As with most things in life – when it comes to flight lessons, you get out what you put in. In this blog post, I will be sharing some tips for what you can do to maximize the effectiveness of your flying lessons, which I hope will accelerate your learning and make you a better pilot.
Structuring your Flight Lessons
You will learn better if you impose a little structure on your flight lessons. What do I mean by that? For a start, you will learn quicker if you know what your instructor is trying to teach you. Before you begin each lesson, ask your instructor what you will be learning in the lesson. If your instructor is not the structured type, he or she will notice you asking the question and will be better prepared to answer it in future lessons – which will in itself improve your experience. Make time at the end of each lesson to debrief and review learning points which you don’t fully understand, or would like to know more about.
It is very tempting to pretend you understand something when really you don’t. This is especially true if you are under high cognitive load when flying the airplane. If you don’t understand what the instructor is trying to tell you, be honest about it and say so. You are there to learn, so don’t feel embarrassed or think you’ll look stupid.
Are you with the right instructor?
During your first few flight lessons, you’ll get to know your instructor a little bit better, and will start to notice things about his or her teaching style. Be conscious of this, and don’t be afraid to make a change if something isn’t working for you. Remember – you are paying a lot of money for your lessons, and you deserve to get what you pay for. Some instructors are incredible teachers and are able to adapt their style to suit the student pilot. Others are set in their ways – and while that doesn’t necessarily mean they are a bad instructor, their teaching style might not mesh well with your learning style. Other instructors are just plain bad – with a poor attitude, insufficient experience, or indifference (common amongst instructors who are simply building hours to further their own career, e.g. future airline pilots). Avoid these at all costs. I speak about this topic in Episode 2 of the podcast, which you can listen to here.
Do your homework
After each lesson, be sure to go through everything you have learned. If you take my advice above and debrief after your flying lessons, you will be better prepared to do this. When you get home, make some notes. If you are struggling to remember or understand something, make a note of any questions you have. You can either email your instructor with your questions, or ask at your next lesson.
Fly the armchair!
Most student pilots will be familiar with the term armchair flying. I admit, it does sound a little ridiculous, but it is a valuable technique for memorising practical flying skills that you learned during your lesson. Armchair flying involves sitting in a chair (preferably where nobody can see you), closing your eyes, and working through manoeuvres and procedures as if you were really flying a plane. It is a particularly useful way to get certain things to stick in your memory, such as stall entry and recovery, and specialty take-off and landing techniques for short and soft fields.
If you want to get the most out of your flight lessons, and make the best progress, don’t be lazy. Employ these tips and you’ll get your ticket in no time.