View Full Version : Student afraid of solo x/c
3rd Jun 2001, 05:20
I have a student whose flying is good, and who has soloed 3 or 4 times. He is a great student and reads alot on his own and is very proactive and cautious and conservative. The problem is he's afraid to do his solo x/c even though we've done it dual 4 times. He seems to have a phobia and I do not know how to get him past it. Any advice?
3rd Jun 2001, 07:00
How about build the confidence with a number of short, simple routes that don't take him too far afield (to start with)?
Take him out and work on Emergency Procedures for an entire lesson... I think I felt more comfortable during my training after knowing how the a/c handled during a glide. Go someplace away from the airport and do some engine outs - it might help boost his confidence with the side benefit of keeping your own EP training current...
(Just my $.02)
[This message has been edited by Plap (edited 03 June 2001).]
[This message has been edited by Plap (edited 03 June 2001).]
Wee Weasley Welshman
3rd Jun 2001, 14:29
Done a real practice pan have you with radar vectors home? Ususally alays worst fears about being lost.
Sometimes you just have to get out the a/c and tell them to damn well get on and get it over with. The usual caveats apply.
3rd Jun 2001, 14:42
Is it normal where you are (MA = Massachussetts?) to send people solo XC with only "3 or 4" solo flights under their belts? In NZ we don't even take them out of the training area until they have about 30 hours total, by which time they have about ten solo flights.
Maybe the student is being a little on the "too cautious" side of things and a discussion on aceptable risk is appropriate.
eg. "If we wanted to be perfectly safe we wouldn't even get out of bed, and certainly wouldn't drive to an airport, but when we got there we would know we were in safe hands.
The engineers, ATC, and us, your instructors, all have your best interests at heart and we desperately want you to be OK when you fly, and for nothing unusual to happen. Considering this, and your abilities as a pilot, I am happy to let you go and find XXXXXXX (and name a point just outside the normal training area, maybe another 5nm away). Count the number of houses with red roofs (rooves?) and come back and tell me how many there are.
Oh, and do the nav log while you are on the way there and back, hold your heading and you'll find it works quite well. Then we'll have a chat and see what you want to do for the next one."
I personally agree with showing him that he can do the navigation, he already has been, and that you are quite happy sending him off in your aircraft (a white lie doesn't hurt now and again). What I would probably do is talk to my boss first and say this is the situation, this is what I think I should say, any comments.
What you may have to do is identify exactly what it is he is scared of. It sounds like it may come down to 'I don't know if I can cope if...', in which case the solution presents itself. I remember being absolutely terrified of low flying (below 400') to the point where I couldn't even read the ASI. I knew I was scared but couldn't do anything about it until my instructor took over, asked me what I was scared of and I said if the engine stops that's all our power gone. So what? she said, what would you do then. I pointed to a huge paddock and said I'd land there. Would we make it from here, she asked and I said I don't know, so she demo'd an engine failure and down we went and she said well the plane will, do you think you can. I dunno! I said, I can't even fly this low let alone lower. So she took me back to the exact same spot and pulled the power and I flew it down to about 100' (that was the old days) and she said well there we are then aren't we. Thanks Paula.
Anyway the point is if you show him it can be done, he either has to stop flying (which doesn't sound likely) or you have convinced him that he can do it. So be nice but firm, and tell him to do the navigation and the place will appear in front of him, he can fill in the nav log, have a look at the place and confirm it is where he thinks it is, then come back navigating the same way and that's it. You don't want him to get place-specific skills though, because they're not actually skills just recognising places. The skill is time-speed-distance and holding the heading, and once that is in place then everywhere is flyable.
That's my two cents worth anyway.
Confident, cocky, lazy, dead.
3rd Jun 2001, 17:38
Well, I'm not an instructor (yet), but I have been a student, and a scared one.
You need to find out exactly what he's frightened of. A cross country involves so many things, from navigation, to talking on the radio, to coping with procedures at the other end (if it's a landaway) to dealing with weather, to being ready for emergencies. He may not be sure himself, in which case he has some work to do, while on the ground, to identify the problem. He may know but be afraid to tell you; for instance he may be convinced he's the only person ever in the history of aviation to be terrified of talking on the radio. Whatever the problem is, you can both deal with it when you know what it is, but possibly not till then. And he needs to know that too.
To fly is human, to hover, divine.
I agree with chicken6. I fly in Oz and we do 15 hours + solo in the training area before navigation training. I also agree, find out what he/she is scared off. I had one student, who owned the aircraft. Well, this aircraft behaved perfectly inside the training area. As soon as he flew it outside, it mucked up, so he returns. He did that 7 times. We found out he was afraid of the empty seat next to him. So we gave him a big Teddy Bear, and hey presto, the aircraft behaved and he completed his solo navs. He now flys quite happily with humans in the right seat.
4th Jun 2001, 12:15
i fly in oz too, we put a blow up dick smith in with our blokes.
with a small piece of advice.
if he can do it so can you
your too high,your too low, your too fast your too slow
4th Jun 2001, 13:48
It's just a thought, but on the dual cross countries have you helped him out a bit? Or maybe prompted him to hold his heading or altitude, or made other small suggestions to help?
Of course, with the average student this is the norm, and is taken the right way - ie as instruction.
Perhaps, with your student, it might be worth doing a cross-country where you just go along as 'passenger'. No review of his flight planning, no suggestions, no help with the radio, no help if he gets lost etc - to show him he can do it by himself, even if he makes mistakes, which of course he will.
You can put on a good 'show' of just enjoying the scenery and being bored!
imabell, aren't the students afraid of the dummy taking over ?
Fast Jet Wannabe
4th Jun 2001, 22:07
I was petrified of my solo cross country. I can't even drive, so the thought of taking this plane 250 miles and landing twice was very, very worrying.
To make matters (a lot) worse, when I phoned the airport I was due to stop at first, they told me they were closed because an aircraft had just crashed there. You can imagine how I felt...
Still, my instructor knew I could do it, so we waited for the runway to re-open and I went for it. To be honest if it had been left to me I probably wouldn't have done it. But I did, and soon after take-off, after being switched from Prestwick to a friendly Glasgow controller, and permitted the route I wanted etc, I realised that I can do this!
Send him, don't take any crap. YOU know he can do it, and YOU are the instructor. My instructor who is normally a passive laid back guy just made me go for it. And although I was cursing him, I thanked him in the end!
I had about 6 hours solo, and a total of around 35 hours.
Pack him off with a bottle of water and a couple of chocolate bars (because it is a long way!) and as long as you think he'll be fine, he will. Make him.
Now before anyone starts! I know everyone is different, but I'm just saying what worked for me.
5th Jun 2001, 00:45
Just out of interest, where were your land-away airports on that day you describe?
Fast Jet Wannabe
5th Jun 2001, 02:38
The route originally was Prestwick - Cumbernauld - Perth - Prestwick.
However, after hearing of the crash (minor - no injuries, but airport closed), I flew PIK - Perth - Cumbernauld - PIK. This was in order to give the guys at CBN time to clear up...
Also out of interest, why?
5th Jun 2001, 15:37
I just wondered if the incident you described was on the same day as my QXC, as a similar incident occurred to me, and your home airfield would put your potential land-away a/f's within range of one of mine. But as it turns out it wasn't the same incident. Was a long shot anyway,
5th Jun 2001, 21:31
As a PPL of less than a week's standing, I am of course superbly qualified to comment on this -- and all -- matters aviational.
Much as it pains me, I agree with Gerund. I too was petrified of my QXC; much more so than the Skills Test. Why? Because on all my dual trips, I knew I had been helped in one way or another, whether I had asked to be or not. I simply did not believe I could do it alone.
I was sent off on a quite long "rehearsal", over unknown territory. Had to force myself into the aircraft and quaked off into the sunrise. Got horribly lost, or so I thought. (Was in fact only a few degrees out...) But ended up calling a friendly MATZ controller for a QDM. She gave me a QTE, which I actually started to follow, before the "'Ang On..??" mechanism cut in. We sorted it out between us.
Moral: It proved to me that I COULD cope, even in the face of my worst fear.
I would guess that getting lost is most students' biggest bugaboo.
My instructor behaved as if he had no doubt at all in my ability. That helped. But it would have helped more if, as Gerry suggests, previous incumbents had just sat there with buttoned lips, and let me generate a bit of confidence for myself.
Good luck to you and your student. First Solo, schmolo! Getting the ticket makes it all worth it.
6th Jun 2001, 01:51
Somone pointed out to me once that aeroplanes don't know how far from home they are, and fly just as well whether it's two miles or 2000. Sounds obvious, but it helped!
To fly is human, to hover, divine.
little red train
6th Jun 2001, 02:57
Have you tried a little X/C, straight out to 1 point, straight back, basically a leave the pattern exercise. or "falling asleep" ie left eye shut, a slightly more obvious 'your on your own and okay' demonstration, just a thought.
7th Jun 2001, 04:13
the dummy actually got the top job.
dick,head of c.a.s.a.
7th Jun 2001, 07:03
You might try flying the solo X-Cntry route with him/her a few days before the actual event. It's been my experience that students are a bit more relaxed if the first solo X-Cntry is a rehash of a route they've seen before.
[This message has been edited by Low_and_Slow (edited 07 June 2001).]
7th Jun 2001, 09:08
little red train,
The "falling asleep" trick takes me back to my own PPL XC training. The instructor, a rather wonderful old greybeard (well, to a youngster it seemed thus - he would have been early 40s), faced with a student with too much overconfidence (me) brought me down a peg with the following trick .... in a 172, if my memory serves me correctly, reading his paper intently, dropped a pen .... in picking it up ... of course ... turned the fuel tap off.
As I recall, the student's overconfidence evaporated for just a second or two when the noise stopped ....
Up & Away
10th Jun 2001, 00:09
Situation way back as Commercial Helicopter Instructor. Night rating requirments to include dual and solo crosscountry. The CAA considered the solo requirment to be 'too dangerous' to let such low time students go solo (flying over the south of England). The compromise was the have us as instructors sit, with his arms folded, silent, doing nothing (except breathing) there for engine failure etc only. The student had to 'do it all himself' this was logged as P1(s). Each student said on return how good it was to take their first 'passenger' for a flight.
Why not try going along and promising Not to do / say anything unless its a Real Emergency.