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How to Solo As Quickly As Possible

by Darren Smith, CFII/MEI
Getting the Most from Your Flight Training, January, 2007
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One of my biggest pet peeves is how much flying costs.  You already know this because you're dumping amazing amounts of money into your flight training aren't you.  No doubt you're looking for ways to save money.  You read the article Saving Money on Flight Training and this article is the follow-up.

1.  Before starting your flight training, take several discovery flights at various local flight schools.  Its a chance to interview flight instructors as well as determine what kind of aircraft are available for flight training.  You'll want to try the various types of training aircraft.  Find one that fits you well.

2.  Once you select the aircraft, stick with it, and learn everything you can about it.  Read the POH cover to cover and memorize the various performance numbers.

3.  Make a schedule for your flight training.  The smaller the time interval between lessons, the better the retention.  That means you'll spend less time re-learning and re-training.  That will save you money and get you to solo quicker.

4.  Get a study schedule from your CFI.  Follow it.  Stay ahead of the information.

5.  Get your FAA written exam done.  You will need to show your flight instructor that you have achieved the pre-solo aeronautical knowledge and a passed FAA written goes a long way to showing that.

6.  Get a copy of a Pre-Solo written exam and see if you know all the information.  I've got one free on this website:
Pre-Solo Exam.  Once you get this test completed, go over it with your CFI.  When he feels you're ready, you'll take a pre-solo exam that your flight school or CFI wrote.  You'll need to pass that with 100% and if you don't, the CFI will go over the test with you to correct it to 100%. 

7.  Its natural to have set-backs during your progress through flight training.  When you're having a difficult time of it, talk with your CFI about it.  An open, honest dialogue is not only a mark of maturity, its a way to protect your investment.  When your Flight Instructor requires something of you, DO IT.  Don't argue about it or try to figure a way around it.  If you don't understand it, ask for additional instruction. 

How to Never Solo!

1.  Keep changing aircraft.  There's nothing more exciting than feeling like you've mastered another aircraft model with a 3-hour introduction.

2.  Make excuses for your failure to perform.

3.  Try to find a loophole so you won't take the pre-solo exam.

4.  Blow off the FAA written.  Then when your CFI needs to verify that you have the pre-solo aeronautical knowledge, blow him off too.

5.  Argue with your instructor about how things should be done.

6.  Don't follow a syllabus for your training.  Just focus on sight seeing and joy riding instead of learning the skills required.

and most importantly...

7.  Have an emotional outburst when you can't perform the steep turn correctly.  Scream expletives when the instructor pulls the throttle for a simulated engine failure.  Mumble something about seeing dogs outside the window when you turn crosswind.  Let some gas out when the CFI mentions something about holding a specific altitude.

Have fun out there...

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