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basementflyguy

I'm Taking A Flying Lesson This Weekend

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It's ironic: I built my basement simulator on the premise that it would satisfy my aviation itch enough that I wouldn't need to get my PPL. I travel a lot, and don't have a lot of free time, and for a long while have been concerned that I couldn't fly often enough to stay really current and safe. But then someone said in a post here or someplace else that it would be a shame to never chase that dream, and given that I've loved airplanes since I was a child, I think they're right. So this weekend I'm going to take my first lesson, and I'm looking for any advice the pilots here might have for getting the most out of the process, doing it efficiently (given that there's no way I can take more than a few lessons a month), and in particular, finding and establishing a good relationship with the best possible instructor. (I could tell, for example, that the guy I met when I stopped by the school last weekend, while a seasoned pilot and surely and excellent CFI, is probably not the guy for me.)

 

Many thanks, I do appreciate it.

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The relationship with your instructor is purely a personal one - you're taking your first lesson with one instructor, but perhaps your next flight can be with a different one. Take them up for a few test flights and settle in with the one who suits you best.

 

When I was training, I tried to fly at least twice a week, never mind a few lessons a month. If you're going to spread it out, be aware that you probably will lose a bit of proficiency from lesson to lesson despite your flight sim experience. It is entirely possible to get your license doing it that way though, but it may take more total hours than doing it on a tighter flight schedule. More flying is good flying!

 

The basics of flying will feel quite natural with all your simulation time, but it gets real when you are making your first landing at the controls and realize that is not a computer screen in front of you.

 

Fingertip flying... Fight for the centerline... Eyes out for traffic...

 

It may sound corny, but keep a little journal of your flying - if only for yourself. Sort of a supplement to your official logbook.  Summarize the good and bad things, how it felt, what you did, where you went, etc. etc.  You will appreciate it down the road.

 

Above all else, ENJOY!

 

(*I never did end up getting my license - stopped training after a few solos due to money, time, and other pressures influencing the process. Kept all my gear and materials though because I'm sure I'll revisit it again.)

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Don't focus so much on the gauges!!! I love IFR and before my first VFR flight lesson, I had so much time in the PMDG birds, I could fly the plane fine but the instructor knew I was flying eyes inside. He ended up having to cover my gauges which totally changed the flying experience. Learn the sight pictures, something thats hard to get in the sim. Oh and remember they are real world mechanical gauges... There's LAG, especially when you fly a VFR practice ILS. SO MUCH LAG at 90Kts, that showed me quick how diff the sims are. 

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The important thing is to find a good instructor and trust him/her however I wouldn't waste time to find the 'best possible' instructor. Most instructors do very good job and often rookie instructors are quite good too. And l agree that "a few times" a month is not the optimal pace for flight instruction - but it can be done albeit with more total time. The other important thing is not to over analyze ...

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I threw up my first flight. It was hot and bumpy.

 

I'm now an IFR rated pilot. So if you do get sick, don't worry about it.

 

Keep your eyes outside. You are a long way off from IFR flying. Keep the nose down on approach. Newbs tend to want to flatten way out because it can be unnerving but if you don't you'll land way long. Smaller GA planes are not made to be drug in flat and the biggest shock to most simmers is going to be cutting the power and pointing that nose at the runway well before the threshold. The hardest part of landing will be getting your flare right. It'll take hundreds of landings before you grease one most likely. Don't worry about it. That's normal.

 

Most of all, enjoy what you are doing. Don't get so stressed out that you forget how cool it is. The book knowledge and getting the maneuvers within standards will come with time.

 

As much fun as simming can be, there's no comparison. That first flight at twilight as the sun sets in smooth air is something special, realizing you are one of a tiny number of people on this earth who've seen and experienced what you are doing.

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Keep the nose down on approach.

 

You can always tell an instructor at your local field by how they land. They come in much more steeply than practically everyone else. That way you can make the field if the engine quits. And what bonchie says about flaring being the hardest thing about landing was certainly true in my case. I was always "three footing" my landings because I would flare slightly too late.

 

And of course try to have fun! It is more challenging than you might think, but also very rewarding.

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I threw up my first flight. It was hot and bumpy.

 

When I flew for the first time, I felt fine throughout the whole flight. It was just once on the ground, some 10 minutes after leaving the plane, that I got sick and had to throw up.

 

Apparently my body has a delayed throw-up function, just as the EICAS alert message inhibit during take-off or landing, hahaha

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Hi, 

 

The relationship with your instructor is important.  However, it is  interesting to fly with different instructors from time to time.  I found that I could always learn something new from each of them.

 

Make sure in the beginning to keep a regularity in your flying lessons.  Getting the basics right is important and only achievable with repetition.   And make sure you do your theoretical exam right after your course.  I waited a year between by classes and the Exam, and I had a hard time getting back into it.

 

Good Luck and  Safe Skies !

 

Stephane

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As an instructor I would be concerned with your intent to only train a few times per month. That and the fact you have hobby desktop flight sim experience  sends warnings in my mind that you expect with limited training you will master real-world flight quickly and efficiently. This often leads to frustration both for the client and the instructor.

 

I'd look for a more seasoned instructor who is willing to tell you want you don't want to hear. A Gold Seal instructor may be best as he has an established reputation for preparing clients to pass checkrides.

 

No disrespect to the younger hungry CFIs but you might not want to fly with them. They may be great instructors but often their less experience as instructors means they don't have as many tools to work with when instructing and they are not as willing to tell a client what they need to hear.

 

Good luck, training on limited time or a shoe string budget is the hardest way to become a pilot. I wouldn't recommend it and I would not teach someone who can only dedicate a few times per month. 

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As an instructor I would be concerned with your intent to only train a few times per month. That and the fact you have hobby desktop flight sim experience  sends warnings in my mind that you expect with limited training you will master real-world flight quickly and efficiently. This often leads to frustration both for the client and the instructor.

 

I'd look for a more seasoned instructor who is willing to tell you want you don't want to hear. A Gold Seal instructor may be best as he has an established reputation for preparing clients to pass checkrides.

 

No disrespect to the younger hungry CFIs but you might not want to fly with them. They may be great instructors but often their less experience as instructors means they don't have as many tools to work with when instructing and they are not as willing to tell a client what they need to hear.

 

Good luck, training on limited time or a shoe string budget is the hardest way to become a pilot. I wouldn't recommend it and I would not teach someone who can only dedicate a few times per month.

 

Thanks for your candor. This is excellent advice. I talked with a buddy who's a CFI last night and he suggested two times a week knowing my schedule, and that back to back weekends would actually work well in his opinion as there would be immediate repetition from the day before. I travel every week and mid-week lessons just are not a dependable option. A commitment to weekly lessons with as many dual lesson weekends as possible may be my path.

 

If I can't train and fly safe I won't fly. That's why I built the sim.

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The bottom line is that if you are a flight simmer you are going to have a great time. That first lesson has a lot of "meet-and-greet" to it, and they will try to make sure that you enjoy it. They want your business!

 

As far as whether being simmer will help or hurt you, I think it helps more than it hurts. You will have a lot of knowledge as to what all the gauges are for and about the theoretical aspects of flight. But the real thing IS different. The plane moves around a lot and the air is slippery! But that is the whole reason you are doing this, right? To see how it differs from flying a desk. 

 

Like a lot of folks I only went just past my solo. We got pregnant, and the money got tight, time got tight, etc etc. But those 20 hours or so have added immensely to my joy in simming. now you will KNOW what everything feels like, what it is like to do a cross wind landing, what a side-slip feels like, and so many other things that will make your simulation that much more fun.

 

Enjoy it!

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As far as whether being simmer will help or hurt you, I think it helps more than it hurts.

 

Definitely!

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I hope this doesn't feel like piling on, but I can only echo what others have said - you'll find the process SO much easier and so much more rewarding if you can budget time and money to fly regularly.  I actually delayed starting until I knew I had an adequate budget to complete training no matter what.  I also found an instructor and flight school who were OK with flying very early in the morning and I waited until late spring so that I had daylight sufficient for at least an hour's lesson before heading off to work.  Longer cross countries were planned for weekends or I'd take a half-day off.  At the time, my job also involved a lot of extended travel but I worked with my employer (and fellow employees) to juggle schedules such that my travel was minimized.  Of course, I'm also fortunate enough to live in a climate that's typically clear most summer mornings.

 

Bottom line - I soloed right at 10 hours and took (and passed) my check ride at 42 hours.  The planning and juggling was absolutely worth it.

 

There's nothing wrong with taking an introductory lesson to wet your appetite before you're really ready to commit to the process, but I'd unequivocally recommend doing what it takes to optimize your training time.

 

Enjoy, and best of luck!

 

Scott

 

Edit - BTW, I hope the hours I posted aren't taken as bragging because that was not my intent.  I was able to be so efficient because I was motivated and flew almost daily.

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I started my flying lessons in a very similar situation. I was in high school so that meant during the school year I could really only fly on the weekends. It ended up taking me a full year, and looking back through my logbook I had a few months where I didn’t fly at all. My lessons didn’t really take off (pun intended) until the summer when I was able to go several times a week. As others have said many lessons will be spent relearning things you may have forgot between lessons, so overall it might take longer. Keep in mind that your availability is only one variable, Instructor and aircraft availability as well as weather also are factors.

 

Make sure you find a place that has a bunch of similar aircraft in the fleet, so one being out for maintenance won’t impact you as much. Don’t be afraid to switch instructors at any point too, even the minor setback of a new instructor assessing where you are is better than being stuck with one that doesn’t suit your learning style. Most places have checkpoints throughout your training where you’ll go up with a different instructor anyway, this is also a good way to see how that relationship is working out.

 

Don’t try to use the simulator for anything motor skills related because it it probably won’t help. Do use the sim to practice checklists and flows as well as cross country planning and practice. Also get your written taken care of as soon as you can so it doesn’t become a roadblock to your already limited schedule. I have a friend who had done a lot of flying with me prior to starting lessons and as a result he was able to do it at a record pace. He was at the point of taking his checkride but hadn’t taken the written yet. Life and schedule got in the way and now years later that’s where he stopped.

 

All that said you should go for it, even trying to follow the dream and failing is better than not trying at all.

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Bottom line - I soloed right at 10 hours and took (and passed) my check ride at 42 hours.  The planning and juggling was absolutely worth it.

 

 

Edit - BTW, I hope the hours I posted aren't taken as bragging because that was not my intent.  I was able to be so efficient because I was motivated and flew almost daily.

 

No bragging, with dedication and consistency that is the norm for a Part 141 school. 

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No bragging, with dedication and consistency that is the norm for a Part 141 school.

 

Ken, I didn't train at a Part 141 school as I needed to find a situation where my instructor could meet my early schedule desires, but you make a good point here.  Whether you get structure from a formal program such as offered at 141 schools, or from your own planning and scheduling discipline, being structured in your approach is a key in getting to your goal as efficiently (in terms of both time and money) as possible and with the least possible frustration.  I can also honestly say that I had a blast during my training as I was fortunate to find a great instructor (who was willing to get up at the crack of dawn) and never felt frustrated due to gaps or regressions.

 

Scott

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I hope this doesn't feel like piling on,

Not piling on at all. One of the reasons I posted here was to get as many points of view as I could. Thanks much for yours, too.

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