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Thread: Nervous student pilot

  1. #1

    Shocked Nervous student pilot

    Hi all. I just had my first dual-instruction flight two days ago. I'm flying an RV-12 and working on a sport license with a CFI. I'm scheduled to fly again tomorrow.

    I'm a bit embarrassed to admit this, but I had never been up in a small plane before, and found that I was quite anxious about the movements of the craft. The rational part of my brain knew I was safe, but the primitive parts were shouting "we're falling!" with every turn and turbulence bump. I managed to do okay and kept myself in control. But, now I'm uneasy going into my second lesson.

    I'm hoping for some advice on how to manage this. It definitely takes a lot of the joy out of the experience.

    Eric

  2. #2
    rwanttaja's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mn124700 View Post
    Hi all. I just had my first dual-instruction flight two days ago. I'm flying an RV-12 and working on a sport license with a CFI. I'm scheduled to fly again tomorrow.

    I'm a bit embarrassed to admit this, but I had never been up in a small plane before, and found that I was quite anxious about the movements of the craft. The rational part of my brain knew I was safe, but the primitive parts were shouting "we're falling!" with every turn and turbulence bump. I managed to do okay and kept myself in control. But, now I'm uneasy going into my second lesson.

    I'm hoping for some advice on how to manage this. It definitely takes a lot of the joy out of the experience.
    To quote the immortal Gordon Baxter: "Flying is an unnatural act, probably punishable by God."

    You've got my respect, deciding to learn to fly without even having been in a small airplane before. What I might suggest is talking to your instructor, and making the next flight just a ride, rather than a teaching session. Let the instructor fly. Do a little sight-seeing, flit around and look at stuff for an hour. Get used to the environment.

    Ron Wanttaja

  3. #3
    Eric Page's Avatar
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    Please don't be embarrassed. We all had a first flight at some point. Some were early in life, others later. I'm no psychologist, but my impression from talking to nervous airline passengers is that it's very difficult to talk someone out of being nervous about flying.

    That said, you should definitely be up front with your instructor about your concerns. A good instructor will take the time to explain what's going on with the plane during each maneuver, and you may find that as your understanding of flying improves, and you really know that you're safe, your anxiety will subside.

    Please stick with it. You used the word "joy" in your question, so it's clear that you had fun. When your nerves calm down and your skills and confidence develop, that joy will only increase!
    Eric Page
    Building: Kitfox 5 Safari | Rotax 912iS | Dynon HDX
    Member: EAA Lifetime, AOPA, ALPA
    ATP: AMEL | Comm: ASEL, Glider | ATCS: CTO
    Map of Landings

  4. #4
    lnuss's Avatar
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    Note that it does take a certain amount of adjustment to get used to the different environment, and you'll have to learn what is normal, in terms of how it feels and looks in a variety of conditions. If you can get comfortable in smoother air, the adjustment to turbulence might be a little easier. I can assure you that certain phases of flight when I started training were very uncomfortable, especially the landing approach, where I was gripping the seat hard from short final until we were on the ground. In fact, my CFI made me sit on one hand and fly with the other when we were in some turbulence, just because of the tension and my tendency to grip the control wheel (Aeronca Chief) making me have no feel of the controls, yet I went on to get comfortable and get Private, Commercial, CFI, etc. so things like that can be overcome -- just takes a little time and determination.

    One thing that might eventually help is the things you learn in ground school about how the aircraft actually work, and about what the weather is doing along with how each different type of weather (especially the varied causes of and feel of different sources of turbulence). I'd strongly recommend that you read Stick And Rudder by Wolfgang Langewiesche, in this case for the way things should feel in the aircraft, as well as the principals behind them.

    You'll also want to have a chat with your CFI about this -- apprehension by folks new to flying is quite common. If you're familiar with who Bob Hoover is, then perhaps you'd be encouraged to know that he had physical problems in flight. A quote from Forever Flying, his autobiography: "from day one I suffered from chronic motion sickness." Another: "The only way to overcome my malady was to make my brain not believe what my eyes were telling it." Evidently he still had to fight it occasionally for a long time. Yet he became an excellent fighter pilot, a noted test pilot, and was often a a famous test pilot's chase pilot during the attempts leading up to breaking the sound barrier, in addition to becoming the consummate airshow pilot.

    A surprising number of other well known pilots have had similar problems to overcome. So just keep working at it and perhaps your CFI will have some ideas, too.

    Let us know how it goes.

    Addendum: Ron and Eric have some excellent thoughts (they posted while I was composing). Stick with it.

    Another addendum: Apparently the software won't let me mention the name of the pilot who broke the sound barrier. Twice I put the name in and the software changed it to "a famous test pilot." Will it let me put in General Yeager? Guess it did. And his first name is Chuck. That worked. Strange...
    Last edited by lnuss; 04-12-2023 at 11:09 AM.

    Larry N.

  5. #5
    I just want to say thank you to all of you for your kind words and suggestions. During my second flight, I was quite a bit more relaxed (relatively speaking). I can see that things will continue to improve with time and practice.

  6. #6
    Eric Page's Avatar
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    Excellent; very glad to hear it. Welcome to the club!
    Eric Page
    Building: Kitfox 5 Safari | Rotax 912iS | Dynon HDX
    Member: EAA Lifetime, AOPA, ALPA
    ATP: AMEL | Comm: ASEL, Glider | ATCS: CTO
    Map of Landings

  7. #7
    lnuss's Avatar
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    Great! Glad the improvement is already working for you. Enjoy!

    Larry N.

  8. #8
    DaleB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mn124700 View Post
    I can see that things will continue to improve with time and practice.
    That they will.

    I'd wanted to learn to fly since I was a kid. When I finally was able to take lessons, my first flight was in a Piper Cherokee on a cold, blustery day. Gusting winds, clouds... we got airborne and it felt like I was in a tin can floating on a windy lake. I started questioning the wisdom of my choices. It got a lot better after that.

    The RV-12 has pretty low wing loading, like most all LSA, and as a result gets tossed around a bit more than a larger, heavier plane. It's also agile and a joy to fly. I know, I bought one about 7 years ago. Enjoy your training!
    Measure twice, cut once...
    scratch head, shrug, shim to fit.

    Flying an RV-12. I am building a Fisher Celebrity, slowly.

  9. #9
    Practice is your best friend in this case. You can try deep breathing techniques before you start flying to get yourself in a calmer state. I can recommend counted breathing, it's one of the easiest techniques you can do. Count to 3 while breathing in and then breathe out while counting to 4. There are other breathing exercises you can try too. Check this article

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by George_eaa View Post
    Practice is your best friend in this case. You can try deep breathing techniques before you start flying to get yourself in a calmer state. I can recommend counted breathing, it's one of the easiest techniques you can do. Count to 3 while breathing in and then breathe out while counting to 4. There are other breathing exercises you can try too. Check this article
    You did note that this post was made a year ago? I suspect the OP is either now a licensed pilot or has moved on to a different hobby?
    "Don't believe everything you see or read on the internet" - Abraham Lincoln

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