Tales of a Rusty Pilot

Discussion in 'Pilot Training' started by Rooney Freimund, Jul 6, 2018.

  1. Rooney Freimund

    Rooney Freimund Pre-Flight

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    Great advice, Thank you!
     
  2. Rooney Freimund

    Rooney Freimund Pre-Flight

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    Thank you!
     
  3. LongRoadBob

    LongRoadBob Cleared for Takeoff

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    Take it with a grain of salt, I'm still trying to be a pilot and wish I was just rusty :)
    But in my experience with other things after taking time off, and your own description I think maybe you got caught a little in the "shoulda's" like you expected and we're trying to measure up to an ideal and then every small or large indication of rust felt like failure of some kind.

    And that can shake confidence, which feeds on itself. I'm sure your skills are still there, but it's best to see where you are and accept that, then go from there. But you have a baseline of experience that I envy. I'm guessing the knowledge is still there but some of the details and habits are what are rusty?

    Thanks for your story, it was insteresting for me.
     
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  4. Rooney Freimund

    Rooney Freimund Pre-Flight

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    Thank you!
     
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  5. Donald Strout

    Donald Strout Filing Flight Plan

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    Here is an interesting take on CFI's. There is a wide range of personalities and agenda's. Some forget the I in CFI is "instructor" and act more like an examiner. Some, as they are paid hourly have an incentive to convince you need "many hours" of "help". Some are truly dedicated to helping you..making you a safe and competent pilot while minimizing damage to your wallet and self esteem. Try to find that guy.

    http://pilotgetaways.com/mag/jf14/right-instructor
     
  6. Donald Strout

    Donald Strout Filing Flight Plan

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    Here is an interesting take on CFI's: There is a wide range of personalities and agenda's. Some forget the I in CFI is "instructor" and act more like an examiner. Some, as they are paid hourly have an incentive to convince you need "many hours" of "help". They will show you how great a pilot they are and then criticize you when you don't fly like they showed you. (Like watching Tiger Woods hit a drive will make you a great golfer.) Some are truly dedicated to helping you..making you a safe and competent pilot while minimizing damage to your wallet and self esteem. Try to find that guy.
     
  7. Donald Strout

    Donald Strout Filing Flight Plan

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    I think it is important to remember that once you are a Private Pilot...you are always a Private Pilot..the FAA does not declare your license invalid making you a Student Pilot again. You are required to have CFI provide a "refresher" course (Flight Review) and maybe a tailwheel endorsement "training" if applicable.

    I think my frustration has been I get the feeling that each session is a "check ride" rather than a transfer of information.
     
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  8. C-1 PILOT

    C-1 PILOT Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I had a seven year hiatus, took a Rusty Pilot seminar last year. Got my BFR and checkout in a Warrior, two flights about an hour each. I fly a couple of times a month to stay current. Looking to purchase an S-LSA to take me into retirement.

    To the OP, Good Luck!
     
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  9. Arbiter419

    Arbiter419 Cleared for Takeoff

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    Glad to hear it, and welcome. I've been the "Jason" in your story to a few guys, believe me when I say it's hugely satisfying to us when you're back in the saddle and proficient and making good choices again. Hope it all goes smoothly for you!
     
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  10. PaulS

    PaulS Final Approach

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    Ok, back home, bigger screen so I was able to read this easier. I got my license in 1989, flew for a few years and stopped with about 175 hours due mainly to new kids. Now they are all growed up… and I have been here on POA for a while and watching aviation youtube videos. So last summer I decided to make the leap, I needed the medical which was a little more complicated than 25+ years ago, but in October I got it. I had started flying last July and my experience with the flying part pretty much paralleled yours. Take offs, easy, took a little bit to hold altitude and course, but it came relatively easily, stalls? no real issues there, landing? yeah, that took a while, but I had a while waiting for my medical so it wasn't a big deal. Being comfortable, that was my biggest issue, my instructor told me I was ready to solo again before I got my medical ( no, he wasn't going to let me do it without the medical), but I didn't feel ready, so I kept flying with him and working on stuff. Medical came and I soloed.

    Here's what I learned during that experience: I expected perfection out of myself quickly, but realistically it had been over 25 years since I piloted a plane, I was very rusty. My instructor was great, very patient and got me to where I needed to be. But I learned that perfection took time, and no one really attains it all the time. Safe and proficient are key. Before my solo, I told my instructor I keep screwing up things, like my landings, bouncing, a little off centerline, things like that. Not unsafe but annoying to me. He told me, yeah, I know that, but you correct your mistakes when you make them and you are proficient and safe, every thing will get better as you fly. At that moment I lowered my bar a little, I was ok with a little bounce on landing, eventually I figured it out and that happens very rarely now. A little off centerline, nbd, work on it for the next landing. My flying improved quickly when I accepted things may not be perfect and that a little less than perfection (not too much less) is ok. Safe and proficient is where it is at.

    At the end of it, it took me about 25 hours or so to get to where I needed to be. I was probably ready at 18 to 20 hours, but I was in no rush. So the AOPA estimate of 1 hour instruction for each year was pretty accurate for me. In my training I wanted to be at the point where I could plan a trip to an airport I had never been, fly there land, do what I wanted to do, then fly home without sweating it. I'm there. There are guys who can lay off for long periods of times and come back in 3 hours of instruction, or so they say, but I'm not one of them and I'm ok with that.

    Now I am flying a Cirrus SR 20, working on my Instrument rating, when that is done I will probably pull the trigger and buy something if I can't find a rental situation that fits what I want to do, which is long cross countries.

    So my advice is be patient, fly, the more you fly the easier it will get. Don't worry about the hours it takes to get proficient, that is an unimportant criteria in my opinion, unless your instructor is a chump, but you should be able to gauge that easily. Just make sure you are comfortable flying the plane when you are done and you know stuff like how to get a tie down, deal with ATC or pump gas into the plane when you are done.

    One final thing, back when I was a youngster I used to worry about talking to my instructor about mistakes I made, not sure why, he was a great guy. Now I don't give a crap, I talk about things that happened and learn a lot from them when I am with an instructor. I've set a personal goal for myself to fly with an instructor every 6 months after I get my IR, and more if the need arises. I guess I've grown up too.

    Best of luck in your training, be patient with yourself, relax and have fun.
     
  11. benyflyguy

    benyflyguy Pattern Altitude

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    Also wanted to mention that if are as detail oriented in the plane as you are in your post you’ll be back to being great again in no time! It was a great read.
     
  12. Rooney Freimund

    Rooney Freimund Pre-Flight

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    Thank you!
     
  13. F01LA

    F01LA Line Up and Wait

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    You got in the airplane for the first time in a long time and flew (or did something like flying). That was the hard part. You know what needs work now, know the frustrations, and the good thing is that it should get much easier from here. Good luck!
     
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  14. Rooney Freimund

    Rooney Freimund Pre-Flight

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    Thank you very much! I am glad that things are working out for you and I enjoyed reading about your experiences. Happy flying!
     
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  15. Rooney Freimund

    Rooney Freimund Pre-Flight

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    Thank you!
     
  16. Rooney Freimund

    Rooney Freimund Pre-Flight

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    Thank you!
     
  17. LongRoadBob

    LongRoadBob Cleared for Takeoff

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    So, what's happening on the rusty pilot front? Have you gone up again? If so how did it go? Would like to hear how you feel after the second flight.
     
  18. Donald Strout

    Donald Strout Filing Flight Plan

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    Many Rusty Pilots can get discouraged by the fact that the required "Flight Review" is subject to arbitrary discretion of the CFI.

    "For a satisfactory flight review, the pilot should be able to perform all maneuvers in accordance with the Practical Test Standards (PTS) for the pilot certificate that he or she holds."

    Should be straightforward, but the definition of "proficient" varies. Think of flying like shooting skill..some CFI's expect you to hit the target...others will expect a bullseye 10 times out of ten.

    My experience so far is many CFI's tend to have a bias against the rusty pilot...they are afraid "old dogs can't learn new tricks" and can't seem to understand why you would abandon flying for 10 or 20 years..or more.

    Don't be discouraged or frustrated if you find that CFI is happy to give training but reluctant to "endorse" you. They sense great risk.

    Often, you will need to demonstrate a level of proficiency FAR above what is required for a student pilot to solo.

    If your CFI is avoiding the discussion of EXACTLY what you need and TEACHING you what you need to correct shortcomings find another one.
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2018
  19. Z06_Mir

    Z06_Mir Pattern Altitude

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    You will be just fine :) I think you are under estimating yourself and your abilities. It will get easier with every flight and my guess is you will be signed off before you think. I don't see any deficiencies from your CFI. He took flight one as an abilities assessment and can now take that information to make a plan for you.. a syllabus, if you will.

    I like flying with rusty pilots. It's fun to watch them relive the joy of flight once they "get it" again. Saying we're "biased" against rusty pilots is not accurate. You have to remember once someone is signed off for a flight review, it is our problem for the next two years. I need to make sure I did everything I could for that person to be safe. 95% of pilots are receptive to this and understand it takes time to knock the rust off, but 5% want to nickel and dime me because it only took their friend 1.5 hours to get back after 20 years.

    As a CFI I very much appreciate this real story being online. I think it will be helpful to others in your position. Please do keep us updated.
     
  20. Donald Strout

    Donald Strout Filing Flight Plan

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    The quote below from a CFI sums it up..

    "You have to remember once someone is signed off for a flight review, it is our problem for the next two years."

    I see nothing in FAA regulations or litigation precedent that holds a CFI responsible for a pilot's future performance..for two years. A preponderance of evidence of high % check ride failure rate or incidents perhaps leads to an FAA review. CFI's have a duty to train and evaluate performance to a standard.
     
  21. PaulS

    PaulS Final Approach

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    While from a legal technicality perspective you may be correct, but most CFIs are humans too, and I'm sure feel a personal responsibility toward those who they train and approve to venture off on their own. I'm thinking most CFIs are devastated or upset when someone they sign off kills themselves.
     
  22. Donald Strout

    Donald Strout Filing Flight Plan

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    No doubt. Conscientious instructors always feel they have a "stake" in a "student's" future.

    Rusty pilot "training" should emphasize issues that are critical for safety..Don't stall, go around if the approach is wrong, sight picture for glide, round out and flare..and when they apply, how to handle emergencies, situational awareness, how to read sectionals and terminal charts, use good judgment and have strict personal minimums.

    The FAA Wings Program is an excellent aid for this process..yet none of the CFI's I have used so far seem to have much respect for it.

    If the FAA thought rusty pilots had lost all skills..they would put an expiration date on our Private Pilot licence and make us start over as a Student.
     
  23. Donald Strout

    Donald Strout Filing Flight Plan

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    For example...I have always flown with the concept of risk management as paramount.

    I intentionally turn a little early on base to final..lower bank angle required..less chance to stall or skid. Two CFI's insisted on sharp turns there. Claimed my pattern was too egg shaped.

    I start my round out a little higher on a long runway..gives me more time to concentrate on getting attitude correct for precise wheel or 3 point. One CFI insisted that I was wasting runway. My short field technique would be different than what I would use for a 5000 foot runway.
     
  24. Rooney Freimund

    Rooney Freimund Pre-Flight

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    Hi there, He was already scheduled last weekend, so I have the next three Sundays with him. I will update the group after, but I am mentally more prepared for flight no. 2. Thanks for your interest and support!
     
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  25. Rooney Freimund

    Rooney Freimund Pre-Flight

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    Thank you!
     
  26. Rooney Freimund

    Rooney Freimund Pre-Flight

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    Update: I went for my 2nd “Knock Off the Rust” flight yesterday, 7/15. Like you all said, I felt better in the aircraft – more in control. Proactive versus reactive. It was still a warm day and the scattered clouds kept us in the pattern, but that is where I need my work anyway!

    I will tell you that I am not happy about my landings (I would grade the best one from that day a ‘D-’), but I walked away with the desire and the want to improve my skills. I am sure that anyone watching would have enjoyed my impressions of Capt. Dives-to-the-Runway, Mr. Flares-Too-High, and Senior Speedy Gonzales. Jason took it all in stride. “I’ve seen worse – much worse”, he said.

    My sight picture has not quite come back, actually it’s more like Ray Charles right now, and my finals seem to either be high and fast or low and slow. Nothing dangerously so, just irritating because I know I have done better.

    Unlike that first flight where I was wondering if I should even return to flying, this flight left me hunger for more. Not because I was good - it was just the opposite: because I need to get better. I found myself wishing that I could get up and do better landings that same afternoon…

    Remember that I was a kind of whole body motion sick after my last flight? I knew that it was going to be close to 90 degrees, so this time I started off the day drinking a lot of water and stopping about 90 minutes before my flight. I also ate a protein bar before leaving for the airport. I believe that this helped. One other pre-flight note, I decided to eat my pride and use the step ladder for checking the fuel and the wing, boy what a difference! No balancing act, no twisting, heaving, etc., so I will use one whenever one is available…

    I am now up to 2.6 hours (1.4, 1.2) of dual instruction on the Comeback Trail. However, I am not chasing a “magic” number any longer. Again, my goal is safety and both Jason and I have to agree when the time will be right, but I now know that I will do this!

    In the meantime, I have already planned a trip to Door County for my wife and I along the Wisconsin coast (also to Minocqua and maybe even to Sault Ste Marie, MI) and I have thought about how I am going to introduce my kids (15,9,6) to their first flight. I will be dragging them to OSH ’18 on Tuesday for their first time to help with their anticipation of flying with their old man. Memories to last several lifetimes… Thanks for reading and Happy Flying!
     
  27. Eric Gleason

    Eric Gleason Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Rooney, so glad to hear that the 2nd flight was so much better for you! Turning the corner about how you feel about flying and your potential is going to make the rest of it come back more easily.

    If I can offer some advice about introducing the kids: rule # 1 is to set expectations. Rule #2 is to get them deeply involved. I've probably given a couple hundred teenagers their first rides as CAP cadets, and every single one of them enjoyed doing things like helping with preflight, climbing up to check the gas, reading checklists, etc. (Just remember that you're not delegating those tasks. I always made sure to do things like tighten the fuel caps myself.) And I let them fly the plane as soon as we're at an altitude that I'm comfortable. I give them an easy task, like "Follow this road to the town" or "Fly a big circle around the lake."

    As for setting expectations, before we get in the plane I tell them what sensations they're going to feel (light chop can be like driving a car on a rough road, or being in a boat on a lake on a windy day), when they can talk and when they can't, etc. You want to do all this before they're in the plane, when they'll be overwhelmed by new experiences.

    For the youngest, it may be best to do this one-on-one. My kid is 4, and a week before we actually went flying I took him to the hangar to check out the plane, help set up his booster seat, learn and practice the rules, etc. It was tremendously helpful and made his first flight an enormous success. Instead of being nervous (new sensation, new rules, etc.), he anticipated his first flight for a week and was beyond excited about it.
     
  28. kath

    kath Line Up and Wait

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    Thanks for the update, good to know it's going better!
    A friend of mine has also been "knocking off the rust" after a 20-year break, and his reaction was very similar to yours.
    He had a "second first solo" a few weeks ago, it sounded like it was a thrill on par with his first one.
    It's been a delight to watch, and to live vicariously. <cheer! cheer!>
    Keep us updated!
     
  29. Rooney Freimund

    Rooney Freimund Pre-Flight

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    Thank you very much for the great advice!
     
  30. Rooney Freimund

    Rooney Freimund Pre-Flight

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    Thank you!
     
  31. steingar

    steingar Taxi to Parking

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    There is a thread on this site about a party Tuesday evening. If we don't see you there we're going to have to find you...

    My one and only check flight so far was more like a lesson. It was fun, too.
     
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  32. F01LA

    F01LA Line Up and Wait

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    Great job on sticking with it. Sounds like you're on your way. Don't fret the landings, it will come back. And nobody lands perfectly every time anyway.
     
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  33. Rooney Freimund

    Rooney Freimund Pre-Flight

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    Thank you!
     
  34. LongRoadBob

    LongRoadBob Cleared for Takeoff

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    How is it going now? I would bet that you are progressing at an accelerated rate now, things coming back to you faster and faster?

    Good luck!
     
  35. Rooney Freimund

    Rooney Freimund Pre-Flight

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    My third flight is scheduled for Sunday, 7/29. I am open weekends and my instructor only does Sundays. Throw in only one 172 that bumped me for an 100 hr and so goes my scheduling woes... My fourth is scheduled the following Sunday, 8/5. I am looking forward to them both!
     
  36. Chris Turner

    Chris Turner Filing Flight Plan

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    Rooney, as a former CFI and current "rusty pilot" I used this trick when getting my landings under control...

    Pick a long straight road to use as a virtual runway.
    Fly longer pattern legs around the road (helps with crosswind, downwind, base sight picture)
    Pick a spot that you can use as the threshold
    Fly a longer than normal "final" all the way down to an altitude your comfortable with

    No one likes that one plane flying a 5 mile final in a crowded pattern, so I used a road or an old unused airport. My initial CFI once told me that the longer you can stay in a particular phase of flight the easier it will be to get comfortable with it and the sight picture. Obviously, this was in a training envronment, but it worked for me!

    Welcome Back!
     
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  37. Rooney Freimund

    Rooney Freimund Pre-Flight

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    Thank you for the great trick!
     
  38. Rooney Freimund

    Rooney Freimund Pre-Flight

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    My third flight was fun. My confidence is building and had four landings that I would grade: B-, C-, C, and C. I received some BFR "homework" in the form of fill-in-the-blank FAR review and to come up with a cross-country flight plan. Jason has been great and the process has been both challenging and rewarding. I see the light at the end of the tunnel where I did not see one after my first flight! I am up to 4.0 hours over three flights so far on the come back trail and it feels good! Thank you for all of your support.
     
  39. Goornogo

    Goornogo Filing Flight Plan

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    Great story! The struggle is real! Trust me when I say, you are not alone. I am sure others on here can identify too! Returning is a process. Until this past March, I was out for 22 years. Whatever it takes, it takes. Profound but true! Every day is a great day, some are better than others. Funny, my wife said the same thing to me after my initial lesson. "What did you expect?" Have a great time, don't be too hard on yourself or let the rollercoaster of emotions get you down!
     
  40. Dp21

    Dp21 Filing Flight Plan

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    37 years 3 months off. After a year and 30 hours, and a very patient CFI, I am now current again as of Friday.
    Was a long and sometimes frustrating journey. My CFI did not let me beat myself up. She was always able to end on a positive note. Hardest part is that the 60 year old mind, does not work quite as fast as the 22 year old mind. My wife has a magnet on the fridge ‘In life your either a pilot or a passenger’. This was a major motivator for me. My advice, have fun and try to enjoy the journey.