October 28, 2011
You’re stuck. Something’s just not clicking, and it’s getting you down. Whether it’s an aerodynamic concept, a difficult bit of terminology, or that you can’t make a decent crosswind landing or hold altitude during a steep turn, frustration has set in. Progress isn’t happening, and time is marching on. What now?
First, take a deep breath, and behold the silver lining. Beneath the surprise and disappointment of a learning plateau, or an unnerving experience that has left you blocked, there’s already ample evidence of how far you have come—and will shortly go.
This is crunch time for your flight instructor. How is he or she responding to your crisis? Is there a plan? Addressing this challenge should be a goal-oriented, judgment-free process. Be candid. Examine whether the problem is an isolated occurrence or a symptom of shortcomings in teaching, course structure, the flight schedule, instructor-student dynamics, or your own approach to studying.
Then try magic. Often, a change of pace can make a problem that is eating away your optimism simply vanish. Take some time off. Focusing on life’s other obligations and pleasures can rob training frustrations of their immediacy and urgency.
On your return to the airport, fly with a different instructor once or twice. No matter what you do on those flights, it will redirect your thinking and refresh your perspective.
Arrange to ride as a back-seat observer on another student’s dual instructional flight. Your confidence in your own skill will return after witnessing someone else laboring to acquire it—guaranteed.
Talking it out with a peer may help. Fortunately, there is much support available if you reach out, whether in aviation discussion groups or within your local airport community. Then your biggest challenge will be weeding out the more off-label remedies that will inevitably be offered for what ails you. (That too is a learning experience.)
To revisit for a moment the issue of seeking another instructor’s assistance: Typically, CFIs command the respect of their students, who show loyalty by shunning other advice (and springing for the coffee after a flight). That’s admirable—especially buying the coffee—but don’t let blind loyalty bog you down when another point of view may solve the mystery. Your own instructor may even have a trusted mentor in mind for the job!
Sporty’s has released a training syllabus that guides students through the process of using Microsoft Flight Simulator as a training tool. It includes 15 lesson plans, each with suggested maneuvers, completion standards, and study resources. Also included is a scenario disc that supports Microsoft Flight Simulator X. Both guide and disc integrate into Sporty’s complete flight training kit. The syllabus sells for $34.95. Order online or call 800/SPORTYS.
Note: Products listed have not been evaluated by ePilot editors unless otherwise noted. AOPA assumes no responsibility for products or services listed or for claims or actions by manufacturers or vendors.
Question: The other day I flew over an airport with a segmented circle. I expected to see traffic pattern indicators; however, there were none. What gives?
Answer: A segmented circle without traffic pattern indicators implies that you should fly a standard left-hand traffic pattern for the runway in use. Left-hand traffic is standard, so in the absence of other indications a pilot should make all turns to the left. Right-hand traffic patterns, by default, are considered to be nonstandard patterns. For more on airport operations read the Air Safety Institute’s Safety Advisors on operations at nontowered airports and operations at towered airports.
Got a question for our technical services staff? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call the Pilot Information Center, 800/872-2672. Don’t forget the online archive of “Final Exam” questions and answers, searchable by keyword or topic.
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