Flight lesson from hell...

Discussion in 'Pilot Training' started by Jeff Szlauko, May 15, 2019.

  1. Jeff Szlauko

    Jeff Szlauko Pre-Flight

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    I'm about 65 hours into this long endeavor to get my private pilot's license, and last Friday night went up with an instructor I've only been up with twice before. We were heading out to get in my 100+ mile night cross-country flight lesson, along with 5 night takeoffs and landings as I only had done 5 before.

    Once in the air, he kept messing with the GPS device, going thru every single menu item, and then messing with the two radios. Then he expected me to know how to use it, as he kept asking me to go to a certain menu, and get some information. In the dark cockpit of the old 172, I couldn't see a single button. Several times he got impatient as I struggled to find the right button, and at times, got a very condescending attitude, practically yelling at me to press the correct button.

    Then, as we headed out from the airport, we got a call from the tower. I heard him basically make the reply, so I thought it was done, as he has done that before. However, it turns out he was telling me what to say! So, when I didn't reply, then froze with what to say, he jumped in, made the reply, then tells me, once again in a very condescending tone, that that is all you got to say! And in a very raised, and angry voice said "when the tower calls you, you HAVE to reply! You have to say SOMETHING!".

    Then, on approach to the destination airport, my descent rate wasn't right, and he again snapped at me about not having the proper descent rate, and practically yelled at me to just leave the throttle alone instead of constantly messing with it. During the stop and goes at the airport, as I messed up a couple things, he again got a bit terse.

    I was really close to telling him "that's it! I'm done! You fly the rest of the way!". The ONLY reason I didn't was because if I had ended the lesson right then and there, the whole flight would have all been for naught, and I'd need to redo the lesson.

    So many times on that flight I felt he was fed up with me, as he so many times got impatient, and spoke in a way like he was talking to a 4 year old child who wasn't listening.

    Absolutely the worst lesson...perhaps even one of the worse experiences in my life, as I just felt like an idiot, and perhaps I need to just quit!

    A few days later though, once I calmed down about the whole ordeal, the thought hit me which was "I'm glad that terrible lesson occurred!".

    Don't get me wrong...I'm not a masochist, and I hope that I never ever have a lesson like that again!

    was reminded of the old saying "hind-sight is always 20/20". Many times when something happens to us the first time, and throws us for a loop, we are caught not knowing what to do, or say. But now that I've had this terrible lesson, I'll know next time what to do, and/or say! So instead of just reacting, I'll be able to act.

    I also think that having such a bad lesson will make me appreciate the good ones in the future. Obviously any future lessons though will NOT be from this moron!

    I don't know how people endure condescending instructors who yell and get angry. I remember one person writing about his instructor being that way, but was rather trapped into having to stay with him. I would walk away in a heartbeat, no matter what the cost!

    A friend said that I should perhaps report him to the owner of the flight club. I didn't think that would be a good idea though. Sure, maybe this guy needs the feedback, but if that's the case, then he needs to hear it straight from me, and not second hand. So, unless the flight club owner asks me how it went, I'm just going to move on.
     
  2. Matthew

    Matthew Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I'm not sure how many different CFIs I've flow with - training, check rides, flight reviews, endorsement rides, rental checkout rides, "knock the rust off" rides - but every single time it takes me time to get used to the CFI personality. I've found it helps to have a briefing on the ground to go over who's handing radio calls or whatever. When in doubt, remember that you are the one training to be pilot in command, so take the initiative. It's easy to get frustrated with a CFI you are unfamiliar with, so do the best you can and learn from it.
     
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  3. Bill Watson

    Bill Watson Pattern Altitude

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    Given your status as student and his as an instructor, it may not be so easy to tell him off like he deserves. Probably a good decision.

    Just think, he could be someone’s boss




    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk Pro
     
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  4. Jamie Kirk

    Jamie Kirk Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Did you have your red flashlight to view buttons?

    Plane have AP? If so did you set it?

    Did you make it clear who was going to handle radio calls? I did every flight as part of the briefing.

    If you’re getting checkride ready the DPE will make you demonstrate knowledge and proficiency with all systems.

    I would have simply put the plane on AP, asked instructor to look for traffic and made the requested menu searches.

    I had a CFI who was an old guy and he was just blunt. And he would purposely try to overwhelm you at time. Why? It happens up there all the time and you need to stay in control.

    Or you could have simply said ‘I’m flying the airplane and can’t focus on the GPS right now as I don’t need it. I’ll be happy to review those menus once in the ground’
     
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  5. Jeff Oslick

    Jeff Oslick En-Route

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    You're paying him to instruct you, not yell at you. Many students forget that they are the customer, and this is a voluntary transaction. Many CFIs also don't realize this. While there are certainly different personalities among instructors, repeatedly chastising a student is not a constructive teaching method. Since this operation has more than one CFI, I would discuss this experience with the owner or chief CFI (if this guy wasn't the chief CFI).

    And the tip above about telling the CFI that you are "flying the plane" and can't mess with the GPS or whatever at the moment is a perfectly fine response. They will try to distract you and you can refuse the distraction.
     
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  6. Sinistar

    Sinistar Pattern Altitude

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    First off....DO NOT GIVE UP on your PPL quest :)

    With 65hrs total but only 3 flights it sounds like you've switched instructors recently. If you think you are really close to wrapping up, I would stick it out but also say something sooner than later...if it happens again. It could be a one time thing for him, night flight, tired, etc. If he is truly a wrapped tight kinda guy then this will continue to happen frequently.

    If you had to guess, how many hours do you think you have left?

    Also, did you feel totally prepared for the night flight?
     
  7. RussR

    RussR Cleared for Takeoff

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    Did you discuss it with him?
     
  8. Skyrys62

    Skyrys62 Pattern Altitude PoA Supporter

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    I'd be done with that ahole, and looking for someone else.
    But if you want to give him another shot, sit down with him and tell him how you want to be instructed, and how you learn best.

    If he won't adapt to a students learning style, why should he expect you to adapt to a teaching style?
     
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  9. midwestpa24

    midwestpa24 Cleared for Takeoff

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    Unfortunately not every is cut out to be an instructor, but many do it because it is the easiest way to build time for the next big gig. It is an imperfect system for sure. Instructing should be reserved for those with the right experience and temperament to do it, not those just looking to build time.
     
  10. Jeff Szlauko

    Jeff Szlauko Pre-Flight

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    No, I have not discussed anything with him since that flight. Overall he's a nice guy, and currently I'm just chalking it up to a real bad chemistry in the cockpit.
     
  11. Jeff Szlauko

    Jeff Szlauko Pre-Flight

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    Funny that you bring up the "If he won't adapt to a students learning style...", as he has a description about himself on a web site where he talks about being an instructor, and said that one of the rewards, and challenges of teaching is finding out what works for a student, as no two are alike, and getting them to learn. He has either totally forgotten that mission, or, he somehow figured that yelling and belittling me was what I needed.
     
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  12. Jeff Szlauko

    Jeff Szlauko Pre-Flight

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    As for how may hours I have left, I just have the 150+ mile cross-country solo flight to do, and just under 1 hour of hood time. So yeah, I'm real close!
    And yes, I felt fairly prepared for the night flight, as I did the VFR Navigation log, had the airport layouts, and all the frequencies written down.
    Oh, and yes, I had recently switch instructors, as I figured this new flight club would end up saving me money. So far, big mistake!
    But then again, not really, as I've learned something, and hopefully can make better decisions in the future.
     
  13. Terry M - 3CK (Chicago)

    Terry M - 3CK (Chicago) Pre-takeoff checklist PoA Supporter

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    so you switched schools/organizations, not just instructors?

    Is this guy “your instructor” or just for that flight?

    Clubs usually allow multiple CFIs to instruct in their planes. I would honestly try someone else. Sounds like a jerk, even if he was tired etc.

    Life is short. Flying is expensive. Spend the time with someone you enjoy. You’re so close. Fly with somebody else.
     
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  14. frfly172

    frfly172 Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    What was the instructors take on the flight. what de he discuss with you during the debrief if you had one. Find an instructor that teaches with a method your comfortable with.
     
  15. wilkersk

    wilkersk Cleared for Takeoff

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    You're gonna run into people you don't "jell" with everywhere you go. CFIs or FBOs that waste my time usually get one or (maybe) two Mulligans before I move on. But, if I get the airplane off the ground, I just assume the CFI is going to try and rattle my cage at some point during the flight. If he's not gonna be on my Christmas list, I just try to make the best of it as long as he's got a reasonable plan to get me to my goal. If he has no clear lesson plan, or just isn't getting the job done, then he's waisting my time so --see above!

    I've found the best way to inoculate myself against the kneeboard to the back of the head (figuratively or sometimes literally) is to have clear and agreed upon goals for the flight, a communication plan, a navigation plan, and a thorough pre-flight brief. Then, if he doesn't stick to that plan, or he improvises in a way that disrupts the flight, the post-flight debriefing should be used to resolve this. Or, its a waste of my time so, ------see above!
     
  16. Jeff Creamer

    Jeff Creamer Filing Flight Plan

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    I feel your pain. I went up once with an instructor who seemed like he was on adderol the entire time. Talked a million miles an hour and raised his voice when anything wasn't perfect. He also acted as though he was doing me a favor to be in the cockpit with me. That was my last lesson with him. I found another instructor that was patient, laid back and fit my instruction style perfectly. I learned so much every time we went up because I was relaxed and open to listening to what he had to say. What a blessing he was to learn and fly with.
    Keep looking. The right instructor is out there for you. Good luck.
     
  17. texasclouds

    texasclouds Line Up and Wait

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    Get a new instructor and a red LED headlamp to wear. If you and the instructor are not familiar with the plane, I would suggest learning it on the ground and during the day.
     
  18. idahoflier

    idahoflier Line Up and Wait

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    You're not the first to post something like this and I'm sure you won't be the last. First off, as has already been mentioned you're PAYING the CFI to teach you to fly. If you don't like ANYTHING in relation to the lesson then let the CFI know. If the CFI doesn't change then end the lesson! Everyone has a bad day and if they don't know something is broken they can't fix it, but if that's the CFI's SOP, you need to find someone else...

    I'll admit there are some check the box items in a private pilot curriculum, but a night xc isn't one of them. Do you feel you learned and got enough out of the lesson to venture on a night xc on your own? Don't be afraid to end a lesson if you're not getting anything out of it...

    Good Luck!
     
  19. alfadog

    alfadog En-Route

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    I wouldn't bother giving him any feedback. if he's truly as bad as you say, he'll have a reputation soon enough if he doesn't already. There is a single instructor operation on one of the fields I fly out of that is famous or infamous, I should say. All you have to do is say his name and you get a knowing smile from anyone who's ever flown with him. Still, he finds some students and some of them must stick with him.
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2019
  20. wsuffa

    wsuffa Touchdown! Greaser!

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    When I was doing my commercial, on one of the first flights with the new instructor, before we even took off he reached over and put the GPS in "track up" mode. I'm a "north up" person - I've worked with maps (always north-up) for decades. I stopped the plane looked at him and told him to put it back. He tried to lecture me about how much better track-up was: I stood my ground and said "don't ever reset the box without telling me first". We had a bit of discussion, set the GPS back to "north up", and had a good lesson. It was a plane that I owned.

    Being PIC means "being in command" even if it means a talk with the CFI. Arguing in the cockpit is a recipe for disaster. Granted that your situation is a bit different in primary training, but eventually you'll hit a situation where you simply have to be in command. The pre-flight briefing should include a discussion of what will be accomplished and how the cockpit coordination between you and the CFI will be handled. Arguing in the air is contrary to safety - breif it before the flight, and after the flight. And remember that not everyone learns the same way, so you need a CFI that understands and works with you (I'm not worried about a CFI being tough, but I am concerned about one that teaches in a way contrary to how you learn and one that will tolerate an argument in the air).

    Just my opinion. Shields up!
     
  21. PaulS

    PaulS Final Approach

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    After he told you you need to respond to the radio, you should have turned to him, told him then STFU and leave the controls alone, just like that. Then you should have flown the airplane and handled the radios. If he started messing with stuff again, ask him what he is doing, if he is helping you tell him ok, if he is messing with you, tell him to knock it off, you are trying to fly the airplane. If you can't see the buttons, say something. Time to be the PIC, that's what he is looking for. Time to stop worrying about what he is thinking and fly. Sounds like you are close to ready.
     
  22. Jeff Szlauko

    Jeff Szlauko Pre-Flight

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    He was my instructor, not just for that flight. However, the flying club has several instructors. I only chose this one as the one I really wanted to try appears to be too busy for another student, and none of the other ones got back to me. And yes, I will find someone else to fly with. May even go back to my previous instructor at the other place of business. He seemed pretty low key, and taught very well.
     
  23. Jeff Szlauko

    Jeff Szlauko Pre-Flight

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    There really was no debrief after the flight. Just went into the office where he signed my logbook. Not one word about how the flight went.
     
  24. frfly172

    frfly172 Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Looks like he may be just looking to make a few bucks.How is the student to learn without a de brief.
     
  25. Ventucky Red

    Ventucky Red Line Up and Wait

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    Sorry to hear about your bad experience...

    I know for many confrontation or even going down to the conversation road that could lead to one is hard some folks... but as my father always said, "somethings need to be said, more important, some things need to be heard.."

    With that, I would have a talk with him on the phone or even in person and explain to him what you detailed to us here and that you are willing to give him another chance at instructing.. But, you're also going to lay out some general rules on how things will be conducted... and that some remuneration on the past flight needs to be addressed...

    If he is not willing to listen... we'll you saved yourself some time and money.

    My personal story... my first flight instructor was sort of an asshat, or more so a legend in his own mind... the long a short, strike 3 came right before our 7th lesson and his words to me were "if you don't like it go elsewhere..." and that I did..
     
  26. Timbeck2

    Timbeck2 Final Approach

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    No offense Jeff but there are two sides to every story. At 65 hours you should know what to say on the radio if tower calls unless you've had CFIs that just handle all the radio stuff since you've been flying.

    I reserve the right to call your CFI an idiot until I hear his side.

    That's my opinion and it's worth exactly what you paid for it.
     
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  27. Tantalum

    Tantalum En-Route

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    Honestly, that's not acceptable behavior on the instructor's apart. Flying is expensive, and it's a passion that few people get to enjoy, it sucks that the experience should be made actively miserable by a lousy instructor. Communicate your concerns and find someone new
     
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  28. Terry M - 3CK (Chicago)

    Terry M - 3CK (Chicago) Pre-takeoff checklist PoA Supporter

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    I think he was available because he is inexperienced or difficult in the cockpit.

    I wouldn’t give him a 2nd chance and would move on. Ask the CFI you wanted to try when he’s signing off his next student because you’re close and want to finish up with him. See what he says, but don’t fly with the last CFI again.

    On the radio call, Jeff thought the CFI had already made the call on the air. Misunderstanding. I don’t fault Jeff (or CFI) for that.

    Correcting it is fine too, but the CFI should be professional and constructive. It was a VFR flight and doesn’t sound like separation or terrain clearance was an issue, so why get agitated (as the CFI).
     
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  29. Tantalum

    Tantalum En-Route

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    **radio etiquette is a big pet peeve of mine. If I'm flying with another pilot we'll agree on the ground who does radios, and that's it. It drives me nuts when someone tells me what to say or tries to dictate or "remind" me of something mid TX. I fault the CFI for dictating to a 65 hour student how to respond to the tower. STFU

    **mind you, the hodge podge of cockpit layouts and GPS types you get in the rental fleet makes effective training hard. When each 172 you get into has a different 430 / KLN / 650 etc., some WAAS, some not, it makes it very difficult to achieve proficiency.. then on top of that they slave and couple differently to nav 1, an HSI, if there is an AP inevetiably the GPS tracking feature is going to be a who's who guessing gave.. some will accept a NAV hold with GPS toggled... but it is nav 1, or nav 2.. then others need you on heading with GPSS active.. etc. It's a total clusterf#ck

    ^this by the way is why I don't hate the instruction on G1000 planes, yes it may be overkill on a 100 knot plane, but at least you get consistent proficiency in your instruction
     
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  30. FlySince9

    FlySince9 En-Route

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    many, many moons ago (about 16,920 of them) when I was first learning to land, I pulled a little hard on the carb heat knob and was told to be more gentle on the equipment. the next time I guess wasn't gentle enough either cause the guy pounded on the glare shield with his fist and screamed, "I told you not to be so rough on the airplane!" Now I'm pretty sure he did more damage with that one punch than I could ever do pulling on that little black knob. That was the last time I flew with that arrogant ass!

    During my stop and go pursuit of my PPL back then, I flew with 6 different instructors over the span of a couple of years. That involved as many personalities and styles of teaching as there were instructors... There are good ones and bad ones. I know this doesn't help much, but the trick is to find a good one and stick with him/her!!
     
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  31. dmspilot

    dmspilot En-Route

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    While I agree with Tim that we only got one side of the story, on the other hand, I've occasionally "told" the student what to say on the radio. If he or she thought I made the transmission for them, I would apologize for confusing them. Sounds like the CFI in question is just a jerk, but as a rule, I always give instructors at least two chances. Sometimes we get off to a rough start and I end up liking them. Other times I like them even less each additional lesson.
     
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  32. Van Johnston

    Van Johnston Cleared for Takeoff

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    There is a lot to be said for instructor-student chemistry, and good chemistry in one relationship does not necessarily translate to the Instructor-student relationship. For example, Texas allows parent-taught drivers ed, and that’s what I did with my oldest son when he was ready to drive. Five years later, younger brother turns 15, and informed me right up front that my services are neither required or desired.

    But back to your situation. If I understand, if all was well, this would be the instructor you finish with, correct? If so, then yes I think you have to talk to him. You said you had flown with him twice before; were those flights ok?

    But if you had a good rapport with previous instructor at different place, and you were just trying to save a buck, I would spend the extra money to finish up with him. (Or her)
     
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  33. codydog

    codydog Filing Flight Plan

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    My experience is that, unless there is some imminent danger, anyone teaching you something raises their voice or creates added anxiety, is simply a poor teacher and you need to look elsewhere. If there is some danger and its beyond your skillset, the instructor should take over until the danger has passed.

    I am really lost as to why anyone would accept this behavior, in any situation. You're paying them, they work for you - if they dont respect you and your cash, you're wasting your time. The stuff of 'I want to hear the other guy's story', is simply ridiculous. If a plumber, electrician or doctor treated you this way, you wouldn't accept it - don't accept it from an instructor.
     
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  34. Jeff Szlauko

    Jeff Szlauko Pre-Flight

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    I appreciate the input. And yes, after 65 hours, I pretty much do know what to say on the radio, but in that one call from the tower, I could have sworn that he made the reply, and thus I thought it was all done. When he started barking at me to reply, I was thrown for a loop...both at his attitude, and because I really thought he had made the call. And yes, there are two sides to every story. Not sure though what his could possibly be that would justify his attitude. All that said though, I maintain that he is, overall, a nice guy, and perhaps his teaching style just doesn't fit my ways.
     
  35. Jeff Szlauko

    Jeff Szlauko Pre-Flight

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    Yes, I am seriously considering going back my previous instructor. At this point with so few hours remaining, I really wouldn't end up saving much by staying at this new club. And, the previous instructor was very patient, had a good sense of humor, and we seemed to get along pretty well.
     
  36. bradg33

    bradg33 Cleared for Takeoff

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    As someone else noted, there are two sides to every story. There are also significant differences in how people perceive and interpret things. Some of us on here may have found the CFI's behavior, had we actually experienced, to be perfectly normal. Others may have perceived it as unacceptable. Some people have voices or tones that are easy to perceive as "yelling" or "barking," when that's really not what they're doing. Reading OP's story objectively, it's really quite difficult to tell whether the CFI really was acting inappropriately or if OP just perceived it that way (phrases like "practically yelled at me" suggest a possible perception issue).
     
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  37. Kenny Phillips

    Kenny Phillips Pattern Altitude

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    Yeah, I was upset when my instructor screamed at me "you almost did a snap roll!" But I didn't do a snap roll, so he was upset over nothing.
     
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  38. MacFlier

    MacFlier Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I had something similar happen to me during my post-solo check and during my PPL checkride. On my post-solo, I was overwhelmed by the yelling and talking and got really stressed out, although the CFI passed me.
    On my checkride, I was more prepared and at some point I politely told the DPE to stop talking because "I need to fly the plane and talk on the radio as we were getting into the pattern". I ended up passing, which was surprising because I thought the DPE would not take that as nicely.
    However, I've been told DPEs and CFIs sometimes do that to see your reaction. They might want to see a PIC attitude and the focus on flying vs giving up, handing the controls over or loose focus on flying the plane.
     
  39. scorpio

    scorpio Pre-Flight

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    scorpio
    Impossible to judge without both sides of the story. Personally, I don't want an instructor to mince words with me. I view it as I'm being trained to not kill myself and my family. If I'm deficient in something I want to know. Where this specific situation falls on the spectrum I don't know.
     
  40. Salty

    Salty En-Route PoA Supporter

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    Salty
    My experience is that instructors yell more when they are out of their comfort zone. Maybe he has a fear of night flying. I found out after I finished that my instructor hated night flying and only did it when forced to. I don't recall him yelling at me, but he was grumpy.