5 COMMON STUDENT PILOT “MISTAKES”

Acknowledgements: JC Mayerle (Sporty’s “Student Pilot News”)

(Ed. Note: Some tips below from JC Mayerle at Sporty’s for those at the start of their quest to conquer gravity!)

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1.    Under-utilising at-home study and being under prepared for the lessons
Learning to fly is almost like a full-time job. It requires a lot of study outside the airplane. One of the mistakes we see students making is coming to the lesson under-prepared.

The last time you thought about flying should never be the last time you met with your instructor. You’ll end up taking more time re-learning the material than you’ll spend making progress toward your goals.

I highly recommend going over the lesson once you get home for 20 to 30 minutes at least. Your brain has time to unwind after the lesson on your drive home; then, if you peek back into the material for half an hour, it does wonders for your memory.

Don’t waste money and time by forgetting the lessons and covering the same topics over and over. Just use your own time wisely, and you and your instructor will be happy you did.
       
2.    The iron grip and over controlling
When you first get in the airplane and take the controls it’s difficult to manage everything that’s happening around you. There’s more gauges, more controls and more room for error than probably any other vehicle you’ve controlled.

When I was a student, I had a terrible time with over corrections. I’d lose 100 feet of altitude and suddenly find myself climbing 500 feet per minute. Or I’d get lined up with the runway and drift a little left, only to over correct to the right.

So, let’s not forget one of the causes of this issue, the iron grip on the yoke. My instructor put it plain and simple for me, “The airplane wants to fly, just let it be and relax.” After all, when you think about it, you’re just there to keep things running smoothly. Flying is about grace and finesse. I promise that if you relax, your flying will improve.

3.    Not having a mentor.
There are a lot of barriers to entry when it comes to getting a pilot’s licence, but most can be overcome with the help of a mentor. The first time you get to the airport can be daunting enough.

Engage someone who can show you the ropes. You should never feel unwelcome. It’s a friendly atmosphere when you get to know the pilots. The more you get involved with aviation, the more questions you’ll have. Choosing the right mentor can help for years to come.

4.    Buying a cheap starter headset
The most often used item when you begin your flight training is a headset. You’re going to quickly find what details and features matter.

I’d warn against the bargain bin used headset to save a few extra dollars. Too often we see students opt for something cheap (not the same as inexpensive!) only to upgrade to a higher quality headset a short time later.

Think of the headset as an investment in your flying career and, most importantly, your hearing. If you plan on flying with this headset every time you get in the airplane, it needs to be comfortable and quiet.

Only the higher-end headsets come with active noise reduction technology (ANR), which actively dampens the noise around you so that you don’t hear as much cockpit noise. ANR makes for a more enjoyable flight; it also saves your ears from too much high frequency noise which can damage your eardrums.

Another benefit of a higher quality headset is comfort. Wearing a tight headset with noticeable clamping force for a long cross-country flight is a problem. Your head will be screaming for relief. It’s unpleasant to say the least.

Other features you’ll enjoy are soft leatherette ear seals, adjustable clamping pressure, swivel ear cups, adjustable head pads and thicker ear seals. 

5.    Not flying often enough.
If you can dedicate three lessons per week, you’ll be able to knock this out with the least amount of time and the least amount of money. If you’re only flying once per week, it’s going to take a year to earn your license.

To put it simply, Go! Go! Go! With the right amount of dedication and a little luck from the weather you’ll be certified in only a matter of months. The more often you fly, the better you’ll retain the material.

As a wise older pilot said, “Once you become a student pilot, you’re always a student pilot. You never stop learning.” Here at Sporty’s, we think there’s always a lesson to be learned with pilot training. That’s why we share our stories on Student Pilot News and why we encourage you to share your stories as well.

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FLY SAFE!
Tony Birth