Learning to Fly an airplane is no small matter, it definitely is an achievable goal though. Sometimes the line between fun and annoying is as simple as a small attitude correction, or in some cases just getting the human element to present itself in the instructor – student relationship. I have been instructing for over 15 years in everything from small light aircraft to larger corporate aircraft, even airline ab-initio programs. All of those programs required a different approach to systems, procedures and regulations regardless if it was a C-152 or a BeechCraft King-Air 200.
There are a few areas that should be fun, and if you find yourself experiencing something “other than” normal levels of anxiety, you should start looking at making a change whether with the school, the instructor or within yourself. The human being is a simple, yet complex character to learn and work with. So, you shouldn’t find it surprising that training anyone to do any activity from building model cars, to flying planes can be a true experiment in the unknown. Throughout the experiences of not only myself, but other aviation professionals and teachers we have compiled a list of things that can increase your fun factor for sure.
First I will list some red flag “gut feelings” we as aviators whether a student or not can experience and where we should look to find comfort and challenge depending on which end of the pendulum we are swinging on.
- On the drive to the airport, fear and anxiety take over and the only thing driving the car is our desire not to waist the investment we already have in this endeavor. It’s time to chat with your instructor. If he/ she can’t understand, you may have just found out why your mind was putting up a flag. If they do understand, just talking it through and educating yourself might do the trick. If you can’t shake it, it might be time to inspect where you stand with the process and if you should take a break for a little while until you resolve the feeling.
- Absolute terror at every bump, every wind change, and feelings of anxiety over common and mostly menial procedures in the aircraft. It is really tough at first glance for an instructor of any experience level to ascertain what emotions, psychology and other factors are playing into an individuals experience. Most people are completely comfortable with the air currents and turbulence once they understand the science behind it. So this is an area that is usually completely reversible with the right instructor student combo.
- “I’m taking too many hours to solo ” or “to complete my license” This isn’t usually not a red flag, but a peer pressure or financial issue. It is good to think critically and stay on top of your flying and training, however don’t run from shadows when the sun is burning your skin. The solo endoresment is an instructor-student agreement of sorts, and you will NOT fly solo until he/she has full confidence in your abilities, and senses you do as well. In decades of instruction, I have actually waited until the very end of training to solo some pilots. It’s because no two people are identical. In the early days of aviation it was required to solo in 8 hours to avoid buring up tax payer dollars and it was the final test of those early years to assure the pilot was the fit the military wanted. Well, once the military stopped fighting wars, guess what most of those pilots had to do. They had to instruct, so guess what they taught? Yep, they taught everyone the same way they were taught. There is nothing wrong with soloing in 8 hours, but there is even less wrong with soloing at 30 hours either, as long as you are progressing through the lessons. Don’t let this kill your confidence, it’s just a fallacy and not worth your effort. Instead focus on the fun you are having and learn all you can before during and after every flight.
There are a number of stomach turning events that make wannabe pilots avoid getting their pilot certificates, but each has a remedy and 9 times out of 10 it’s a communication or an emotional issue. Work to tie into why you are flying, and what you want to accomplish it.
I know I always interview my clients, because I want to work with people who are astute, want to fly places and do things, and most of all are not starving their children at home to go fly a plane. There are so many incredible features of flying, it’s amazing how we can get so tied up in the negativity of a few points that may or may not hurt us in the short term. My advice is to find an instructor that you somewhat like, but that you know will kick your butt and make you a good and safe pilot in the end.
– Jonathan Johns
Founder: Flight-Logic Aviation LLC
Call (321) 426-0646 for more information.