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Beginner Pilot Questions?

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Well-known member
Mar 5, 2002
I have just started my flight training and I have some questions. Im going to fly 3 times a week, is that a good amount of lessons to do a week? My flight school has a private pilot kit I can buy, when should I buy that? When do I buy other equipment? Now or later? The kit has all the books I need, plotter, flight computer, and a fuel tester, plus a bag to put it all in. What was the hardest and easiest parts of your training as a private pilot? Do I get a student certificate? When do I need to get my medical? Thanks for your time, and any comments would be helpful.

Get your medical as soon as you can. That'll double as your student certificate. You'll want to know that you can qualify for the medical before you chunk down tons of money!

3 times a week is a good amount, IMO. Usually, the more, the better, and 3 times a week is definitely fine. I can't tell you whether the pilot kit is a good deal because I don't know the cost or specifically what's in it, but usually they'll save you a few extra bucks over buying the stuff seperately.

Don't go hog wild in buying a ton of gadgets. The flight school will typically have anything you need, and over time you'll develop habits and ways of doing things that'll give you a better idea of the things you'll want in your flight bag. I went all out when I first started, and about a 100 hours later decided that I didn't really need 90% of it! Do some flying first - then sit down and think about what you'd like to buy.

Hope this helps!
Ah - and about the hardest and easiest parts:

The hardest part for me was getting comfortable on the radio. I cut my teeth at VNY, which is a pretty busy airport. And as a guy that was shy and loathe to speak in front of people to begin with, the idea of pushing the little red button on the yoke and having every plane on the frequency hear me stumble over a clearance was terrifying. But over time I got better, and it made radio work anywhere else a piece of cake.

Dunno about the easiest part. Flying isn't terribly difficult, but there is a lot to know and you'll want to study study study. Just have fun with it - and everything else will follow!
I think many new pilots have conniptions over learning to land properly. Secondly, students often over-control the airplane. Both of these are perfected with time and practice, so don't worry.

You will never forget your early days, especially the day you solo.

I'd like to do them all over again.
Check out....

I'd head out to jetcareers.com

It's a great site for folks just starting out...

Learning to fly

Don't go nuts buying every pilot gadget you see. You'll find that simpler is better and less is more. Your private pilot kit sounds about right, along with a regular clipboard that you can find in Office Depot or maybe your neighborhood grocery or drug store.

You do need a flight computer. All you really need is a good, old-fashioned aluminum E6-B and a five-buck (or less) electronic calculator. Try to find a light-powered calculator. Your calculations will consist primarily of basic arithmetic, e.g., addition, subtraction, mutliplication and division.

I assume your trainer is intercom-equipped. So, sometime, you will want to purchase your own headsets. You can spend a ton of money on headsets and end up with something you hate. Shop carefully. Try them before you buy, if you can. By all means, don't buy them at retail from Sporty's. Purchase your headsets by mail order from some outfit like Chief Aircraft Parts, http://www.chiefaircraft.com , (that's where I bought my David Clarks fifteen years ago) or Marv Golden, http://marvgolden.com .

Really, your flight instructor can give you the best advice on "stuff" to buy.

Flying three times a week is about right, if you can maintain that schedule. Not only are you receiving a whole lot of book learning, you are educating your muscles and senses. Your mind needs some time to absorb the learning. Some people advocate a real fire-hose approach of flying seven days a week, sometimes a couple of times a day. That's a great deal of learning to try to absorb in a short time. You could find yourself falling behind if you cannot master each lesson's learning. Learning to fly is like building a building; the foundation has to be poured and laid properly or else it will be weak, and the structure that is built upon it will be weak.

Do get your medical ASAP, as the others suggested. You'll need it to solo and you want to find out sooner instead of later if your health will permit you to fly.

I remember that I had trouble with landings and S-turns down a road. I was not really good at the ground reference maneuvers until I became a flight instructor and had to teach them. Then, they became some of my favorite things to fly and teach.

Good luck and have fun with your training.
Overcontrolling the airplane

Let me answer that until Timebuilder appears. Basically, overcontrolling the airplane means putting in more control inputs than are necessary for the situation. In other words, turning or pulling the control yoke too much or too hard pressing the rudder pedals too much or two hard. You'll find the airplane is very responsive to small movements of the controls. Most people move the controls mechanically at first until they learn visually and feel how much movement is really needed to get the airplane to do what they want it to do. It's a matter of developing eye-hand coordination and, as I said above, educating your muscles and motor skills.

Hope that helps. I'm sure Timebuilder will have more to add.
Great explanation!

For example, one of the things you will hear your instructor say is "more right rudder". Initially, you may apply too much right rudder. You will have applied "just enough" when the black ball is centered between the two black vertical lines.

During the flare, you may pull back on the yoke too much, and the airplane will have enough airspeed to allow it to rise off the runway while you are still slowing, putting you in the unhappy position of being ten feet above the ground and on the verge of a stall. Your instructor will be there to make sure you learn what to do when that happens.

Overcontrolling happens before you learn the finesse of flying. If you pay attention while your instructor is flying, you will notice that there is very little movement of the controls. This is because the instructor is using "control pressure" rather than large movements to get the required responses from the airplane. It may appear as though the airplane is simply more "obedient" to the instructor, like a dog to its familiar master. In reality, it will respond to you just as well once you learn what to "say", and how to "say it".

Like I said, don't worry. Others have gone along this path. Sometimes this new environment seems like an alien planet, but you will become both familiar and comfortable with it. Soon, you won't be able to to do without it.

Help with the Radios

I normally loathe the advertisements I get from Sporty's because you could spend a fortune on airplane gadgets and it won't get you one hour closer to your goal, weather that's to be a private pilot or an airline pilot. With that said...the one book I would absolutely recommend to any new pilot is a book by ASA called "Say Again Please: A Guide to Radio Communications". I'm a little shy myself and when I started flying, the radios were by far the most intimidating thing. I got this book and after only a days reading, I knew how to use the correct phraseology. It took out the guesswork, allowed me to speak with confidence, and most importantly, allowed me to put the radios aside and focus on the real business of learning to fly. It's a great book...I fly with guys who are Captains with the majors who could still learn something from it. Just my two cents. Sorry to sound like an advertisement but here's the link for Amazon:


Hope this helps!

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