This is going to sound very odd I think. I am ex Navy back seat aircrew and for many years longed to do my PPL. Money issues held me back untill now at the ripe old age of 59 I have started my training at Barton. The problem is after 4 lessons I am finding it all a bit daunting, some bits seem to go in ok but then others just confuse the heck out of me. Landing seems to be a bit of a thorny issue as well. My question is does this seem normal and am I expecting too much at this early stage. After how many lessons do you think an average person should be getting the hang of it?
After 4 lessons you can expect to just be finding your way. Whilst you are bound to have some reasonable understanding of the environment and a capacity for situational awareness, the "stick and rudder" skills will be totally new for you, and you are also finding your way into a captaincy role that won't have been part of your back seat experience.
Plus, it's a sad fact of life that none of us are as young as we were, and when you went through your navy courses you were a lot younger with a youngesters capacity to learn fast.
Best advice I can offer is just don't think in these terms - enjoy the learning process, and work as hard as you need to, but again just treat that as part of the fun. When you get there, you'll get there. Worrying about progress is actually likely to slow you down.
Your prior experience may help you a bit, but not that much so don't expect to be much, if any, faster than any other student in reaching your PPL. Once you have it, then your navy experience is more likely to start being useful as you get into management of the aircraft, planning real flights, and so-on.
And absolutely nobody cracks landings in the first 4 hours. 10-15 to do a consistently survivable landing without your instructor having to intervene is more realistic.
Yes - wot the others said. Don't worry about progress at this stage, just keep looking forward to your next lesson and do the preparation that your instructor asks you to do. It will all sort itself out and as you get the hang of things you will enjoy the learning process more and more.
I am sure when you first Rode a bike it was hard! Then it all clicks into place! I took up skiing late in my life ! Scared myself to bits, thought I would never get the hang of it, was black and blue and then hey presto it clicked. I now ski black runs. It is the same with flying! At first all your concentration is taken up in just holding everything together! One day it will click and then you will not think so much or you will fly thinking about something totally different to flying like the weekend shop while you fly! It's not An age thing I used to race and am not far off your age yet can still set faster lap times than instructors half my age ! So chill out and enjoy yourself as it will all come together.
Location: Quite near 'An aerodrome somewhere in England'
Whoever is trying to teach you landings after only 4 lessons needs soundly kicking!
You must have time to learn the basics first - an error we see so many times is some impatient kid trying to rush new pilots through Effects of Controls, Straight and Level, Climbing and Descending, Medium Turns, Descending 2 and Stalling without having ensured that the new pilot has grasped the essentials.....
At 4 hours I was pretty convinced I'd never be able to take off on my own and handle changing radio to Farnorough let alone getting routing and a basic service.
What hold 75 knots in the climb, tell Fairoaks you are changing station, talk to Farnborough, request a basic service, write down what they are saying and punch some random numbers into the transponder whilst setting QNH? Err, I don't think I'll ever be able to do that.
You get there in the end and what a feeling of achievement when you get that license!
Personally it only took about an hour to learn to fly. It just took around 20 hours of lessons to get to that hour where things started to make some sort of sense.
Last edited by PompeyPaul; 25th May 2012 at 17:00.
You can't do good landings if you have just done a bad circuit. Therefore if you haven't mastered the Attitude/Power/Trim bit and you start the downwind leg at the wrong height, then you'll be in the wrong frame of mind to do a good landing.
Building blocks, falling into place.
You'll be able to land when you are able to land. You may actually learn lots of other stuff before that.
I did a navex to landaway over 200 miles from base and back that afternoon, six months before I did my first solo. That was eyeopening and gave me a great understanding of what I was working towards.
Had my PPL less than a year, am three years behind you in terms of age. Don't worry how long anything is taking, if you are ex back seat you obviously have the marbles to do it; it's just as Beags says though, the age thing goes against you, it's hard to teach and old dog new tricks. Not that we're old of course...
All worth it in the end. Went for a flight last night just for the hell of it, (rare for me, I usually go somewhere) threw it around for half an hour in the glorious sunset and came back with the 'all is well with the world' smile. Stick with it, you'll get there. Enjoy it rather than fret about it.
Scotsonslad take heart I don't think PPL is meant to be easy, after all there's no pause button or 'let's pull over to see what's wrong' at 5,000ft, or even 1,000ft.
Plenty of good advice on here from far more experienced pilots than I so I will empathise with you and hopefully give you a better feeling.
I started learning to fly last year at the tender age of 66 and although I hated to admit it I did find learning far more difficult than I expected.
My 4th hour lesson was straight and level. I could fly S&L without a problem if only the wind would cooperate Set power, attitude, trim, good level flight then a pocket of rising or sinking air would upset that balance and cause frustration.
I have about 29 hours total, something like 55 landings and 30 odd circuits and still have not got to the stage of being allowed to solo. It is frustrating, but I accept that and one day it will come.
Similar to airpolice, my instructor took me off circuits and we went onto the next lessons, PFLs and precautionary landings and my first Nav exercise. I think this was to have a change and take the pressure of circuits but on each flight you the opportunity to do a landing.
Don't sweat on it, enjoy the training and don't be in a rush. If you feel your instructor is rushing you perhaps a change of instructor is needed.
Although Barton is my local field I decided to train at Liverpool with nice big tarmac runways
One day the landings will just klick. It's like that moment when your parent/sibling was supporting the bike for you as you learned to cycle - until one day when you turned around and they weren't propping you anymore. At which point you'd fall over in sheer chock at the fact you were doing it all by yourself.
I've only recently gone solo, and what I have learned through experience and money is,- while you are in the circuit with your instructor and you are constantly doing circuits, you think to yourself, how many circuits have I done now, I should be able to be solo by now.
Wrong................ and wrong way of thinking.
While solo circuit is a huge milestone, you should think to yourself, the flight school will let me go solo when they feel ready not when you the novice or learner pilot think you are ready. So if like me it takes 63 circuits to go solo, so be it.
When I was doing my first solo circuit, I over shot the turn from base to finals, and nearly stalled, luckily I had sufficient training to know how to make the aircraft safe again without stalling.
So think of it, when you do go solo, you are going to probably do about 5 hours (ish) solo circuits before nav and xcountry, when you have to then prepare for more solo work.
Enjoy it all, it doesn't matter how many hours it takes to become a PPL'er, if your doing it for fun, then each and every lesson is a new experience and new more fun. Dont get bogged down on the duration, remember **** all people in this world can ever call themselves a pilot, you are lucky to be able to do that.
I usually find that its swings and roundabouts to be honest.
You get the youngsters mainly who only need to be shown once how to do something and grasp it then get bored when you practise. Then you get normal people who some things click and others don't but practise makes things better.
But then move on to the Nav side of things its the otherway round. The folk that struggled on the handling side come into thier own and the hot sticks struggle to find the largest loch in the UK.
Everyone is different, worrying about your progression is by far the biggest hand brake on your progression that there is. Go flying have a laugh enjoy yourself. If you muck something up have a laugh, call yourself a pillock and do it again.
O and its not uncommon for a first flight trial flight to pull off a reasonable landing getting talked through it. Then a few lessons on not be able to do it with exactly the same patter. Personally I thinks because with a bit of knowledge they are thinking to much and not doing exactly what they are told. So it sounds to me you are a perfectly normal mature PPL student
At the moment it's possible your previous experience is hindering rather than helping - you are distracted by it, right now you need all your attention to simply fly the plane. I'm sure in time it will become exceedingly useful.
And yes, I agree it sounds like they are rushing you. Until you have the control basics fairly sound you won't have the spare attention to deal adequately with where you should be in the circuit and so on.
As others have pointed out, learning in one's 50s is quite different to in one's 20s or 30s.
I'm sure you will be just fine, but it takes more than 4 lessons!
Scotsonlad, welcome to Barton. The field isn't particularly challenging but does repay precise flying in terms of speeds, aiming point and so on. Suddenly it'll all click into place and you're away! An added advantage you'll have is that it's great preparation for landing out. After training at Barton everywhere else looks huge
I know I am probably thinking too hard about it all. Just nice to hear from you experienced chappies that I am probably worried about nothing. I shall just keep on going and make sure I enjoy it all. Thanks again.