Want to get
training with minimum expense? Is safety and building good flying skill
important to you? Your flight instructor can only do so much to instill
the proper skills to make you a safe pilot... the rest is up to you. In
addition, there are common sense things you can do to make your
experience efficient, pleasant, and fulfilling.
Navigate, Communicate. And
in that order! The most important task for the pilot developing new
is to fly the airplane. New pilots trying to divide their time aviating
and communicating do neither very well. You can hear them stutter, make
incorrect radio calls, and make interesting verbal pauses when they
a variety of errors in the traffic pattern. The flight isn't over until
you're back in the chocks. So keep your eyes out of the cockpit and
to perform your checklists. A recent accident was caused by the student
pilot performing the after landing checklist during the landing roll...
nose pointed at the ditch on the side of the runway. Moral of the
Learn how to
fly before you
talk on the radio
aircraft to perform
airplane FIRST, see
Fly the airplane first. I'm sure your flight instructor
you this. The key concept here is keep the flight parameters within
tolerances... airspeed... altitude... heading... all are key to
proper resolution to any upset, distraction, or problem. Too many
accident reports include the phrase, "Failure of the pilot to
Fly the airplane first, remembering its not over until the chocks are
Awareness of altitude and airspeed cannot be under emphasized.
3. Look out
the window. Of
the top three killers in general aviation, collision avoidance is
two. The crash stats indicate mid-air collisions happen on good
days below 3000AGL. That's where you are when the stuff starts
isn't it? Most people forget that good collision avoidance begins
in the runup area. Doing clearing turns to view downwind, base
final are just as important as looking the other way to make sure
isn't landing the wrong way. Jim learned how important this was
his checkride was over before the takeoff roll. His examiner sent
a strong message that collision avoidance is a top priority. It
unavoidable but student pilots would rather stare at the instrument
play with the moving map GPS, or read checklists while the aircraft is
moving. A good pilot is scanning outside the aircraft 85-90% of the
in VFR conditions. Remember, crash stats indicate midair collisions
on good weather days and at low altitudes. That's exactly where most
lessons. Sure there is always the occasional emergency - but it
be a once in a year event. Most CFIs have over $30-40,000 invested in
flight training yet are paid about the same as the screw sorter at Home
Depot. Flight Instructors do not receive compensation to sit at the
school. They make their income only when the student shows up for
It's difficult for instructors to find other students to fill your
even with 24 hour notice. Don't be surprised if your instructor charges
cancellation fees... not unlike other paid professionals.
5. Show up on
not show up early to preflight your aircraft? Why would you pay your
to watch you do that? If you are late for your lesson, it causes stress
for both you and your instructor as you rush through the lesson that
planned for you. If the aircraft isn't available to you when you
review notes from your previous lesson, and the maneuvers planned for
6. Show up
You will get the most bang for your bucks by being prepared. Even the
instruction cannot fully compensate for lack of preparation. Become
familiar with your training materials and you'll save incredible
of money. Its much better for you to learn at home for free rather than
while the aircraft engine is running.
7. Look before
the aircraft, on the ground and in the air. The reasons for this
be obvious but imagine pulling out into traffic without looking to see
if on-coming traffic could hit you. As an accident prevention
I've seen quite a number of folks who don't look BOTH directions before
pulling out onto the runway. In a high wing aircraft, its best to
a clearing turn right before you plan to enter the runway. You never
who is behind you coming down with an engine out emergency and no
8. Use the
Its not only the quickest way to fail a checkride, the accident stats
its a common way to kill yourself. How often do you forget to turn on
transponder before take off? The landing light? The mixture set
Lights - Camera(transponder) - Action(fuel related items) is a great
takeoff final check. How often do you completely ignore the after
checklist? If you don't know how, ask your instructor. Want to save
on your flight training? Learn your aircraft's checklists and
early in your training. You can practice these on the ground for free
weather briefing. A
preflight briefing consisting of weather and TFRs is an absolute must.
Take a look at FAR 91.103 to see what your responsibility in this
is and you'll realize the folly of ignoring this crucial step. Use
sources of information such as the FSS station or DUATS. If you don't
how, ask your instructor.
10. Take care
of the equipment. Since
most students rent aircraft for training, the potential consequences of
a hard landing aren't readily appreciated. There are two kinds of
the one who cares about the aircraft as if it were his, and the one who
doesn't care. Which one are you? And if you don't care, how long do you
think you'll survive? Be gentle on the controls, the brakes, the flight
control surfaces. Your instructor is a great resource on the proper way
to preflight an aircraft, so if you're unsure, ask.
11. Talk about
your progress. Share
your feelings, frustrations, successes and failures. No doubt your CFI
has seen it before and knows how to get you through the struggles that
come with learning how to fly. Sometimes its difficult to assess a
fatigue or saturation point. An open dialogue with your instructor will
go a long way in making your training experience fulfilling and
12. Be smooth.
all your actions, smoothness will keep your instructor's nerves from
frazzled as well as limit unsafe flight conditions. "Small correction!"
is what my old CFI used to yell at me. When I become a CFI, it became
favorite phrase. When the pilot jerks the aircraft controls, its a good
sign he doesn't have good control of the plane. When you make that
correction, give it time. See how the plane responds and evaluate
you need another small correction.
Communicate your intentions.
The flight instructor can't read your mind... so tell him what you are
about to do before you do it. Whatever you do, don't scare your
with sudden climbs, turns, or descents. And anything that starts with,
"Hey, watch this" usually signals trouble. Surprises are much better
they come in the form of buying your instructor a coke after the
14. Plan - Do
- Analyze. Plan your maneuvers before execution. While you are
the maneuver, check to be sure you're within standards. Then after
completed it, analyze your performance. Do you need to apply more back
pressure on that steep turn? Why did you flare too high on that last
Your instructor would like to hear your answers.
15. Be a
partner in learning.
Try to get as much value from your CFI as possible. Some of the things
you can do to improve your retention of lessons learned include: asking
questions, reviewing the relevant book material after a lesson, seeking
additional sources of information (videos, tapes, magazines), and
with another student. All of these things will make your instructor's
easier, and shorten the time it takes you to acquire the knowledge
to be successful in your goal.
16. Get your
quickly as possible. Not only will you spend less money, you'll
your training with a minimum of wasted effort. Schedule your lessons so
you can fly regularly. The longer the time between lessons, the more
student forgets resulting in more time spent reviewing past lessons.
sure that finances and family life are under control while you embark
your training plan. Then, once you start, don't stop. The aviation
curve is steep enough to merit consistent attention until you achieve
The pilot is the ultimate command authority for the flight... the one
for the safe conduct of that flight. If anything goes wrong, passengers
look to the pilot who must step up to the plate and take
The goal of flight instruction is to gradually transfer that
to you. Are you ready? That can't happen unless the student seeks to
a self driven professional who craves knowledge about aviation.
in their flying,
a passion for doing things correctly goes beyond using the checklist,
a way of life.
never taking unnecessary
risks, and properly managing the risks of flight.
as a student,
for each lesson, but even more important, a prepared pilot who plans
flight and seeks to know "all available information."
ultimate judge of
their own performance, accepting responsibility for their setbacks and
asking for help to improve their skills while not being too
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