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Support / Advice / ? Throw in the towel

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Support / Advice / ? Throw in the towel

Old 11th Sep 2015, 14:20
  #1 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: Somewhere
Age: 34
Posts: 26
Support / Advice / ? Throw in the towel

I am currently doing my PPL (attempting to) I have just clocked up 80 hours ( I have been having lessons at varying points over the last few years with gaps - but of late 1 lesson every 1-2 weeks for an hour).

I am struggling with my navigation - If I get the nav right my tolerances suffer, if I get lost it all suffers)

Last week I did everything ok and my instructor said of test standard, today it all went pear shaped and was the worse flying I had done tolerances and nav lost on all 3 legs.

My instructor recommends that I go away and consider will I ever master this and get PPL- he won't put me forward for test ( rightly so) based on one good flight.

I have 10 hours of a booking left - which will make 90 hours, if I'm not ready for test then I'm considering throwing in the towel.

Does anyone have any recommendations, thoughts, tips, advice or should I just quit now

Disgruntled, frustrated, and incompetent student pilot

Last edited by clinique_happy; 11th Sep 2015 at 14:21. Reason: Spelling mistake
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Old 11th Sep 2015, 14:37
  #2 (permalink)  
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Glens o' Angus by way of LA
Age: 56
Posts: 1,973
Keep going, during the learning process everybody hits brick walls (not literally of course) your instructor will probably sidestep the particular points you are having issues with and approach it from a different angle then it will all come together. When I was getting disheartened during training I finally sat back and thought to myself I must be overthinking this thing I mean Im not trying to put a man on the moon here, I'm just flying a Cessna and if these other dipshits at the flight school can do it surely I can .

As Robert the Bruce observed with the spider, keep trying and you will get it eventually
piperboy84 is offline  
Old 11th Sep 2015, 15:43
  #3 (permalink)  
Join Date: May 2014
Location: London
Posts: 140
If you're overthinking it, take a step back and ask yourself why you wanted to fly to begin with. It was probably to fly places, or to enjoy the views or just to enjoy flying. None of these require pinpoint navigation or superb flying skills.

Ask if you can have a flight where you just fly for fun. Or, better still, fly somewhere (and back!) for lunch. Forget about trying to achieve specific standards and have some fun to remind yourself what it is all about. If the school isn't willing to help you do that, find another school.

Regardless, it may be nice to have a lesson with another instructor - who may be able to shed some light from a different angle.

I don't know where you are but you can also ask someone if you can come up with them for a flight - it can be really useful to see someone else fly and pick up all the things that you already know but struggle to put together. There's a 'Spare seats available/desired' sticky at the top of this page (and similar on other forums as well) - lots of people will be happy to take you up.

If you really feel that you are close to giving up - take a step back and do something you enjoy to rekindle that positive feeling

Baikonour is offline  
Old 11th Sep 2015, 16:02
  #4 (permalink)  
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: 23, Railway Cuttings, East Cheam
Age: 63
Posts: 3,125
I agree with the above. Find a pilot, non instructor, at your club and ask them if they want to fly somewhere for lunch and share costs. Most would bite your hand off. You can see in a totally relaxed and non 'school' environment how easy it is to get from A to B and how you don't have to split hairs when navigating.

You will also get lunch which is the important thing.
thing is offline  
Old 11th Sep 2015, 16:03
  #5 (permalink)  
Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: Oop North, UK
Posts: 3,027
I had a student with approaching your hours and he still had not gone solo, he had flown with most of the other school instructors and been told by all of them he should give up but he said that he enjoyed it and wanted to carry on - I suggested that we forget trying to get him solo and he just enjoyed his flying dual, we did this for a few hours, just throwing in a few circuits at the end of each flight - he then went solo and carried on to get his licence. As others have suggested, take the pressure off yourself for a few trips then go back to the serious flying.
foxmoth is offline  
Old 11th Sep 2015, 16:15
  #6 (permalink)  
Join Date: Nov 2014
Location: go west
Posts: 0
what exactly is the problem? Divide your big task - the navigation - into smaller chunks - 1) keeping heading, 2) reading chart, 3) calculations etc. There's no point in trying to do all together if you struggle at these things individually

have you done instrument flying yet? If not, do it! Make sure you can keep heading, altitude and speed without visual reference. Once you get those sorted, go back to nav - at this point you should be able to keep your heading, so from there on you have to focus on map reading and dead reckoning.

Anyway 80 hours is a lot, at that point I would start to wonder would you not be better off with a new instructor?
Martin_123 is offline  
Old 11th Sep 2015, 16:23
  #7 (permalink)  
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: Mare Imbrium
Posts: 587
80 hours is a lot, but not necessarily unlikely given that " I have been having lessons at varying points over the last few years with gaps".

Its good that you are now able to have lessons more consistently. And I agree that you should take the pressure off and just enmjoy yourself for a few flights. It'll come together.

You could change instructor, but I'd only advise that if you think there's a specific problem with how you and your current one work together (have you had the same instructor all along?)
Heston is offline  
Old 11th Sep 2015, 17:14
  #8 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Birmingham
Age: 58
Posts: 16
Flight with cfi?

I was taking a long time to go solo and then on my second solo navigation became lost. On both occasions I had a flight with the chief flying instructor who was very encouraging.
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Old 11th Sep 2015, 19:04
  #9 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: Somewhere
Age: 34
Posts: 26
Same instructor, good relationship, we have tried lots of different things to help, I don't think it is the instructor its me

The problem is navigating, I can do it easily in the classroom, set my plan etc etc its identifying land marks and not panicking if my plan don't work
clinique_happy is offline  
Old 11th Sep 2015, 20:00
  #10 (permalink)  
Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: Dublin
Posts: 2,547
Your instructors comments sound harsh, but I'm reluctant to criticise, as they might just be being honest with you.

In addition to the above advice, I've something else for you.

After I got my PPL, I started to use a GPS. Initially I didn't look at it on every flight....for some I just did things the way that I was thought, and just left the GPS running where I could get at it if I really needed too.

Now this produced something that was really unexpected for me. The GPS recorded breadcrumbs....a trail of points showing exactly where you were at each second. Looking back on flights, and comparing it to my plog notes, I realised that many of the 'wind corrections' that I made, were nothing to do with wind, but small errors that multiplied over legs.

For example, on many occasions I turned 1 nm too early. It's the difference between turning when you're over the town, and when you're over the town centre. It sounds like nothing, if it multiplies over two legs, it can lead to a noticeable difference. If you interpret that as a change from planned wind, and now make corrections for it, it can really mess things up and the mistakes multiply.

I only noticed this from being able to look at the GPS trail afterwards. Most times the mistake is not on the leg on which you get lost on, but the previous one or even the previous two. This is clear from the breadcrumbs, but hard to spot otherwise.

So I'd suggest that you ask your instructor to record future flights on a GPS (or you do it on your phone/iPad). Don't look at it in flight, as that's no use to you, but use it as a debriefing too afterwards. If you get lost, you can see where it all started to go wrong. If you don't get lost, you can see look to see if all your wind corrections where really wind, or a result of little mistakes.

If neither you nor your instructor have access to a GPS, then send me a pm, and I might be able to help.

One thing that I learned from this, as that the fewer turning points you have, the fewer opportunities there are for mistakes. So it can be better to fly a straight line, noting towns/places that you pass abeam, rather than trying to fly over them and then turn 5 degrees. For example, if you plan to fly from place A to place B, then turn 5 degrees, then fly to place C, you might be better off flying directly from place A to place C, and just note the time that you will pass abeam place B (which you'll still be able to see).

The other thing is that big obvious waypoints that can be seen from far away (lakes, large towns) make much better waypoints than small villages. They are much easier to see if you end up a few miles off tracks.

dublinpilot is offline  
Old 11th Sep 2015, 20:30
  #11 (permalink)  

The Original Whirly
Join Date: Feb 1999
Location: Belper, Derbyshire, UK
Posts: 4,331
Don't despair. It took me 90 hours to get my PPL(A). Then I went on to get a PPL(H), CPL(H) and instructor's rating. Ages afterwards I mentioned my 90 hours to an airline pilot, who said some people take well over 100 hours, but are still reasonably good pilots at the end of the day. There are all sorts of reasons, and you've identified two - your long breaks and your difficulties with navigation. Well, you've started having more regular lessons, and the nav problem is overcome-able (is that a word?).

I'd suggest you try another instructor, even if just a couple of times. You don't know that it's you, not him. I kept thinking it was me, and looking back, most of it was the instructor! It's hard to see straight when you're a student who's got used to one instructor. Try it; what harm can it do, and a different point of view is always useful.

Good luck. and when you get your PPL....you can buy a GPS, and not worry too much about basic nav.
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Old 12th Sep 2015, 00:31
  #12 (permalink)  
Join Date: May 2001
Posts: 2,108
The problem is navigating, I can do it easily in the classroom, set my plan etc etc its identifying land marks and not panicking if my plan don't work
I got lost in the circuit on my second solo when ATC gave me an orbit on the downwind leg.
Half way round the orbit I was getting dizzy and thought I had probably done a full circle already so I levelled the aircraft and flew off over the horizon....
Fortunately VDF and radar got me home again.
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Old 12th Sep 2015, 07:36
  #13 (permalink)  
Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: UK
Posts: 13,592
Firstly, there's no harm or shame in treating your hobby, for now, as learning to fly - it's not a race to a PPL.

Secondly, I agree with those who think that you should try and get some right hand seat time with friends who are going on trips. I suspect that you'll find that time spent in the air, with no pressure to perform, duplicating your friend's navigation, and also building up experience of being in the air - which makes a big difference to your free mental capacity to spend on tasks like navigation - will pay dividends.

Third - yes, there might be value in flying with a different instructor. I'm sure your instructor is good, but different people have different teaching styles and not every instructor suits every student. Somebody else might help you get the final issues cracked just because they teach it differently.

Fourth - don't give up. Flying's fun and there to be enjoyed. Other people (like my good friend Whirlybird above) have taken more hours to learn, and proved excellent pilots.

Genghis the Engineer is offline  
Old 12th Sep 2015, 08:00
  #14 (permalink)  
Join Date: May 2003
Location: Banbury, United Kingdom
Age: 64
Posts: 482
Don't give up.

Where is "somewhere" on your profile (why do people do that??!!).
If you are anywhere near Hinton in the Hedges or Turweston, you are welcome to come and have some fun in the RV8 (no charge except lunch!). You need to realise how much fun can be had in our sport and relax and enjoy.
The flying is easy, the over concentration and (thus) stress is probably what is screwing you up.
Don't give up, there is a huge amount of support out there if only you ask......
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Old 12th Sep 2015, 10:36
  #15 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: In the boot of my car!
Posts: 6,000

What a kind offer to make to him ! I hope he takes it up as the RV8 is a delight to fly ) I flew an RV6 which was a dream and it will certainly show him how much fun aircraft other than the normal spam cans can be!
Getting to the problem 80 hrs is a lot of investment in time and money and it would be a shame to throw in the towel when land should be in sight after a long journey!

You don't mention those 80 hours on route to where you are now ? I find it strange that anyone would tell you to consider chucking it in at this late stage ?
Where were they before when they were happily taking your money to amount those hours ?

Were any problems highlighted earlier on in circuit or handling ? You say that on the ground all is clear but once in the air everything goes pear shaped ?
This would indicate that for some reason you are leaving your brains behind ?
That can be nerves stress or could be the style of the instructor?
Someone who is very critical and impatient can destroy your confidence rather than add to it?

Need more information from you but something is not right that it has taken 80 hours to find you have a problem ?
I also do not like how you describe yourself as incompetent and have a sneaking feeling that maybe it's the instructor who is incompetent as its his failure if you chuck it in

Pace is offline  
Old 12th Sep 2015, 13:00
  #16 (permalink)  
Join Date: Oct 2014
Location: UK
Posts: 109
I'd fully endorse all of the above points, enjoy it, cut yourself some slack. Why do you want to get your PPL? To fly. What are you doing while getting there? You're flying. So, what's the problem?

Fly with other instructors, fly in the right hand seat with other pilots, fly in the back of a four seater. Have some fun, that's what you're in this for anyway.

When you were learning to walk did your parents give you so many hours of practice and decide that if you hadn't got it by that point they should give up on you as you clearly weren't a walker?

If you keep trying there's every chance that the breakthrough is just around the corner and you'll make it soon enough. If you give up, you definitely won't make it, ever.

Last edited by MaxR; 12th Sep 2015 at 14:06.
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Old 12th Sep 2015, 13:24
  #17 (permalink)  
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: UK
Age: 81
Posts: 696

My wife took over 80 hours to go solo and the instructors, wisely in my opinion, just skipped that and continued her training with all the other stuff.

Eventually, of course, she went solo but as others have said it's not a race, it's a hobby (to most of us)
funfly is offline  
Old 12th Sep 2015, 17:11
  #18 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: In the boot of my car!
Posts: 6,000
I knew an ex Spitfire pilot who was in his 80s and used to turn up at the flying club to take a Cessna 150 with an instructor for an hour every few weeks. He no longer held a medical or licence.

This is slightly different as students are investing a lot of money on track to the Goal of being a PPL which means you are competent and safe to carry family and friends solo.

Some never achieve that ability but those types should be weeded out early on or whatever the problem sorted and I find it strange that this instructor tells him to consider chucking it in after he has probably spent 15000 on flight time.

Maybe a good chat and a plan with the CFI might sort things or go to another school for an appraisal flight with a new instructor and an experienced one

Pace is offline  
Old 13th Sep 2015, 03:04
  #19 (permalink)  
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: N/A
Posts: 2,741
Fully endorse the encouragement folks above have given you. A lot of folks have difficulty with particular areas of their training, yet go on to become aces in that particular field. A different instructor may be helpful as suggested, I like MaxR take. You can overcome, as did this chap.

megan is offline  
Old 13th Sep 2015, 14:16
  #20 (permalink)  
Join Date: Nov 2014
Location: go west
Posts: 0
The problem is navigating
no, when I ask where is the problem, I want to know is the trouble keeping the heading? Reading the map? Recognizing villages? Timing? Like I said, navigation is a task that consists of many smaller tasks and you have to recognize at which tasks you fail at

Dublinpilot made a very good point about GPS and making mistakes by turning early/late. Keeping a record of your actual track will point out where exactly your problem lies. I had the exact same problem, I used a sportstracker app on my phone - not only it showed my route, it also recorded my ground speed which was handy assesing the effects of wind etc, I only needed one look at it and that fixed my problems for good
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