Many aircraft have pasted checklists on the panel or commercial lists that are 'universal' for the type but ill-suited for the model year. These checklists are technically correct only if they contain everything in the POH checklist. They usually do not cover even the POH requirements nor do they cover all the radio procedures and frequencies.
6. Using a checklist that is not of your own making and practice even for the preflight is VERY poor procedure. Some excellent checklist makers are not very good users.
7. Go to Aircraft type pages for sample checklists.
Mad as Hell
and Taking It
In flying we react in an emergency as we first learned to react. When we show anger we react as we first learned to react. Just as understanding an aircraft emergency will enable us to cope with it, so will a better understanding of anger help to defuse it. Almost any situation or delay can become an invitation for you to become angry. You are not required to accept the invitation. You may accept the invitation and become angry or you chose to ignore it. It didn't happen. You can intellectually reduce the 'sting' by assuming that you were not the target of the invitation in the first place. Skill in flying will improve most anyone's emotional stability.
You do not need a medical certificate until you fly by yourself. It is suggested that you get your medical before you go to any major expense of time, money or effort. Once a pilot, your concern is not the checkrides. Rather,. it is the continuation of your medical that will allow you to become an old pilot.
The medical is used to determine if there is any condition that could impair your ability to fly. There are three classes of medical certification. First Class is good for six-months as for airline transport pilots. Second Class is for one-year as for pilots who fly for hire such as sightseeing flights. Third Class is for 24 months and covers all other pilots. Another Third Class medical includes a yellow student pilot certificate. Glider pilots do not need a medical. These parameters may change in 1995. As of 1995 changes have occurred mainly based on how often a medical renewal is required. Age is the dividing line.
The medical standards are in FAR Part 67. FAA Form 8500-8 is the "Application for a Medical Certificate." All of the information on this application must be answered truthfully and completely. Any change in this information that would affect your ability to fly or pass the medical requires that you ground yourself.
Every medical certificate can have waivers of such things as limited vision, hearing, or color blindness. A certificate may have limitations such as wearing glasses or no night flight. A Special Issue Medical Certificate can be issued if the pilot can prove that it will not unpredictably affect his flying performance. Any medical condition can be certified if it is not a risk to safe flight. One eyed, deaf, one armed, and wheelchair bound pilots have become successful pilots. Some conditions of diabetes and heart disease can be made worse in the flying environment and preclude any certificate.
New Changes in Medical
All Classes No vision waiver required if corrected to 20/20
150/95 blood pressure standard will be in effect.
3rd Class Under age 40 exam will be good for three years
40 to 70 good for two years; 70 for one year.
Second Class Electrocardiogram (EKG) at ages 35 and 40 and then
every two years.
First Class EKG required annually after age 40
Cholesterol check after age 50.
Not Making Progress?
I doubt that there is a pilot flying who has not at one time or another felt the twinge of doubt that his learning curve is not going well. The emotions involved can run the gamut, self-doubt, blame, resentment, and anger. Quit, seek support, change instructors, and kick the dog are typical initial reactions.
We begin expecting that flying will be much as we have seen it in the media and read in books. We often assume that our prior experience and even expertise in another field will transfer into flying and expedite the learning process. Not so. A very important part of learning to fly is to unlearn all the preconceptions we have acquired since childhood. It is very difficult to overcome first learned ideas. We are very used to adding power to go faster. Yet, just adding power to an airborne airplane makes it go slower. Pointing an airplane up does not mean that it is going or will go up. Instinctive reactions can be very dangerous when applied to flying airplanes. Illusions exist and will be believed by even the best of pilots.
Much of the difficulty in giving flight instruction arises from communication problems. The instructor has acquired an experience 'bank' from his own training and teaching. The instructor's problem is to fit his knowledge and presentation of it into your learning requirements. The student is not a blank slate. As the previous paragraph indicates the student is loaded with flying information. The student doesn't know what he doesn't know. What he knows he knows may be all the way from totally correct in concept and application to just the opposite and anywhere in between.
This is the 'playing field' of flight instruction. The student and instructor must communicate information and understanding back and forth. This communication can be verbal, demonstration, emotional and even extra-sensory. Instructors want every student to be a successful student. Every student wants to succeed. When it doesn't work out it is most often a failure to communicate.
Recipe for Failure
The unsuccessful student has several deficiencies:
1. Lacks motivation and commitment. Expects flying to be all fun. Learning to fly is hard work.
2. Unwilling to put in the time or do the homework.
3. The lesson is not just to perform a maneuver. The student fails to know why the maneuver is required in the first place.
4. Gets angry when things don't go well. Tends to blame others for his failures. Resents test requirements as well as knowledge requirements.
5. Expects instant and continuous success. Has a rationale for every lack of preparation or knowledge.
6. Unable to maintain a schedule for a successful training program.
7. Using flying to overcome a personal or emotional difficulty. May have a feeling of personal superiority that makes flying come naturally.
8. May be perfectionist so that flying is too stressful because he can't reach his standards from the beginning.
9. Lacks ability to exercise good judgment.
Students do not quit flight training because of student failure; rather it is because of instructor failure. Students want very much to please their instructors. When a student senses that the instructor is unhappy this serves as a form of discouragement. Students need encouragement and a sense of progress. Both of these are easier for the instructor if flights are scheduled several times a week. Flights only once a week are less likely to show progress. It is my opinion that false praise is worse than no praise at all. I am not given to false praise.
A student senses when there has been a good lesson. An emotionally draining lesson can still be satisfying to a student. I am currently teaching a student who having made one very good solo flight has been reluctant to go again until all the possible hazards to another flight have been mastered. Two flights ago we did slips until they became enjoyable. One flight ago we did crosswind landings left and right in 12 knot 90 degree winds. I mentioned to her that she was to call me for a flight the first indication that she had of strong winds because I wished to explore with her the upper crosswind limits of the aircraft and pilot.
Today, after doing three landings into a 20+knot wind we did four 90-degree crosswind landings. Even on a short runway we required an indicated speed of 80 knots in a C-150 just to gain sufficient rudder authority to hold the nose parallel to the runway. One of these landings was to a full stop.
Then we headed home where we had 70-degree 14-knot winds. We did four in the left pattern into a 3000' 75' wide runway and then four into a 5000' 150' wide one. We used everything from partial to full flaps in these landings and after our previous experience with 20+ knot winds the 14 knot winds made the cross-controlling possible at 60 knots. Not all of these landings were great but even the worst of them would have been considered satisfactory for the conditions. This was a heavy dose for a student but I had the feeling that this experience has given her the confidence needed to solo again to another airport.
Often overcoming a training difficulty makes more demand on time and attention than the student has available. Tendency of the discouraged student is to put off such things as solo, written, crosswind landings or the flight test until their 'busy' period goes away. The above story shows that one solution is to proceed with concentrated training to get through a difficult period.
Areas of Failure
Area # 1
The student and instructor must enter into the program realizing that learning to fly has certain parameters that can make the process either easier or harder. Obviously, the more time, money, and resources available the better. A weakness in any of these areas is going to affect instruction, communication, and learning. Over half of all flight students never complete their flight training. The student would be well advised never to start with any of these parts showing deficiency. The instructor performs a disservice to the student and flying by starting someone who is ill prepared and qualified to finish.
Area # 2
Flying is learned best by total immersion. Practical limits prevent most people from this process. The result is a compromise by doing what is possible. Less time, less money and less communication results in less progress. At some point the student and instructor will recognize that the process is breaking down. Lessons decrease in frequency. Repetition creates a sense of no progress. Frustration affects both the student and instructor. The instructor starts pushing, the student feels even more pressured. Unhappiness reigns.
Area # 3
In the beginning the instructor will accept as normal a wide variation in performance. Everything seems to be progressing fine. Then, little by little the tolerance levels is narrowed. Altitude, headings, airspeeds, trim, and attitudes are going through changes leading to landings. Mistakes happen, are created, and are resolved in the process so that safety is not compromised. Student radio exposure increases. During this period student overload often occurs. The failure of a basic skill can bring progress to a halt.
Almost any basic skill can be responsible for requiring a basics refresher flight or two. Airspeed awareness in climb, turns, cruise, and descent has parameters that are essential to safety. Banking limits along with heading interceptions must be performed within relatively narrow limits. Anticipation takes the place of reaction. The time of performance is important many aspects of flight cannot be unduly delayed in the airport pattern know what to do, when and do it. Hesitation, delay, uncertainty, or mistakes must become a non-factor. Any lack of progress requires going back to basic procedures at altitude.
Area # 4
The instructor is beginning to feel the responsibility that goes with student solo. There are relatively few situations where responsibility for life and safety exposure exceeds that of a flight instructor. The student, too, is feeling this pressure from the instructor and is having mental and emotional qualms as the solo day nears. The flying culture has attached far too much emphasis on the solo. While it is indeed a significant step, it really means a change in the number of instructors. The solo student is his own instructor. Where the student fails to plan, take responsibility, practice, and study he fails as an instructor. Progress will plateau just at the time it should accelerate.
Area # 5
When a student is not making expected progress it is up to the instructor to come up with a plan. More frequent flights, more elaborate ground instruction, a revised procedure, a different airport, and partial panel to change visual focus. Don't keep beating the same process when it's not working. Get some variety into the lessons. The instructor may suggest experiments to find how the mental process may be misdirecting the physical performance. Maybe the instructor should demonstrate more frequently. Just perhaps, there is no solution for the existing problem between the student and instructor. Take a week off to concentrate on bookwork instead of flying. Get the written out of the way. The progress may be revitalized by contradictory actions. Taking a week off from flying and study can act as a refresher. Flying three days in a row has been known to get things going again. Just go together for an airplane ride. Every instructor will have his share of failures. Learn to live with this probability.
Consider making up a 'Fanny Pack" for your preflight. It could/should contain rubber gloves, rags, window cleaner, sump-cup, tools. Put it on during preflight because it leaves the hand free. Take it off while flying.
Keep a supply of "post-its" of different sizes in your flight kit. Make a frequency list on a longer one for what you expect to need on a given leg. Use small one to diagram destination runway and reference points for anticipated arrival or 45 entry.
Don't spend any money for overpriced devices from the local FBO (Fixed Base Operator) or "Sporty's." The following suggestions work just as well for a lot less money.
A COUPLE of heavy rubber bands with a paper clip will wrap around your leg and make a good device to hold small note pads.
WEST BEND makes a series of kitchen timers and stop watches that can be bought at flea markets for as little as $8. These can be fastened to broom clips that will hold to the yoke. FBO's sell less capable timers for about $30.
A BROOM clip can be screwed to a spring paper clip with a 1-2 inch screw to hold checklists to yoke. A small plastic rectangle will hold approach plates or writing pad.
Keep your ground checklist on a piece of cardboard hung by string around your neck. This should include preflight, pre-start, start, taxi, run-up, and pre-takeoff in one series. A second series should be post landing, taxi, shutdown, and tie-down. The backside of the card should be outlined in red with emergency procedures.
THE ashtray makes a good pen-holder. Fasten a pen or pencil to your clipboard with a string long enough to make it useful. Hang a pen or pencil with a couple of rubber bands from the yoke as an emergency scribble digit. Always carry an extra supply of rubber bands.
TAKE TWO (one) old sectionals and cut out a circle 10-12 inches in radius centered on your home airport. Take an old record album cover and cut a circle to maximum size. Center the cardboard and your home airport. Glue the sectional to the cardboard and trim to size. Get a piece of fairly stiff wire or a rubber band. Bend the wire so that it goes through the center of the circle and the other end so that it folds under the circumference. The rubber band must thread through the center and the ends held with a paper clip. Mark the outer edge of the sectional in 10 degree marks and 30 degree numbers as though it were a VORs. These marks should be magnetic courses centered on your home field. If your home field is near the edge of a sectional this card will make it very easy to plan local flights as well as courses requiring both sides of the sectional. Just slide the wire to the desired course. Crease the circle so it will fold for easy storage. The backside makes a good place for emergency checklists, etc. Backside printout of radio procedures is part of radio material. Design radio callups, reporting points, and runway expectations so that when looking at the chart on one side, you can flip it over and read the appropriate radio material.
A BASEBALL type cap is invaluable when the sun is low on the horizon. It serves well as a barf bag if not ventilated. A bee in the cockpit is a problem best solved with a cap.
A THIN tube of plastic about 15" long serves well as a fuel gauge. Be sure the plastic is fuel resistant. Hold your finger over the end to hold fuel in tube for measuring. Mark the tube at different levels to get accurate time/fuel/flight conditions consumption. Take fuel measurements before and after each flight until you learn to estimate fuel consumption accurately for the flying you do.
SILICA GEL can be purchased with a plastic basket at Motor Home Suppliers. This will absorb cockpit moisture and protect the interior of an aircraft.
LOSING fuel out of the overflow tube can be fixed. Raising that side of the plane on a 1x12 or 1x12 ramp for the low wheel will solve the problem.
A long CLIPBOARD can be cut so as to be 2" narrower and then used sideways. Keep permanent checklist data and flight information such as clearance sequence, rate of climb per mile, time over 5, 10 mile distances, on one side. Have a supply of extra clips to hold notes, etc. Wide clip boards interfere with the yoke.
Sunglasses that pass less than 15% light will reduce acuity. Photochromic lenses may not work well with aircraft windshields. These glasses may not change rapidly enough for certain mountain conditions. Polarized sunglasses should not be used through a laminated windshield. Many glass cockpit aids cannot be read with polarized glasses. Wearing sunglasses will protect the eyes and reduce visual fatigue. Get the best 'blue-blockers' you can afford.
Keep a partial roll of duct-tape and electrical tape in your flight kit. Carry a "Leatherman" knife, tire pressure gauge, and cellular phone. Wear walking shoes.
Make card that covers the flight just flown:
I learned... I feel better about... Worried about...
Analysis... ......analysis... ..............analysis...
Next time....... Enjoyed.............. Look out for...
First, Get All the Help You Can
im under a sponsorship by an airline as a cadet. i made my family proud by getting where i am n i feel as though im letting them down most of all letting myself down. i have nothing to fall back on n if i really fail to get through i dont know how to repay the company as i come from an average family. i really have no choice but to push on
im really disappointed with myself and looking for ways to work things out. im always sad lately n just cant seem to get the bad sorties out of my head. this is what i really want to do my whole life. i need and want to do well. is there such thing as a person who just cannot fly? was wondering if you've got any pointers in helping me.
hope to hear from you
In the beginning, learning to fly has so many totally new things to learn that it is normal to be feel frustrated, angry, disappointed and unhappy.
1. Read as much about what you are doing as you can.
2. Read AHEAD of what you expect the next lesson to be.
3. Buy a recorder and record all you can of what the instructor is saying.
Play back the recording and make a list of questions to ask BEFORE the next lesson
This way you can find out if you are really understanding what the instructor thinks he is teaching.
4. Find 'recorder' on my web site and it will tell you how to make the recorder work in the airplane. You will need a patch cord. Any avionics shop can make it for you if you can't solder.
Stay in touch, flying will change your life for the better.
A Freshly Minted
Pilot's Advice to New Folks
As a brand new licensed pilot I thought I'd share a few tidbits of advice for students (new and potential) based on my experiences. Some of it's obvious and it's all IMHO but nonetheless...
If you could buy just two books (besides FAR/AIM) I would highly recommend the FAA's Airplane Flying Handbook and Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Information. Nearly everything I ever needed to know was in these. Kershner, ASA, Jepp etc. equivalents are fine if you want a slightly different perspective on things but there's really nothing in any of them that isn't in the FAA books (while the opposite can't be said). Nice to see the government do something right.
For written test prep ASA and Gleim are both good. Gleim's format (questions and answers on facing pages) is a easier to study.
I liked Bob Gardner's Say Again, Please. Especially valuable if you live in complex airspace (like here in the Bay Area).
Finally, I found ASA's Private Oral Exam guide a fantastic help in preparing for the oral portion of the checkride.
FAA Flying Handbook
I bought Sporty's prep DVDs but I didn't find them all that useful. If you don't like to read all the time, though, they might suit you.
Easy one. Join AOPA ASAP.
Subscribe to both AOPA Pilot and AOPA Flight Training magazines. Besides training articles it's good to read stories about flying in general just to get immersed in this world.
And get renter's insurance!
News Group Rec.Aviation.Student
Read the posts here. Often. Plus, after your CFI it's the best source for answers to your pressing questions (but don't take every word here as law).
Do not, do not, do not just pick a medical examiner at random! First use AOPA's resources to know ahead of time what will be required of you. Then ask everyone at your club/school for suggestions and recommendations. This can BURN you if you're not careful. And get your medical certificate
ASAP. Before you start training even. I'm speaking from experience here.
You will have at least one (for me it was landings after I thought I had a handle on them). And you will be tempted to get frustrated. Don't. Because I guarantee you will work your way through it and
wonder what all the fuss was about.
[MS Flight Simulator]
Bah. Personally I found it worthless in terms of actually learning flying skills. Don't waste money on rudder pedals (like I did). The one thing it's useful for is early on getting familiar with procedures and following checklists.
I think there's an ongoing thread on this but here are some that I would recommend:
http://www.aopa.org (countless resources)
http://www.dauntless-soft.com/PRODUCTS/Freebies/VFRFlightPlanner/(free, useful spreadsheets and forms)
http://www.mywrittenexam.com/mwe/(great site for practice written tests)
http://adds.aviationweather.noaa.gov/(where I go for quick weather)
http://whittsflying.com/ (reams of advice)
And two nice articles on flight planning that I thought were worth saving:
Low wing versus high wing
Low wing. Next topic
Take the written within a few weeks of your checkride. It'll all be fresh in your mind.
- Remember the words "clearing turns" and repeat it over and over and over and over.
- Repeat the word "checklist" over and over also.
BTW, I found official or third party checklists sometimes inadequate in some areas
(i.e. in terms of logical flow). Make your own (but have your CFI approve them).
- If you live near an airport get an air band scanner or a handheld
transciever. Nothing better for learning the language than kicking back in your
house and listening to ATC. If aren't near an airport take your scanner/radio
and go park near a runway. It's a blast watching planes come and go and being
able to hear what everyone's saying.
Worried about Possibilities
When Flying (2006)
--Learning to fly is overwhelming in all the ‘fear’ factors waiting in every new situation
--The unfamiliar pilot becomes afraid of possibilities derived from a situation never experienced before.
--How pilots react to the possibilities will be based on emotional perceptions modified by training
--A pilots emotional perceptions are modified by knowledge and reasoned perceptions
--In flying remote possibilities are often sensed as more important than the immediate task risk
--The ability to be ‘ahead’ of the aircraft is an inherent element of safe piloting
--Emotion, not knowledge sets our mental focus on the worst case scenario
--In flying, a focused attention to one element is a dangerous concentration of resources
--True odds, risks and probabilities lose importance against imaginary possibilities
--The pilot’s best weapon against misallocation of resources is the checklist
--What our flying stressed mind distorts to us as ‘known’ can be made to defy reality
--Flying joy ceases when fuel is unknown, location is in doubt and you are out of choices
--We are our own worst enemy as the imagination takes over
--Magnetic resonance imaging can show our amygdala (fear center) of the brain at work.
--Fear occurs from a situation, word, sound, picture, memory, event, thought or dream
--Height, darkness, falling, visibility, noise are innate sources of fear alone with others
--Your fear center can create in your mind and body all the sensations of an actual event
--The amygdala can be turned on or off, but ‘on’ seems to be easier
--Turning off the amygdala is like a variable switch which requires some time to go ‘off’.
--‘On’ is more instinctive than ‘off’. primarily to warn us of peril and trigger survival reactions
--The brain, given the chance, has ability to create dopamine and endorphins when fears are overcome
--Instructors must show empathy for fear caused apathy and show how exposure is the road to take
--Worry is a form of fear that via the amygdala increases heart and hormonal activity.
--Over time worry/fear can and will cause real illnesses.
--Those who would fly must overcome the many instinctive ‘on’ triggers
inherent to flight
--Relative speed, height, sound, falling, balance, are just the most obvious of fear triggers
--Darkness, blindness, vertigo and loss of situational awareness are insidious in causing fear.
--The addition of discomfort in temperature, pain, hunger and thirst will also create fear.
--Unexplained sensations, of vision, sound, smell, touch and motion are inherently fearful.
--Fear is never overcome easily and all at once, it is best devoured in small bites.
--Past fears weaken over time but increase logarithmically when coming near as a possibility
--The further we get from a recognized fear, the nearer we get to its reincarnation.
--Aviation has inherent worries, concerns and fears that can become debilitating if let loose
--Fire, impact, structural/mechanical failure, electrical, fuel depletion, maintenance, age
--Wear, neglect, carelessness, ignorance, malfeasance, misfeasance, nonfeasance. luck
--Reliance on others from aircraft design, to ATC operations, other airplanes and pilots
--Awareness of weaknesses in performance, knowledge, radio usage and skill is just the beginning
--The longer the feelings exist the more ingrained they will become and more difficult to remove
--Our subconscious has a retrievable memory bank going back to early childhood
--Is a takeoff similar to being tossed by a parent?
--Were you ever lost as a child, go through a home alone experience? Was solo difficult?
--What about a situation where inadequate knowledge or experience caused trauma?
--The so-called flight instructional plateaus can be seen as ‘fears’ conscious and unconscious.
--I believe that fears never disappear but lie in wait for an encore unless
--Avoidance is not a way to overcome flying fears and concerns
--Is there a pilot who has never felt some trepidation after a extended period of not flying?
--What is normal need not be so debilitating that your flying life is gone forever.
--However, the longer the break in confronting a fear the more difficult the renewal will be.
--The same is true in most everything we do, biking, swimming, skating, etc.
--The cure for fear of any kind seems to be exposure with successful feelings of accomplishment
--Aviation fears are numerous like gasoline, engine/propeller noise, unfamiliar steering…
--Much of taxiing difficulties rests with the inability to steer with the yoke
--Fear of being close to fast moving ground conflicts with fear of being high
--The reality of what to do on a takeoff emergency brings the two fears in conflict
--Unfortunately, in flying, more often than not the instinctive reaction is wrong.
--A very high portion of your flight training will be is learning the options in dealing with fears
--Every aspect of life contains a mixture of risk but in flying the risk decision is a constant variable
--What pilots are looking for is security in answers where there an no answers with certainty
--As a pilot ages there is a new layer of fears resting like a blanket over all previous fears
--Any sense of inadequacy will cause anxiety, concern, worry, apprehension, etc.
This email came just three days after I posted the "Worried about Possibilities When Flying" I should have posted yeas ago. I found the last sentence full of insight.
Hi My name Trevor Williams. I have read much of what you have written in your Web Site and I would just like to state just how much it has helped me.
I have always lacked self confidence and the fear being ridiculed if I made a mistake in my flying training.
This held me back quite a lot. I managed to obtain my British PPL and then moved to New Zealand and passed my N.Z. PPl, which was a new experience. The rugged country and distances between towns made it that more bad weather training was required. I then did My VFR night rating.
I now live in Germany and I have flown with an instructor here in a Cherokee 161, (my English licence is valid here). I would also like to add that in all of my training I have always been considered a safe pilot. Yet I still have this niggling fear. I love flying and the thrill of flying alone never dims.
Your article on facing up to recognizing and facing up to what is causing the fear has helped me a lot, and that is, getting along with my fellow pilots and knowing that they also have there own fears.
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