View Full Version : Getting the most out of your flight training

Illinois CFI
06-29-2012, 06:06 PM
For any kind of flight training, you need to develop the right mindset. Some people go into it with a certain way of thinking that will not work out to their benefit. In the end, it will end up costing them a lot more money or taking much longer than it should to get their license or advanced rating.The first thing you need to decide is if you really want to do it. You can’t go into flight training unsure as to whether you really want to do it and expect it to work out. If you’re not sure, research all the details and go for an intro lesson to help in your decision. You must understand that it is very demanding and will take a big commitment on your part. If you’re willing to accept this, and you’re not afraid of commitment, then go for it.

There will be points where you will be overwhelmed and feel that you don’t have the ability to do this, but it will pass. You will have a lot of new stuff coming your way all at once but you will learn it bit by bit and will eventually get it. After awhile, it will be no different than driving your car and changing the radio station at the same time.Before you start training you need to be honest when it comes to your health. You will be required to get a medical exam from an FAA designated doctor. If you have had any significant medical problems whatsoever or are taking any kind of medications or have any mental or physical problems, I would suggest getting the exam done before spending any money on training, just in case your problem is disqualifying. Not all problems are disqualifying but some may require additional paperwork, observations or demonstrations of ability, etc. A past DUI or bad driving record can affect it too. It’s best to find out first if you’re unsure before wasting money.

The biggest things I see are lack of time and lack of money. If you want to train efficiently and get your license or rating faster and cheaper, make sure you have the time and money before you start. The amount of time you need is enough to fly 2-3 times a week. Anything less than that will be hard because you will lose proficiency. Lesson times will average around 2-2.5 hours long until you start doing cross country training which will be longer. You need to allow for this time. You need to be flexible with time too. You have to keep in mind that most people want to fly after work hours but it isn’t always possible. Instructors want a life too! When I was training, I made a deal with my boss to either come in earlier or later if he’d be flexible with my time for training for a few months.There is no guarantee of how long it will take or how much it will cost because there is no way of knowing your study habits, level of commitment or how fast you pick up on things. Some people pick up faster than others.There are minimum requirements that must be met to a certain level of proficiency
The FAA requires a certain amount of hours but the average is around 50% higher than that. The average cost can vary from $8000 – $10,000 to get your pilot license. It won’t cost less but could cost more depending on you. When it comes to training, don’t penny pinch! We are not here to drain your wallet. It is about your safety and doing things right. You have to look at the big picture and watching the clock tick by or adding every penny you’re spending will distract you from the goal, which is to be a safe, proficient pilot! Penny pinching instead of focusing on the end goal will cost you more money and with that attitude, could cost you your life one day.

You have to accept that things will not always end up as planned when it comes to flying. You may take off work one day for a lesson and have to cancel because of bad weather. That’s just the way it is. If the winds are too strong and beyond the limitations your instructor gave you, then you cancel, whether you like it or not.When you start your training, you have to study and read between lessons. Be prepared for your next lesson because if you don’t study material before the lesson, the instructor will have to spoon feed you everything which will take more time and money. We also have to test your knowledge of things and if you haven’t read anything, we will have to review again.Bring a notebook and take notes! Study all your notes and reading assignments and learn as much as you can. Just because one lesson is over and you are on to the next doesn’t mean you can forget everything. In the end, you have to demonstrate everything, so keep studying old lessons to keep the information fresh.When you’re studying, take notes on things you don’t understand to discuss with your flight instructor. Don’t pretend to understand when you don’t.

Don’t try to control the lesson! Your instructor is the one who went through the training to teach you and he is the one with the experience. Listen to your instructor and follow directions. Just because you have a business meeting somewhere and it would save you time to fly there, don’t try to convince your instructor to do cross country training so you can make the meeting. Different levels of training happen when you are ready for them, not because you decide to do them.Don’t push your instructor to do something that you think you’re ready for when he doesn’t agree. There are reasons he may not be signing you off to solo, or signing you off for a check-ride. He knows what needs to be done. Something that may seem small to you could turn into a dangerous situation for you and your lack of understanding or experience is preventing you from seeing it.Stick with one instructor, unless of course you don’t get along or you feel he’s not teaching you well enough.

If you switch instructors, the new one will have to test your abilities and knowledge on everything you’ve already learned which will take more time. He needs to evaluate your skill level to determine whether to move forward or back a few lessons. In most cases, you end up repeating many things because they are not to the level they should be.There will be bumps in the road. You will get to a certain hump you just can’t seem to get over. That is normal and you have to understand it. When a person hits this road block, especially when they’ve been doing good, they start to blame the instructor or other things. Some things take longer to catch on to and you have to realize that. This is the stage in training where most will blame the instructor and switch to another or lose interest in flying and quit. If you stick it out, you will get past it and it will be worth it.When the end is near, you have to live and breathe aviation every day.

You have to know everything in the practical test standards, including the special emphasis areas! You have to know how to find information in the regulations book (FAR/AIM) when you don’t know something so when you take your check-ride with the FAA, you will be prepared.Sticking it out and doing the best you can will be well worth it. Learn to be safe, not to save money and you will be rewarded in the end by accomplishing your goal! You won’t regret it!

06-30-2012, 06:26 AM
The biggest things I see are lack of time and lack of money. If you want to train efficiently and get your license or rating faster and cheaper, make sure you have the time and money before you start. The amount of time you need is enough to fly 2-3 times a week.
I'm sure Joe is a great instructor and he makes some good points. However, the intense training approach is NOT for everyone. There are other approaches that are available and better suited for many. It's great to fly 3 times a week, but many don't have the time and dollars to do it. If you can only afford to fly once a week (or less, occasionally), find a compatible instructor and DO IT! It will take longer and cost more in the long run, but for some that will be the ONLY way possible. I flew once a week (if I had the money) and it took me 13 months to get my private pilot's license. I had a GREAT instructor who gave me plenty to study and "chair fly" in between flight lessons. The ability to train at the pace I could afford allowed me to start down a path that led to a long and successful aviation career. If others simply get their sport pilot license and fly for fun, that's terrific! We need recreational flyers, too. We need everyone flying, training, and growing aviation at whatever pace. We are a dying breed and need to encourage those who are interested to jump in and get started. It's true that more people drop out of less-structured programs than the more intense formal programs, but that's probably more due to their commitment to the program than anything else. There are many paths to a pilot's license. Find one that's right for you and do it!