10 Simple Things Flight Instructors Wished Their Students Knew
Category : Education
Learning to fly is one of the most fun, most exhilarating activities you can do in your lifetime. It is the ultimate freedom as you break free from the grasp of the earth. While your instructor is doing their best to train you in all the aspects of flying there are a few unspoken simple things that most instructors wish you knew before you started flying.
Flying with an instructor is real flying.
You are building hours and learning how to be a safe and competent pilot. Just because you have an instructor in the right seat of the airplane doesn’t mean that the flying isn’t “real”. You are at the controls and you gradually increase your responsibilities of flight as your training progresses. Take advantage of the knowledge you have next to you. Don’t think of your training as a means-to-an-end but rather a flight with another skilled aviator.
Somethings just need to be memorized.
Yes, there are some old technologies that are no longer in use. And Yes, there are some things that are easy to look up on the latest technological device. In fact, there are some things that may not make sense to you at all and you think you can get away with “letting those questions go”. Much like anything you’ve ever done in life, some tests are just to test that you know certain things.
There is a difference between knowing something for a test and knowing something because it may save your life. Understanding this difference can be extremely beneficial to your flying career.
Mistakes are the best teachers.
When life is easy you don’t learn as well. Mistakes keep pushing you to improve until you get something right. Analyzing your mistakes after the fact will often show you something you missed. This is what teaches you to be better next time.
If you pulled off the perfect landing, but had no clue how you did it, how can you repeat it? Landing left of centerline is frustrating. But, evaluating your use of rudder and ailerons and trying again making little corrections will get you right where you want to be. The experience will help you grow as a student. It also helps you to recognize those scenarios in the future and correct them before they happen.
Don’t cancel flight lessons.
Your time is valuable. So is the instructor’s. The more consistent you are with your training the easier you will pick up the lesson. The faster you learn, the faster and less expensive your training will be. Make the commitment to learn to fly and stick to your commitments. Extenuating circumstances will happen, but they don’t happen for every lesson. And they don’t happen on a regular basis. The more professional you are in your training, the safer you will be as a pilot.
Show up prepared.
Flying is money. Time is money. The more prepared you are for your flight the less it costs you. If you pay for an instructor’s time while you check the weather, you are increasing your costs. When the instructor must teach you all the nuances of a chapter you should have read before your flight your wallet pays for that. Have your flight plan ready. The longer you take to get in the plane and start flying the longer it will take to complete your license.
Create a checklist for all the things you need to have done before your next flight/lesson. Taking care of those items on your time makes your lessons that much more efficient and your flying that much more fun.
Use the checklist.
Speaking of checklists…use them! They are there to make your life easier; and your flying safer. While learning the sequence of events for a certain period of flight will help to increase your speed and efficiency, don’t forget to check your memory against the checklist. It is sad to see how many accidents happen because a certain step was missed. Rudder gust locks anyone?
Take care of the equipment.
Planes are investments. The better you treat them, the better they fly for you. So, please, be gentle when moving your seat forward or backward. Be smooth on the inputs to the controls. Buckle your seatbelt back up when you are done so it doesn’t get caught in the tracks when the seat is moving.
Your equipment is an investment too! Don’t lose your fuel tester. Ensure your headset chords are carefully wrapped up when you put them away. The equipment you use will treat you right if you take care of it. And it will save you money in the long run because it will last longer.
Supplies – what you need and what you don’t.
There are a few things that all beginning pilots need. There are many things that they don’t. The best, latest and greatest gadget is not required. Neither is the super expensive pilot watch. Or the leather pilot jacket. Keep your initial costs down by getting what your instructors list as required items and save the do-dads for after you get your license.
Be a partner in learning
Your instructors have put a lot of time and effort into creating a path for you to get your license. Based on their knowledge and experience they are working to give you the best chance at success. However, for you to have the ultimate success you should be involved in your learning process. If you don’t understand something, ask a question. If you want to repeat a lesson to get a better understanding of it, talk to your instructor. Their lessons are based on data and best practices. The best way for them to customize your training to suit you is to be interactive with them and talk to them about your training.
Enjoy the view and keep your eyes open
Learning to fly provides the opportunity for you to see the world from a whole new perspective. The view of a pilot is amazing. And if it isn’t, fly somewhere else to change your view. Remember this during your flight training. Don’t forget to look out the window. Your first certificate is for visual flight rules anyways, so don’t get bogged down in staring at the instruments.
Looking outside the plane is more than checking out the scenery. Most collisions are because the pilot was looking inside the plane when they should have been looking outside the plane. Watch for other planes and obstacles while you are flying and stop trying to fix the GPS while you’re moving.
Flying is an amazing experience. These few important things your flight instructors wish you knew will set you off on the right foot. What are your thoughts? Did you learn something the hard way after you started your flight training? Instructors, did we miss any important items you want your students to know? Leave a comment and let’s discuss.