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Asked by: 4486 views Student Pilot

What is the best way to accrue my solo hours as a student. Should I be practicing manuevers; can I fly at night; can I do more cross country solos after my initial cross country solo;  can I practice ILS approaches in VFR conditions as a solo student pilot? It is difficult to log hours during working hours so I would like to get some time logged at night. Also, it is winter now and the weather is making it difficult to fly. Any tips on winter flying?

4 Answers

  1. John D. Collins on Dec 27, 2011

    Not properly managing solo time is often a reason why students take longer to obtain their private pilot certificate. Often the difference between a pilot who gets certificated in 65 hours verses 45 hours is the amount of solo time. First, review the requirements for solo time and work to meet the requirements. Then any extra solo time can be used to obtain the required proficiency.  Solo time is useful to gain self confidence and to practice for proficiency.  My experience is that students won’t practice tasks they are uncomfortable with or don’t fully understand.  It is often more productive to use the extra time with an instructor to work on those tasks.  Flying is fun or most people wouldn’t pursue the certificate, but it takes discipline to make productive use of solo flight time when it may just be fun.  I personally prefer to concentrate on training the pilot to meet the Practical Test Standards and to minimize solo time.  I would rather use a highly structured syllabus and limit the solo time to the minimum required.  This way when the pilot has 45 hours, they can have their pilot certificate and fly those extra twenty hours as a private pilot rather than as a student pilot.

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  2. Bill Trussell on Dec 30, 2011

    As an instructor I encourage my students to get as a diverse mix of experience as possible.  That said I do not allow my students to solo at night, even though technically it is legal.  The increased risk is not worth it to either of us early on.
    What I will do is introduce my students to as much night flying as they can take.  Being a part time instructor I have to do my dual lessons around my work schedule so it works out best for both of us.  I believe you should have as much experience as possible, whether it is dual or solo.  Extra cross country experience, perhaps a night, could be made into a good teaching experience if done correctly.  I also do a good bit of instrument work with my primary students at night.  They get the feeling they are missing less that way, given the perception of reduced distractions outside the cockpit.
    I would wait on the ILS approaches until you have a better command of other maneuvers.  This will pay off in lower frustration levels later on.

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  3. Jim Foley on Dec 30, 2011

    As far as your profile shows, you are not yet a private pilot?  If correct, I would wait on doing the ILSs.  You should be nowhere near weather that bad.  If you find yourself needing them as a student pilot, then you need to take a loooong look at your aeronautical decision making.  I’m a 225 hr. pvt/inst. pilot, and only have .3 hrs of actual instrument.  It takes quite a while to become proficient enough to fly IFR, and you should focus on basic aircraft control for your private certificate.
    For myself, I like to pack quite a bit of stuff in to add a bit of stress, but not over-do it.  Post-solo, I would do small ‘cross-country’ flights (not technically XC, but enough to get all stages of flight in.)  For example, being in St. Louis, I would go from KSUS to KCPS and back.  This gave me just enough time to get about of minute of cruise in, and go immediately into arrivals, as well as navigating Class Bravo.  I would also do a few landings at each location.  Like I said, packed in enough to add a bit of stress, but not so much that I would do something stupid/dangerous/illegal.  Really forced me to be on my game and perfom better.

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  4. Anrboy on Jan 10, 2012

    As a private pilot to a to be private pilot I would advised you spend the time doing takeoff and landings they are the most time consuming and as long as you are super terrible you don’t need to waste money on instructor time for a ton of tandls and visiting more airports than what is just required on your cross countrys (don’t forget to get signed off). Also, find some crosswinds, nothing you can’t handle but something that can give you the feel of landing one wing low with a little rudder. You never know when some predicted light winds can turn into unpredicted 40+knot gust (not uncommon in high desert). If you and your instructor are comfortable fly at night. It isn’t as busy and the traffic is lit up. Don’t be that private pilot who is scared to hop in a plane at night because he only did his min. for PPL. Don’t do ILS yet but make sure you do them as PP. SVFR 1nm hz is legal and the ILS helps. Winter flying…. Check the flaps but don’t put them down… you need the battery but don’t need flaps in most planes…. check for ice, don’t forget carb heat, and as always stay out of clouds. Good luck to you!

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