First Things First

When you first begin flying you may feel overwhelmed with the amount of information you encounter.  It seems like there is so much to learn and much of it sounds like a foreign language!  You’ll hear your instructor and other pilots talk about things like: Class B, ATC, VSI, Static Port, Asymmetrical Thrust, Nimbus, ATIS, and the Pattern.   In the air the radio will crackle with odd sounding phrases that seem only vaguely related to English.  A lot of students feel overwhelmed early on.  That’s why we must keep “First things first.”

The knowledge required for the Private Pilot Certificate is extensive.  But it is something you learn over the course of your training and not all at once.  No one expects that by your second lesson that you have mastered the material in the Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge (PHAK).  Nor will you be expected to perfectly execute turns around a point or fly a flawless pattern.  For now, you need to simply begin stretching your wings and you (and your instructor) needs to give you time and space to learn. Here are a few suggestions:

On the Ground: Begin reading today!  It is important to build your knowledge base.  Yes, there is a lot of studying to do.  Most syllabi begin by having you learn about aerodynamics, systems, and the flying environment.  Check out the online PHAK, chapters 1, 4, 5, 6, 7.   Again, you don’t have to have this done by your 2nd or 3rd flight, but it will greatly help your training process when you take the time and effort to read all you can while on the ground.

In the Air: You’ll likely begin with the 4 fundamentals (Straight & Level, Turns, Climbs, and Descents) and then move into combinations of these.  Soon you’ll be doing slow-flight, steep turns, and stalls as well as being introduced to ground-reference maneuvers.  These are the building blocks of your flying.  You’ll spend a lot of time in the practice area doing these drills and learning emergency procedures.  You may get a little tired of the repetition, but I find that students generally enjoy getting better at these maneuvers (they see their progress).  And of course we begin learning to land also!

I think the important thing is to not let yourself get overwhelmed early on.  Sure, there is a lot of material, but attack the material at a steady pace and not all at once.  In flying, each learning event builds on the next so as you master one thing, the next thing comes naturally.  Focus simply on the learning and flying your instructor is showing you.  You’ll be surprised how much you learn and how fast you learn it.  Most importantly –have fun and fly safe!



3 responses to “First Things First

  1. Chris, great post. I’m 5 weeks out from starting the process towards my PPL here in Sydney. I’ve got 9 weeks full-time flying set aside and hopefully that gives me time to attain my GFPT and make substantial progress towards my Nav training for the PPL.

    I’ve been reading and reading and reading all the BAK and PPL flight theory stuff for months now and I definitely feel that this will all stand me in good stead on Day 1 of training. I will definitely not be walking in “blind”.

    I endorse your comments: attack the material at a steady pace. At the PPL level, it’s not particularly hard – it all makes sense.

  2. Pingback: First Things First (via The myFlightCoach Blog) « MidLifePilot's Flying Blog

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