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After 5 hours...

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After 5 hours...

Old 19th Aug 2018, 21:45
  #21 (permalink)  
Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: UK
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Originally Posted by double_barrel View Post
OK, after a mere 5 hours here are my purely self-diagnosed weakpoints:

1. My taxiing is totally s$%t. I cannot seem to get the right instincts in my feet to keep it easily running straight and true.
You've done five hours and probably not that much taxiing, it'll come.

2. I am holding the yolk in a death grip rather than feeling the ailerons touching the air as I know I should be. I have spent my whole life sailing boats, I think I know just what that should feel like. Can't get there.

3. I am fixating on the VSI rather than the horizon.
Don't fixate on anything, ANYTHING. Look out of the window, enjoy the view, just glance in occasionally when there's something you need to look at. You should spend a lot of time looking at the real, out of the window, horizon - but even then not fixating. If you have been told to watch the ARTIFICIAL HORIZON, that is very very poor advice for every lesson of PPL training bar one, and you should not have been told that.

4. I still really have no idea what the rudder is for! I sort of randomly poke at it when I happen to see the ball has drifted off too far. Basically I 'steer' the plane with the ailerons.
You do steer with the ailerons. You're still at basic effects of controls, but this should have been, or will be, covered in briefings and the notes you've been given to read.

The last session was kind of depressing - I seem to be getting worse not better. Instructor throws mnemonics at me with no follow-up. eg "lets look at stalling for prep we use HASELL, or was that Hassle or Hassel [?]".
(1) Stalling at five hours????. Either you're winding us up, or your instructor is following a somewhat unorthodox order of lessons.
(2) Any checks should have been covered in briefings and/or training notes you've been told to run.
(3) HASELL checks are in your checklist, the aeroplane manual, the training notes, and for that matter your pre-flight briefings.

Basically either you're winding us up, or you need to change instructor and/or school.

I subsequently have no recall of what the @#$%^ that was meant to stand for - height, away from built-up areas, secure, who knows what else. No time to ask him to repeat and forget to review after landing when he asks 'any questions' while fiddling with his phone. (OK, I just googled it. E is for engine, A might be for airframe. What does that mean? engine still running, airframe still there?)
EIther you are winding us up, or your instructor is utterly incompetent.

Would it be usual to expect a 5 minute 'debrief' after landing to allow me to go over what we did and perhaps scribble some notes ?
No it would be usual to have a formal debrief usually rather longer than five minutes, including you taking notes and him filling out your training record in your sight.

Is this normal kind of progress? After hours 3 and 4 I felt real progress as I gained confidence and became more aware of what was happening. Now wondering if this is going to work.
The level of progress is probably fine, but what you are describing is utter incompetence in instructing - and you will quickly bed in bad habits that do you no favours. If your recall and description are true and honest, you need a new instructor - probably a new school before these bad habits bed in. Why a new school? - because schools are supposed to standardise teaching practice across all of their instructors.

[In the past I taught sailing on very complex boats to yachtmaster level. I would always start a session with review of where we have got to and end with a review of what we learned today. And on a boat the pace is slower with time to discuss each action as you do it]
And that is what flying instructors are trained to do too. So, if your descriptions are accurate, you are at a very poor school.

But I suspect I am beginning to blame the instructor for my own failings. Maybe I need to take control a bit more?
On the contrary, (a) you are not describing particular failings on the part of a student, and (b) the instructor is supposed to be the expert and controller of the teaching and learning process.

I would suggest before walking away having a closed door lengthy discussion with the school Chief Instructor - that *may* resolve things, it may not.

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Old 19th Aug 2018, 22:46
  #22 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by double_barrel View Post
Yes. Been through all that. I was OK to do each of them as separate exercises, but still far from comfortable with the whole thing. Is that unusually superficial? Last thing he said was that now I just need to keep practicing. Maybe that's an OK way to approach
I really donít believe you could possibly have been taught all of those exercises properly in 5 hours.
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Old 19th Aug 2018, 23:21
  #23 (permalink)  
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The absolute best publication for someone starting out learning to fly and it’s free.


Have a read thru that skipping all the parts about the FAA and their history,licences & Regs etc and you’ll be a friggin expert by the time your done.
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Old 20th Aug 2018, 04:57
  #24 (permalink)  
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Thanks again everyone. Piperboy, thanks, I have not seen that, I will go through it.

Genghis and Custard thanks both, very helpful. I absolutely assure you that I am not winding you up. In fact, there are other specifics I have not mentioned that I know are bad behavior in an instructor, I have not because I don't want this thread to be identifiable to a particular instructor/school/location. The nearest to a debrief is 'any questions and put the pitot cover on as you go'. Last flight I didn't get the Hobbs reading as the instructor was too busy chatting to his mates outside the aircraft, so I wandered back, filled-in the paperwork leaving Hobbs readings blank and wandered off home. As I mentioned, I had one instructor for the 1st 2 hours, he has been away for the last 3 lessons, current bloke is younger (1,400 hours total according to the board, I assume that is instructing hours). I did get on better with the 1st bloke; there seemed to be more 'precision' in the way he communicated.

I have asked for a meeting with the chief instructor.

(Genghis, I just tried to PM you. Your quota is full)

(maybe I should add that each nominal hour is actually only 40 minutes in the air, although invariably over 1 hour on the Hobbs - I have started logging the flights with Garmin Pilot. That feels brief to me. Is that usual? The session is well over an hour but lots of fannying about waiting for clearances; it's a busy airport. When counting hours, is that normally true flying time or engine running time ?)

Last edited by double_barrel; 20th Aug 2018 at 05:58.
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Old 20th Aug 2018, 07:11
  #25 (permalink)  
Join Date: Feb 2000
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Hours logged are brakes off to brakes on - sllghtly less than Hobbs. 40 minutes airborne for an hour Hobbs is not unreasonable.

My PM box is always full!, but you can email me via PPRuNe and I will pick that up.

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Old 20th Aug 2018, 07:48
  #26 (permalink)  
Join Date: Oct 2016
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Similar experience to myself many years ago. Looking back in the log book it shows for the fifth lesson (a previous lesson was two hours) 10A/10B. Like the OP I was feeling overloaded and although performing recovery, with and without power, quite well I realised then it may be a bit too early in my training. After talking with the Chief Instructor I took a break, changed schools and progressed at a more comfortable (for me) pace.
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Old 21st Aug 2018, 21:05
  #27 (permalink)  
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: Belgium
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I flew model airplanes, and came into "real" aviation by becoming an [email protected]
One day, I re-rigged a C-150 that did not wanna fly straight, and the instructor said: "You rigged it. Time for your first flight", and off we went.
Medical and all paperwork done, I started flying lessons. Coming from model airplanes had its advantages, but also getting used to "the real deal." was an eye opener.

After 3 hrs, I thought; "Hey this is not so bad at all."
After 5 hrs, I thought; " Damm, what am I missing".
After 8 hrs, I thought: "This is never gonna work.", The instructor opened his door, and stepped out. "Do 3 circuits and park the thing at the fuel pump." => I said ; Oh shit! ! ! !
That was winter 1979
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Old 22nd Aug 2018, 04:59
  #28 (permalink)  
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I will try for hour 6 today! I have just skimmed through the thread above on control-column-flailing - that helps me to visualise my problem with the death grip on the controls. I will work on imagining I am hold an unpleasant part of someone else's anatomy.
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Old 22nd Aug 2018, 05:41
  #29 (permalink)  
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Location: CYYC (Calgary)
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Good luck with your lesson. Forget about the anatomy metaphor () and try what I do. I fly a C182, but the technique works in any aircraft. Hold the yoke lightly with two fingertips and the thumb of your left hand. If possible, rest your elbow on the armrest.

If you feel even the slightest pressure on the yoke, then make slight adjustments to the elevator trim, until you can fly hands off, at the desired pitch attitude.

When maneuvering, I tend to use all my fingers on the yoke, but it is still a light grip, with just fingertips.

A final thought on taxiing. Ask your instructor to manage the yoke and throttle, while you concentrate on steering with your feet. I find when I've been flying an aircraft with a stick and I hop back into an aircraft with a yoke, I have this unconscious tendency to use the yoke as a steering wheel!

Also when starting the takeoff run, consciously think "Heels on the floor", so that your feet do not accidentally apply the toe-brakes during the takeoff.
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Old 22nd Aug 2018, 12:43
  #30 (permalink)  
Join Date: Aug 2012
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I just looked back at my training and found this blog post, I think you are right on track!

Major achievement – the tower no longer thinks I’m drunk

After 7 lessons I’ve finally managed the art of being sober! Or at least looking like I am. Yes, Ladies and Gentlemen after 7 lessons, I’ve finally got the hang of taxiing the damn plane in a straight line!
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Old 24th Aug 2018, 13:48
  #31 (permalink)  
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With regard to sailing (and speaking from direct experience), and in response to your first two points: You're used to operating a "machine" that has quite a few things in common with an aircraft (wings, operating in a fluid medium), and you're used to being able to control it very precisely. When the water gets lumpy, and the wind is shifty/gusty, you anticipate how that machine is going to respond, and continue to control it precisely. Now you sit yourself in an aircraft, and beat yourself up because you're not achieving the level of control you're used to. Is it possible that you're unconsciously setting yourself unreasonably high standards?
Rather than thinking of someone learning to sail a large wheel-steered yacht (everyone knows how to operate a steering wheel), think of someone learning to helm a relatively tippy dinghy with a tiller extension. It takes a while even for them to learn which way to move the tiller. Now add in the fact that they have a sheet in the other hand, and moving either sheet or tiller seems to want to make the boat capsize one way or the other. Half the time the boat feels like it wants to capsize even if they don't move either. The only way to feel "in control" is to figure out how to coordinate the tiller and sheet, *and* respond to the constantly changing wind. That's before we've thrown in manoeuvres, collision avoidance etc, and it feels like you have to learn it all at once. Now think how "in control" your student's going to feel after 5 hours in the boat; if they're much over 20 years old, the answer's most likely going to be "not very". IMHO, that's closer to what learning to fly is like. Stick with it, you'll "get" it, and ultimately you'll have just as good a feel for an aircraft as you already do for a boat...
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Old 24th Aug 2018, 20:28
  #32 (permalink)  
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The hardest 2 things to learn when you start are trimming and taxiing!, you at 5 hours sounds like most people, even i was like that too, now an instructor and examiner, it all comes good by 45 hours.
we charge from brakes off to brakes on, normally one hour at a time,
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Old 25th Aug 2018, 06:50
  #33 (permalink)  
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Thanks MoP, that cheers me up!

Pasta. I have been thinking through the sailing/flying thing, and I am sure you are right. I am unconsciously expecting to feel and handle a Cessna like a boat. But as you say, there are some huge differences - on a boat the surface in the air is 100s of times bigger than an aircraft's control surface and the rudder is in a much denser medium. You manage a boat by balancing the forces; and when maneuvering by anticipating and 'meeting' the forces. Looking at the thread on control column flailing, it dawned on me that it is physically impossible to move the 'control surfaces' on a boat like that. So even though the aircraft is not responding to all the thrashing around, the surfaces are presumably moving around in response to al those inputs, and meeting little resistance. So clearly, as someone said earlier, the aircraft controls will feel way 'mushier' than a boat's and I just need to focus on what its doing now and what inputs do I need to make to make it do what I want. It sounds trivial, but that is totally different from a sailing boat, especially a big, heavy, powerful boat like I am used to sailing.

One interesting point, when banking or turning I instinctively want to stop the maneuver with a counter-turn or counter-bank, as you must on a boat. My instructors tell me that is wrong, I should just go back to the neutral position and the change of attitude instantly stops. My muscles are beginning to believe that!

On the upside, my sailing background means I can instinctively turn onto a course, use a compass and chart and cope with all that nav stuff. I am somewhat bemused by flying's strange radio procedures, and keep slipping back to the 'wrong' order of callsigns, but at least I am comfortable with using a VHF.

Hour 6 was a huge improvement. I turned-up early dug out the physical checklists and conducted my own pre and post flight brief! In the air I focussed on not over-controlling and keeping a delicate touch. Hour 7 tomorrow!
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Old 2nd Sep 2018, 13:23
  #34 (permalink)  
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In case anyone is interested in an update on my roller coaster ride!

I had a serious discussion with the head of the school. My feedback appears to have been welcomed, and I have switched back to the instructor that I had for the 1st 2 hours. What a difference! There is some really fundamental stuff that he made clear to me in hour 2 that was completely ignored by the other bloke, and it got lost from my brain over the subsequent >5 hours of vague fannying around. Now I can see just how useless the instruction was - there was absolutely no precision in his teaching or clear communication.

So the advice here to switch instructors was bang on, and all my self doubt and agonizing over the instincts I brought from boating was (mostly) nonsense. I just needed someone to explain to me how to fly the freaking aeroplane! Now of course I am mad at the wasted time, dosh and self-confidence. I tracked all the flights on my ipad, and looking back over the tracks it is obvious that the intensity of the work is 100x greater now, I am finding sessions demanding and enjoyable.
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Old 2nd Sep 2018, 23:16
  #35 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by double_barrel View Post
In case anyone is interested in an update on my roller coaster ride!
I am! One thing I love to do is re-live vicariously through others the wondrous journey of learning to fly. More please!
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Old 3rd Sep 2018, 00:51
  #36 (permalink)  
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I'm sure that there are many here interested in your progress.

This may be an indelicate question, but what happened to the other instructor?
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Old 3rd Sep 2018, 05:14
  #37 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by India Four Two View Post

This may be an indelicate question, but what happened to the other instructor?
Well, they did not go into details with me - quite properly.

But from what they did say, he is being actively encouraged to up his game. I suspect that he is being given the opportunity to do that in another establishment. I felt guilty for a while, but not after the 1st session back with a decent instructor.
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Old 3rd Sep 2018, 08:33
  #38 (permalink)  
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Sympathies for your issues so far. Its not just at the starting end that these issues occur. I am trying to get back into flying after a couple years away and I have yet to come across any instructor or school that inspires me very much at all, and after forty years of flying, yes, I am reasonably experienced but still need some refresher flying and a test.
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Old 3rd Sep 2018, 18:20
  #39 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by beamer View Post
Sympathies for your issues so far. Its not just at the starting end that these issues occur. I am trying to get back into flying after a couple years away and I have yet to come across any instructor or school that inspires me very much at all, and after forty years of flying, yes, I am reasonably experienced but still need some refresher flying and a test.
where have you looked so far?
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Old 5th Sep 2018, 11:18
  #40 (permalink)  
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Gripping the Control Column...
When I did my QXC, one of the legs was from Blackpool to the North Wales Coast, and in the Piper Tomahawk I decided to trim the thing so that it would fly hands-off, which it did for most of that route.
I now fly a C172 with rudder trim, which if set to give a central Ball, needs about 2 ounces of pressure on the right aileron to stop the aircraft doing a 60 mile radius turn.
So in all cases a strong grip is not required, and if you ever get to fly with an auto-pilot, you will wonder why the Control Column is needed at all..!
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