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6 Answers

Flight Instructor concerns

Asked by: 2603 views , , , ,
Flight Instructor, Private Pilot, Student Pilot

Hi. I'm currently a student pilot. I've had some bad luck trying to get certified. Quick background ... I was training with one local school, was up to about 20 hours, never got to solo. Went through about 5 different instructors (due to staff availability), and two different planes - Piper and 'Cheetah' over about 5 months. Then, the school closed. Every CFI there had a  different method of pattern-work (kept me a little frustrated due to lack of consistency, some of their techniqes were pretty major differences - hard for me to learn one method) Now, after a 6 month delay, I have found a new instructor with a C-172. I have about 17 hours with him and still not able to solo (so total around 36 hours). My landing are still not consistently 'solid'. The issue I'm 'feeling' is that he will not take his hands off the controls - I mean he is still partially-controlling TOs and landings. I can't get a feel for the final corrections I need to be making. I have spoken to him about this, and he stated he knows he does this sometimes. Everytime the plane 'bumps', he grabs the controls. I've noted I feel I am 'fighting' him for PIC at times. Is this normal? How do other CFI's allow their students to gain confidence on landings, in preparation for solo-flight, etc? This CFI is older with many years experience. Thanks very much

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6 Answers



  1. Echo November on Apr 16, 2015

    Student pilot, I am not sure that your instructors age has a lot to do with it. As an instructor myself I am certainly acquainted with the times and moments when the cockpit can get a little “tense.” Please recognize the tremendous risk that all CFIs take when they stepped onto the flight deck with a new student. With that said, depending on how long you’ve flown with this instructor, it may be that your styles do not mesh, it may be that he or she has been out of instructing for a while, or it may simply be that they have not learned how you fly – your particular style. It sounds like you have had a quality open conversation with him or her, that is certainly the first up. I would encourage you to continue flying, and ensure that you always come prepared. That’s helps with the instructors trust in their student. If there is not a change in behavior soon – you should bring this up again. I tell my students that I am there to keep them safe, and the plane safe, while they learn to fly.

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  2. jeff on Apr 17, 2015

    Healthkicks,
    I do not agree with echo pilot. If it was your first flight or two with this new instructor then echo pilot would have a point and id encourage additional time with the instructor. However, you mentioned that you have now flown 17 hours with this instructor and he continues to do the same thing. The instructor should not be putting his hands on the controls unless he feels you are doing something dangerous, which does not sound like the case. Even if you are making mistakes in controlling the aircraft, he should be talking you through correcting them, not assumming control. You will never get the feel of the aircraft or correct what you are doing wrong and progress if he continually grabs the controls. You made the proper first step by having an open, honest discussion with him. It sounds like this instructor is not very comfortable in the aircraft or with his instructing abilities. If it doesnt change after the discussion with him, you may be better off finding a new instructor.

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  3. healthkicks on Apr 18, 2015

    EN and Jeff, thank you both for the responses. And, just like your answers are both 180 out, that is a little where I’m at now. I think being a CFI has got to be a tough job, you can have 1-2 seconds to make a decision. I’m supposed to fly with him again tomorrow depending on weather. We’ll see how it goes.

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  4. Mark Kolber on Apr 18, 2015

    healthkicks, the one thing your question is missing is a mention of having a discussion with your current CFI about your concerns and frustrations.

    Your frustration itself is completely understandable. The closing of a flight school, the musical chairs of CFIs with different techniques for pattern flight and landing. Those can put a damper in anything you are trying to learn, let along being so close to solo. But it’s something that you simply must discuss with an instructor. A good one will take that into account and help you work through it. And if all you get is an unsympathetic “my way or a highway” response, it’s a good sign that instructor is probably not for you.

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  5. Bob Watson on Apr 19, 2015

    After 17 hours with the current instructor on top of 20 hours of previous experience, your instructor (and you) should have a clear understanding of what’s standing between you and your solo flight as well as the rest of your training. There’s got to be something identifiable after all that flying! After each flight, you should get a summary of what went well, what needs some more work, and what the plan is to get you closer to soloing. What you shouldn’t get are vague answers like “that just isn’t solid…” You should get answers like, “You’re not keeping up with your checklist, so we’ll walk through that a few times before the next fligh” “you’re letting your speed get too fast/slow on final, so we’ll practice some slow-flight to get used to flying at those speeds,” “You’re flaring too soon/late, so we’ll practice some maneuvers to get used to that aspect of the landing” etc. Things that are definite and fixable.

    After reading about all this training turmoil, it could just be you need some confidence-building exercises to prove to yourself and your instructor that you have positive control over the airplane so that you both feel more comfortable as you get close to touchdown.

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  6. Earl Kessler on Apr 20, 2015

    Hi Healthkicks,

    All of my students understand my philosophy is I don’t touch the controls except to save the plane or demonstrate a technique or maneuver. I sit in the right seat with my hands folded in plain view of my students. I feel that this is a confidence building technique. I always state “I have the controls” and ask for a surrender response from my student “you have the controls”. When I demonstrate, I ask my student to keep hands and feet on the controls to feel my inputs. A good instructor flies with his tongue not by grabbing the controls. See if your instructor is building time or is dedicated to teaching.

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