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Average hours to first solo

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Average hours to first solo

Old 22nd Feb 2014, 16:46
  #141 (permalink)  
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Piper.classic, like I said in my post it's hard to comment without knowing where he is 'not getting it'. I know of one case twenty years ago, where a chap had 35 hours and hadn't gone solo. Joined another club and soloed the same day. Turned out he had been a victim it was believed of instructor 'hours building'.
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Old 22nd Feb 2014, 17:00
  #142 (permalink)  
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Background in aviation, did 22 years on a variety of aircraft as an Avionics engineer. Learned to fly gliders about 25 years ago, got involved in the club scene, got my silver badge. Went across to the dark side three years ago at age 55 as a curent glider pilot and went solo on my seventh flight in 4.35. Did my skills test in minimum time.

Does that make me a better pilot than someone who takes 30 hours to go solo? Not in the slightest. I'd flown for donkeys years before I went onto powered, was used to being in the air, used to navigating, it was just a glider with a fan on it to me.
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Old 22nd Feb 2014, 17:36
  #143 (permalink)  
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Started gliding when I was 14 and had my first solo after about 50 flights, I would say roughly 6-8 hours. But this was towards the end of the season. On the first day of the next season I witnessed my father crash in a glider, thank god he survived. It took me a long time, and determination, after that and the support of a lot of good instructors to feel at ease in the cockpit again. I remember the first solo after witnessing the crash better than I do my actual first solo.

But I stuck with flying, eventually got my Gliders license, and starting my 737 typerating next month.
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Old 22nd Feb 2014, 17:47
  #144 (permalink)  
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Are you really enjoying the flight training with your current instructor?

If you're not comfortable with the level of learning that you're experiencing with your current instructor, go for an alternative.

I also had a problem with my flight instructor during my flight training. After 12 hours of dual flying, I was ready to go solo, but my instructor resisted to let me go solo. Well, I decided to dump him and go for another instructor who immediately signed me off after one hour of flight with me. Bingo and off I went.

So, do a reality check and figure out what exactly is hampering your progress. If you can't identify the factors that are hindering you from attaining your goal, then you have a serious issue to address.

considering the fact you are paying the bills, the flight training must be reflecting on your needs and it is crucial you determine that the instructor is working with you to achieve your goal.

Good luck.

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Old 22nd Feb 2014, 18:53
  #145 (permalink)  
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Ability, in any case, is quite frankly overrated.

I probably am a fairly reasonable pilot these days, although I most certainly was not when I started learning. The reason I am now pretty good is twofold - one is that I really enjoy aviating, and it's pretty easy to put hours of practice and learning in if you enjoy it. The other reason, is that I put all those hours in.

I'd say the same of several other things in my life - none of the things I've got the greatest satisfaction from, did I ever show any real natural ability at when I started. But, without going into details, there are two other areas of activity where I'm reckoned to be pretty darned good - but both took a quarter of a century of enjoyment-driven effort to get there, as I was pretty bloody mediocre for the first few years.

So basically, it doesn't make a blind bit of difference in the long run whether you take 5 hours or 100 to solo. What makes all the difference is whether you enjoy it enough to spend the next few hundred, and perhaps few thousand hours learning and improving constantly - both in the air and on the ground.

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Old 22nd Feb 2014, 19:19
  #146 (permalink)  
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i would see that slightly different in the fact that there are pilots who are better at it than others we will not all get to the same standard no matter how hard we try because our brains are built differently.
Being built differently there are areas where we will excel and areas where we fall short.
I know with myself my strengths are with the visual side of my brain and I envy those who are so organised.
The main point from a pilots perspective is knowing those limits and flying within them or sadly aviation is a very cruel mistress.
I knew a fairly elderly gentleman who loved being around aviation but knew he would never solo.
He was happy getting his fix twice a month with an instructor so what was wrong with that!
Another took a long time but achieved his PPL and was happy to go round the local area in good VFR but no more. He knew he would never be an instrument pilot battling all weathers on his own! What is wrong with that?
Others of us are a bit crazy and somehow survive
There are pilots who I admire who are far better in an all round way than I will ever be but its about knowing your strengths and weakness in aviation.
Yes strive to improve them and be satisfied with who you are and what aviation give to you.
But can you make a good safe car driver into a formula 1 ACE No but does it really matter ?

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Old 22nd Feb 2014, 19:35
  #147 (permalink)  
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When I started I did it with a flying club. I was pretty driven, and wanted to excel at it. I got stuck at 15 hours, not having gone solo, a combination of very poor instructor, poor training club, weather, and my time. I got very frustrated.

Solution, went out and bought a Chipmunk, got an instructor to teach me, a very good one, linked myself to a CFI, and soloed in 8 hours, passed GFT, spot on 40 hours.

If I had stayed in the club scene, I doubt I would have achieved anywhere near where I am now. I have loved every minute of it, I have also scared myself shitless on occasions, but, think I have learnt from those horrors, and I went out and received more training, and then more training. You never stop learning, and as Pace stated realise your limitations, and then fly safe.
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Old 22nd Feb 2014, 19:36
  #148 (permalink)  
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But I'll bet you could turn most safe drivers into somebody who can get an F1 car around a track fairly well, given enough time. And if you'd got that elderly gent 20 or 30 years earlier?

I didn't say that ability is irrelevant - it's not. But for the vast majority of people, it's very overrated compared to energy, time and enthusiasm.

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Old 22nd Feb 2014, 20:04
  #149 (permalink)  
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Genghis, my own experience mirrors yours UAS wise. Thirty years later I can laugh about it with my QFI. It wasn't funny at the time however and some of my contemporaries have never recovered from being chopped and want nothing to do with reunions etc. I soloed in under 7 hours once that experience was behind me and wished I hadn't been so intimidated as a teenager. C'est la guerre...
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Old 22nd Feb 2014, 20:17
  #150 (permalink)  
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Probably car driver isn't a good example.
skiing maybe Many people enjoy skiing. they trundle down the slopes some happy on gentle green runs, others on reds, others on blacks some off piste.
The majority get a great deal of pleasure skiing within their own limits and are safe. Some go out of those limits and end up as crumpled wrecks in hospital or worse.
They all will not have the aim of being Olympic down hill racing champions.
As an ex fairly successful club car racer back in my 20s involved in Formula Ford, Clubmans and Formula 3 i do not agree you would ever get the average car driver to get anywhere near competitive lap times in a formula 1 car

Main point is enjoy your flying whatever that is! strive to to better yourself but know your limits and stick to those and fly safe

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Old 22nd Feb 2014, 20:23
  #151 (permalink)  
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No, nor for me. It left me feeling poleaxed at the time. However, I managed to stay friends with the organisation and a lot of the people. That did take some effort. I think that the organisation has changed somewhat since and is much more about broader RAF careers and relationships, rather than just create fighter pilots or get rid of them. I think we had about a 90% chop rate my year - not helped by being able to fly Monday to Friday only, and a very large proportion of us being engineering students.

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Old 22nd Feb 2014, 20:39
  #152 (permalink)  
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Ghenghis, You are right the organisation has changed. As the CFI said to me last September:'back then you were being taught to RAF flying training standards'. I met a current student, nice chap, been on the squadron two years, TT 30mins!
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Old 22nd Feb 2014, 22:18
  #153 (permalink)  
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The difference being that most people being taught to RAF training standards aren't trying to pass a degree at the same time, with lectures on all the same days of the week that are available to go flying! I think that my UAS (Southampton) had the highest choprate in the UAS organisation - as we couldn't fly weekends, and about 2/3 of cadets were engineering undergrads. I think they eventually fixed it by moving from Daedalus to BDN, but that was after I'd graduated.

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Old 23rd Feb 2014, 15:17
  #154 (permalink)  
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FWIW, I went solo at 22.5 hours aged 48. I too was getting frustrated, not with the instructor but with myself. I found the whole thing to be far more difficult than I anticipated. I guess I saw it as a failure on my part, especially seeing the young guns going off at 12 or 15 hours.

I finally passed my skill test at 75 hours, the whole process taking five months elapsed. On a positive note I did get the night qualification in 5 hours 5 minutes. But the IR(R) is really a struggle for me, I am already at 15 hours, and I'd not be surprised if I need another 10 or 15 to get to test standard.

The other thing I found was that unlike passing a driving test, once you've got your PPL, there's a whole lot more to learn about before being confident enough to do that 200 escargot and garlic trip to France.

I have just had to accept that the old grey matter ain't as malleable as it once was. That's life I'm afraid.
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Old 25th Feb 2014, 06:21
  #155 (permalink)  

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The student's ability is only a small part in the 'time before going solo' number of hours. Just as influential are:

- Quality of instruction
- Frequency of training hours leading up to solo standard (ie last five hours in one week or 6 months?)
- Cautiousness of instructor
- Dare I say it, but yes, instructor's/club's desire to extract money from student

Some people still believe that pilot A is 'better' than pilot B because he soloed at 6 hours, compared to B's 15. That's just silly. Ok, there will always be the complete no-hoper, but from what I've been told, they're pretty rare.
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Old 25th Feb 2014, 07:09
  #156 (permalink)  
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I think that time to solo is not a significant indicator of eventual pilot ability. It has certainly increased since say 1950, not due to any real change in the aircraft but rather the training environment. Just look at the activity levels at for example, Wellesbourne compared with a large grass field with two or three aircraft clear of controlled airspace.

There are a number of exercises that the student must complete before a skills test, and should compete before solo. I don't think it is realistic to expect the student to be solo even in benign conditions unless they can safely and with some spare mental capacity fly all the manouvres needed for a circuit, be able to recognise and recover from a clean stall and the approach to a stall in the approach configuration (recovery at the stall warner with minimum height loss) cope with a simulated engine failure at any stage of the circuit and execute a go around on their own initiative in the case of a balked or bounced landing.

They should also be able to divert to a nearby airport if flying from a single runway airfield, be moderately competent on the radio unless flying in a non radio environment, and feel comfortable with the knowledge that they will be the captain, solely responsible for the safe conduct of the flight.

We have gone from a 35 hour to a 45 hour PPL and added layers of complexity to the task in the last 60 years. We expect a learner driver to pass a test before solo, not to drive around on their own less than half way through their training. What's the rush? We all have financial constraints, but the student pilot needs to learn to fly safely, not to enter a first to solo competition.

My personal opinion is that most pilots are in the circuit too soon. There's a high workload involved in flying a series of circuits that is not compatible with learning basic handling skills. There is no need to bash around learning straight and level in the local area, it can be done on short cross country flights, each one of which starts with a takeoff and finishes with a circuit and landing. This will inevitably involve all the activities required to solo, but in a less stressful situation. Then when the student is competent it is time to do some more concentrated flying before solo. Not two hours general handling then twenty hours going round in circles......

With the added benefit that they will know their semi local area and will be less likely to get lost close to home!
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Old 25th Feb 2014, 07:32
  #157 (permalink)  
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Piper Classique makes some very good points about the training environment and the required knowledge but his best observation is that students move into the circuit too soon.

Monocock has also identified some very important factors, his first and last bullet points being particularly astute.

Having got out of the standard flying club loop and moved to a non profit club I find that we don't have the problem with bad instructors ( because it is not a place to go to get hours for an airline job ) or being driven to push a student into parting with money add to this a circuit that is very tight by today's standards and you have all the pieces of the jigsaw needed for speedy student advancement.

I have said before on this forum I think time to solo has more to do with the number of landings a student performs, not the number of flying hours.
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Old 25th Feb 2014, 07:44
  #158 (permalink)  
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I'm not an experienced instructor compared to many - but it took me probably 30 hours of instructing to work out that it was vital to get people's skills right in the upper air first, then once you bring them back into the circuit it'll all come together very quickly.

So I really dont "get" why so many instructors, often with tens of times my instructing hours, feel it's essential to get inexperienced pilots with still-poor basic flying skills into the circuit so fast. In my opinion, they're at a skill level where this will only stress them and slow their learning process.

I get why so many inexperienced pilots think that they should - it's because they were fed that by their instructors. But why the instructors?

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Old 25th Feb 2014, 08:03
  #159 (permalink)  

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But why the instructors? Sadly, in many cases, because they were fed that by their instructors, and they haven't thought about it since. And because they've developed a method of teaching, and just hate to deviate from it.

Learning to fly accurately before trying the circuit is IMHO even more important in the case of helicopters, where you have more to do and usually a smaller circuit. I certainly used to try to make sure students were reasonably good at upper air work before getting them in the circuit. I also tried doing this on short cross countries; it relieved boredom, and reminded them why they were doing it all..."There's a hill, what do you think you should do? Climb? Good answer. Go ahead then..." Yet I remember arguing just this point with an instructor who was far more experienced than I was at the time (and who was supervising me at the time), who more or less seemed to think that students could learn to fly in the circuit!!! I said I couldn't teach that way and we agreed to differ, but he was convinced that they learned faster his way. But did they learn better? Well, I talked to some pilots who'd been taught to fly by this guy, and more than one felt they'd been rushed too much when learning the basics.
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Old 25th Feb 2014, 10:29
  #160 (permalink)  
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So it looks as if we are all singing from the same hymnbook here. Why, then is this learning to fly in the circuit still going on? I instruct for a not for profit Club, I see A and C makes this point, but are the rest of the instructors here also at clubs rather than schools?

Monocock makes good points about frequency of training, too. Less than once a week doesn't usually work well, either. Neither does a too intensive course help, tiredness and confusion start rearing their ugly heads. Our students tend to do their PPL over two years, with most of the flying between April and November, and are mostly taking 55 hours or so, less for the younger ones. We will often test for a Brevet de Base the first year, which gives them some independance for local flying, and helps them stay current. Transfer of responsibility again.....
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