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After 5 hours...

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After 5 hours...

Old 18th Aug 2018, 08:15
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After 5 hours...

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.
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.
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.

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 [?]". 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?)

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 ?

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.

[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]

But I suspect I am beginning to blame the instructor for my own failings. Maybe I need to take control a bit more?

What do you guys reckon?
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Old 18th Aug 2018, 08:30
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Sounds like you need an instructor who takes an interest in you and your flying 👍

Time to move on I suspect. But don't give up on how crap your going is, trust me, blood sweat and tears are all part of it.
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Old 18th Aug 2018, 09:22
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Hi Db,
Firstly it's perfectly normal to still be tense and confused in the early stages, and five hours is still the early stages. However from your post it's obvious that you are either not gelling with your instructor or he's not doing his job properly.

Item one just needs some practise with no pressure to go flying. Go out on the field and just do some taxying without any intention to fly. Take your time and take it slowly. You could find someone with a flight simulator using pedals just to assist in orientation but you can't replicate the real thing. Maybe your boating experience of pushing and pulling the tiller against the direction of turn hasn't helped, but if you're used to complex boats that shouldn't be an issue.

Holding the yoke too hard is perfectly normal and simply needs the relaxation that comes from enjoying yourself. It sounds like your not doing that with your current instructor so a change might be necessary.

Your instructor should have tried to wean you off dependency on instruments. Again a common mistake in the early days, but try to keep that head up and out and only refer to the instruments to confirm what you think you've set up visually.

Back to basics in turning for point four. Get your instructor to cover turning and secondary effects of controls again. I used to get students to skid in level flight one way then the other to full control deflection to give them confidence in both ailerons and rudder whilst also learning co-ordination but each instructor will have his own methods.

Finally though, don't despair. What you describe is normal for your stage, but it does sound as if you could use a change of teacher.

Good Luck.
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Old 18th Aug 2018, 09:45
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Hi DoubleBarrel,

I too came from sailing tuition background, and I agree that sailing offers a lot more time for the teaching.

I dont think you are correct, instructors in aviation are a MAJOR influence on your progress. If you don't feel you can ask again what these mnemonics are, perhaps this isnt the right instructor for you.

The PPL tuition I receiced always started with a reminder of what was achieved last lesson, and a reminder of what to pay attention to on this upcoming flight. Often even combined with a little background groundschool, to make sure that I understood what the aim was, and how we would achieve that aim before even seeing the aeroplane. Then this was always followed by a thorough debrief of what we did, what was achieved and what could be improved. I was then given pointers on what I should read up on next for next week.

Everyone learns differently but this approach worked for me very well. I have since had instructors of all sorts, some with no debrief, some with marginal brief, some with quite a temper... etc... but I do find that you really need to find the right instructor for you, and your learning will be so much smoother! Dont be afraid to ask for another instructor!!

As for the taxiing, it is a smooth continuous pressure that you apply. Keep both feet on the rudder and as it is a push-pull system, you can control the amount you are turning with both feet, not just one. Do not be afraid to chop the power and use the brakes to slow down a little, take your time - I was always told that taxiing should always be at fast walking pace and no faster which will give you time to make corrections.

Regarding the yoke, I generally have a rule which is no more than 2 fingers. The plane will (to a certain extent) fly itself. You dont need to control the aeroplane in every little tiny bump, you just let it oscillate a little, similarly to sailing. If you were to overcontrol the rudder on a yacht in light-moderate swell, you will do more harm than good - same applies to flying. It is normal when you first start to be afraid and to grab hold of the yoke for your life, but try to relax, your instructor wont let you do something stupid anyway, so there is your backup!

For your early days, I would strongly recommend reading up on the manoeuvres that will be covered in the course. I used the Pooleys books, but a little theory, and a brief understanding of what will be required goes a hell of a long way. I also believe that these mnemonics are in the books too, it should give an explanation as to what you are looking for on each letter. If you spend some time learning them, and reciting them to yourself, it'll alleviate some of the stress and hopefully allow you to concentrate on your manoeuvre!

I hope this helps!
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Old 18th Aug 2018, 11:04
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Well after 5 hours you are doing Ok, as for 2 of those hours you will just have been a passenger.
I also had the rudder problem, and being an engineer, I used to think out all the linkages … Push on that pedal, it tightens that cable, which pulls that bell-crank, which pulls that way on the rudder, which makes the air push the tail in the opposite direction.... All too much of a long winded thought process to be of any use.
As for the Yoke, make sure you have trimmed the elevator so that you can take your hands off the yoke, and the airplane continues with no change of altitude. That way you know that zero finger pressure on the yoke = level flight.
Best of luck with the rest..
.
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Old 18th Aug 2018, 11:41
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As everybody has said, your situation all sounds pretty normal for a 5 hour student.
Though, you're right, your lessons should include a reasonable pre-briefing, and a thorough de-brief of how you performed, what needs improvement, etc. And, as to mnenomics, they can be useful up to a point, but can be overused, too. I've actually never heard of the one you refer to, sounds somewhat superfluous to me, but either way, it will "gel" in time.
It could be that you and your instructor aren't a good match, for a variety of reasons, you shouldn't hesitate to address these concerns with him/her, any true professional should be glad for the feedback and a chance for clarifications, etc.
Most of all, try to relax, and give things time. Right now, everything you do has to be processed, taking up lots of brain bandwidth. With more practice and exposure to all the new skills you're learning, your reflexes will become better, so to speak, using your spinal cord for basic control (rudder, yoke, throttle, etc.), leaving more room for your brain to process other tasks (navigation, comms, whatever). And, as with any new learned skill set, everyone will have peaks, dips, and plateaus during the process. Good luck, have fun, way too early to get discouraged!
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Old 18th Aug 2018, 11:50
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DB,

Expect, well, really, demand an effective briefing before the flight as to some of the expectations, and debriefing following the flight as to observations. For some flights I have done with other pilots, the briefing before hand took longer than the planned flight - 'saved time in the air.

Air is very much more compressible that road or water, so expect the aircraft will be "mushy" in control, compared to a car or boat. Just get used to it, it'll be just fine. That more mushy control is compensated by that reality that aside from precision relative to the surface of the runway, precision compared to driving is otherwise not required.

Similarly, brakes and steering in planes is poor compared to cars (have you looked at the size of the brake pads compared to a car?). They're sloppy things to taxi, so take you time, it'll come to you. It is mechanically not possible for cable type flight control systems to operate with the precision of car steering.

As for instruments, ignore all but: "The Ball" - very frequently when aileron or rudder is being, or should be being used, Altitude, occasional glance if you've been told to maintain it at a stated value, and airspeed, occasional glance during climbout, or approach. Everything else is a nice to know, but should not distract you from flying the plane by outside visual reference.

Use of the rudder: If the wings are not level, and/or you're using the ailerons at all, you should be aware of, and probably applying some rudder. Refer to "The Ball" above. Obviously, the object is to use the rudder to keep the ball in the middle for most flying (passenger comfort). I took a young fellow flying once, and asked what he'd like to see or do. He told me he wanted to understand the use of the rudder. I demonstrated with the application of rudder, and reference to the ball, and let him have at it. He spent about an hour totally focused on flying straight and in turns, with acute attention to the use of the rudder (I watched out for traffic). After that hour of flying, and his dedicated attention, he really did get it. So give yourself that hour of understanding the rudder, with no distraction (from your instructor).

Mnemonics: I have succeeded for more than four decades of flying while completely ignoring the use of mnemonics . Some people find them helpful, I do not. There is no requirement for you to learn nor apply mnemonics to become a good pilot. You've got to do the required actions, but if mnemonics is not your thing, find the method which works for you - which could and should be reference to a written checklist, and do that. As long as you are correctly carrying out the actions, in the required order, how you do it is up to you.

Instructors: They're people, just like us. Some are excellent, and very experienced, others not so much. Couple that with their personal interest in your progress, relative to theirs, and the "fit" could get better or worse for you. It's your money, hire the instruction which suits you. If the instructor is not putting you at ease, and creating a safe and stimulating learning environment for you, discuss that with them, and consider moving on to the next available instructors. It is a reality in aviation now, that the instructors of the day or no longer the highly skilled retired airline or military pilots, but rather new pilots themselves, for whom instructing is a stepping stone to the airline job they really want, so they don't know it all either ('cause they only know what their instructor taught them). The problem is that often they don't know what they don't know - you might be the first to know! Try to find an instructor with grey hair, it got that way, 'cause they have learned more than the basics!
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Old 18th Aug 2018, 12:01
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I would not worry too much about issues impairing your progression, don't make it a fixation. I reckon general handling is worrying you the most

If I could give you an advice, go take some tailwheel training, it will develop your skills, finesse and give you a sense of control boosting your confidence. In all aspects of your handling scenarios. The proper reflexes will replace mneumonics, no need to think before doing.

If you could progress to the point of doing your solo flight on a tailwheel aircraft, after say 10 hours you will reach a level of proficiency impossible to equate even with 1000 hours of flying with nosewheel trainers. Tailwheel handling imposes you to master handling skills at the very beginning of your training. It requires an awareness of speed, altitude, energy and flight path, possible only with coordination an a soft smooth touch at the controls.. Failing to master even one of these elements will end up in bent metal, countless bounces, or and a groundloop.


Please note that I am by no means asserting that standard nosewheel training is useless, far from that. But nosegear tricycles do not care how you taxi, take off, or put them into the ground.

Too fast, bounce and land long, too slow and hit the ground hard, sideways screeching the tyres not correcting for parallax or yaw, not flaring properly or not keeping the flare long enough and slamming the front wheel on the concrete, not controlling the decelerating portion swerving left and right...Add a crosswind component and enjoy the show.

Please do not misunderstand me, I am by no means advocating against nosewheel aircraft and instructors far from that.
Show me a nosewheel aircraft e.g. during landing, touching down near the desired spot, not bouncing along, not stalling before such point at 30 cm from the ground, thus indicating proper speed control, without the wheels screeching by hitting the ground sideways during contact, without the front wheel slamming into the ground a fraction of a second after the mains meaning the flare has been kept all along the way allowing for the nosewheel to ease effortlessy into the ground. Then you have a proficient pilot. It does not matter wether taildragger or nosewheel. Rare nonetheless on nosedraggers

Unfortunately looking at the typical flight school circuits and this at vitually every airfield I have been, shows me this is not happening.
Grotesque sloppy habits develop due to improper training possible only in noswheel a/c. And they affect not only students but most instructors as well.
This lack of finesse, coordination, and soft touch is also responsible for grotesque flying habits in the air, but during landing we have it well before our eyes to enjoy the show if we care to look.

Last edited by markkal; 18th Aug 2018 at 12:12.
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Old 18th Aug 2018, 19:14
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The OP says he is unhappy with his taxiing. In that situation going to a tailwheel is likely to make him much more unhappy.
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Old 18th Aug 2018, 21:45
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Originally Posted by Maoraigh1 View Post
The OP says he is unhappy with his taxiing. In that situation going to a tailwheel is likely to make him much more unhappy.
You have a point, but I may say it could eventually make him proactive and develop his reflexes, he says he's grabbing the yoke and does not feel the "ailerons touching the air" which suggests he has a very precise and critical analysis of his drawbacks. I would assume overreacting or failing to react to keep the a/c pointed where he wants it to go both in the ground and in the air are making him tense and depressed.

Why not try taildraggers with a different instructor, one who, at least in the air let's you keep the controls a bit more (As you seem to be wishing)
"Double Barrel", you have noticed some improvement after hour 3 and 4, so take your time.

In flight instruction, as you progress, you will eventually sooner or later reach a point of frustration, that is when after having witnessed the satisfaction of getting it right, you will screw it up at times thereafter. This is normal and has to do with consistency. It takes time.

Carry on and try taildraggers, before it's too late that you will have to remove all those bad habits gained with a nosewheel, which most pilots can live with at the expense of greater finesse in general handling. It is demanding but does wonders.

You are aware of being tense at the controls. Start with handling in the air by developing a soft and light touch , learn how to use the rudder. Then tackle the ground aspect, which is the tough part, but very very rewarding when you will finally master it. It's trial and error, alternating frustration and satisfaction until you reach a decent level of consistency

Without rudder there is no coordination, 99% of pilots and way too many instructors have the ball off on one side or the other without even realising it especially at low speeds and during turns. And at touchdown where screeching of the tyres indicate uncorrected yaw.

I am confident as you loosen up you will overcome much of your problems, and become a better pilot overall. Carry on and good luck !

Last edited by markkal; 18th Aug 2018 at 22:03.
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Old 19th Aug 2018, 10:42
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Thanks all, I will stick at it!

Apart from the useful specific advice on handling, I think the message for me is that I need to demand more from the instructors (actually 2 different guys so far on 5 flights!). Interestingly, although they constantly whizz through checklists, there has been no mention of a physical list on paper, is that usual? My brain seems to absorb things better if I have some writing to refer to as well as the physical action. Anyway, I spent yesterday trawling the web and compiling my own for the key phases, I have also acquired a knee board (another item that has not been referred to by the instructors) and will turn-up with my own lists strapped to my knee and try to take a bit more ownership of the process. Including a debrief after shutting down. After all, I am giving them all of my money!
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Old 19th Aug 2018, 11:21
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will turn-up with my own lists strapped to my knee and try to take a bit more ownership of the process.
Well, before you go to that effort... Hopefully, by this point, you've been introduced to the flight manual for the aircraft. Every certified plane manufacturer in the last 60 years will have one. It will contain a checklist, which really is the one an only which you should use. The only things which might be added to that would be additional items found in flight manual supplements applicable to the aircraft (ask/have a look, though don't expect much), and items unique to the operation of aircraft at that locale (specific ATC procedures, for example). Otherwise, operate the aircraft with the checklist produced by the manufacturer. Because... If you develop your own, and as a result something is different and missed, somebody will probably ask you why you did not use the manufacturer's checklist, and there's no good answer for that question! If you cannot easily copy the one from the flight manual, write it out for yourself, and make reference on what you've written, that it is a reproduction of the flight manual checklist. It sounds like work, but in doing that, you'll begin to absorb the details and retain them.

As an instructor is being paid to teach you to fly the aircraft, they should be teaching you to refer to a written checklist. If they are not, and are whizzing through a verbal checklist in their head, they are doing you a disservice in your learning. It's not their job to show off how cool they are 'cause they memorized a checklist, it's their job to demonstrate doing things properly. Later in your career, you may choose to memorize checklists, but not now, read the paper every time. And, if you do that, you can completely avoid mnemonics!
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Old 19th Aug 2018, 11:35
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Nope. No mention of the existence of a flight manual.
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Old 19th Aug 2018, 15:06
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You really do need to change instructors. Stalling after 5 hrs? So they've got you through effects of controls, straight & level, climbing & descending, turning, slow flight all in 5 hrs while you are still having difficulties on the ground. As others have said, it is your money. Take it elsewhere and get good quality instruction. It is these exercises where the foundation of all your flying skills are laid.

Last edited by rarelyathome; 19th Aug 2018 at 16:24.
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Old 19th Aug 2018, 16:58
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Nope. No mention of the existence of a flight manual
Oh dear... That's worrisome! You'd read the instruction manual before you operated any other complex machine... Reading, or at least being aware of the existence of the flight manual, would be a good idea, and should be being trained. It'll tell you some important things, the most important of which is the limitations imposed on the operation of the aircraft - so you know not to exceed them! Otherwise, procedures for emergency and normal operation, as well as weight and balance, and performance information will be there. And, a detailed description of the systems of the aircraft, to help you make a good decision when something isn't working properly. Yes, your instructor should be "covering this" for you in the beginning of your learning, but you still should be aware!

Just 'cause I'm curious, what aircraft model and year have you been flying DB?
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Old 19th Aug 2018, 18:11
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Originally Posted by rarelyathome View Post
You really do need to change instructors. Stalling after 5 hrs? So they've got you through effects of controls, straight & level, climbing & descending, turning, slow flight all in 5 hrs while you are still having difficulties on the ground. As others have said, it is your money. Take it elsewhere and get good quality instruction. It is these exercises where the foundation of all your flying skills are laid.
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 it ?

Originally Posted by Pilot DAR View Post
Oh dear... ........Yes, your instructor should be "covering this" for you in the beginning of your learning, but you still should be aware!
I am a bit surprised at no mention ever of any value of airspeed for anything. I have read a bit of theory so know what to expect for the obvious things, but I did expect everything to be dominated by awareness of IAS. It certainly is not at the moment. Maybe I am just worrying too much and they are treating the 1st 5 hours as a general relaxed intro to be followed-up by more formal stuff ?

Originally Posted by Pilot DAR View Post
Just 'cause I'm curious, what aircraft model and year have you been flying DB?
C172M. Don't know the year
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Old 19th Aug 2018, 18:21
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1)you'll get it in time.
2)you'll get it in time
3)you'll get it in time
4)I still don't know what the rudder is for
And yes, you should expect a decent 10 minute-ish debrief for your buck. But some instructors like to debrief in the aircraft. Don't forget, their time can be very limited. If you want a decent ground debrief, demand one.
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Old 19th Aug 2018, 18:33
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For the 172M, after about a three second Google search, I found this:

http://www.hva.com.au/Uploads/Cessna...odel%20POH.pdf

Download it and read through. Sure, some of it may not be clear to you now, but by the time you earn your PPL, everything in this manual should make sense to you. Your instructor should be able to easily explain everything which is presented in this manual. Legally, this manual must be carried aboard the aircraft during flight. It costs nothing to sit in an aircraft which is not running, so pick a poor weather day, sit in the plane (and walk around it) with the manual in your hands, and equate everything - the manual explains it all.

Probably in your national regulations, there is one somewhere (which in all fairness, you would not yet have been introduced to) which will read something like "The pilot shall operate the aircraft in accordance with the manufacturer's manuals and checklists, and within its limitations". The flight manual/pilot operating handbook from the aircraft manufacturer is the document you refer to to comply with that regulation. If you do not refer to the flight manual, and it's checklists, and something goes wrong, an authoritative person may be asking you why you were not complying with the manufacturer's procedures and limitations. I would not like to have to answer that question myself!

Also note, that probably of little affect on the 172M you fly, there still may be approved flight manual supplements associated with modifications done to that particular plane. You would also be responsible for knowing and operating within those. Just reading only the flight manual is not enough. An example is that some modifications impose speed limitations which you would like to know about! During an approval process, I once limited a 172M with a photo door installed to a never exceed speed of 125 knots. This was because I found during testing that at 135 knots, the door shook so badly I thought I would loose it! So, there's an approved flight manual supplement for that photo door, and requirement to placard the airspeed indicator when it's installed, which I wrote. Woe be the pilot who disregards, and flies it faster than 135 knots!

Beyond the manual, I highly recommend the book "Cessna, Wings for the World" by Thompson. He was a Cessna test pilot, and explains everything about the whole single engine series. It is certain that if you read the section of that book about 172's, you will know more than your instructor about the development history of the plane, and why things are the way they are - it's fascinating.
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Old 19th Aug 2018, 19:03
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Cool. Thanks
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Old 19th Aug 2018, 21:02
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sounds very normal to me

I tihink that you are showing a good talent for understanding your own learning curve, that will serve you well.

some comments below to assist:


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.

It will come. Normal at this stage. Keep at it. I had a problem as all my foot steering was learnt on soapbox carts with a beam front axle which works teh other way. Just remember right foot to turn right. Soon you will have that down but struggle with positioing the ailerons during taxi to match the wind !

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.

Also normal at this stage. High workload is the main cause. Everyone says 'just hold the yoke with finger and thumb' but easier said than done. This will come. Concentrate on learning and understanding the concept of angle of attack and how much energy the aircraft has.. many parallels to sailing, you just need to find them

3. I am fixating on the VSI rather than the horizon.
Try asking your intructor to cover up the panel or, better , use pvc tape or a grease pencil to make a reference mark on the windscreen to reference the horizon so you can just use that. Forbid yourself to look inside. No need. Trust that if you have the power set correctly and the pitch set, you will fly correctly ! pitch and heading can be determined by looking out of the window.. Pick a visual reference point to fly towards for each heading you need to fly.

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.

Yes, also normal. Also related to the taxiing point. Tell your instructor that you need to review this and next time you roll (steer) in to a turn watch the prop spinner against the horizon, You will be suprised to see that it initially moves the wrong way in a turn. You will eventually learn the muscle memory to use the rudder to correct this but it can take a long time. Also ask the instructor to show you how to do dutch rolls, which will help build the understanding and footwork.

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 [?]". 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?)

This is a workload issue and also you probably arent getting a decent preflight brief and even if you are you are probably struggling to remember and apply it. Google or PPRuNe can assist on that - here is what I use

H is for height. - sufficient height to recover safely from whatever you are about to do
A is for airframe - aircraft configured correctly for what you are going to do. Power/Flap setting etc
S is for secure - no loose stuff in the aircraft, seatbelts tight etc
E is for engine - stiil there, yes, also a quick look to make sure all gauges in the green.
L is for location - use ABC, A- Airfields - dont manouever near airfields; B - built up areas - dont manouver near them, C - controlled airspace - be aware that you may inadvertently enter it if a manouver goes badly
L - is for Lookout - most important. Look above , below and turn R & L to be sure noone is nearby


Remember, if it was easy, everyone would be pilots and we would proably have to get jobs as bus drivers.

Hope this helps
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