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6 Answers

Is it me or is it my instructor

Asked by: 3792 views Student Pilot

I'm a student pilot with more than 40 hours of flight time and 150 landings over the course of several months.

I still have not solo'ed and, frankly, do not feel confident to do so.  This is mainly because I am just not getting the hang of landings; the rest of my maneuvers rate 'good' even after a break. 

There have been breaks in my training, but that's mainly because it's taking so long and I have to fit my life around the lessons.

I believe I am well motivated to fly, and I am usually a fast learner. How can I tell if I'm just not cut out for aviation as a hobby, or if there's a problem with my instructor/school?

Or am I just too impatient?

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6 Answers



  1. Gary Moore on Jan 22, 2011

    Truthfully – it’s probably ‘all of the above’.  There is no real rule on ‘when you’ll solo’ – but both you AND your instructor have to feel confident that you are ready.
    One thing you might try is to schedule an hour or two with another instructor specifically to evaluate your landings.  Sometimes a fresh perspective will allow something to click and you’ll get back on track.
    But have faith – you will get there.  Landings are s stumbling block for many students – but you will finally get the hang of it.  Give yourself a break from the ‘I gotta solo soon’ worry and just go back to enjoying the flying…..you’ll get there.

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  2. Wesley Beard on Jan 22, 2011

    Tony,
    There are a lot of reasons why a student pilot doesn’t solo as quickly as others.  I am going to cover some techniques that work much better than others and perhaps help you with soloing sooner.

    Seat position – Make sure the seat is positioned exactly the same place as it was in the previous flight to include seat height and how far back it is.  This is important as the visual perceptions you are developing aid greatly in making consistent landings.  Large airplane engineers have developed a “design eye” so the pilots can each position themselves in the same spot every time.  I always teach my student to position the seat height so that looking down your finger on the top of the dash is in perfect alignment with the cowling. (like a gunsight).  Others raise the seat to the highest it can go before they get in and count the number of rotations down to get the seat perfect. 
    When to flare – Where you are looking is important here.  You must transition your eyes from the touchdown point to the end of the runway and at that point it becomes a game try not to climb but don’t really want to descend.  Read Chapter 8 (Approaches and Landings) in the Airplane Flying Handbook and ask any questions to your CFI or here.  

    I hope this helps

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  3. Kent Shook on Jan 22, 2011

    Tony,
     
    Another thing: What part of the landing are you having trouble with? If it’s the flare and the touchdown itself, I found that the way everyone else was telling me to do it (“Hold it level, wait until you feel the sink in your butt, then pull back”) just wasn’t working. I wasn’t sensing the sink right away, and by the time I did it was sinking fairly quickly so I had to pull back fairly hard to arrest the descent and I was overcontrolling and eventually smacking the plane down onto the runway pretty hard.
     
    After I had some time to think about it outside the airplane, I realized that I didn’t have to sense the sink – With the power off and holding the airplane level just above the runway, it is GOING to sink, I don’t have to wait until I feel it – So I decided I was just going to level it off above the runway, count to two, and start pulling back slowly on the yoke. What do you know, it worked beautifully and I soloed shortly thereafter. By the time I had my private, that “sense” had kicked in and I no longer had to count to two, I could feel it! 
     
    Taking a flight with a different CFI may be a big help as well – Like Gary says, sometimes a fresh perspective or a different way of putting things will just “click” and you’ll have a breakthrough. 

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  4. MaggotCFII on Jan 22, 2011

    Adding to the preceeding comment – which are great!
    The frequency of lessons is important.  With most of the Solo Requirements of FAR 61-87 (a), (b), (c) and (d) accomplished, I find that students who fly frequently, at least every 4-5 days, will solo sooner that those who fly once a week, meaning every 7 days.  Recency and Exercise improve the learning experience!
    If your training breaks are such that you are using different CFIs, each CFI is probably going to re-visit the requirements of 61-87.  He has to, because FAR 61-195 (d) Limitations on Endorsements tells him why he “may not endorse”.
    Might not be a bad idea if you refresh yourself on these.  It can help you understand the process.
    There are some excellent sources you can visit:
    At the FAA, http://www.FAASafety.gov web site, on-line courses, try these two:
    “Normal Approach and Landings” and “Takeoffs, Landings and Aircraft Control”.
     
    And the University of North Dakota, the UND Aerocasts, short on-line videos for:
    “The Normal Approach and Landing”, “Faulty Approachs and Landings” and “Faulty Approaches, Energy Management”.
    The link is http://www.undaerocast.com/
    You can put those on the Iphone.
    If you should be flying at a busy controlled airport, go to a less busy uncontrolled airport.
    Are you doing Touch and Go or Full Stop for each landing?  The FAA recommends full stop landings in the Aviation Instructor’s Handbook.  However, most of us use both methods.
    You now some other points of view to ponder and some work to do!
    Hang in there – work hard and frequently and you will solo!
     
     
     
     

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  5. skyboyCFI on Jan 22, 2011

    Try a different instructor. Maybe a few different ones.

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  6. Chuck Toussieng on Jan 24, 2011

    I would definitely try another instructor or instructors if you haven’t already.
    As an instructor I always suggested my students fly with another instructor or two just to get different opinions.  We’re people too and can sometimes be myopic to certain situations.
    Stick to it- the solo is the best part!  Good luck.

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