10 Keys to Being a Great Flight Student, Part 2 (6-10)

Continued from 10 Keys to Being a Great Flight Student, Part 1 (1-5) >>>

6.  Choose an aircraft that makes sense- An often overlooked issue is choosing an airplane that makes sense for you.  Sometimes the glass cockpit makes sense and is affordable to a student pilot.  Other times a modest 172 is the right choice for a person’s aviation career and pocketbook.  Explore your options and find the plane that makes sense to you.  Remember, what you get your license in doesn’t tie you to that plane forever.  So you might want to use a 172 and after your license you can always move up to a more advanced platform.

7.  Study- Few things can hamstring your training more than failing to study.  Along with your flying skills, you must also be building a solid knowledge base.  It is very important to always be reading and learning.  This ensures that you are prepared for each lesson and reduces the amount of time your instructor has to spend explaining concepts in the air (not the best place for theorizing) –which costs you additional money.  If you’re doing stalls, be reading about stalls, recovery, and common errors.  If you’re going to do a dual cross country, then study navigation and airspace and be ready for the trip.  You’ll get so much more out of the flight itself.

8.  Be Financially Prepared–  One of the problems when talking about the cost of flight training is that we equate it with other hobbies like golf or ski lessons.  Flight training is a specialized skill with very specialized equipment.  Of course we all wish it was less expensive, but you’re looking at around $7,500 to earn your license.  This number can vary up or down depending on a number of factors including the type of plane flown, how often you fly, and how fast you pick up the concepts and techniques involved in flying.  I encourage my students to plan ahead to avoid hitting a financial wall in their training.  It will make your training much less stressful and enjoyable if you aren’t worried about the cost of each successive flight.

9.  Take your Written Exam early- I’m a huge advocate for getting the written out of the way.  I’ve explained my method and rationale for passing the written in other articles.  For this, I simply encourage you to not get hung up on studying to pass the test.  I think that’s OK –just as it is with other mandatory standardized tests (GRE, SAT, etc.)   Your preparation will indeed deepen your knowledge and you will, by default, learn many of the concepts.  But the written is in no way comprehensive or even a great barometer of learning.  I believe your knowledge and understanding is shown more in the preparation and execution of the Practical Test.  By the time you get there, you’ll know your stuff.  So take the written early (I like to see it done before you begin your solo cross-countries), it’ll help your knowledge and give you the excitement of crossing one of the major hurdles between you and your license.

10.  Stretch Yourself- Be willing to attempt new things (under the watchful eye of your instructor of course) and trust when your instructor says you’re ready to move your flying to the next level.  Be willing to fly when winds are higher than normal.   Be willing to experience a day of flying in low visibility.  Let yourself be challenged and embrace those challenges.   A wealth of training experiences will serve you well as a Private Pilot.

What other factors help students be GREAT flight students?  Leave your ideas in the comments!

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