A guide to getting the most from your flight training.
Training for your pilot's licence should be fun. It will be hard work at times but you should enjoy the experience and you will learn better.If you are not enjoying it then something is wrong so you need to give it some thought before you go any further.
There are a number of things to consider even if you are in a scholarship scheme and not paying from your own pocket. Can you afford to keep slogging on or risk letting the people who gave you the scholarship down?
There will be times when you really struggle with a particular exercise and that can be irritating and frustrating. Everyone experiences this and perseverence will pay off so stick at it.
That said it also pays to talk to people, whether it is another student, your instructor , other instructors or other pilots in the club. My issue was perfecting a smooth landing, I was all over the place.
The system at the school I attended was that we had a few different instructors but generally flew with the same one. It just clicked for me one day when the instructor looked over at me and asked what I was doing. "Your approach and flare is fine but where are you looking?"
I was concentrating hard floating a couple of feet off the runway wobbling about with decaying airspeed. It seemed like a bizarre question and I was too busy trying not to mess it up to answer.
My face must have said it all as he just chuckled and said "put the spinner on the trees on the horizon."
At that instant I realised I was looking along the side of the nose at the ground just ahead. I looked up and instantly saw the nose was too low. I eased back on the yoke till the spinner in the middle of the prop came up to the trees at the end of the runway and we settled gently onto the ground.
Dan then grinned and pushed in the throttle, recommending we try it again immediately. That was it it just clicked for me.
I had been in a little competition with a couple of my fellow students to go solo. One beat me to it purely because it clicked for him first and I was stressing myself as I wasn't getting the hang of it.
Advice may be enough or just a little more practice but sometimes it is a little more complicated. A friend of mine was really struggling with his training until circumstances meant he had to move to a different area of the country.
Once he had settled in he resumed flying at a different school with a new instructor and a different type of aircraft. He expected it to be a difficult conversion but the reality was he found it much better and progressed in huge leaps.
On reflection he realised that his previous instructor had been very rigid and quite condescending. The change of personalities in the cockpit and a slightly more stable aircraft made a huge difference.
The first instructor had a good track record and others found him quite pleasant. It does not matter why it happened or who was involved, the point is it can happen and have a negative effect on your training, you need to be aware of that.
Even in a big jet the cockpit is a very small space so you need to get on with whoever is in it with you.
Remember why you started training and what is in it for you if the going gets tough. You owe it to yourself to speak to people and ask advice.
Some flying schools do everything on a one to one basis. Others do ground school training as a group and fly individually. Either way works fine.
A flying lesson will usually consist of three elements, briefing, flying and debriefing.
The briefing is usually where "ground school" takes place. The exercises will be explained and exactly what is required of you in the air. There is often an overlap in lessons, so some recap of the last lesson is normal. This is the time to ask questions and clarify points as you have space and time to listen. It may also be that the tutor will point to physical parts of the aircraft to demonstrate what is actually about to happen.
The flying itself is where you put the theory into practice and is for me without doubt the most fun. You may be surprised just how much you covered when your instructor writes up the notes and log book at the end.
Finally the debriefing will highlight what went well, points for improvement and how what you just did fits in with the big picture. You may well still have questions or points to clarify and you will be buzzing.
It goes without saying that the more often you can fly the better you will progress and the less time you will need to review skills from the last lesson. I would recommend flying every day if you can until you get your licence but that is not always possible.
Often lack of good weather, time off or money plays a part so we just have to do what we can.
Flying lessons once a month are the only option for many pilots but that can easily stretch to longer with circumstances leading to a lot of revision and more hours to complete your training in the long run.
However you do it, take the responsibility yourself to make sure you get the most out of your training. It can change your life.