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Problem with CFI, need help, please.

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Problem with CFI, need help, please.

Old 30th Mar 2024, 16:50
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Problem with CFI, need help, please.

Where do I start...

First, I hope this post isn't out of category or otherwise misplaced, but I feel I'm in trouble and need help. I'm a student pilot, 59 hours toward PPL, and I found and joined this forum for the sole purpose of asking for help. (Although it looks like a great place to learn and share, later.) I don't know how else to do this but to try to debrief openly to people who do this every day, and to try to gain insight from your observations and comments. This may be lengthy, let me say that I will be deeply appreciative for any light you guys can shed on this. I want to be a professional at this, and a very safe one.

I am 60 years old, male, passed the third class medical but could easily have breezed through first. I'm very blessed physically, very fit, mentally sharp. I've been memorizing scripts for 20+ years so my memory seems great. I've been studying the Sportys ground school for over a year, and could pass the written, easily. (I score routinely 98-100 on the practice tests) If I have a weakness it's with rapid mental math calculation. (To give you an idea of my approach to things, I've now reenrolled in university and am majoring in mathematics.) I have loved aviation all my life, but with family, career, the time for me to do this was never quite right, but the day finally came, and I began my training ten months ago. I am on my second flight instructor, and I'm trying to figure out if there's a problem with me, or with this process. Or, if perhaps this sort of is the process.

My first 40 hours were with a 23-year-old recent graduate from an aviation university. I felt I couldn't do better than someone with a bachelor's degree in this, and he was a great young man. The problem was however, I did not know this at the time but I was one of his first, if not his first student. ( I feel a little foolish that I never thought to ask. He was with a very established school in this area and I went with their reputation without doing much background into the instructor himself.) After my hours kept adding up and i wasnt soloing, I began to wonder if he was trying to sort of figure out the process with me. I absolutely do not hold that against him, we all have to start somewhere and I even held on a little while to try to help him out. But I began to recognize that there was a maturity mismatch and I simply lost confidence in him. He was having significant difficulty letting go of the yoke and letting me fly the airplane. I also need to add that he is on an ATP track and is building hours. Which again, I dont hold against him, we all are, but after $12,000+ and many flights, I added it up and I think I managed to land the airplane completely without him touching the yoke, twice. I should also add at this point that I have a flight simulator in my house and have been flying Microsoft Flight Sim for I think around 10 years. It's not a Red Bird but it's pretty darn good. So I had a gentle but final conversation with him, and began looking for another instructor.

I began looking for someone older and with more hours. I found someone 10 years older than I am , with 12,000 plus hours, 5,000 of which are as a flight instructor. ATP qualified, flew for United for a while. CFII, very well known, you just don't get more qualified than this guy. We hit it off extremely well, I like him very much, and it was an incredibly pleasant beginning. He assessed my ability very quickly, and the very first time we flew together, I landed the plane by myself nine times. I spent 20 hours with him and was about to solo the same week that the problem occurred. We actually became quite good friends, it seemed. And yet somehow at a certain point, there seemed to begin to be a type of competitiveness between us and It ultimately ended up with us having a disagreement in the air and I put the plane on the ground, and things are at a standstill. The kinds of comments that he made on the way out to the run up sort of made me feel like there was something kind of personal between us and I began to feel uncomfortable. He commented that I was listening to ATIS too much. (admittedly I do like to listen to it several times to make sure I have a good mental picture) I also had learned a practice from the first school I used, where we would lay the tie down chains facing aft on the ramp. It's very orderly and consistent. With this new instructor, he would simply drop the chains where they were, and on this particular flight, in doing my checklist, going around the entire airplane to the side that he had untied, I picked up the chain from where he had dropped it and laid it in place as I normally would on the other side. And I think it irritated him. I also am a big fan of the checklist. I just don't feel like I'm at the place where I have a natural flow and coming from one school to another school, things are different and I just don't feel comfortable being off the checklist yet. And the thing is, they often don't have checklists in the planes at all. I had to come up with my own. It makes me uncomfortable. I don't like it. I know transitioning from the checklist to a sort of "flow" is common, but i just dont feel comfortable with that yet. This guy has basically a million hours and I know has probably more experience that I'm ever going to have time in life left to accumulate, and the man is a freakin legend around here, and I truly like him a great deal as a personal friend, but I'm learning all of this stuff in my Sportys ground school, at the former school (which honestly I now regret leaving, sorely), and just general basic SOP from my time in the military that seems to conflict with what i see him doing. This man who has flown everything but a flying saucer makes me feel extremely uneasy.

There's more. A lot more. But am i just so green that I'm not getting it? I am someone who does complicated and challenging things well. But this whole thing just feels random and disorganized.

Anyway, so here I am, 59 hours, again yet to solo, i think i could land a 150 on a carrier with a good headwind, and yet I think I'm going to have start all over again.

I am completely open to any insights or critiques. I just want to get my wings, man.
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Old 30th Mar 2024, 19:50
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Tough story. Clearly something's gone wrong here. At 60 you aren't going to learn as somebody in their teens or twenties, but 60hrs to solo clearly indicates a problem.

I'm British, but have flown with a bunch of American schools and hold US licences, so can relate somewhat to the differences that go on in America, or anywhere else. Approaches and standards can vary a lot between instructors and schools, and the sheer size of the USA, means that things vary quite a lot.

Firstly there's something of a disconnect between theory and practice in flying: you need to learn and pass the written, but the practicalities are much more important and often have quite different emphasis (not contradictions, just emphasis). Secondly, there isn't a single best way to do things - what you're clearly seeing here is two extremes, and I recognise both of them. The young fellow is doing things "by the book" he learned at his aviation university; the older fellow is doing things in a more practiced and intuitive way that relies upon following a situation and the aeroplane. Both approaches have merit - personally I'm closer to the young chap (despite being closer in age to the older chap) but I've flown with some fantastically capable pilots who followed the intuitive approach.

What I think that you do need to accept in any flying environment, is that having arrived in that place - you must do it their way. Observe it, learn it. Also for each lesson - prepare. Airborne checks, or flow drills - learn them. There will be a recommended book for each school - the last school I flew with in the USA favoured the ASA guides, although left to my own devices I like Rod Machado's online material better, and in reality I used a combination of them - learn the lessons before turning up. This lack of preparation in my experience as an instructor is students' consistent biggest failing.

Another thing can be consistency and time of day. I find that students who leave it more than a week between lessons often forget much of what they learned and basically fail to move forwards, and everybody learns better in the morning than the afternoon.

So, for what it's worth:-

- Book 2 lessons a week, ideally in the mornings.
- Do things EXACTLY as your instructor does it. By all means ask for explanations, but don't contradict them.
- Make sure you've read everything available to prepare for each lesson
- Don't try to manage your own training progress, it's what a CFI is trained to do.

I'd also say, step away from the PC based flight sim. They're pretty good for practicing stuff you already know how to do, but people who start on the sim and teach themselves very often teach themselves very poor habits that take longer to train-out than if they'd never been near the sim in the first place.

G
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Old 30th Mar 2024, 20:04
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I think the problem is with the student! The length of your post says it all, you are obsessed with all the wrong things. If you want to learn to fly an aeroplane just do what the instructor shows you. Now there lies a possible problem, you are in the USA and the method of teaching is totally different to the method we use in the UK and Europe. We teach by building blocks where one exercise leads to the next and progress can be easily seen. The FAA method of teaching is more akin to a combination of coaching and osmosis, if you do something enough times somerthing should sink in. You are being introduced to things that are too advanced for the level you are at. Not everyone can fly an aircraft and it has nothing to do with intelligence. You have reached 59 hours; somebody should have told you something by now. If you keep plodding away you may crack it but will you be a safe pilot.
Get an instructor who you don't know to do an honest assessment, don't bother with his life story or yours, just tell him you have done x-hours, are you wasting your time.
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Old 30th Mar 2024, 20:38
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Originally Posted by Whopity
Get an instructor who you don't know to do an honest assessment, don't bother with his life story or yours, just tell him you have done x-hours, are you wasting your time.
good advice. There’s two independent instructors that havnt sent you solo. There’s likely something underlying and you need someone, perhaps without any “baggage” and impartiality to explain what that is.

don’t think I ever got the ATIS pre solo. If you are working the circuit with an instructor look out the window for the weather. ATC will give you the wind, or any other information if you need it. You aint 150nm away at 35000ft with landing speeds to calculate
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Old 30th Mar 2024, 22:30
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I earned my PPSEL in 1977, trained by a 28,000-hour CFI who became a family friend. I soloed after twelve hours and passed my check ride at forty hours. My wife began her flight training in 2006 at a different place with a different instructor. She loved the experience, but even after nearly twenty hours of dual instruction, she was unable to execute a decent landing. (She did not, however, bend the airframe and she and her instructor always walked away.) Long story short, she abandoned her training. It turned out that she was suffering from undiagnosed Multiple Sclerosis which had robbed her of binocular vision. Without the visual dynamics of convergence and binocular rivalry, she had zero depth perception! Several years later, after a scary episode of facial paralysis, she received the confirmatory diagnosis. So, we thought, that explains everything! We had blamed her CFI for poor instruction when, in fact, her visual dysfunction was at fault.

I certainly don't mean to imply that you have a neurological disorder, LAWings, and I wish you success in your laudable goal to join the Brotherhood of the Sky. Remember: Genius is nothing; Persistence is all. Take a break from Flight Simulator, and when you find an instructor who's a good fit, spend most of your time aloft with your eyes out of the cockpit. After all, that's how the birds do it!

- Ed
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Old 31st Mar 2024, 02:29
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Thank you, all. There's a lot to think about, here.
some added info; we are all instructed to get ATIS. (both schools. I assume it's FAA SOP here.) I train at the busiest GA airport in the world, and we're all required handle comms with ATC, get ATIS, etc. And I flew every day except weekends.

I appreciate the advice. And thank you Ed, I assure you I will not be quitting. It's not something I do.
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Old 31st Mar 2024, 08:03
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So 59 hours and haven't solo'ed. Flying is not a race it's about building experiences and developing judgement and skills. Ease off, do as others have said get an assessment from an independent instructor, not about what's been done but about where you are now and start again. Find a way to manage with your emotional intelligence. Flying is a motor skill coupled with airmanship and situational awareness. It's not a game of egos. Good luck,
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Old 31st Mar 2024, 08:39
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Plenty of airports around the world require anybody to get the ATIS before moving, and nothing wrong with any pilot listening to it several times to make sure that they didn't miss anything. I think that's a complete non issue.

Being at an ultra busy airport might be. I'm guessing Long Beach? Honestly that place would overwhelm anybody.

G
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Old 31st Mar 2024, 12:36
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There can be nothing more destructive to their learning than a student who attempts to direct the training. They can be impossible to teach effectively with such a battle to first overcome. I doubt that I have ever taught two people the same because people are so very different. The instructor needs to adapt to each students learning skills by discovery however, and this is my point, it is as important for the student to know how to learn too. Learning requires as much a level of skill and concentration as teaching.

Messing about on flight simulators when unqualified is not a good idea. Concentrate on the elements of the course that you are currently learning. Restrict your reading to relevance and try to resist reading too far ahead. Curiosity can be unhelpful - it killed the cat after all. We each have a personal learning rate and too many lessons a week can be too much and the training can race ahead; slow down perhaps just two a week spread as much as possible.

Your current instructor sounds perfect. Ex professional pilots who have the experience that you describe are gold dust. They are still prepared to climb into a light aircraft with a struggling 60 year old PPL student because they have never lost their love of flying. DON'T waste the opportunity.
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Old 31st Mar 2024, 13:06
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I also am a big fan of the checklist. I just don't feel like I'm at the place where I have a natural flow and coming from one school to another school, things are different and I just don't feel comfortable being off the checklist yet. And the thing is, they often don't have checklists in the planes at all. I had to come up with my own. It makes me uncomfortable. I don't like it. I know transitioning from the checklist to a sort of "flow" is common, but i just dont feel comfortable with that yet.
I'm a bit surprised by this - no checklists?
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Old 31st Mar 2024, 13:13
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Originally Posted by LAWings
I began looking for someone older and with more hours. I found someone 10 years older than I am , with 12,000 plus hours, 5,000 of which are as a flight instructor. ATP qualified, flew for United for a while. CFII, very well known, you just don't get more qualified than this guy. We hit it off extremely well, I like him very much, and it was an incredibly pleasant beginning. He assessed my ability very quickly, and the very first time we flew together, I landed the plane by myself nine times. I spent 20 hours with him and was about to solo the same week that the problem occurred.
I picked this part out of your very long post. Exactly what were you doing in all the flights betweeen the first one with nine landings and accumulating 20 hours with this instructor?










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Old 31st Mar 2024, 14:44
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Originally Posted by SWBKCB
I'm a bit surprised by this - no checklists?
No sir, not always. When there was one, I would sometimes find it wadded up under a seat. And sometimes it's not, or at least doesn't seem to be, for the specific airplane bein flown. In fact, I brought a copy from my original school with me (personal copy printed from pdf. The ones at the school were laminated and remained with each aircraft.), and he said "Wow that's pretty nice. You can use that one."
I was for a C172S G1000. The plane we were flying was a C172R.
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Old 31st Mar 2024, 17:58
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Originally Posted by LAWings
No sir, not always. When there was one, I would sometimes find it wadded up under a seat. And sometimes it's not, or at least doesn't seem to be, for the specific airplane bein flown. In fact, I brought a copy from my original school with me (personal copy printed from pdf. The ones at the school were laminated and remained with each aircraft.), and he said "Wow that's pretty nice. You can use that one."
I was for a C172S G1000. The plane we were flying was a C172R.
Have you read the ACS? Has your instuctor read the ACS? You will not pass an FAA check ride without conspicuous use of a written checklist.

ref https://www.faa.gov/sites/faa.gov/fi...s_change_1.pdf

There is no issue with using flows to configure the aircraft but if you don't follow up with a checklist you will fail. Of course you don't refer to a checklist if the instructor asks you to climb, descend, speed up, slow down, but you do need to for pre-flight inspection, before start, after start, before takeoff, after takeoff. before landing, before shutdown, after shutdown, and for emergencies. With experience in a non-complex aircraft almost all of these can be handled by mnemonics and/or flows but that will not work for an FAA checkride.

Edit to add -

There is a big difference between teaching someone to fly competently and teaching someone to pass a checkride. Some instructors are good at one and some good at the other. You need an instructor who is good at both.
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Old 1st Apr 2024, 19:47
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Originally Posted by EXDAC
I picked this part out of your very long post. Exactly what were you doing in all the flights betweeen the first one with nine landings and accumulating 20 hours with this instructor?
He asked me to demonstrate the skills and procedures that i had learned at the previous school: takeoff, Vy climbout, pattern work, radio work with ATC (not my most comfortable skill, admittedly), pwr on/pwr off stalls, slow flight, steep turns, turns around a point, S turns, all of which he said "You certainly have no problems with your skills. I'm satisfied you can solo soon." And then we worked on a ton of touch and gos, night landings, crosswind landings, and I'm sure I'm leaving something out. A day or maybe two before the breakdown, he told me "You know you're going to make a good pilot, right?" It was a big day for me. This man is someone I respect, and not anyone to blow sunshine up your ass. I said "Yessir, I do know, but my opinion doesn't much matter. But your saying it means a great deal."

A day or two later the wheels fell off.

And listen... I'm sorry if my post is longer than some would have preferred. I'm trying to describe a potentially dangerous sitiation with details and also trying to describe as much as I can from his perspective also. Plus... every single person on this forum, and at my flight school, including the receptionist, knows more about flying than I do. I'm asking for help.

I didn't feel it was exactly fair to just come on here and say "Hey I've got this CFI who's an asshole. What should I do about it?" Because that's not any information at all.

I came of my own volition into a room full of CFIs who do this for a living, because I really want to diagnose and deal with this accurately, whether it's me, him, or both. I'm going to be a CFI or a CFII in about a year so I want to deal with it the best I can. And someday I may run into a student who's going to need help with something similar.
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Old 1st Apr 2024, 20:01
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Originally Posted by EXDAC
Have you read the ACS? Has your instuctor read the ACS? You will not pass an FAA check ride without conspicuous use of a written checklist.

ref

(removed link)

There is no issue with using flows to configure the aircraft but if you don't follow up with a checklist you will fail. Of course you don't refer to a checklist if the instructor asks you to climb, descend, speed up, slow down, but you do need to for pre-flight inspection, before start, after start, before takeoff, after takeoff. before landing, before shutdown, after shutdown, and for emergencies. With experience in a non-complex aircraft almost all of these can be handled by mnemonics and/or flows but that will not work for an FAA checkride.

Edit to add -

There is a big difference between teaching someone to fly competently and teaching someone to pass a checkride. Some instructors are good at one and some good at the other. You need an instructor who is good at both.
Yes sir, I have read the ACS, which is precisely why I am asking all of these questions.

The thing is, sure, I want to pass my checkride, but I am going to have my family in the plane with me at some point, and eventually, students and the paying public in some form. I also hope to do search and rescue with CAP. I have absolutely zero interest in learning bare minimums.
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Old 1st Apr 2024, 20:15
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Originally Posted by Fl1ingfrog
There can be nothing more destructive to their learning than a student who attempts to direct the training. They can be impossible to teach effectively with such a battle to first overcome. I doubt that I have ever taught two people the same because people are so very different. The instructor needs to adapt to each students learning skills by discovery however, and this is my point, it is as important for the student to know how to learn too. Learning requires as much a level of skill and concentration as teaching.

Messing about on flight simulators when unqualified is not a good idea. Concentrate on the elements of the course that you are currently learning. Restrict your reading to relevance and try to resist reading too far ahead. Curiosity can be unhelpful - it killed the cat after all. We each have a personal learning rate and too many lessons a week can be too much and the training can race ahead; slow down perhaps just two a week spread as much as possible.

Your current instructor sounds perfect. Ex professional pilots who have the experience that you describe are gold dust. They are still prepared to climb into a light aircraft with a struggling 60 year old PPL student because they have never lost their love of flying. DON'T waste the opportunity.
I think you may have just nailed it. Thank you.

I'm older than most students, and in my world, I am in charge in pretty much every respect. I spend all day solving problems and negotiating.

I have a really, really, hard time turning it off.

Okay. I feel like I may have at least a little bit of a direction to go, now.

Man, 60 years old and still learning humility. Lord, help me.
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Old 1st Apr 2024, 21:01
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/*
The problem was however, I did not know this at the time but I was one of his first, if not his first student. ( I feel a little foolish that I never thought to ask. He was with a very established school in this area and I went with their reputation without doing much background into the instructor himself.)
*/

I disagree that was the problem.
Every school has a Syllabus prescribed by the authority and instructor's job is to follow it and transfer the knowledge to the student. Solo standard for majority students is achieved around 15hours.

/*
After my hours kept adding up and i wasnt soloing,
*/

This is school's problem for not offering either another instructor, or advising that they cannot teach you.


/*
I began to wonder if he was trying to sort of figure out the process with me.
*/

Even experienced million hours instructor clearly struggled to figure out the process with you. Nothing wrong with young pilots wanting to progress to airlines.

Same as with University or any other educational institution, their job is to teach you, your job is to study and learn.
​​​​​
Lot's of things in aviation is about personal attitude, which I believe you have to work on.
​​​​​
​​​​
​​​​​
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Old 1st Apr 2024, 21:29
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Originally Posted by Bosi72
/*
The problem was however, I did not know this at the time but I was one of his first, if not his first student. ( I feel a little foolish that I never thought to ask. He was with a very established school in this area and I went with their reputation without doing much background into the instructor himself.)
*/

I disagree that was the problem.
Every school has a Syllabus prescribed by the authority and instructor's job is to follow it and transfer the knowledge to the student. Solo standard for majority students is achieved around 15hours.

/*
After my hours kept adding up and i wasnt soloing,
*/

This is school's problem for not offering either another instructor, or advising that they cannot teach you.


/*
I began to wonder if he was trying to sort of figure out the process with me.
*/

Even experienced million hours instructor clearly struggled to figure out the process with you. Nothing wrong with young pilots wanting to progress to airlines.

Same as with University or any other educational institution, their job is to teach you, your job is to study and learn.
​​​​​
Lot's of things in aviation is about personal attitude, which I believe you have to work on.
​​​​​
​​​​
​​​​​
Yep. It sure seems so.

Others have suggested i start afresh with a new instructor, put myself in his hands completely. Is that your advice, also?
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Old 1st Apr 2024, 21:34
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Originally Posted by LAWings
He asked me to demonstrate the skills and procedures that i had learned at the previous school: takeoff, Vy climbout, pattern work, radio work with ATC (not my most comfortable skill, admittedly), pwr on/pwr off stalls, slow flight, steep turns, turns around a point, S turns, all of which he said "You certainly have no problems with your skills. I'm satisfied you can solo soon." And then we worked on a ton of touch and gos, night landings, crosswind landings, and I'm sure I'm leaving something out. A day or maybe two before the breakdown, he told me "You know you're going to make a good pilot, right?" It was a big day for me. This man is someone I respect, and not anyone to blow sunshine up your ass. I said "Yessir, I do know, but my opinion doesn't much matter. But your saying it means a great deal."
Sorry, but I still do not understand why you spent 20 hours demonstrating your skills to his satisfaction but he did not solo you. You must be missing something out.

Your idea that you will be a CFII in a year but have about 60 hours of instruction and not gone solo yet may be quite informative.
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Old 1st Apr 2024, 23:05
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Originally Posted by EXDAC
Sorry, but I still do not understand why you spent 20 hours demonstrating your skills to his satisfaction but he did not solo you. You must be missing something out.

Your idea that you will be a CFII in a year but have about 60 hours of instruction and not gone solo yet may be quite informative.
Yes, it is. Thank you for your honest appraisal.
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