My most recent flight training question comes from Holly who asks:
So I am a new student pilot. So far, I really like my CFI. He’s very knowledgable, patient and we have we have a good raport. However, on our second official training flight, my CFI said we were going to learn slow flight and recovering from a stall. Let me tell you–it freaked me out. We have done it one other time since then (my most recent flight) and it freaked me out both times. Next lesson is powered off stalls–even more fun! So, I guess my question is, do you think it’s a little soon to be learning slow flight and stall recovery? I know it’s absolutely essential to know these things and be comfortable with them, but I am not 100% comfortable with the plane yet and how to control it in normal, straight and level flight, let alone in a potential emergency. It would seem to me that that would be a few lessons down the road–maybe lesson 9 or 10 when I am more comfortable controlling the plane and having a feel for the controls. What are your thoughts?
Hi Holly, I appreciate your question and I have a question for you, have you talked honestly to your instructor? Have you expressed to him your apprehension about the stall series and your nervousness about performing the maneuver? You mentioned that you have a good rapport, I think the best approach would be to discuss your apprehension about these manuevers with your instructor. That is definitely step one. I realize that sometimes it is difficult to divulge insecurities, especially with someone that you are trying to appear confident and secure around but it is important that you are honest and upfront about your thoughts so that he is able to develop a program to get you flying these maneuvers confidently.
Step two would be to trust your instructor. If you have an honest conversation with him and he develops a training program suited around your individuality and your personal apprehensions, it is important that you trust the training curriculum. It might be that he wants to introduce slow flight and stalls to you early so that you realize the security of the airplane, even when stalled. He might also be trying to develop your confidence with the flight controls so that you can safely maneuver the aircraft in the traffic pattern.
One of the most important things that we are taught as instructors is that every student is unique. No two students will learn exactly the same way and at the same pace. Some maneuvers that may be difficult for some students will be easier for others and visa versa. It may be that you take a while with the stall series but perform flawlessly in the pattern. I have students that have soloed at 9 hours and others who didn’t solo till 30 hours. The common thread was that each one loved to fly and were determined to do whatever it took to realize their dream even if it meant conquering some fears (like stalls).
One piece of advice that I can give you is that a stall is not an emergency condition. In fact, a lot of very good landings involve a power-off stall about 1 sec prior to touchdown! Being comfortable with the airplane at very slow speeds and just before the stall breaks is important so that you realize what directional control you still have over the airplane. Approach the stall as something fun and exhilarating instead of an emergency or out-of-control condition may help to break the barrier you have to this maneuver.
I wish you all the best in your training and I know that you and your instructor will be able to work through this if you talk to him honestly and he listens openly.
Thanks again for your question and I hope that you always…