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Thread: Should I continue my lessons?

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    Default Should I continue my lessons?

    Hey all...thanks so much for your posts. I read them everyday and have learned so much.

    I need to make a decision and I'm asking for your advise. I've been steadily working on my PP since April (ground school then flight). There is nothing I love more than to be aloft! I have 21 hours and am just on the verge of a solo. My last lesson I landed the 172 several times...albeit a little squirrley! I admit it is taking me a little longer than I had expected to learn to land but I tend to be a more cautious person. ANYWAY...here is my conundrum. I'm also a graduate student and classes have started. My mind is awhirl with school/work and my flying has been cut back to once a week. I think the cost/benefit ratio of my lessons has dropped significantly. I'm afraid I won't be able to get everything out of my lessons by flying only once a week -coupled with everything else I'm having to learn. I do have a five week break between semesters beginning December 3rd. Would it be wise to stop the lessons for now, and then continue them in December when I could fly two or three days a week? Or should I continue them now, flying only once a week, so I won't loose what I have learned? I know it's silly, but this is really causing me to loose sleep. I love flying so much that I don't want to quit, but neither do I want to waste money for lessons that won't be very effective. If I decide to stop the lessons until December, how do I tell my instructor? He is really very good and I don't want to loose him, either. Thanks all, Pam

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    Pam,

    In my opinion one lesson a week is OK. Three lessons a week may be too much too close together. One lesson a week provides time for absorbing the lesson. If you are at 21 hours without yet having soloed, slowing down to one a week would probably benefit you. Going too fast is counter productive. For that reason I don't approve of accelerated training, especially accelerated instrument training. If you try to cram too much in over a short period of time, it doesn't stick as well as the slower more contemplative approach. After you have soloed and have absorbed the basics including cross wind landings, flying more often would be ok, but in my opinion too much too close together during the initial learning phase is counter productive

    One other thing, if you haven't already taken and passed the private pilot written test, you should devote some serious time to that. With the private written under your belt, you're going to get a lot more out of your flight instruction sessions.

    By the way you mean lose, not loose. For some reason this is one of the most common misspellings seen on forums. The tiger got loose from his cage. I hate to lose my wallet or my car keys. And while I'm at it there are a few more often seen misspellings: there instead of their, your instead of you're (you are) there or their instead of they're.

    Best of luck to you.

    Jay

    27,000 hours plus
    ATP: single-engine land
    Commercial: multi-engine land and sea, single-engine sea, helicopters
    Private pilot: gliders
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    Jay,
    I have already taken and passed the FAA written and have completed all other requirements of my aeroclub to solo. I just need to get a little more consistent in landing.

    After I had posted the thread, I noticed my misspelling loose vs. lose and was hoping it wouldn't be noticed. It wouldn't have been so bad if it was just once, but I had to do it THREE times...oh well!

    Thanks for the advice. I'll think about what you have said.

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    Pam,
    I disagree with Jay, but he does make some good arguments about the practical book knowledge. However, you have passed that part already.

    I believe especially in the beginning phases you should have as much flight time as you can handle. As a Navy Instructor Pilot we would have our students fly every day, the kids who were doing well flew twice a day. It is a lot if information to absorb but you are building motor skills that require you to develop a feel for what the airplane is doing. The only way to get that feel is in the aircraft. You need to study the procedures for the maneuvers you will be doing BEFORE you show up for the flight, know the procedures cold. Then when you fly, the instructor is not "teaching" you the maneuver but "demonstrating" what you know to expect. You will get much more out of your training program this way. It is all about the hands on and executing the procedures you have already worked on.

    I would plan on completing my PP in December but I would also find a way to squeeze in two flights between now and then so the skills you have don't perish completely. Don't get me wrong you will be rusty but by knocking off a bit of that rust periodically you will retain more than you think.

    I would be remiss if I did not mention the PPL is simply your learners permit. In my OPINION every pilot should have an instrument ticket and Out of Control Flight (OCF) training. Unusual Attitudes on Merrill Field covers a lot of the OCF I think should be covered for your PPL.

    Just my Nickel,
    Drew

    23 yr Naval Aviator
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    Drew,

    I agree with you when it comes to pre-screened military flight school candidates who have been chosen through a rigorous selection process to become military pilots. For some people however, who undertake civilian flight training, going too fast leads to confusion and repeated mistakes because the physical input comes too fast for assimilation and the result is wasted time and money.

    Your advice to Pam regarding taking a couple of flights between now and December is good advice. But with her 21 hours and flying 2 or 3 times a week she is still unable to land with reasonable consistency, something needs to change. Practice does help for sure, but each session needs time to sink in regardless of flight instruction frequency. With military flight training, the sink-in time might be really quick, being as they are pretty much immersed in flight training along with equally talented fellow students.

    Pam, In spite of the fact that you really like your instructor, it might be helpful to take a couple of lessons with a different instructor. He/she might notice something that your regular instructor hasn't noticed.

    Years ago I picked up a student who was having a hard time making consistent approaches. His previous instructor had emphasized watching for traffic at this uncontrolled airport. I noticed that he was constantly moving his head around looking for other aircraft when we were on final. I came to the realization that he was not holding a spot on the approach end of the runway on the windshield. When I suggested that he keep his head still and focus on the approach and on holding his intended touchdown spot in the same place on the windshield all the way down to roundout, the improvement was dramatic.

    Anyway regardless, Pam, you'll get there and just as Drew said, a PPL is a license to learn.


    Jay

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    Pam,
    Taking a lesson once a week is fine, lots of people do that. Ideal is two to three a week. But in Alaska in winter well that is subject to a discussion of its self. I did the once a week lesson for my private pilot certificate. The main thing you get a long with your flight instructor, he will understand. Once you get the right visual references on you landings it will come and you will be doing them like it was old hat. I tell my students when they are having trouble with landings look more off to the side than over the nose. I been teaching this stuff and flying now for 35 years. You will get in the zone when you get in the zone, you will be ready when you are ready, I think you might be having some pre solo jitters, this between your ears. I know when I was getting close, I kept telling myself how crappy I am doing, and the way out is not thing about soloing at all, let it come as a big surprise one day. Your main thing now is Grad School that comes first.

    George
    ATP/ CFI fixed and rotor wing.

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    Hey Pam,

    Every good landing begins with a good approach. That means when you're back there on the downwind and select the spot (not the area but the SPOT) where you want the mains to touch the ground. I'm surprised that none of these instructors have mentioned that yet.

    20,000 hrs with 18,600 AK time.

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    Well all of the high timers have chimed in and I'm sure that there is, as with anything, various opinions. I'm a new pilot so you can take this with a grain of salt. You are close and if you stop till december you will lose much of your progress. Stick with the once a week and just keep after it. I have read and been told that many students that take a break for what ever reason, stop. Things may be a little discouraging but stick with it no matter what!!! It may not seem like it, but with the stresses of school work you will come to enjoy the weekly break of flying because you will forget about everything else for that one hour. Even if you feel it's stress, it's a different kind. Monguse's suggestion about another instructor for a couple of lessons is a great idea and dont be afaid to tell or offend your instructor. If for some reason he is offended then he shouldn't be your instructor in the first place. Many schools have several different instructors, does yours? Ask for a couple of lessons with the cheif instructor. If he is a one man show ask him to recommend someone he trusts. The bottom line is that you are close and one lesson it will just click, keep going and keep the shiny side up....and don't for get to keep wearing a shirt with long tails.

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    [QUOTE=Monguse;803372]
    Pam, In spite of the fact that you really like your instructor, it might be helpful to take a couple of lessons with a different instructor. He/she might notice something that your regular instructor hasn't noticed.

    This instructor is a new one. I had to change instructors when school started because my availability changed. I have learned quite a bit in the few times we have been aloft.

    Drew, I plan on continuing the flying lessons as far as a sportsman (sportswoman) needs ie: VFR, IFR, Tail Wheel, Float, Mountain. I wasn't aware of OCF training. I will investigate this at Merrill. Is this something one does while getting a PPL or can it be done anytime?

    I can see the merits of both opinions and BH hit the nail on the head, grad school is the most important. If time spent flying is hurting my studies...that's a no brainer...quit.

    All of your opinions are great and I will consider them while making up my mind. There is one other person I need to talk to, my flight instructor. I think he has a vested interest in this, too!

  10. #10
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    Pam,
    My intent here is not to discount Jay’s recommendations. His opinion is every bit as valid as mine. He has a ton of aviation experience to draw from and has made a living in the civilian aviation industry. He is a very credible source of information. My opinion is just a little different.

    The OCF training should be completed after you get your PPL. You may even want to get you inst ticket first but in my OPINION you should get OCF training. This year was a tough year for Alaska aviation. I can think of a few of those fatalities, which I believe were caused by a cross control stall. In the “Mistakes we living pilots have made” thread there are two stories about cross control stalls by Float Pilot and Goosepilot. They are worth a read.

    If you will forgive me I am going to make a few assumptions to demonstrate a point. I will assume while in school you for the most part you did all of the required reading and homework prior to attending the next day’s class. I am speculating that at some point when you were getting your BA or BS you went to class and had not completed all of the assigned homework. Think back to those classes. Which one did you get the most out of? It is the same for aviation.

    If you are having difficulties in the landing pattern then go to the store and buy some sidewalk chalk. Draw a runway in you driveway or on a sidewalk make it about 6-8 feet in length. Then pretend you are in the airplane.
    Step onto the downwind numbers and say out loud your radio call, take off procedures (power setting, rotation speed, flap speed etc).
    Walk up the runway to the upwind end and say your crosswind turn altitude, airspeed, AOB, pitch, ball etc…
    Step to your downwind turn point and say altitude, AOB, pitch, power setting, and airspeed … on downwind complete your landing checklist and make your radio call. Talk about your visual references – where do you expect to see the runway as related to the wing or strut?
    Move to your base turn point talk through your procedures, what you are expecting to see as far as sink rate, airspeed, power setting, what is your intended point of landing?
    Move to the base leg and do the same thing, move to final and say all of your procedures, talk about your intended point of landing and where you expect to see it, if it is high what do you do, if it is low what do you do, what if you have to go around? Cover everything you would have to do in the landing pattern. This is pilot homework. And if you do it you will see huge rewards when you get in the airplane. The big advantage to this is the cost. If you can’t afford sidewalk chalk send me a PM and I will swipe a few sticks from my kids.

    Also don’t be afraid of flying in the winter here it is absolutely beautiful.

    There is some validity to the point Jay made about the pre-screened military pilot. The prescreen process is for a lot more than aviation aptitude. I was one of those knuckleheads, and I taught hundreds more. Some of them are very adept and pick it up quick, most have to work at it, and some get cut from the program. I had to work hard. I still work hard at knowing my procedures. I am no smarter than the average Joe (ask my wife). However, you are not in the same training program they are in because you will not be pointed at the back of a ship in a year and a half. In a year and a half I expect your biggest dilemma will be how long should you stay on skis?

    Just my Nickel,
    Drew
    Normal people believe that if something ain't broke, don't fix it. Engineers believe that if it ain't broke, it doesn't have enough features yet.

    Scott Adams

  11. #11

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    Pam
    I just got my ticket 4 years ago so some of my memory's are a little fresher than the old hands here. I also took a long time to solo and as I look back I blame it squarely on my first instructor. I had yet to solo and he had me spending 1.5-2.0 hrs tracking VOR radials[with him along and getting paid, of course.] I mean really just teach me to land the plane, I can figure out VOR's on my own. I got very fortunate with my next instructor-he actually was not taking on students but was the head of 135 ops and took me on only because of a mutual friend. At 30,000 hrs he certainly was not time building at my expense. What a surprise after 2 hrs with him I soloed. If I was in you're situation I would fly once a week but pattern work only. You can't learn to land spending 1 hr to and back from the practice area to do high bank turns.
    Waiting for Jay to correct my spelling and grammar3,2,1...

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    Drew,
    The chalk idea is great, at least until it snows. I have been studying and practicing chair flying all along and I'm doing alright in the traffic pattern. I'm consistently hitting my marks going into crosswind and final. My glide path is fairly consistent. The difficulty is with the round out, flare, touchdown, and worst of all controlling the blasted plane once I'm on the ground. I'm all over the bloody runway! I'm sure everyone on the ground at Birchwood either has a good laugh or a good scare, "Watch out everyone, here she comes...again!"

    Jim,
    I think all your grammar and spelling was OK. I got a chuckle at Jay's correction. You see, I was an English teacher! Talk about irony.
    My aeroclub has several instructors and they are all great. I think I just need practice,, practice,,practice. My current instructor took me around the traffic pattern with touch-and-gos over and over. He called it, "Shooting the hoops." I began to get the feel for it. My overriding problem is that school has started at UAA and my time is pinched. If I don't fly again until December, will I LOSE all that I've learned so far or worse yet never return like tboehm said will often happen. The thought of not flying makes my heart sink and my stomach ache. I live near Fire Lake and every time I see one of those beauties come in, I want to cry when I think about not flying at least once a week. It's just a decision I have to make.

    You guys are great. Thanks so much. When I do solo, I'll post it!
    Pam

  13. #13

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    Keep flying! Once the landings start to click you will feel great. Just remember to keep flying the plane to the ground.

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    I am in the latter half of my PP training. I am in the "take as many lessons as you can stand/afford in the shortest period of time" crowd. Flying is a physical skill as well as a mental skill. You need to build the muscle memory and the best way to do it is regular practice. I would say fly when you can until Dec, then hit it hard (not the landings

    My experience is that landings are the hardest part, followed by trying to remember all the FAA regs and weather stuff.

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    Ok, I am not one of the high time pilots on this forum. as a a matter of fact I am very low time (150 hrs). The reason I'm chiming in here is that it took me 13 years from my first flight lesson until my PPL check ride. I just finished my instrument rating two months ago and that took me just over a year to complete, start to finish. So all this being said I would recommend flying once a week. It may not be optimal, but if you quit now sure as shoot'n something is going to come up in Dec that will keep you from doing the exelerated training. At least this way you will still keep your head in the game and the goal in focus. If your studies begin to suffer drop back to once every 10 days, the key to this is that you may have to slow up a bit but don't stop, It's the the steady pace that wins the race. Take it from me, I started to think just like you did and it took me a whole lot longer, and I spent several more wheel barrows full of money than if I had just kept a steady pace (even if it was slower than I would have liked) instead of starting and stopping.
    At sea, it's force not reason that confers sovereign rights

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    What kind of plane are you flying for your lessons?

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    I'm flying a Cessna 172, fuel injected so no carb heat. There is one in our fleet that does have a carburetor, but I've only flown her once. Come to think of it, she's the one that ended wrong side up on the glacier. They have her in pieces in the hangar and are putting her back together.

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    Pam,

    I haven't read all the replies but remember we have the Medallion foundation here. It's on Lake Otis not to far from school. It's free. I haven't tried it yet but want to. If you did decide to go on hold you may be able to go there a lot to train some.

    Just a thght.

    Seems like flying once a week wld give ya plenty of time to think about it and learn it pretty good.

    Best of Luck.

    Rick

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    That's a thought Rick. I am a member of the Medallion and have been there once. I think I've decided to go ahead with the once a week lesson. What guns said made a lot of sense to me... I might end up spending more money by waiting than if I just plod along. I could run into to Medallion Foundation for a quick run through the landing after classes. Thanks for the thought.
    PAm

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    Sorry it's been so long since I read your original post and you had it right there. Good for you and glad to hear that you have decided to stick with it.

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