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Time for a new school

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Time for a new school

Old 6th May 2021, 14:00
  #1 (permalink)  
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Join Date: May 2021
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Time for a new school

I am a newbie here, but I have been browsing the PPRuNe forums for a number of years. I am wondering if I could pick your collective brains about training.

I am not new to GA flying but have only recently (in the last 18 months), decided to take the plunge and get finally get my PPL. I have flown extensively in the past (more than 20 years ago) with a friend but have had no formal flight training. I consider myself to be a complete novice however - I could do most basic flight manoevres - turns: climbing, decending, etc S&L flight, take-off and landing, navigation etc. before embarking on training

I started my training in late 2019 and progressed relatively quickly until Covid came along. I was able to continue throughout 2020 albeit at a much reduced pace. I now have about 26 hrs under my belt but I am still stuck circuit-bashing for the last 8-9hrs because my instructor insists that I am "not ready" to move on.

The problem I have is that I do not feel that I am learning anything anymore and that when I turn up for a lesson, we are only going-through-the-motions, as I always end-up with the same conclusion on the de-brief and he gives me a list of things that are "wrong". These things seem to be different each time however, and no matter how much effort I put in, it seems as though the instructor always picks holes in my flying of the circuit. The thing is, because the reasons he provides are so inconsistent, I am beginning to think that it isn't my performance but rather the instructor.

To test this theory out, on my last lesson I deliberately did not do one of the important items on the checklist (a box-check) to see if he would notice - he didn't! (Before anybody piles-in to say that that is stupid - I did do it, but I left it to the end).This is not the only inconsistency, and I often get very confusing instructions from him which contradict each other from one lesson to the next. This leads me to suspect that he isn't really instructing any more - he just sits-in for the flight. I know that we are all human however and that nobody is perfect but I feel that consistency should be an important (essential?) part of training.

So my question is: should I just stick with this flying instructor until things are "right" or am I wasting my time? I am leaning towards the latter, but I do not want to be hasty in my decision to move to another school...

Any advice greatly appreciated.
J_Morgan is offline  
Old 6th May 2021, 17:10
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Can you not ask the CFI for a different instructor?
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Old 6th May 2021, 19:12
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Frustration will be making learning impossible. As suggested, discuss it with the school. But if it is a small, tight-knit school, that might not work.
When I got my PPL at Thruxton in 1964 after soloing, the Assistant Instructor stopped a circuit refresher part way, and said he couldn't help me. Before I noticed it. Another more experienced instructor quickly found my problem, and I was back with the Assistant.
Different people have different learning patterns. I learn nothing by watching an Instructor demonstrate - I need to be hands-on, with the Instructor spotting what I'm doing wrong.
Regaining my PPL after 21 years, I had your problem with one Instructor, fortunately few lessons were with him.
Maoraigh1 is offline  
Old 6th May 2021, 20:23
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OP, whereabouts are you in the UK?

I’d be asking for a session with the CFI, along with a full brief/debrief of what the aims of the session are/were and where you met/didn’t meet said aims.
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Old 6th May 2021, 20:50
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So my question is: should I just stick with this flying instructor until things are "right" or am I wasting my time?
As you describe things you are certainly wasting your time. If progress in the circuit is not being achieved then it is time to move on through the syllabus. This will increase your confidence and, of course, will continue to develop your flying skills. Continuing unsuccessfully in the circuit will only develop deep seated negative phobias within you and therefore it is wrong.

A common cause of an individual struggling in the circuit is due to the early hours being rushed and so left incomplete. The circuit is not the place to learn to fly. It is a place when for the first time you apply the learned skills. 8-9 hours circuit bashing without progress is too much and tells me the early hours were rushed and not fully understood. So, in terms of the syllabus, if the pre-circuit work was poor or skimped then you need to revise these until complete. Following this move on to the post circuit work, you have done enough 12/13 for the time being. A return to the dedicated circuit work should be when it is known to be appropriate and your confidence has been restored, but not before.

If it is how you describe it then you must change the instructor. As already advised speak to the CFI/Head of Training about all this for a planned resolve.

Last edited by Fl1ingfrog; 6th May 2021 at 21:10.
Fl1ingfrog is offline  
Old 7th May 2021, 04:26
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Without access to your pilot training record I would not comment on your individual particular progress .
I can comment on a common frustration that some student get when their training plateaus and the fun is sucked right out of the window .
Procedures are best learned chair flying on the ground . An airplane is a very difficult place to learn the check lists and procedures . If I get a student that has not got the procedures , We go for coffee and a walk around the ramp with the checklist in hand in a ground circuit drill . I like to make instructing easy for me and the easy way is to make sure the student is well briefed, before and after each flight so they know what is expected .
Many pilot training records can help progress and help solve issues before they cause frustration . Plateaus are normal and can be an opportunity to reinforce elements required .
Look at the whole dance card when a plateau occurs for clues .
Use Crew Resource Management techniques to resolve problems . The best CRM quote is “ Talk to me Goose “ if I say that , I am opening the discussion and I expect you to speak up . If you say it i will take the opportunity to help .

Flying can be fun and safe if you know what is expected .




fitliker is offline  
Old 7th May 2021, 05:26
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If you don't know what the instructor wants to see, you'll never be able to show him. Once you realise what he's looking for it'll all come together. Maybe ask him for a demo? Hopefully he's not just milking you, the other option is he might not be confident or experienced enough, it happens.
rudestuff is offline  
Old 7th May 2021, 07:01
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If you have another airfield with a flight school within reasonable distance, I would go and have a chat and possibly book an hour with them to see how you get on. Nothing lost other than the cost of the lesson, and you may just find that a change of scenery and instructor provides a breakthrough. I went to 3 schools at 2 airfields until I found somewhere I was really comfortable.
Everyone is different but I found the relationship with my instructor was more important than anything else, and this gave me the confidence to get through the difficult periods of the syllabus which we all go through.
Good luck and let us know how you get on.
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Old 7th May 2021, 08:24
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Fwh
 
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Hey J Morgan, my advice would be to move schools. You clearly are not getting what you want out of your current instructor so I would say it would be best to find another place plus because of coivd there shouldn't be a shortage of very experience personal in the industry.
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Old 7th May 2021, 08:52
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He who pays the piper plays the tune - is only true to a cvertain extent. But in ths case, you have a point to move on to another instructor.
SignalSquare is offline  
Old 7th May 2021, 09:33
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Are you unhappy with the school itself (friendliness of staff, condition of aircraft, availability, type of airfield, cost etc), or just with this one instructor. If it’s just the instructor and you’re happy with everything else then the best thing might be to actually put the points you have made in your post on PPRuNe to your instructor, and see what they say, and if that doesn’t work to the CFI, or just book with another instructor, unless there’s only one they can’t force you to fly with the same person all the time.

It doesn’t matter if the instructor is young, old, experienced or inexperienced, sometimes students need a change. If I had a student who wasn’t happy with what I was doing I’d far rather they told me about it, rather than posting on an anonymous Internet forum then changing flying schools. Never forget that you are a customer, and deserve some respect as such.
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Old 7th May 2021, 10:18
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Originally Posted by Maoraigh1 View Post
the Assistant Instructor stopped a circuit refresher part way, and said he couldn't help me. Before I noticed it. Another more experienced instructor quickly found my problem, and I was back with the Assistant..
That was/is a very proffesional move from the assistant instructor.

And as everyone else said, you don't have to move school, but have a chat with the instructor and ask for another if you need it. It may not be better though, I'd say 26 hours over more than a year.... is not a lot, and for a "new" pilot, he may get rusty in between flights.
jmmoric is offline  
Old 7th May 2021, 11:23
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J Morgan, Lots of good advice above. I will agree that there is no clear answer here, 'could be the instructor, 'could be you, 'probably an imperfect combination. That said, it generally should be possible for any two pilots to fly together, and is an expectation in a commercial environment. It will mean that each pilot has to give a little to get along. But, that said, as a student, you should expect some extra give and mentoring, while you acclimatize, and build skills.

From my own perspective, a bit over a decade ago, with about 6000 hours of fixed wing time, I took helicopter training. I was shared between two both very experienced instructors. One primary, the second because the first would be my examiner, and was not permitted to fly my latter training. The two instructors could not have been more different from each other. The examiner instructor was generally grumpy, and I would know my flight was good, if he had been mostly quiet. But, I knew that I had to be agreeable as he would be my examiner. The other instructor was charming, engaging, and actively mentoring. I learned lots from both of them, but in different ways. I had to find the way to extract the learning from quiet grumpy guy, but is was worth it, he had so much experience, I just had to grab and pull. The second instructor filled me with confidence, but did not drive me to prove myself.

The instructor you're having trouble with may not be great at encouraging, and mentoring, everyone can build their interpersonal skills. If you can change instructors without a fuss, and continue, 'nothing wrong with that. But, if it's a fuss to change, take on the challenge of learning from a difficult teacher, we get them from time to time. That instructor is there because they have met at least the minimum requirements to teach flying. They may be adequate, they may be "good" ('sounds like they're not awesome). Make it your challenge to rise above the lesson, and align with another person at a higher level to make a "crew" in the cockpit. You don't have to be super experienced to act as a crew member, you just have to be an active part of things - in this case, the student. This won't be the last time you have to share a cockpit, so practice yourself, pulling the training a little, rather than expecting it to flow out perfectly.

The worst thing could be I'm wrong, okay, move on... But do so knowing that you put in the extra first...
Pilot DAR is offline  
Old 7th May 2021, 17:05
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Think Fl1ingfrog got it about right.

if you don’t want to offend said instructor by “grassing”him up or feel awkward about changing might be worth finding his days off and book a flight with someone else on that day.
Does seem though whatever way you decide to go you need to get away from the circuit for an hour or so

simmple is offline  
Old 8th May 2021, 00:19
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T21
 
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Are you at a flying school which is very quiet at the moment due to covid? Is your instructor building hours towards a commercial licence? If so, maybe he does not want you to progress onto solo flying where he will not be logging any hours whilst he is getting you towards your PPL.

I apologise for wearing my cynical hat, but as an ex instructor it annoys me to read about such poor instruction.
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Old 8th May 2021, 00:36
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Another possibility is that you pretty much knew that you already knew how to fly, and therefore your ability to learn could be impaired by that attitude.
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Old 8th May 2021, 03:26
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There will very much be two sides to this story and we are only hearing one here. However a trip with the CFI/different instructor should help.

I recall from my PPL days a fellow student that was stuck in the circuit, no feel in the flare and every touch down was firm to say the least. Said student took a holiday to Florida and was going to get some time in there. His instructor told him to go get as many landings in as he could and to ignore everything else as it will cost him far less out there.

He came back with a PPL. When he came back he asked to rent an aircraft, he was given a check ride with a different instructor. The school would not rent to him as he still couldn’t land, only now with a licence!

As I recall he went off to build his own aircraft and said he couldn’t wait to get away from the instructors “telling him what to do”. You can guess the rest. RIP.
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Old 8th May 2021, 10:19
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I consider myself to be a complete novice however - I could do most basic flight manoevres - turns: climbing, decending, etc S&L flight, take-off and landing, navigation etc. before embarking on training
If you are a complete novice, then you don't know anything and thats where you should have begun.
I recall in 1968 when one of the last courses to graduate from Hamble were not offered postions by BEA/BOAC who sponsored the training. A number applied to join the RAF and despite having graduated with a Senior CPL (SCPL) the RAF only offered them traing as Navigators becuase it assessed that retraing them as pilots would be too much of a risk.
I recall having a flying scholarship student who was the son of a RAF Station Commander, he had flown many hours as a cadet in Cipmunks. Training him was quite difficult, all he wanted to do was go solo. He finally soloed at about 7 hours.
Try another instructor, just tell them how far you have got, don't mention your "passenger" flying, let the instructor assess you and take it from there.
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Old 8th May 2021, 14:23
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Instructors are not supposed to “give you what you want”.
Now what they are supposed to do is find your problem areas and teach you how to conquer them.
There is no such thing as a mystery standard.
You can’t just keep guessing what he wants to see that day.
Something like:
3 out of 5 landings between this point and this point ( like two taxiways or threshold markings or any combination of easily seen markers).
The remaining two may not be past this next point. If it appears you will touchdown past this point I expect you to do a go around.
Center line needs to be between the main gear.
If it is not I expect you to do a go around.
Out of the 5 landings I would like to see full flap, partial flap and no flap landings.
Those are clear expectations.

Now it take a good circuit/pattern to do a good landing as you don’t have the experience yet to correct for a bad pattern and still get a good landing out of it.
So if your landings are not satisfactory then there’s something amiss with your patterns.
If your patterns are amiss there’s something lacking in your primary skills:
Climbing turns
Descending turns
Level flight with constant track ( wind correction)
Acceleration and deceleration in level flight
Configuration changes in level flight.
Configuration changes in descending flight.

Something that I used to do was be the “autopilot”.
As previously agreed I would take the airplane at 500’ after take off and fly the circuit/pattern and have the student sit back, relax and watch and listen. Give the airplane back on final on speed and on altitude and configured.
Repeat as required.
Once a couple of decent landings are accomplished then hand the airplane back on base. Then mid downwind.


B2N2 is offline  
Old 8th May 2021, 18:39
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"That was/is a very proffesional move from the assistant instructor."
I think it was school policy, from the CFI, Maurice Looker. They didn't waste time. Most (all?) students full time.
I wonder what the OPs school supervision is like. I seem to remember EASA required various positions, which would have been there until 31/12, if not still there.
Maoraigh1 is offline  

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