Need advice from CFI's on how to deal with a fearful student

Discussion in 'Pilot Training' started by Salty, Dec 20, 2017.

  1. Skyrys62

    Skyrys62 Cleared for Takeoff

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    Just some suggestions:

    Show him this video...especially starting at 1:15
    And some other videos like it.
    Have him think about how safely you all are flying in comparison.

    Ask him if you can demonstrate an engine out landing, and get very close to the ground in a field. Show him that you could survive easily should you need to put it down.

    Help him learn how to know that physics don't lie. If you have the airspeed, it will keep flying. The plane just wants to fly.

    Explain to him that when he is in a car and riding down the road behind a semi-truck, and the car shakes about, it's just disturbed air, and it's basically the same thing when flying and there is any movement of the plane. Just like behind the semi, you can't see the disturbed air, you just feel it. That might help him associate it with something he's done many times safely.

    Finally, do a google search for 'fear of flying'. There are a ton of videos and articles out there he could do some homework with. Repetition is key.

    Hope it helps...
    He keeps wanting to go up. That's a decent sign he wants to work on it.
    Good luck
     
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  2. gasfiltered

    gasfiltered Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I would suggest that they are in Canuckistan, which only requires one not endanger folks on the ground when doing aerobatics. They also require spins for ppl, which was probably the most violent maneuver he did in that sequence. It looked like he did a hammerhead to inverted spin at the end, which was just dick move at that point. Hilarious, though.
     
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  3. Kritchlow

    Kritchlow Final Approach

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    I didn’t really read the thread, but if the aircraft is in trim why would you ask someone to hold the yoke? I mean, where is the airplane going? Even in turbulence the other guy isn’t going to do anything that you couldn’t do.
     
  4. bflynn

    bflynn En-Route

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    One thing I haven't heard mentioned, but this worked for me. My inital problem was that I just knew the airplane wasn't stable and it was only the incredible skill of the pilot keeping it from falling out of the sky. A bank was an opportunity to lose control and die.

    On the ground, talk about the aerodynamics of flight and of airplane control, maybe get a CFI to help if you aren't clear yourself. Once I understood pitch control being a balance between the wings and stabilizer I could see that we don't so much fly the airplane as nudge it a little around the sky a little. And even while deflecting the controls, all we do is change the balance for a while...it is still stable, we just changed what that stable position looks like. The plane is going to fly and when in trim, it will fly itself straight and level until the gas runs out.

    So knowing that I understood that the plane is a stable machine. It took a lot off my mind while flying.
     
  5. StevieTimes

    StevieTimes Line Up and Wait

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    I was worried the plane might flip out of the sky.

    Also to gauge their interest in flying the plane.
     
  6. Zeldman

    Zeldman Final Approach

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    We had a nurse that was terrified of flying. Every little bump and she would start hyperventilating and just about go into panic mode.

    We tried everything to help her. I had her sit up front with me as much as I could, and that seemed to help a little. She would not touch the yoke, even with the A/P on.

    We finally just had to have a talk with her. Patients depended on her in the air. She was offered an administrative position, but she decided to get out of the flying nurse business and go back to the hospital. She now works as a critical care nurse.

    Too bad for us, she is a very good nurse.
     
  7. HAPPYDAN

    HAPPYDAN Filing Flight Plan

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    I have always heard that the surest way to overcome unreasonable fear, was to face it head on. Sometimes, that method is easier said than done, but it certainly is effective. "Weary from running, I could not take another step. I drew my knife and turned to face the beast, prepared for the worst. I stood, dumbstruck, as the beast did not charge; it simply turned and fled." Some quote I read a long time ago.
     
  8. mscard88

    mscard88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Obviously not good advice when confronting a bear. They're like Eastwood and carry 357s, so they laugh when you pull a knife on them. Ever hear a bear laugh? Me either.
     
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  9. Rgbeard

    Rgbeard Pre-Flight

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    Most of you have more patience than I. I won't take a white-knuckle passenger. Much less, do all you've done.
     
  10. Hawker800

    Hawker800 Line Up and Wait

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    Wear one of these.
    [​IMG]
     
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  11. denverpilot

    denverpilot Taxi to Parking

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    I was going to mention that @WannFly started out very cautious and nervous and worked his way through it, but he’s already covered it.

    Nobody’s a lost cause until they say they’re done, @Salty.

    Bob Hoover himself said he was horribly airsick for almost every one of his early flights. He wanted to fly bad enough he just toughed it out.

    The rest of the various advice seems sound. Just keep taking him up and working on the fear if that’s what he wants to do. He wouldn’t go up with you if he didn’t truly believe you’re there to keep him safe. Your role is to do that while showing him that HE can learn to keep himself safe.

    Maybe he’ll figure it out, maybe he won’t... @WannFly seems to be buzzin’ all over the place nowadays. :)

    Maybe they could talk on the phone too. Never know. Might help!

    “That feeling scared the crap out of
    me, too... but let me tell ya it got easier each flight and...”

    Only downside is that this road ain’t cheap. But then again, conquering a fear rarely is...
     
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  12. gkainz

    gkainz Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    somebody here (or maybe red board?) way back when was a psychiatrist/psychologist/therapist with aviation experience and talked about doing counseling for fearful flyers ... anyone else remember that? or remember where I put my keys?
     
  13. LongRoadBob

    LongRoadBob Line Up and Wait

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    As you know...I'm no CFI, just a student. But I grew up with planes. I had it easy, as at my age my dad could do no wrong so as pilot even when it got "scary" with what seemed to be 45 deg. banks, and we did lots of stalls too, I felt a little scared, but dad was in control so...not really. Even later, when I knew dad COULD do wrong, wasn't perfect, he still seemed like an excellent pilot to me. He was flying his whole adult life and late into it.

    I don't know how it is for folks that didn't grow up feeling safe in a plane. But it sure seems like he is gearing up to want be learning to fly.
    Just a small suggestion, sit him down, use a small model plane, and go through with him the basics of how a plane flies, and is designed to fly.
    Show him with the model just how shallow a bank 6 degrees (or even 15 or 30) IS on the model "like this...see? Feel like 90 but is now where near that much!"

    I guess you already told him, pilots have to put up with turbulence, it's just how it is. I would think too it would be really helpful to let him know that flying HIGHER gives you way more options and is safer than staying close to the ground. Tell him why. Tell him about planes gliding, etc.
    (of course, you then risk that he won't let you descend...down to where it is more dangerous :) )

    It's a weird situation. From your description he seems REALLY interested in flying, but doesn't like flying. Is he trying to overcome it for some personal challenge or does he also seem genuinely interested in being one day able to fly by himself? It's pretty nice of you to take him up so many times!

    Another idea too, loan him (or better, tell him to buy) "Stick and Rudder". I knew some about airplanes from my upbringing, but before starting as a student read it, and it is well written even to a "layman" non-pilot.
     
  14. Agronomist

    Agronomist Filing Flight Plan

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    You might try explaining stall speeds to him. My first time "at the controls" before I began training I had an irrational fear of "flying on a knife edge" that stalling was imminent at any time. Of course now I know we have pretty large airspeed windows that allow all sorts of different maneuvers with little risk.
     
  15. Kritchlow

    Kritchlow Final Approach

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    Some people start nervous and will always remain nervous. They can learn to tolerate, but deep down they will always have a small lump in their throat.
     
  16. Salty

    Salty Cleared for Takeoff

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    I considered giving him my copy of stick and rudder, but I honestly think it will make him think too much about it at this stage.

    He really wants to be a pilot. I am going to try to find some time to spend with him on the ground talking about it all and see if I can get to the root of his fears.
     
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  17. Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe

    Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    Have him play with a simulator and see how hard it is to make an airplane fall out of the sky?
     
  18. Ravioli

    Ravioli En-Route PoA Supporter

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    "Stalls" freak people out. They think it has something to do with the motor stopping.

    I also believe people think of planes as similar to boats, when they are more akin to submarines. This is because a boat moves through two fluids (water and air) whereas the submarine has only one (while submerged) and an airplane normally has only one. The idea that the plane doesn't know or care about it's orientation to the surface is sometimes helpful to explain. I can tell you that I used to tilt my head in the direction of a turn. CFI says, "Do you do that when you're driving? It's helping anything here."
     
  19. mscard88

    mscard88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Why not set him up with a good CFI if you know of one, explaining the situation to the CFI ahead of time?
     
  20. Zeldman

    Zeldman Final Approach

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    I want to die in my sleep like my grandfather, not screaming in terror like his passengers.....
     
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  21. labbadabba

    labbadabba Pattern Altitude

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    I will say for me, even for flying for a few years and having my instrument rating, doing CAP Mission Pilot training, ect; when I'm flying as a PAX in a spamcan and the pilot puts in a bank in anything over 15* I still get a little uncomfortable. I'm happy doing a 60* bank in a steep turn all day long when I'm flying because I'm looking off the nose and worried about flying the airplane. As a PAX in a bank, all I see out the side window is the ground and I feel like I'm going to fall even though I can easily rationalize that I'm not going to; but there's still this little tinge of panic.

    The amygdala does funny things...
     
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  22. Kritchlow

    Kritchlow Final Approach

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    Sheesh.... leave it alone. Don’t force it on the guy. If he’s interested he’ll go to a CFI.

    And why would anyone take a new passenger up and do stalls?????
     
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  23. WannFly

    WannFly Pattern Altitude PoA Supporter

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    you are sure a gentleman @denverpilot . i would used the phrase "scared sh$$tless out of his mind, shooting bullets out of his a$$" :rofl::rofl:
     
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  24. James331

    James331 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    It's like cats, when one becomes too much of an issue, just return it and get another one.
     
  25. Ravioli

    Ravioli En-Route PoA Supporter

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    Because they are "showing what they learned" or "showing what they'll need to do if the go for training."

    I completely agree with you it is a bad idea. I've even told someone "I was practicing stalls over your house this morning" and they were like "Can you do that over someone else's house please."
     
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  26. Vance Breese

    Vance Breese Line Up and Wait

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    I feel fearing the unknown is healthy and learning is what shrinks the unknown and manages my trepidation.
     
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  27. denverpilot

    denverpilot Taxi to Parking

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    Seen worse. Wasn’t thinking about it and had a fearful flyer in the back with a pilot buddy. Did a wing wag goodbye on departure from a fly-in and the scream in my headset about broke an eardrum. I’m still apologizing for that one. LOL.
     
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  28. mscard88

    mscard88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    No, it's because that person is showing their ass. Think we had elther a CFI or renter once who spun a first time flyer. Without the person expecting it. Jerk.
     
  29. denverpilot

    denverpilot Taxi to Parking

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    That is extremely hard to do while you’re mooning everyone. I’m almost kinda impressed. :)
     
  30. Paulie

    Paulie Pre-takeoff checklist

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    There was a crash with s small woman instructor and a large make student a few years ago. The guy was known to freeze at the controls. They suspect he froze and she couldn't get him to release the controls. I would suggest taking a taser with you.
     
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  31. mscard88

    mscard88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Try it Nate! It's fun. :loco: :yesnod:
     
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  32. CC268

    CC268 En-Route

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    Yea they were doing spin training and the guy froze up and wouldn’t let go
     
  33. mscard88

    mscard88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Had that happen with a female student once. After liftoff she had the pitch way to high and we were headed for stall and crash land. She finally came off the controls after I really screamed at her the third time. Never saw her again. Good looking woman w/ big ones too. Regretted losing her. ;):D
     
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  34. Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe

    Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    One of my instructors had guy working on his commercial freeze up and put the airplane into the trees next to the runway.
     
  35. James331

    James331 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Or a good backhand to the nose, not sure a taser would have the desired effect lol
     
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  36. bflynn

    bflynn En-Route

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    Probably not a great idea. If you explain stall speeds then what a nervous person is going to hear is "if the airplane get too slow, we're going to fall to our death".

    I would talk with him about the reason for his fear. My experience has been that fear comes from a lack of knowledge or at least a lack of belief - we always fear the unknown. Most people who don't know small airplanes are absolutely sure we're all flying death traps because airplanes crash every day. We know that isn't really true, a crash is 9 times more likely to be caused by the pilot than the airplane (but don't tell them that either). Once you understand the reason for the fear - and they may not know either - you can address it with knowledge. Like I said earlier, my notion of airplanes was one of instability, something fostered by my first flights. It wasn't until ground school when I understood the aerodynamics and physics that make the airplane stable that I understood it. Knowledge and belief replaced fear of the unknown.
     
  37. Half Fast

    Half Fast Cleared for Takeoff

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    Taser might cause him to freeze even worse, or spasm. I suggest a .38 snub to the temple.
     
  38. Half Fast

    Half Fast Cleared for Takeoff

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    Salty, you might try this. After you level off at a few thousand feet, shove him out the door. For the next several seconds, rather than fearing the plane, he will consider the plane to be the safest place on earth and long to be back in it.

    Of course, this is only a very short term solution.


    :)
     
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  39. LongRoadBob

    LongRoadBob Line Up and Wait

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    For myself, I think knowledge like "Stick and Rudder" is what could help. Specially the intro in the book. The first few chapters where he points out how things are not what they are assumed to be when flying (like a pilot having to go against his bias and do the last thing would think was reasonable, bring the nose down in a stall, etc. the book really does dispel myths that most non pilots have) and if you also talked with him again use a model so he can get the sight of it, it could help.

    I'm kind of impressed with your student. Seems like he has an innate fear, yet he seems to have some kind of real drive and maybe even passion for flying BUT he wants flying without fear or turbulence :) He wants the icing and not the cake. Also sounds like he is working to overcome that fear.

    I think it is really great of you to help him along. I get the feeling if he could just get over some wrong concepts (like that the wings will fall off with a title turbulence, or that altitude is best kept low for safety) a little knowledge could help him get on track.

    If it were me, I still would ask him to get "Stick and Rudder" and tell him he can ask you if he has questions.
    The book is phenomenal in explaining concepts he will have to have anyway if he is going to continue to learn.
    And it just might make him feel safer.

    But, you know the guy and have more info on him so if you think it wouldn't help, go with that. Good luck to you , and him!
     
  40. Salty

    Salty Cleared for Takeoff

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    Geez, Merry Morbid Christmas guys. LOL

    Thanks Bob, I'm not going to take him up again until we have a chance to spend some time on the ground talking. He's been out of town on vacation so I haven't talked to him since I started this thread, but he wants to try again when he gets back.
     
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