Seeking sanity check on my training status

Discussion in 'Pilot Training' started by Doug F, Sep 23, 2017.

  1. Doug F

    Doug F Pre-takeoff checklist

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    My CFI seems comfortable with my progress but, being the hyper-critical person I am, I feel like I am progressing far too slowly and have failed to gain some basic flight proficiencies long after I should have. I'm seeking some input to figure out if my progress is within normal ranges or not. I know that 'every student is different' but I have to believe there are some things that tell a CFI if the student is a lost cause or not.

    Stats:
    • Going for sport pilot in a Cessna Skycatcher
    • Age: 63
    • Previous flight experience: Coach...
    • First flight: 08.Apr.2017
    • First solo: 03.Jun
    • Additional solos: 23.Jun, 10.Jul, 21.Jul, 02.Aug
    • Total hours: 51.2
    • Solo hours: 3.4
    • Total landings: 209
    • Solo landings: 15
    • Total days flying: 34
    • Have not completed solo cross country; came close but weather got in the way.
    • I try and fly 3 days a week. Weather, travel, and illness has prevented consistent attainment of the goal. I'm averaging about 2/week.
    Concerns:
    • I don't feel like my landings are any better today than they were 3 months ago.
    • My landings are some combination of too high, too fast, too slow, too low. My most common status is too high, too slow.
    • I tend to round out too high so I'm dropping onto the runway hard.
    • I'm not 'seeing' the landing; I can't tell when I'm drifting left or right due to cross-winds (when over the runway, just before touchdown).
    • I'm not seeing the left/right alignment; I'm always pointed off center.
    • Because of the two prior items (uncorrected left/right drift and not pointed down the center-line), I'm always landing with a side load.
    • Most landings are still assisted by my CFI; he's on the controls and making changes to keep us out of trouble.
    • Short field/Soft field...not even trying them enough to say more than I know they are generally not good enough for a checkride.
    • At 51 hours, I feel way short of the number of solo hours that might be appropriate and that translates (in my mind) to 'CFI isn't comfortable enough with my flying to trust me solo'.
    A fundamental characteristic that drives my performance is information management. If I focus on any aspect of the flight (speed for example), I lose track of at least one other parameter (radios and/or altitude and/or alignment). The landing phase is busy and I have difficulty keeping track of everything that is necessary for a clean landing.

    I am at a low point where I feel like I'm never going to 'get' landings. My plan is to set up for two weeks of compressed landing only training. I'll fly 4 days a week, 6 flights (2-1-1-2) each week, 5-10 landings per flight. I'll ask my CFI to switch from his normal 'let the trainee work it out and provide guidance only if the plane is going to break' mode to 'tell the student exactly what to do' with the intent of getting to consistent solo pattern work, aligned on the center, check-ride pass quality standard landings. If I can't get to that point in 12 flights, 18 hours, and 60-120 landings it may be time to pull the plug on this project.

    Sooo...if you're a CFI and you had someone with this training profile would you be thinking 'a bit slow but not atypical, should be OK' or 'maybe he should take up knitting'. Is my proposed training plan something that sounds reasonable? Any other suggestions?

    Thanks for the input.
     
  2. Anymouse

    Anymouse En-Route

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    You need to solo more so you can build confidence in yourself.

    Also, look at maybe going up with a different CFI for a few flights and see if that helps you out.


    Disclaimer: I'm not a CFI
     
  3. jspilot

    jspilot Cleared for Takeoff

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    I'm not a CFI so take whatever I say with that in mind. Couple things, you clearly know what you are doing wrong. That's terrific! That means you are learning from your mistakes and that's really what it's about. So for that reason alone you should keep training.

    Now here's the thing, at 50 hours you could be close to checkride time( I took mine at 63 for PPL.)You are correct to think that things should be starting to click. If they are not, than something is not working and that could mean your instructor is not living up to his or hers idea of the deal. Is anyone else available to give you a lesson? Sometimes a new voice helps make things click.

    Specific to landing, it really just takes time. Knowing that you've probably heard this before and your clearly wanting to progress past your current level I'll offer a tip. First, if you are normally flaring too high, understand that is not proper technique and make a change. First thing is, you should be leveling the plane directly over the runway and waiting for the speed to go away. Then once you start to feel the plane sink towards the runway( it sinks because the speed is now barely enough to keep the plane flying--perfect time to land), pull back just enough to gurantee the main wheels touch first. This technique works for me. Landing never clicked with tips like " look at the end of the runway." To this day I could not tell you where my eyes are looking at landing. I needed to understand the feel of everything in order for landings to click. From your post you seem like you may be a very technical minded person so try looking at landing more as feel. When landing, you have to get close enough to the runway that you are not leveling off 40 feet above the runway though. But if you start leveling too high you will know because the time between level off and touchdown should be pretty quick( like maybe a few seconds.). If you level off too high, just allow the plane to drop a bit-- do not push forward on the controls-- and then level off a bit closer to the runway again before touching down. This will prevent a hard touchdown.

    You can't give up, once it clicks you'll be great. It's an unreal ability to be able to fly!
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2017
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  4. Doug F

    Doug F Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Started my adult life as a hospital chemist and ended my career as a software developer for a medical device company...so yeah...kinda data oriented and over-analytical. I log every flight and debrief using CloudAhoy.

    My initial checkride was scheduled for 18.Sept but I had a melt-down after a particularly rough day (cross-winds, turbulent, tons of traffic (class E, no tower), messy, ugly day) and cancelled it. Now that we're getting close to the Thanksgiving-Christmas-New Year time of the year, we're going to try for Dec/Jan (DPE is booked 6 weeks out).

    Thanks for the feedback; much appreciated.
     
  5. Doug F

    Doug F Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Good suggestions, both. I'm hoping that by the end of my 2 week push, I'll have more solo time and be ready for my cross country as well.
     
  6. jnbcfi

    jnbcfi Pre-Flight

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    First, your training proposal: Whether it is right or wrong is beside the point. You need to stop trying to be a flight instructor when you are not quite a pilot, yet. That is a hint. you will make it!

    Second, your difficulties with landings (and I would bet a couple of maneuvers as well): Being able to land well consistently is not a skill where you can see incremental progress. In a lot of ways it is like being pregnant. You either are or are not. You either can or you can't. Now your instructor may well see progress in individual skills, but even if you do them all perfectly, except one, what you see is another "Oh, Crap!" landing. Your instructor may say that the alignment was better, do that again and remember to flare... I'm sure you've heard of putting it all together. But you're frustrated because (so far) you can't. Do not despair!
    You do not have a large enough experiential data base to multitask landing skills. You will learn to land by making a multitude of crappy landings, and one day you will wake up pregnant. Your job as a student is to make those crappy landings. It is your instructor job to let you, and to keep you safe while doing...

    Go out and keep bouncing. Follow your instructor's training advice. Don't take a bad landing so personally. It is not a failure! It is learning. And be sure to get back to us when you pass your checkride.

    jnb
     
  7. murphey

    murphey Final Approach

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    Once again, the issue with flight hours. Bull. Number of hours,to ( fill in the blank ) is irrelevant. Everyone learns at a different rate.

    The suggestion to fly with another CFI for a different perspective - excellent.

    You admit you focus on single aspects, and that fixation (tunnel vision) is something you need to stop but understanding the problem is the first step. All of this comes with practice. Lots of it. Enjoy practicing. Does your CFI introduce distractions? That's a great way to start breaking the cycle of fixation. After a while you'll start to consciously (sp?) get out ofmfixation because you don't want to be surprised by the distraction.

    As a software geek myself (and college faculty teaching CS) the best people, the best students, in the field have a healthy dose of obsession and the ability to block everything out and focus on one thing. Great for work. Not great for flying.

    So you'll need to learn the divide the personality - be focussed at work, be more synergistic when flying. Difficult at times BTDT. More like stepping back from the tiny piece to see the entirty.
     
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  8. Salty

    Salty Pattern Altitude

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    I'm not clear on whether your instructor or you feel like you can't solo, but IMO (newish private pilot) you need more solo time. It seems to me like you can fly and land, you just don't have the confidence that you can fly and land. It's a subset of the resignation hazardous attitude IMO. You are expecting perfection and for the instructor to bail you out when it's not perfect. The skycatcher can handle a side load. My advice is fly by yourself and get the confidence you are lacking. We all sucked at the things you described when we were new, and frankly even ATP pilots have crap landings now and then.

    It almost sounds like you didn't have the "holy crap I can fly a plane" moment when you solo'd. You need to have that moment - and the confidence that comes with it. "wow, I really can do this"

    You've solo'd and didn't kill yourself or break the plane. That wasn't just luck, you can do it.
     
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  9. Doug F

    Doug F Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Your response made me smile. I totally believe that if you're not making mistakes, you're not trying hard enough so your advice fits into that philosophical base. I do have the problem of overthinking issues and taking on more responsibility than is appropriate for my pay grade so, again, spot on.

    I can't not be analytical; that's baked into my being. I will try to be less critical of my status and continue to rely on feedback from my CFI. I am going to do the intensive 2 week training but will discuss the structure of the training with my CFI to see if he thinks focusing on landings is the best use of my time.

    Thanks for your thoughts. Now off to get pregnant!
     
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  10. Doug F

    Doug F Pre-takeoff checklist

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    It's not fixation, it's lack of an ability to multi-task and it extends beyond flying. If I'm doing something, my ability to recognize other inputs is diminished from what it was 20 years ago. It's not something I can necessarily fix; my bandwidth is lower than it used to be. I'm hoping that as I get more proficient at flight tasks that my effective bandwidth will increase as tasks become background noise but so far that hasn't happened.

    I will adopt the concept of switching focus to see if that helps improve the 'did not process' problem.

    Thank you for your thoughts; much appreciated.
     
  11. Anymouse

    Anymouse En-Route

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    In instrument training, it's called a scan. Multi-tasking isn't necessarily what you're doing. Instead, you're looking at each item individually for a short period (a second or so) and making corrections as needed. In time, it will become automatic. You'll even get to "feel" when something isn't right and automatically make corrections without thinking about it. I bet you're even doing some of that now.
     
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  12. Doug F

    Doug F Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I believe I'm not doing more solo hours because I'm doing bad enough landing that my CFI isn't comfortable letting me go.
    I don't expect perfection (which nobody is) but I do expect progress (which doesn't seem to be happening).
    My solo was not a 'holy crap' moment of bliss, it was more of a 'thank god I didn't break the plane' thing.
    I feel comfortable with almost every aspect of flying except landing (and the oral...). Our training sessions are pretty densely packed so I generally don't have time to just kick back and go 'wow'. The two dual cross-country flights had moments that approached that feeling!

    On a side note, my personality is much like that described by the cartoonist 'The Onion' in his 'How to be perfectly unhappy' cartoon. I get pleasure from gaining proficiency. I enjoy the frustration of beating my face against an obstacle until it (or I) break.

    Good advice all. Thank you.
     
  13. rtk11

    rtk11 Cleared for Takeoff

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    I would suggest you ask your CFI to give you a long final approach. Things get busy fast if you have a short final. If you can do a 3 mile final, that should give you enough time to configure the aircraft for landing, stabilize your speed, descent, flaps, and focus on timing to pull power, runway alignment and the round-out.

    Once you have all these down, keep practicing and it will become "routine" to the point you can do them all more quickly.
     
  14. mscard88

    mscard88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I once had a student show up with 50-60 hours in a Grumman and hadn't soloed yet (no it wasn't 6PC :)). So we began in a C172 and I ended up soloing him within 5 hours if memory is right. So yes, try another CFI. Yours sounds like he may be milking your wallet or is insecure himself and worried about letting people go. Does the CFI have other students? How did there training go?

    Ah regardless I think you need to go up with another CFI and see if that will help. Good luck.
     
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  15. Mistake Not...

    Mistake Not... Cleared for Takeoff

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    I know EXACTLY what you mean. I'm currently beyond frustrated trying to get an instrument rating for this very reason.

    Couple of things I've learned / am learning the hard way about the ability to multi task:

    * It's like a muscle. It is possible to increase your ability to multi task by practice. I try to drive like I fly... hold car precisely between lines while holding speed exact. Plan exits / lane changes while doing so. It helps.

    * Fly VFR to IFR standards. Again, this is practice. Hold altitude < 20 ft. Hold heading +/- 1 degree, etc. You can't do that and not multitask.

    * A number of tasks are required for landing, as you've mentioned. Try to work on one at a time, get it down and then add the next task. If you're working on landings, this could be "For this approach, just work on getting a stabilized approach following the VASI". Don't land. Go around. Do it until you get it pushed into the firmware, then add the next task. I'm no expert on wetware, but I can feel the difficulty of a task decreasing as it becomes "muscle memory". That'll free up your CPU to try to learn the next task.

    * Realize that your frustration and apparent inability to get it as quick as others exists. Acknowledge it. Then ignore it. (Ok, so it's a mindfulness thing. Helps me.)

    You will get this. That's not encouragement. It's physics. You can't not get this. If anything your analytical approach to this is hurting, not helping. Trust me... I'm the same way. I had to stop being analytical about the flying and start being analytical about why I wasn't getting it.
     
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  16. WannFly

    WannFly En-Route

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    It takes as long as it takes. A lot of your emotions resonates with me. I still think my landings are constantly crappy, tool quite a long to solo because I was looking for that perfect landing constantly. Turns out I needed safe landings not perfect ones in order to solo. I have more time than u but less solo hrs. My CFI doesn't believe in here is your wind restrictions, no go fly when u want camp, hence the less number of solo hrs and the less u fly alone the more time it takes to build confidence. About landings, I went thru same phase, all my landings could be counted as 2 because I used to bounce , like evertime. Turns out I was looking too close to the runway and jerking the yoke. I don't know when it got resolved, but I know it did one day. That doesn't mean all my landings are greaser, but they are passable. Do pattern work and focus on landing only, that's what I did for many flights, the tower guys got bored of me. One day all the pieces will fall in place. Like u I overthink everything, I won't tell u to try to stop, because it didn't work for me, I made it work to my advantage by thinking every little aspect that's going to happen in next 2 mins of the flight.

    Hang in there. I have about 245 landings. 2.5 hrs solo. Only last week I went to the practice area alone and wasn't sure if I can come back and land in one piece. Turns out I can.

    Sent from my SM-G935V using Tapatalk
     
  17. James331

    James331 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Yeah, don't "round out" or "flare".

    Come in on final with your sight picture locked, use a area just before where you want to touch down, it shouldn't move in your windshield, if it gets low you're too high and vise versa, --> don't be afraid to slip <--

    Once you're a few feet over that point, runway assured, pull the power, look all the way down the runway to the point that moves the least, think of those paintings of a road with power lines at both ends, how they disappear into one infinity point, look at that.

    Now with the power out, try to fly down the runway to that infinity point holding the plane 6" off the deck, keep holding her off, once the mains touch, keep flying the plane tomthat point till she's slowed to a speed of a brisk jog, don't just let go of the back force and prang that flimsey nose gear down.

    Once you get low over the runway, remeber it's alerons to keep the plane in the middle of the runway, rudder to keep it pointing down the runway.

    Lastly, imagine the yoke has a ratchet on it, once you pull back when you're down low you can't put the stick forward again, if it starts to sink just burp in a little power.


    A good landing will have the stall horn going off just after you transition from your landing target to flying to the infinity point.



    These things should NOT be a laundry list of steps, it's one fluidic thing, don't strap into the plane, strap the plane onto you.


    And remember
    --> don't be afraid to slip <--
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2017
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  18. denverpilot

    denverpilot Taxi to Parking

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    I've got the same personality. My primary instructor had to mentally smack me around a couple of times back in the day and tell me to relax, and have fun... seriously. I'd start to ask another overly analytical question and he'd say, "Who cares? Land the plane! If you make the 1000' marker I owe you a Coke."

    Later when I was working on CFI A wise old DPE taught me that many students are way too nervous and one thing many CFIs fail to brief those students on is this...

    "You're here to learn, and learning requires mistakes. And I'm here to keep us both safe while you make those mistakes."

    I'm not in my 60s, but I've also felt the frustration in my 40s that my brain just doesn't coalesce things as quickly as it did when I was learning to fly in my teens. That's okay, and a good instructor can bust through that.

    Let the instructor teach and you just work on flying. Right now, you want to be Pilot in Command, not an instructor. Just work on that part.

    I can still over analyze a flight for days. I just learned to do it later, on the ground, after I landed the plane and put it away. :)

    I think the idea of flying with a different instructor for a different perspective is also a good one.

    Another thing I found helpful in learning to analyze how fast or slow things were really going in a cockpit was finding flights where my instructors were working with another student and if the aircraft and circumstances allow and they didn't mind a back seat passenger, go watch a training flight from the back seat. You'll probably be surprised at how slow all that stuff is actually happening and how much the student is sweating it in the left seat, and how relaxed but guarded the instructor is in the right seat. You'll be a lot less critical of yourself in the left seat once you realize the pressure to perform is time-compressing you over there.

    Example: Learning to fly instruments is an all-hands-on-deck call to every brain cell you've got, trying to stay ahead of the airplane. Watching another student learning to fly instruments from the back seat, is like watching paint dry. You're not in the hot seat and you're relaxed, and even if you couldn't see out the windows, you'd notice their little altitude and heading deviations long before they do, because they're in the weeds, and you're just relaxing in the back and your eyes are catching everything.

    Then you realize... hey... I could relax a bit when I'm doing that and it would free up all sorts of time and brain cells that I'm wasting on being nervous.

    So... you're working on landings. Take that post by Zeldman to heart and simplify like he said. Fly down to the runway at a reasonable speed, keep your target in one spot on the window, smoothly remove the power, transition your eyes to the far end of the runway, and then try to land waaaaaaaay down there. The airplane won't have the energy to get there and it'll land on its own, pretty much. And as it lands keep coming with the elevator and aileron all the way back and all the way over into the wind. Never stop flying it.

    The instructor is there to catch you if you fall off the tightrope. Just balance and breathe.
     
  19. rtk11

    rtk11 Cleared for Takeoff

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    This is GREAT advice. Altitude is your friend, but a good slip will get you down to where you want to be.
     
  20. Doug F

    Doug F Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Re my CFI, I don't think your assessment fits him. He's got 30 years doing this, has multiple students at all times, and has a 100% checkride pass rate for at least the last 2 years. He works with people of all ages, and has pretty much every endorsement/certification available. He had me set up for my checkride and I cancelled.
    I'm obviously not a CFI but I've done training before. There are things the teacher can do to help students but there are some students who just can't get <insert subject here>. My CFI uses a 'demo once, then let the student work on it' methodology. If I ask for specific help, he provides it. He's forcing me to think about the process and makes me responsible for seeking guidance, just like an actual pilot would have to do in the real world. If I do something really stupid, he'll correct it immediately so we stay out of trouble. I'm at a point with landing that I'll seek detailed remedial help.

    If I'm still stalled out after this next intensive push, I will see about getting another CFI for a couple of flights to see if they have a different way to work the landing process.

    Thank you for the input.
     
  21. Doug F

    Doug F Pre-takeoff checklist

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    'I'm not in my 60s, but I've also felt the frustration in my 40s that my brain just doesn't coalesce things as quickly as it did when I was learning to fly in my teens.'

    Just wait... ;-)
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2017
  22. Doug F

    Doug F Pre-takeoff checklist

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    So that's the crux of my problem. As I'm landing, I have NO clue if I'm drifting left or right because of cross-winds and have trouble knowing where 'pointed down the runway' actually is. I'm so busy trying not to bash the plane into the runway that the perception of lateral movement and alignment is just gone.
    And the '6 inches off the runway' thing...again, NO clue how far up I actually am. I have limited peripheral vision because I wear glasses and can't see clearly anything that's not in front of me. At this point, I think I'd almost prefer beefier gear and 3 wires...just crash the thing into the runway!

    Part of my internal concern is just as described above. Lots of landings and the basic perception of where I am in 3D space is just not there. I'm hoping this is going to be like learning to do a back flip; the first dozen times you do it it's just blind rotation hoping you stick the landing and don't break your neck. Then one time you actually SEE the mat as you hit the peak of the flip and 'OH...THERE'S THE GROUND' and now you stick every landing.

    Good advice all, thank you!
     
  23. Doug F

    Doug F Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I've done a couple of assisted slips. Man those just feel weird...I think once I get them down they'll actually be kind of fun, like doing steep turns; 'look, I'm a fighter pilot' (or maybe not)
     
  24. Doug F

    Doug F Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Just a general thank you to everyone who's replied. I'm still concerned about where I am with regards to landings but I think there's a path to success in front of me. Thank you all so very much for the advice and encouragement. I'll just keep pushing forward for now.
     
  25. Doug F

    Doug F Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I'd like to try doing instruments just to see how it went. I've spent so much time 'flying' planes with MS Flight Sim and X-Plane that I have this weird feeling that just watching the panel would be easier for me than not; in sims I almost exclusively fly the panel. FWIW, when I'm flying for real, I have to force myself to look outside as I'm way more comfortable watching the instruments. That being said, the Skycatcher has no nav radios and only one 2 channel radio so it's a pretty simple digital panel (with options to go crazy with all the bells and whistles).
     
  26. Mistake Not...

    Mistake Not... Cleared for Takeoff

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    I sim a lot. It's easy enough to find out... just cloud it up (weather) get in it and see. I was surprised how much peripheral cues can help. Get rid of all of them.

    Then, go track to a VOR by intercepting and then following a particular radial at a specific altitude.
     
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  27. jordane93

    jordane93 Final Approach

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    Have you taken any fun flights? I always took time to take my students to lunch to a local field, do the Hudson River corridor, invite the spouse/girlfriend/boyfriend and do some sightseeing. You don’t have to do training every flight. It helps break up the stress of working towards the rating.
     
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  28. Doug F

    Doug F Pre-takeoff checklist

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    DougG
    Every flight is fun! (see my comment elsewhere about 'The Onion' and understand that my 'happy fun flight' may not be your 'hap;y fun flight' and that's OK!).

    Sooo, the Skycatcher has 2 seats...no wife allowed until I get my certificate and she's listened to one too many 'there I was at 4000' when...' tales (*) so getting her into the cockpit is gonna be a challenge. It may be time to find a girlfriend...pop her on the back of my Ninja, take the twisties to the airport, fly for an hour or so, then drinks and then...<poof> wait, I'm back...

    To your question, not really. The dual cross country has sections that were like that. The sport pilot XC is only 75 miles with 3 legs so even on the XC there's not a lot of time between 'checkpoint 1' and 'set up for landing'. I do have 5 minutes or so on the longer legs where I could set the plane up, trim it, let go of the stick and just enjoy the scenery (which is how I missed one of my checkpoints...). I am trying to pack a bit of sightseeing into each flight. I'm new to this area so I'm still trying to map what I've learned on the ground to what I'm seeing in the air and that adds a bit of low-stress fun to the flight (and is generally when my CFI pulls the throttle and I have to find a place to land...not on the cows...don't land on the cows).

    (*) So in addition to flying being way more complex than expected, traffic is also more, ummm, interesting than expected. I'm a student and do dumb stuff but I've had a couple of pilots do some really really dumb stuff around me. My son's general flying advice is 'plan with the knowledge that everyone and everything is trying to kill you all the time'.
     
  29. Ravioli

    Ravioli Final Approach

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    So your landings seem to be the biggest source of concern for you right now.

    When you're in the landing configuration, with your left hand on the yoke and the right hand covering the throttle, are your EYES always out the windscreen or are you diverting attention to the panel? The only change you my need at this time is a little more or less power (usually less for me). Your CFII can do the look and say "you're a little high" or "you're a little slow" almost without looking at the instruments.

    Get that picture, and relax... It will come.

    [Note: I landed too fast and long in a PA28-180. The picture really was worth 1,000 words]
     
  30. Doug F

    Doug F Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I'm splitting time between the runway and the panel. On days when I'm doing better, I am lined up on final and just let the plane fly to the runway. I've even had a few days where the approach was spot on; right speed, right slope, landing spot didn't move a bit. On days when I'm not so good, I'm going back and forth quite a bit (mostly between the landing spot and the speed since I have a bad habit of getting too slow when I'm low).

    As long as I'm not so high that I have to do a go-around, things almost always fall apart is after I get over the threshold when there's any kind of cross-wind. Staying centered and lined up is a lost cause so far. That goes to what I've referred to in some other responses to my inability to see drift and alignment so side loaded landings become the norm. Based on other's feedback, this part of the picture should eventually become visible as I spend less of my attention on the mechanics of getting down and have more brain to spend on observing the final stages of the landing.

    Side note: in a Skycatcher, there's almost no such thing as 'too long'. That little guy doesn't need much runway to land or take off; not quite a STOL but pretty darn close! In a non-checkride landing, I could be way high on final and hit the far quarter of the runway and have room...not that you'd do that but you could.
     
  31. mscard88

    mscard88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Nate has competition! :rofl::rofl::rofl:
     
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  32. Ravioli

    Ravioli Final Approach

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    Well... the RV lands in 500' Preferably the FIRST 500 feet of the runway.

    I think you've answered your question to a certain extent. On good days you're all eyes out. On the off days your using eyes to confirm what you will eventually just "feel" or see.
    Oh, the picture is a little low/high? I do what with my right hand?
    Oh, I'm a bit left/right, I do what with my left hand?

    Stick with it. When you have your certificate and hundreds of hours in your logbook you'll look back and laugh!
     
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  33. James331

    James331 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    So heres what I do with students like that

    Go do a bunch of low speed passes, don't try to land, just go low and slow over the runway, the longer the runway the better, if the mains chirp, add power and keep on at it
     
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  34. Mistake Not...

    Mistake Not... Cleared for Takeoff

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    That's a useful skill, right there... flying low.

    At HSV (12000ft), the controllers recognized the tail number and would let me land long if it wasn't busy. Usually I'd get this on a relatively short final. Not sure how everyone else does it, but I just add power and level off at a few hundred feet AGL until I'm "close enough" that resuming the glide path I had will let me land before the specified turn off.

    It's fun.
     
  35. Sinistar

    Sinistar Cleared for Takeoff

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    It took me a long time to solo...wait it was only a long time because everyone else on the internet solos in like 6.2hrs...yeah right :) I was getting pretty flustered, all those laps and just hadn't clicked yet. Then it did. Even now with like 25 solo hours (still a student) and about 50 instructor hours I would say 30..40% of my landings I am really proud of. The rest, they're in the past....except the one yesterday on the wrong runway :) And that was my sweetest short field ever. So...don't do that!

    Of the 30% that I really, really like, they all have a few things in common: A really nice downwind, base and final. Forcing my eyes at least half way down the runway and just a bit left as I level out. And not dwelling on the flare/touchdown until I am leveling out. If I think of the landing too early my pattern is blown. If the pattern is blown then the final is weird. And if the final is weird the site picture is off. And if the site picture is off, the flare and touchdown do not equal good.

    Regarding your final flare/touchdown site picture - you could try the following. If the airport isn't too busy ask for an actual taxi or two down the runway. Have some speed but be safe. Look about half way down the runway and to your left. Look down at your tires. Get a sensation for what the grass looks like in your peripheral vision as its cruising by. While taxiing, stretch your back and neck up as high as you can and simulate just being 2" or 3" above the runway while moving and then back to normal. Its weird how just that little movement can effect the sight picture and peripheral vision. You can do this on the taxi way (except for speed) but it just isn't the same thing. I found I was looking too far down the runway. Chair flying can help here a bit too. Sit in the plane and just try and build some patterns of looking at the numbers and then as your cross shifting you eyes way down and maybe slightly to the left side. Might have to do this with eyes closed as the actual sight picture sitting on the ramp doesn't help much.

    One other thing that worked for me was actually taking a break for about a week. About opposite to what you are thinking. I got other things done. I stopped studying or flying. Watched a couple movies. Mind was about as far off of flying as it could be. My next lesson was my solo day. Us geeks and nerds are poster kids for paralysis by analysis.

    Oh yeah, its easy to second guess your CFI at this point (when most frustrated). Follow you gut on that one. One thing that helped me was grabbing my wife's flight instructor book (Kirchner?). Knowing more about how/why an instructor does things gives us detailed oriented types "more data".

    I bet you will do your first solo cross country within the next 2 weeks or so :)
     
  36. Doug F

    Doug F Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I'm out of the plane until mid October due to travel so 'taking a break' is gonna happen. If I can get through the 2 week head down, do landings period with a better overall feel for landing, I do expect my solo XC to happen pretty soon after that.

    All good advice. I don't have to worry about the wrong runway thing since everything around here has no parallel runways and I'm not cleared for anything other than G or E airspace. As long as I don't land on the taxiway, I'm good!

    Traffic here runs from dead quiet to people landing on all multiple runways at the same time with others shooting ILS fly-bys at the same time. We also have a couple of single runways nearby that have low traffic most days so they are an option for doing runway taxi exercises.

    I also sit on a cushion so I have visibility of the front of the plane. I'm 5'8" but can't see the cowl without a cushion. That's helped me a bit with alignment but it was no magic bullet.

    Thanks!
     
  37. Half Fast

    Half Fast Pattern Altitude

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    First of all, cut yourself a little slack. Despite the hype about Sport being a quicker path to a pilot's license, the truth is LSAs are a challenge to land in any sort of wind. I'm working on my Sport ticket in a Tecnam and I have had many of the same frustrations with landing that you're having.

    I went up in a friend's 172 and by comparison flying that thing is like driving a truck. Landing an LSA feels like landing a leaf fluttering in the breeze. If you have gusting crosswinds it's going to dance around a lot. Don't hesitate to shove in the throttle and go around if you're not comfortable with a landing. Your CFI wants to see good judgement as much as anything else.

    Two major things helped me. The first was consistency in flying the pattern, starting with speed on the downwind. If you can be at the same speed and altitude every time when you come abeam the numbers and pull back the throttle, then the time to put in flaps, make your base turn, etc., will be much more consistent. Consistency will help you to put more things on "automatic" and you won't feel quite so task loaded.

    The second thing that helped was learning where to look when I rounded out over the runway. Some CFIs told me to look "at the end of the runway." That does not work, at least for me. You can't judge height looking at a point a mile away. For me, the best spot is about three or four hundred feet out, but this may be different for you. I have to concisously force myself to look at the right place, every time. Pay attention to where you're looking when you round out, find what works best for you, and make yourself do it every time.

    Hang in there. Not everyone has a breakthrough, a sudden satori flash where it all clicks. For some of us, it's a gradual thing of just getting a few good landings, then a few more, then more good than bad, than mostly good, then all acceptable.

    Be patient. It'll come.
     
  38. Half Fast

    Half Fast Pattern Altitude

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    Same story here. Had a Ninja for several years; now I'm riding a Triumph Daytona. I keep telling She Who Must Be Obeyed that if she's not comfortable on the bike or in the plane, I'll have to add on a motorcyle wife and an airplane wife. I guess I'll also need a hunting/fishing wife, come to think about it...

    After all, a man is supposed to have 16 wives: four better, four worse, four richer, four poorer.
     
  39. Wade

    Wade Pre-takeoff checklist

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    With your mentality building consistency Flying the pattern by the numbers and putting those numbers on a checklist might help.

    For instance in a 172 it's 2000rpm on downwind don't lose altitude and puts you at about 90mph. Turn base 10 degree flaps 1500rpm 80mph, turn final 70mph, short final reduce power to idle 60mph hold it off til it quits flying.

    Also burn the attitude of the planes nose in relation to the horizon on takeoff right when the wheels leave the ground into your brain. Guess what that's what you should see at touchdown.
     
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  40. G-force

    G-force Pre-Flight

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    I would suggest flying with a couple other CFi's, focusing strictly on landings. Every teacher has a different way of explaining things, perhaps one will say something that cllicks with you. While the hours may not count, if your school has a Cessna 150, try a few landing in one of those, i found them alot less pitch sensitive than the skycatcher. Get a solid base, then figure out the quirks of the skycatcher, if indeed that your problem.
     
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