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

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

  1. Hawker800

    Hawker800 Line Up and Wait

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    I'll even send him a free new copy.
     
  2. LongRoadBob

    LongRoadBob Cleared for Takeoff

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    Good luck!

    Just something about how you described him, I admire the guy for pushing so hard even with the fear. There is SOMETHING there with this person, I hope it works out. He really seems to want to do it. What is your take on him? Gut feeling? Is his desire for this going to make him accept that there IS turbulence and all of the other stuff?

    I like this story!
     
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  3. Salty

    Salty En-Route PoA Supporter

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    He has a strong desire, but being that I don't yet understand the basis for his fear, I can't really say more yet.

    Unfortunately for him, I think he's convinced himself that I'm a "safe" way for him to get over this. I think that he believes I won't push him too hard, where a real instructor might (look at what some instructors on this thread have said, for example, I think he'd have quit after one flight with some of them)

    That's where I plan on having a hard discussion with him. I'm ok with going slow with him, but I think it's better to figure out what's going on before we go further.
     
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  4. LongRoadBob

    LongRoadBob Cleared for Takeoff

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    You know my limited experience, I'm just a student, but it seems to me you are putting in the time and the thought and you should trust your instincts. I do have experience as a student and I think you have insight into his mindset. We students I think have a tendency to make mountains out of moelehills and miss important points. He's just starting, or trying to start. I think you will figure out what he needs or else maybe he wasn't meant to fly. One or the other will be the outcome but you seem to me to be doing all you can to help.
     
  5. pepsi

    pepsi Filing Flight Plan

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    Ok, he has to be honest and ask to himself the good questions, does he want to be a pilot or does he love the idea to be a pilot ? I had a lot of student that was scared to death and only one get his cpl.
    I let you imagine what will happen when you have to teach him spin, or power on stall ... seriously you have to be honest with him too, flying it is not for him, period.
     
  6. Craig

    Craig Line Up and Wait

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    Salty: Something you might consider with him.... Early morning, pre-sunrise flight to somewhere close for breakfast. Takeoff just before first light, so the horizon is either not visible or is indistinct. Have him hands on, following all control movements, from takeoff to landing. Get a leisurely breakfast, then do the same technique on the the flight home.

    We did something very similar when people got rides in the SF-260 and wanted to try some acro, but were very scared of it. It was pretty cool to see the airplane roll back onto the ramp and the passengers have that sh** eatin grin on their face.
     
  7. 1600vw

    1600vw Pattern Altitude

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    When I started flying it scared the bageezsers out of me. I had my cfi tell me I could put my hands on my lap, he was worried I was messing with the throttle that was off to my side. I told him I had a death grip on the seat and was not letting go. On the way to training in the car, it was all I could do not to turn around and go home, I was that scared. After a few weeks training my cfi wanted to turn me loose to solo. I told him no I was not ready for I was still scared. It took a few more days of flying before I started to settle down. If you would have seen me in this time you would have said what you did above. Flying is not for this person. But I wanted to fly. My fear was not holding me back I was not letting it, but I still had this fear. Don't tell someone they can not fly because of fear. We all have fear. Explain to this person it is how you handle this fear or over come it. The deal breaker for a newbie pilot IMHO is lack of skill. That is hard to over come and some can not. They either have the skills to fly or they do not. Not everyone can be taught these skills. But fear can be managed.
     
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  8. LongRoadBob

    LongRoadBob Cleared for Takeoff

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    Salty, any new developments there? Has he soured on it, or still asking to go for more?
     
  9. Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe

    Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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  10. Salty

    Salty En-Route PoA Supporter

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    His vacation and my unplanned trip have delayed us. Will probably meet with him next weekend.
     
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  11. murphey

    murphey Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    One of the advantages of Young Eagles, at least our chapter.
    1. only fly on calm or light winds
    2. evening before, all the kids and any interested parents, attend a 2hr ground school (we're unique AFAIK)
    3. Our Acro/CFII sits right seat and treats it like an intro flight, she talks the kid thru takeoff, the rest of the flight but she does the landing
    4. For the rest of us, we do TO but if they want, the kid does the rest of the flight. I talk them thru turns, climbs and descents. And make them help with the checklist.

    I've had one who freaked. We're rolling down the runway for takeoff and he decides he doesn't want to go. Pull power, slow down enough to get on the brakes, turn off midway down the runway. Unfortunately Dad was in back, and he wanted to go fly. Got him hushed up, and the kid & I just sat in the plane on the ramp chatting, about flying, cars, skiing. My preflight always emphasizes this is for you and should be fun, and if you're not having fun, tell me and we'll come home. After a bit (about 10-15 min) he decided he wants to try again.

    Non-stop grins.

    I think he got his glider cert last year.
     
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  12. Salty

    Salty En-Route PoA Supporter

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    Weather and busy schedules means we haven’t gotten together but once since I started this thread. We had a long talk and flew the sim a bit. I showed him an engine out at 1000 feet, and again at 4000. We landed in a field on the first and on a runway on the second. I also showed hm a steep turn and explained that the airplane is capable of far more, and everyone that gets a license practices this maneuver many times. It’s perfectly safe.

    That seemed to help him a lot. And he wanted to borrow stick and rudder, so I lent it to him. He’s talking brave now wanting to try again and do more, so we’ll see how it goes.
     
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  13. LongRoadBob

    LongRoadBob Cleared for Takeoff

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    Sounds like you have a good plan. Time will tell. One thing also might be an idea, since you are using the simulator with him, when you show him a 30 or 45 degree bank, switch to outside view and show how little it really is. I grew up with a pilot father and flying with him, and 35 degree banks or so I think feel like a lot more like 90 until one gets used to it. I was surprised on first flight after so many years how much more it looks like from the cockpit, specially looking out the side window on the down side. If I already mentioned it here, repeating myself, just ignore.
     
  14. Salty

    Salty En-Route PoA Supporter

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    We flew for almost 3 hours yesterday in a light sport. He did ok considering it bounces around a lot more than the 172 I had taken him in previously. I stretched him a little on steeper banks, clouds kept us from going real high. We had 2 nice landings, but back home I was getting tired and was trying too hard to not stress him out and kept ending up on final too high and too fast, so it took 2 go arounds before I had an approach that was on the right slope and speed. Having things not go perfectly was a good experience for him. I explained why we didn't "force" a landing when things weren't right. I think it will help.

    But he's still too scared to even hold the controls and follow my actions....
     
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  15. WannFly

    WannFly En-Route

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    kudos to you for keeping at it and helping a future aviator
     
  16. Salty

    Salty En-Route PoA Supporter

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    I think he’s gonna make it. Took him for a short flight today and he flew the entire cruise portion of the flight, even did a 360 turn and held altitude. And he was much much more calm.
     
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  17. Salty

    Salty En-Route PoA Supporter

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    Oh, looks like I forgot to post that I convinced him to fly with a real instructor two weeks ago and she managed to get him to take the controls. He wasn’t calm, but then today he seemed to settle in.
     
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  18. Salty

    Salty En-Route PoA Supporter

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    Also, I think forcing him to do one thing outside his comfort zone each flight has been working. Last time it was making him take the controls. This time, I did a 30 degree 360, which to him seemed insane when we were on the ground, but by 270 degrees he was relaxed. He wanted to have a “safe word” to abort, I said, ok, but were just going to do it and it’s no big deal. And we did. Then he flew us back home, did a 360 on the way at 10 degrees all by himself and was calmer than I’ve seen him yet.
     
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  19. 455 Bravo Uniform

    455 Bravo Uniform Pattern Altitude PoA Supporter

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    That’s nice of you. And a milestone each time he breaks through another barrier.
     
  20. Half Fast

    Half Fast En-Route

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    So the Xanax-vodka-mocha-lattes are working?
     
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  21. Salty

    Salty En-Route PoA Supporter

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    I have one before every flight. Lol
     
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  22. jsstevens

    jsstevens En-Route PoA Supporter

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    Well played, sir. Well played!
     
  23. easik

    easik Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Just verbally walk him through everything you're doing in the cockpit (as you do it). I've found that to be helpful. That said, some people will take flight experience in a small aircraft much differently than others. I remember my wife coming with me on her first flight. To my delight she was more calm and comfortable than I thought she would be. Either she really enjoyed flying or she was just way too excited to see a dream come true for me :)
     
  24. Salty

    Salty En-Route PoA Supporter

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    Ok, update many many flights later. Today was his breakthrough. A switch just went off in his head and he suddenly was fine.

    We’ve probably taken a dozen flights now, maybe more and he’s improved by tiny bits here and there, but today was a pretty turbulent day (not horrible, but constant bumps of mild that even one would have sent him into a tizzy prior)

    He wanted to try to learn how to forward slip (I was a little shocked and skeptical) today. There was a broken cloud deck about 1500 feet, he took off (three weeks ago we did nothing but takeoff practice until he could do it on his own), then I climbed us through the clouds, picked out a nice hole (it was pretty small for the first time) that he’d have to slip to get down through without going too fast. I had to “help” him hold enough rudder the first time, but he did the ailerons and elevator and did pretty good (and didn’t freak out at all). On the third try he did it all by himself.

    So then we go to do some touch and goes. He flew the pattern last week by himself all the way down to the flare, so I figured we’d do some more of that. Well, he practically did 6 landings by himself. I just softened the touch down a bit and helped him with rudder to keep us straight. He did all the power adjustments himself through the entire pattern. We even did a go-round (another first for him).

    He finally figured out to look outside and stop fixating on numbers inside. I told him that 20 times every flight, but today it clicked. He finally realized if he does the steps I taught him the plane will fly the same way every time and he can trust it.

    He’s beaming and I’m still a little shocked. It was bouncier than any flight before and he never even noticed. FINALLY!
     
  25. PaulS

    PaulS Final Approach

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    You are a patient man Salty, great work. You are going to have to think about solo now.
     
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  26. MuseChaser

    MuseChaser Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I got to this party really late, but figured I'd throw out this tidbit in case it's of any use to anyone even though the OP's friend's issue seems to have been solved.

    Many, MANY more folks have experience with small boats than small planes. Yes, there are folks who don't like boats, too, but for the most part they accept the fact that the boat moves a lot more than just in the direction you have it pointed because the water underneath it is moving, and it's expected that the boat will rise up, sink, and veer from side-to-side a bit occasionally depending up on what the water underneath it is doing. I always draw the (partly incorrect but partly correct) parallel between the water underneath the boat and the air around the plane. People seem to love "surfing" on water, but don't understand that, in many ways, we are "surfing" on air and that part of our motion is caused by the motion of the air around us, and it's part of the enjoyment of being able to interact with the sky.
    That knowledge can sometimes help people new to small planes have a better understanding and acceptance for the little bumps and buffets present in almost all of our flights.
    Another small anecdote... the first time I took my wife up, many years ago, and we were in the pattern while I did my pre-landing check. She saw me all of a sudden start doing my LGUMPS routine and freaked out because I hadn't told her in advance what I was doing.. she thought something was going wrong since all of a sudden I started checking things. THAT was a valuable lesson to me.. hated to see her worried. Now, I always let folks know in advance what I'm going to do... until they tell me to stop talking so much..
     
  27. murphey

    murphey Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    I describe the little bumps in flight as potholes in the sky.
     
  28. bflynn

    bflynn En-Route

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    What helped me was learning about the stable aerodynamic design of the airplane. I don’t know if that was part of this guys problem, but I think a lot of people are positive that airplanes are held in the sky by the pilots skill and the least misstep will mean doom. In reality, our aircraft are largely stable and can fly along straight and level perfectly fine with no inputs from us. In any case, he seems to have stuck with it long enough to Figure this out for himself.
     
  29. Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe

    Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Great.

    It's not enough that the nations highways are crumbling due to lack of maintenance, now the sky is too?
     
  30. Kenny Phillips

    Kenny Phillips Pattern Altitude

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    I told first time flyers to think of the plane as a little boat on the lake; sometimes it's smooth, sometimes it's bumpy, but in the plane, we can't see the bumps coming! Heck, some people will speed over railroad tracks in their car, but be absolutely terrified of "air bumps" that won't even move stuff in the cabin.
     
  31. danhagan

    danhagan Pattern Altitude

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    I tell my passengers that the Boeing AOA equipment was recently removed, and flights are now much safer:eek::confused:
     
  32. LongRoadBob

    LongRoadBob Cleared for Takeoff

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    I’ve been airsick a few times, mildly. As a kid in my fathers 172 it happened for a while but I was in the back seat.

    But NOTHING compares to being seasick. I’ve been out on boats throughout my life, never had a problem, but they were smaller boats. In a trip to Florida went out on a fairly large fishing boat with many other tourists. Was fine in the choppy water as soon long as we were cruising along, but as soon as the boat stopped and we started fishing it hit me, and just kept getting worse.
    To make it all worse, one guy further towards the bow started throwing up, as I happened to glance over and that didn’t help. Then, behind us there was some jackass that kept yelling “yeah baby! I’m the best fisherman around, oh yeah!” And I hear a kid say “hey look”, and I turn around and there is a fish on the cleaning table, they had just cut the head off and it was “gasping”, mouth kept opening and closing...did not help.

    I kept my lunch in me, but seriously considered jumping out in the ocean to get off the damned boat. My kids and wife were all fine. I literally felt like I wanted to die.

    Helped a little when we were heading back but still, it was strong. As soon as my feet hit dry land, I felt fine. It was amazing to me how bad it was and how quickly it subsided when I got off the boat.

    Have had a few flights where I wasn’t feeling great, usually air on me helps. Found out it is dumb to fly with an empty stomach (something I wrongly intuited that would help, if I didn’t have food in me) but also worrying about it makes it worse. Much better now.

    But never had motion sickness anything near seasickness that time.
     
  33. LongRoadBob

    LongRoadBob Cleared for Takeoff

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    I think the reason seasickness (to me anyway) is worse is that in a boat your eyes have the reference point of the water that doesn’t jibe with the feeling in ones inner ear totally. Also, Seems like a boat rocking slowly is a lot worse than choppy and faster rocking. Seems like there is a slow rythm that is the worst, and in the air turbulence is often quick and sharp. We do have the horizon in an airplane but it isn’t as solid a reference point to confuse the eyes, and body. Then again, I’m only going by my experiences, it may well be there are folks that think flying sickness is the same or worse than boats.

    I have read that motion sickness is a holdover from prehistoric times, that when our eyes and body get out of sync, the body “thinks” we might have ingested poison, and as a survival tactic wants us to throw up to try and get the poisoned food it thinks we ate, out of our system.