9 thoughts on “The (Un)Natural

  1. Nice story, some people take longer then others and there is as you said more requirements other then stick and rudder skills now in the DC area. When I was teaching I would never tell my students to give me three good landings or whatever and I would solo them. Puts un needed pressure on them.

  2. John, when I read the byline of this article I knew it would be of interest to me. By the time I was 3 paragraphs in I felt as if it was just about me. There are so many parralells in our stories it’s uncanny. I now realize that it must ring true with countless others. I soloed @40 hours on Aug 20 of this year with almost 200 landings logged. I now have the resolve to press forward despite early struggles and the inconsistency of only being able to fly once per week. I go to the airport even if I know the weather will prevent flying that day just to “be there” and “be in it.” It took almost 35 hours to hear a “good job” from my CFI. Looking forward to my solo cross countries and continued learning.

  3. Keep at it Mark! Believe me, the reward is worth all the frustration. A world of mini-adventures, sunrise flights, and very unhealthy $100 hamburgers awaits. Feel free to hit me up on my website (link is below the story) and let me know how it goes. — bishop

  4. I am afraid that I will have to (at least partially) disagree. When I hear that a pilot needed over 20 hours until the first solo or +100 hours until the checkride, it certainly raises my attention. I think it is absolutely fine if so many hours were needed because of only irregular training, long brakes or because the pilot soloed but was happy to fly around with his student pilot’s certificate and just never cared to take the checkride.

    However, if these many hours were needed, because the student simply ‘did not get it’, it raises some alarm signs. I now a few pilots who needed an extraordinary amount of hours and feel that none of them would be able to handle situations outside of what was practiced during the endless hours of training. Small things like a little bit stronger crosswind than expected, the plane differently loaded than usual, flying into a unfamiliar airfield: All things they seriously struggle with. I can’t and don’t even want to imagine how any of them would handle an emergency.

    Personally, I am convinced that in order to be a competent and safe pilot, flying eventually has to become second nature and must not be just be a repetition of training lessons.

  5. This article should be a standard handout to all student pilots after the first 10 hrs of training to put their minds at ease and in perspective!

  6. My understanding of human nature is that there are different types of temperaments for both teacher and student, and that mismatching these temperaments can retard the learning process.

    Some of us want to explore the experience on our own, and we see the instructor’s basic job as pointing out some things to consider and try out, and then take a nap while we try them out, and only wake up if we are about to kill ourselves.

    I personally don’t like the meticulous step by step progress with strict performance limits approach favored by the FFA. For example, we over emphasis keeping strictly to altitude and teach steep turns holding altitude, and never let the student feel the thrill of plane banking over to 90 degrees as we relax our hold on the yoke and let the nose fall as we bank.

    While that may sound like an extreme maneuver (and it is if we held altitude), relaxing the yoke unloads the g-force on the plane and allows a very controllable, safe, and easy transition into a 90 degree bank, and then roll out of it — easing back the yoke as we return to level flight.

    By not exploring these so-designated “extreme” maneuvers, in fact, forbidding them, we leave the student fearing the airplane.

  7. I think I hold the record for soloing/ getting my private certificate after the most hours. I caught the bug in my 50’s. I had to change instructors and FBO’s a few times (corporate jets beckoning) and stop and start training (joys of home ownership and an unstable job market). Several times I wanted to throw my flight bag in the dumpster and give it all up after a bad landing. I found an instructor and school (53 miles away) I liked and kept at it as much as finances and driving time would permit. Made the decision to keep going and to all who are reading this: practice, practice, practice. If you want it badly enough, find an instructor who you can work with and a good airplane (I have flown some major rattletraps) and you’ll get there.

  8. I can understand the nerves and frustration when learning to fly. I recall back in 1967 a man in his 49 spending 40 + hours trying to learn to fly. He just never got the co-ordination. He went through some of the best ex WW11 fighter and bomber pilots who were either full time or part time. The poor gentleman went through five different instructors, and decision was made to refund the ab initio pilots money that he had spent inn full. This is the only time in my life, that I have ever seen someone who just could not come to grips with flying
    I remember my first solo as if it as today. My instructor was a terrific teacher, plus prior to being an instructor, he was also the workshop foreman when I was doing my motor mechanic apprenticeship. He had no idea of my passion for flying, until the day I rolled up at the airport to book my very 1st flying lesson. The look on his face was priceless. I went solo in 4 hrs 20mkinutes. His ploy was to stop at the terminal building on the ploy he urgently needed to go to the toilet. As he got out the C150 door, he said , “Make one circuit and then full stop and taxi back to the parking area. There was no time to get scared, but bloody hell that C150 jumped into the air without someone next to me. Needless to say I went on to fly 747s and retired 10 years ago aged 67. I own an Aero Commander 690 and use it for holiday around Australia rather then driving or going commercial. Some people are born to fly and other have to work hard at it ti even go solo let alone get their PPL, but with perseverance everyone I have encountered has had an interesting story to tell. Aviation is in my family blood as my son , daughter and her boyfriend are all commercial pilots traveling the world.

  9. All of us are pilots.
    Beware of over confidence. Dangerous times at 40 hours, 100 hours, 1000 hours 10000 hours.
    Just when you think you have it nailed aviation happens.

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