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Feel the fear...and do it anyway?

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Feel the fear...and do it anyway?

Old 27th Jul 2014, 19:16
  #1 (permalink)  
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Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: London
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Feel the fear...and do it anyway?

Ok, so I had my first proper flying lesson today which was intended to help me firm up my decision to go for it and get my PPL. I enjoyed it but I feel a bit torn afterward between still having the desire to achieve my licence and proving to myself I can do it but frankly I was not a natural at it and it all felt a bit new and scary ( from the flying itself to even feeling a bit awkward at the flying school surrounded by new faces and feeling like I know nothing). I was quite scared of controlling the plane and just can't ever imagine getting into one and flying it solo. I think I might be being a bit hard on myself as it is only a first lesson but I'm reading so much on here from people who say "if you Have to question your decision it's not worth the investment as you have to LOVE it". Guess what I'm asking for is whether any of you have felt the same after your first lessons? Is it normal and I should just have a few more to see how I go before investing 1000s on something I might not love?
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Old 28th Jul 2014, 00:14
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You are definitely being too hard on yourself.

I was shaking like a leaf on my first real lesson, even though I was fulfilling a childhood ambition.

Later, when doing circuit training, I almost gave it all away because I was having so much trouble with landings. I remember going out to the airport one day thinking that if I did not make progress during that lesson then I would stop throwing good money after bad. Fortunately my landings improved and a few weeks later I did my first solo - a most satisfying achievement.

I know many good pilots who say they struggled in the eariy stages of flying. We thought we would be naturally gifted pilots but found that there is some skill involved and it takes time to learn those skills. However you don't have to be superhuman to be a pilot (contrary to what some young pilots might like you to believe). It essentially comes down to practice, practice and more practice, and that's the case right up to the day when your flying career ends. Any airline pilot will tell you the same thing.

Have fun!
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Old 28th Jul 2014, 04:35
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Scared me to death when I started. Turned out mostly OK, though.
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Old 28th Jul 2014, 06:47
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Join Date: Sep 2012
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Is it normal and I should just have a few more to see how I go before investing 1000s on something I might not love?
1) Do not pay anything upfront in aviation. Never.

2) Your description matches my first lessons 100%. One PPL licence and IR(R) rating later I know I would have regretted deeply, had I turned back.

3) I know I'm not "normal" i.e. I will always be different from Mavericks and Gooses (Geese? ) of tomorrow, who will be around, but guess what? I do what I like and I don't care...

Definitely worth going if part of you wants to go. If it proves too hard, there is always time to turn back, but at least you will have tried and had new experience.

All the best,

hegemon88 is offline  
Old 28th Jul 2014, 07:50
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Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: london
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Keep going

Your feelings sound similar to mine when I first started flying (and when I first stepped into a racing car) - the immediate task looks daunting if not impossible. I carried on because I knew it was what I wanted. When I started my instrument rating the thought of being in cloud or between layers of cloud left me cold and during the training I wondered how I'd manage to crack it. I wanted to fly in the mountains so went on to get a mountain rating and during that training I wondered if I could really safely land on the altisurfaces that we went to - but eventually it comes.

If you want it then carry on because you could end up regretting not following your wishes later in life.
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Old 28th Jul 2014, 08:52
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My first flying lesson, which was as an RAF Cadet Pilot, was with a staggeringly experienced instructor - reputedly at the time the oldest serving pilot in the RAF. I can still hear his words from the debrief..

"You aren't a natural pilot, but then I've only ever known two natural pilots and both of them are dead."

Virtually nobody takes to flying immediately and naturally - it's not basically a natural act, strapping a machine on and using it to go flying. Some people are good enough to do a licence in minimum hours, most aren't. I took quite a few hours to even cope in the environment, and that first instructor made it quite clear that I was completely useless; I refused to believe him, and as (amongst other things) I'm now an instructor, I believe that I've proved him wrong.

What really matters is whether, and how much, you enjoy it. If you enjoy it a lot, and are likely to keep enjoying it a lot, persevere.

But as others have said, don't pay up front!

Genghis the Engineer is offline  
Old 28th Jul 2014, 09:00
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Join Date: Sep 2011
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What they all said...

Don't pay up front. Do a few more (say 3 minimum) and then see how you feel. You will know by then. The first lesson is always tough - mostly its simply sensory overload.

If you want to continue, then try to fly fairly often, every week if finances will allow. But still don't pay up front.

Make sure you work at enjoying the whole experience of learning to fly. Immerse yourself in the theory. Hang around the school/club before and after your lessons. Watch, listen, ask questions. Everybody else there started just like you.

If you don't wish to continue at any point, then don't. Its not compulsory. Move onto your next "thing".
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Old 28th Jul 2014, 09:00
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Join Date: Aug 2013
Location: Madrid
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I think we have all experienced that kind of fear, despite if you've loved aviation since you were a kid.
Starting the PPL means, starting to deal with a small aircraft and realising how much stuff you have to do do, keep in mind and deal with at the same time.

Once you keep learning and getting your hands on your fear will just become a normal cockpit workload and if you keep training that workload will become "easy" to manage and finally it will be just pure joy!.

My suggestion is just, keep training, do not rush, you do not have to fly solo in the 12th hour, you will fly solo whenever you are ready, and by that time, you will already be enjoying flying.

Keep flying!
manuaros is offline  
Old 28th Jul 2014, 09:05
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Location: Oxford, UK
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Hello Amber! I thought possibly from your name here you might be another woman, and just confirmed that guess!

I am a retired gliding instructor, now still flying (with a safety pilot) at Shenington Gliding Club. Definitely, there are two kinds of students. Men, who are usually overconfident. And women, who are usually underconfident.
We women are also not ashamed to admit to fear.

As others have advised, don't pay money up front! Flying schools often vanish from the scene, going broke and taking your money down the pan along with all their dodgy equipment....

My advice to you is to find a club or school NEAR WHERE YOU LIVE. Check out how long they have been in business. Ask questions about who does their maintenance. Older reliable types of training aircraft are best. Find an instructor you like, stick with that one!

I began flying in 1983, in gliders at High Wycombe, went on to get my PPL at Wycombe Air Centre, never stopped. Though the first week or two definitely suffered collywobbles, but kept on....after serious thought that I wasn't getting any younger and it was now or never. It has been such FUN!
Which is the best possible motive to go flying. Once you are in a paying job flying aeroplanes, its not so much fun and the pay and prestige are not what they used to be at Pan Am!

Do let us know how you get on, and PM or email me if you prefer.

Mary Meagher
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Old 28th Jul 2014, 11:45
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Join Date: Apr 2014
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I think you should have a few more, as it becomes less alien you will relax, the fear that seems to freeze the brain will go, the work load will reduce and you can divert some brain power to the pleasure centre

If you think about it, the 1st time you do anything, especially something that is important to you, there is a degree of nervousness.

I was taught by the RAF, my instructor said there was no such thing as a natural pilot, some people pick it up quicker than others.

Don't rule out changing instructors if you need. Human nature being what it is some instructors will be better at dealing with those that are nervous than others.

And as for turning up feeling that don't know anything, you'll probably find most of the pilots there know are darn sight less than they should!

Last edited by Camargue; 28th Jul 2014 at 11:57.
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Old 28th Jul 2014, 13:34
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Wow what a great bunch of positive advice. Thanks to everyone for the responses as they have genuinely helped me.

It's nice to know everyone feels the same at first and you're right...everything feels weird and alien before you get you get used to it. I've just booked up my next lesson and will def not pay in advance as you all recommend. My flight school do PAYG mainly but they do recommend a 5 hour trial package to get you started that is paid in advance - so do you suggest I don't even opt for this but do PAYG from the start?

Mary, yes you guessed right I'm a girl and under confident as you predicted. I'll definitely keep you posted and may take you up on the kind offer on email down the line as I seem to have questions coming our of my ears at the moment - so thank you!
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Old 28th Jul 2014, 13:41
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I assume you drive a car. Try to remember what it was like the first time you did that. Chances are the whole thing felt just as alien as your first flying lesson. If you have the passion it will get you through.

Go for it, enjoy it and the very best of luck.
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Old 28th Jul 2014, 13:50
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Hi rarelyathome,

Yep I do drive and you're absolutely right, it feels second nature now but definitely didn't at first - I remember being terrified of motorways and now I'm daily on the M25 and not bothered at all.

Thanks, A
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Old 28th Jul 2014, 14:21
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Join Date: Jul 2010
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The day when you leave home in the best of spirits though perhaps still with a little mist in your head, arrive at the airfield with all clear and whistling a merry tune, get the plane out of the hangar while sweetly remembering how nice your lover was last night, do the pre-flight dreaming of the dinner you'll be having tonight, taxi and take off while still whistling that merry tune - in short, on the day that you do not feel the slightest anxiety, that day you will have become a dangerous pilot.

Anxiety, unrest, even downright fear are great life-savers, for ourselves and for our fellow pilots. These senses are to be valued, even cherished. It just takes a bit of time to come to terms with them, and of course YOU should be on top all the while.

BTW there was no need to "confess" to your sex, I am sure the same kind of feelings and doubts are known to all of us. Only, not everybody can speak of them as lightly.

and PS I am proud to serve as a counterexample to Mary's statement: I am male, and not overconfident at all! You can ask my instructors for confirmation!
Jan Olieslagers is offline  
Old 28th Jul 2014, 15:53
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I was receiving some recurring training from a well known and extremely accomplished instructor in Scone a few years back and the subject of being a natural pilot came up, he explained to me that as far as he was aware the only natural pilots he knew of were birds and even they crashed from time to time.

I personally think a little fear, doubt and wariness every time you drive into the airfield and especially when you taxi into position for departure is a good thing it keeps you extremely focused on the task at hand to the exclusion of any peripheral nonsense unrelated to flying that may be in your head.

As the saying goes, there are a lot of old pilots, there are also a lot of bold pilots, but there are very few old AND bold pilots.

Good luck with you training.
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Old 28th Jul 2014, 16:18
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Try a few (just a few ... not 1000s worth !) more lessons and remember.....

Nothing is scary until that moment where you land, your instructor taps you on the shoulder, gives you a wave and promptly hops out whilst the engine is still running .....

a.k.a. first solo

That silence will never feel so loud... and your brain will be trying to convince you not to do it !

But up until the first solo... its all just boring repetitive practice until it gets into the students thick skull...

Are you possibly doubting the instructor or school ? Maybe try another one ? Or a different type of aircraft ? What did you fly ? If you flew something twitchy like a Traumahawk (Piper Tomahawk, PA-38), then perhaps try a more stable flying platform like a Warrior (PA-28).
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Old 28th Jul 2014, 16:28
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Don't give it up now, simple don't. Try to make another decision after 5-6 hours in logbook. Right now you are probably scared about everything and not comfortable moving in real 3D. I can remember my first lession, intro flight, scared about every single unexpected (and insignificant) movement of plane, trying to compensate everything. Scared to bank over 10 degrees as it looks "too much and we have to fall", holding yoke like my whole life depends on the pressure on yoke, completely ignoring instructor saying in correct configuration only two fingers are enough, leads to my hand was sweating so hard, pants looked like i pissed myself. When I left plane after hour and half I feel myself like construction worker after 12hour shift.

I needed couple of hours to get rid of this, was changed somewhere around 4-5 hour where we did spins and stalls, next step is circuit training, so basically landing training = lot of landings within 5-7 minutes intervals. Lot of 3point landings or float away from flare. This will be another point where you will consider to quit as someone wrote before. Just simple NO again From something which will be "I need to move yokes by milimeter but not two and I don't have a time for this" will be "there is a plenty of time for any compensation I did wrong.." If you don't give up here, instructor will let you flight a whole circuit with instrument closed. This will be first point where you will have real reason to be scared but there isn't any, mostprobably it will be your best circuit in takeoff, climb, circuit height and pattern and landing ever.

First reward is about to come, first solo. I think feeling from first solo are a bit overrated or my was different, same circuit as with instructor, nothing changed, keep your speed and circuit shape, everything will be same as with instructor. My feeling was "OK I am flying alone, game breaker now, but hell where is that "First sex" feeling, everything is exactly same as with instructor"

real reward will come after end of circuits training (15 alone or so) you will be somewhere around 15-20 hours and your lessons will be somelike "we will do one circuit together to see you're in shape, you will fly alone, but not circuits, you will just fly away and don't return before 45 minutes"
Free to go where you want to go, almost, the rest is just a piece of cake

In a short this "toolongdidn'tread", the progress is really really quick, what are hours in land life are minutes in sky life, what are minutes in ... are seconds...

I was surprised my school let me fly alone away from ATZ and CTR after I had something like 15hours in dual and 1.5 alone when I was still scared in after 4-5hours....
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Old 28th Jul 2014, 16:52
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I have 1200 hours and an instrument rating and I still get butterflies in my stomach before every flight.......
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Old 28th Jul 2014, 17:10
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Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Oxford, UK
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Probably not a problem, but if there is a problem, find out before you spend the whole bankroll on the training.

There are 2 kinds of Medical Requirements, have a look at the Civil Aviation Authority Website for details. Your own doctor can certify that you meet the requirement for a "National Pilot's License"....for example, if you qualify to drive a truck, you are fine to go.

And there is the proper Aviation Medical, for the Private Pilot's License, which enjoys more privileges; this one needs an Aviation Medical Examiner to check you out. No dizzy spells? reasonably sane? wear corrective lenses? (varifocals not recommended!).

Your instructor/flying school could recommend a friendly AME. But the CAA information on the internet is very helpful and detailed.
mary meagher is offline  
Old 28th Jul 2014, 17:32
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Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: Mare Imbrium
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Not sure why the topic of being a born pilot came up, but for what its worth Chuck Yeager is quoted in the book The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe as saying, "There's no such thing as a natural born pilot."

Chuck Yeager - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia for his bio - I think he's probably qualified to make the definitive statement on that question.
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