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8 Answers

Questions to ask my flight instructor

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Student Pilot

I am a new student pilot. I passed my Written Exam, but I have only flown three times. I love flying and I really like my instructor. He is open, engaging, considerate and insightful. The problem is, when he asks if I have any questions, I can never come up with anything to ask. I don't know what is unnecessary, what he is postponing to another lesson and what is an appropriate question. I know it would really benefit my learning and our relationship, if I was more vocal. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

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8 Answers



  1. Brandon on Apr 16, 2012

    I recently finished my training for my private. During my training I had the same problem I rarely had any questions that I could think of after flying. But that night or in the days between lessons I would think of questions so I started writing them down and then asking my instructor after the next lesson.

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  2. Matthew Waugh on Apr 16, 2012

    Ask your CFI for a written syllabus – then you’ll know what you’ll be covering in the upcoming lesson and you’ll know what questions you have.
     
    If you can’t get, or your CFI won’t follow, a written syllabus, then as part of your de-brief make sure you ask “what will we cover in next lesson?” Then you can write that down and use it the same way.

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  3. Amelia Roush on Apr 16, 2012

    Thank you both for the great advice. I am glad to hear that I am not the only one who struggles with this. I have procured a written syllabus and am looking forward to studying in preparation for my next flight, tomorrow.

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  4. Micah on Apr 17, 2012

    It’s ok to not ask questions. But remember that it’s ok to ask every question that comes to your mind. Like Matthew suggests, do make a habit of asking what’s next, how you can prepare, whether you should be studying anything. Be attentive and wiling to learn. But don’t force yourself to have an answer for every thing that goes on in a flight lesson; sometimes you can understand the principles of a maneuver but don’t get it right in practice. That doesn’t always have any easy explanation except the bland, let’s try it again next time. 
     
    One way to ask good questions may be to watch someone else fly. If you feel comfortable, ask if you can backseat while someone else trains. (It helps if they’re training on something you’ve already experienced, otherwise it could be overwhelming). Or sit at the airport on a busy day (with or without your instructor) and watch people fly the pattern. This can be a valuable experience and will offer plenty of opportunity for questions. 

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  5. LaPointe on Apr 17, 2012

    I second Brandon’s answer.  It’s totally understandable that you may not have questions at the end of a lesson.  But if you’ve had a chance to think about what you learned, how it applies to previous skills and done some reading on the topc, you’ll probably have questions by the next lesson.  I start every lesson (I’m a student) by asking questions about the last lesson. 

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  6. MaggotCFII on Apr 18, 2012

    At this point in your training any question is appropriate!
    I ask a student the following question twice – post-flight at the airplane and
    post-ground:  “What did you learn today?”
     
    Think about taking that question and turning it into this statement to your
    instructor – “This is what I learned today – do you have any questions for me?”.
     
    Good luck in your journey!

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  7. Micah on Apr 19, 2012

    More thoughts about learning:
     
    You will not learn/understand everything you practice today. It takes time to put all the pieces together; you may not have useful questions today but maybe after a few flights you will. I would like to give you some defined phenomenon to explain this, but I don’t know what it’s called or what to call it. But I believe learning works this way.
     
    Back when I was younger and more agile and ran track and field, we felt stronger after a very tough workout, but we had a hard time understanding how it was making us faster. Our coach pounded into us certain principles that I later understood; it takes about 2 weeks for the full physiological benefits of training. If I run a hard workout today, I’ll be sore tomorrow and maybe a little faster, but I’ll be at peak benefit about two weeks from now. If I continue training, my benefit increases (I get faster).
     
    The same thing happens when you’re doing your flight training. I’ve rarely met a student who didn’t understand that flying turns-around-a-point is flying a circle around an object. Even students who can’t spell and define equidistant know that circles are not squares and ovals. And every student knows that wind pushes the airplane and so the pilot must make changes to fly a circle. But even students who can describe the manuever on the ground can’t fly it right in the air the first time (at least I’ve never seen it.) I expect with every student that it will take 3 attempts to understand the concept, how to apply it while flying, and be able to execute it properly (or at least approximating the desired result). By the time a student progresses to flying the pattern, these skills and ideas are more natural.
     
    So fly today, listen today, ask today, and learn today. But know that you probably won’t understand (or have the skill/muscle memory) tomorrow what you did today, and that’s ok. Your training is a learning experience, a long-term affair, and although you may like to see objective results from every 1.0 (or $150) spent in the airplane, sometimes you can’t see what you’ve learned until well after the flight (and likewise, sometimes you won’t have any useful questions until well after the experience.)

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  8. Koehn on Apr 21, 2012

    I recorded the cockpit audio of my primary lessons (barnstormeraudio.com; no affiliation) and listened afterwards. I discovered that I had a lot of questions, and I missed about half of what my instructor was telling me. So peppered my instructor with questions between lessons and got my primary done much faster than I might have otherwise. I wholeheartedly recommend this technique. 

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