time to solo

Discussion in 'Lessons Learned' started by Solo time, Apr 18, 2017.

  1. Solo time

    Solo time Guest

    posting anonymously because i am little ashamed of the time its taking me to solo. its been 41 hours and i am yet to solo. i see a lot of people get their PPL in this time or little more. getting frustrated. i enjoy every time i go up, and i am in no hurry...but still. will be flying for fun, not as a career pilot. CFI says i am making progress and i can see that too, but its s-l-o-w-w-w-w. still cant figure out the magic of when to flare and x wind landings...is it time to give up? i never give up on anything and have come a long way since i started. anyone else took a long time to solo? i am sure there will be lot of people will comment they solo-ed in 3 hours, good for you... i am specifically asking for high time solo students. post anonymously if you font want to share under your normal screen name. thanks.

    PS: fully aware of all AOA and PG jokes...
     
  2. Salty

    Salty Pattern Altitude

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    Do not give up if you still have the desire to fly. It's just a number, it means nothing.

    I suggest using another cfi. Not saying switch necessarily, but fly with someone else for a few hours. Sometimes a new approach makes things click.

    Are you able to see well? Not being high enough can make it hard. Are you getting good advice on different techniques of where to focus, etc?

    I know of a student that struggled until he flew with another instructor that noticed he wasn't able to see properly and he was solod a few lessons later.
     
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  3. James331

    James331 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    That's a lot of hours pre solo,

    I'd try with another CFI, ideally a VERY experienced one, pending that ether solo or perhaps re think flying.

    Average solo time is about 15ish hrs

    Things that hold people up, in order of occurance in my experience.

    Bad/inexperienced/not a good fit CFIs
    Switching schools, CFIs, or type planes all the time.
    Overthinking it
    Just not having a feel for flying.
     
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  4. Stingray Don

    Stingray Don Pattern Altitude

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    As far as timing the flare, search the archives for info on the "Jacobson flare". This technique will have you flaring at exactly 10 feet every time. Once you have the sight picture down, you should be able to land without it. Note that there are those that will scoff at this technique but just give it a try and see if it helps make things click for you.
     
  5. MAKG1

    MAKG1 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I know folks that have taken longer. A few much longer. There are at least two I know that exceeded 100 hours (one is known to some members of the board, and his problem was excessive instructor changes; the other isn't, and may have really been taken for a ride).

    In addition to James331's list, another complication that crops up is distant practice areas. If you spend 15 minutes on taxi and run up and 20 minutes each way to the practice area, you can easily triple your hours. Long lines for takeoff can also add a lot of time.

    There are two current CAP transition trainees who are racking up the hours on the G1000 182. I flew a mission with their instructor recently -- he made a comment that I got through run-up in 13 minutes (needing to clear the plugs, so that added a few), and he was used to seeing more than 30. People get stuck on landings in 182s, too, as they don't land the same as 172s.

    Comparing solo hours is like comparing wieners. It really doesn't matter. And a lot of people lie.

    If you feel you're having a problem that isn't getting addressed, one lesson with another problem-solver CFI can address that. My own pre-solo story was that I couldn't get a soft landing at all. I went up with an 8000 hour instructor and in ONE landing, we figured out that I could actuate the brakes slightly with my heels on the floor. I was not happy with my regular instructor after that....and the very next landing was soft.

    And getting stuck on landings is really common.
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2017
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  6. citizen5000

    citizen5000 Ejection Handle Pulled

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    No one is getting a PPL in 40 hours. And taking time to learn to fly well is a win. Remember, less than half finish at all.

    A freshly minted PPL will still be at high risk until they fly several types of aircraft (low to high performance) under a wide range of weather and several dozen over 1000nm xcountry trips. Remember, each time you go up you can be killed and guys with thousands of hours fill the majority of accident stats.

    So what's the rush?
     
  7. jordane93

    jordane93 Final Approach

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    I agree with the above posters and fly with another CFI. Doesn't mean you have to ditch the other one but a fresh perspective often helps.
     
  8. murphey

    murphey Final Approach

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    citation, please. proof that doesn't add to the discouragement of the student pilot.
     
  9. Solo time

    Solo time Guest

    thanks all for inputs. CFI probably is not the problem. he is one of the best in our school (zillion hrs, not a time builder). i have landed a few times completely on my own and CFI himself said "I coudnt have done it any better". but i cant do it every time. may be 1 in 5 landing i will get it right, rest of the times he will have to help (pretty much every time when there is a x wind of 10 kts or more).

    i can come up with all kind of excuses, some are valid, some are not, but the fact of the matter is its been long time. my typical taxi and run up is 20 mins at least, then 15 NM to the practice area and back, though off late i have been just staying in the pattern. slow flight and ground reference maneuvers are already nailed.

    i will have to try the seat height. i remember once i flew a diff plane (same type) but the seat was way up high and if memory serves, i think, that's when i had a few greasers back to back. take offs were much better too.
     
  10. Salty

    Salty Pattern Altitude

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    If you aren't consistently setting up the seat both height and distance from the controls, that could possibly explain an inconsistency. Every once in awhile I'll put my seat back one click too far. I can still land but the sight picture is off and it's harder.
     
  11. murphey

    murphey Final Approach

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    I've always had problems in the 172 because the glareshield is so high. So I always have a cushion so I can see better. As soon as I bought the cherokee, I had the seats rebuilt (35 yr old foam doesn't really work well) and had my seat built up and extra couple inches. Works wonders!

    As far as landings...practice, practice, practice. Stay in the pattern and practice. Get a cushion for a better sight picture if it helps.
     
  12. Ryanb

    Ryanb Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    Never give up.

    Two things come to mind when reading this. You have either:

    A: Let long periods of time lapse between flight lessons.

    Or

    B: The CFI is taking advantage of his/her students and milks them for as long as possible.

    Sounds like a combination of the two.
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2017
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  13. Solo time

    Solo time Guest

    not B as far as i can tell. its hard to find time on his calendar. about A... of late i am only able to fly every 10 days or so. i have all the time in the world (well not really, but i will make time), scheduling is a headache - and it seems it always rains when i am scheduled.

    i will try the high seat idea. 172 glare shield blocks a lot
     
  14. citizen5000

    citizen5000 Ejection Handle Pulled

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    Sounds like you are beating yourself up and allowing others to influence you in how fast you think you should progress (toss that part out completely).

    if you are hitting a wall with this CFI (no matter how much you respect him/her) try someone else. In fact, ask your current CFI for a recommendation. Get some fresh eyes on what you think are your problems.

    Flying is both a sport (muscle memory) and knowledge. But you might quit if you tell yourself negative things like "I am taking too long." Everyone is different in how they learn and how readily their body adapts to flying. I know people that took 100 hours to get their PPL and went on to get IR and Commercial ratings and fly for pay now. I also know some who could not retain the knowledge well and had a hard time with their written and orals, but could fly circles around the CFI and DPE with just a few hours.

    Your training is not a race. It is there to be patiently done while you gain the skills needed to fly safely, proficiently and with confidence. Enough to pass your checkride (a small benchmark) so you can move on to log hours later on your own as you continue to learn.
     
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  15. Half Fast

    Half Fast Pattern Altitude

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    Having been through a similar experience, let me add a few words of encouragement.

    Like you, I took much longer to solo than I expected. There were several reasons - multiple CFI changes (I'm on #4 now), aircraft and weather delays, and my own slow learning. Every CFI change (they quit for airline jobs) would result in a couple of weeks lost before I could start flying again; add in a wx or plane cancellation, and I might go 3 or 4 weeks between lessons. I'd slide back down the learning curve, then have to work back up again.

    Anyway, I finally soloed a few weeks ago, and there's no reason to think you won't get there as well.

    If you're doing this for fun, try looking at it this way. You're going to be paying for every hour you fly, whether it's a lesson or not, so set that aside. Enjoy the lessons as you expect to enjoy any flying time. You're in the air, at the controls of a plane, away from earthbound worries for a while, enjoying the view from the sky, and sexy ladies are waiting to throw themselves at you once you land (you have to keep some dreams alive, no?). Focus on the journey, not a destination.

    Also, there's an upside to spending more time in instruction. You'll encounter more situations and have to make more decisions in the air, and you'll be doing them with the safety net of an instructor. By the time I soloed, I'd used 7 different runways at 3 different airports, both towered and non-towered, had to deal with various traffic situations, flown extended downwinds and circled for traffic spacing, had a tower call my base turn a few times, done go-arounds for traffic on the runway, experienced a variety of wind conditions, landed in the rain, etc., etc.

    There's no way that a guy who solos in 10 hours has gained all that experience.

    A little practical advice concerning some things that helped me:
    • Make sure you have a good sight picture over the cowl. I'm vertically challenged, and my landings saw a big improvement when I got a seat cushion from Sporty's and could see better.
    • Be sure you're consistent with speed on your downwind leg. When you're abeam the numbers and reduce power, if your speed is different each time around then your base and final legs won't be consistent either.
    • When you round out over the runway, pay attention to where you focus your eyes. One instructor kept telling me to look all the way down the runway. BS. You can't get a good perspective for your height above ground if you're looking at a point a mile away. For me, it worked to focus my eyes about 400 feet out. The best focus point might be different for you, but you need to find it and be conscious and consistent about it every time.
    It's been said that there are three secrets to a perfect landing, but unfortunately Orville didn't tell anyone what they were before he died. All pilots make poor landings from time to time. I was on a 747 two weeks ago when the pilot slammed it so hard onto the runway in Newark that my landings began to seem great. :) Don't get down on yourself; for some of us this is a matter of incremental improvement rather than a sudden breakthrough.

    And when you need a little pick-me-up, .
     
  16. Skywalker

    Skywalker Line Up and Wait

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    Don't give up.

    Did you review what you did when you had those perfect landing? Did you do anything different? I really learnt to land with a great CFI who just taught me to look at the end of the runway during landing and it works. Whenever I have a not so good landing I was looking at the numbers and just 'froze'.

    You may want to think about your CFI if he sees a difference how you look during the landings and you may want to discuss the technique that I have described and helped me - and I assume it was because it forced me not to stare on the numbers / runway. :)
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2017
  17. SkyDog58

    SkyDog58 Final Approach

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    Old dog w/o new tricks
    I may have missed it but 41 hours over how long of a time period? How many lengthy breaks from training? Need to put it in perspective. Now if it is 41 hours over just a few months then yes it is taking longer than average but so what?! We all learn at a different pace.
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2017
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  18. jbrinker

    jbrinker Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I just want to chime in here and agree with everything said. It took me longer than normal too, and I'm also with a career instructor who has a million hours.

    1) cushion. Get one. maybe two. I used two 1" firm pillow cushions from about my 2nd lesson on to near solo. Then reduced to 1, which I think is about right. Higher = better view.

    2) What everyone said about who cares how many hours - enjoy the ride. I, too, had a ton of other great experience as a result of taking extra time. When it came, I was really ready and had lots of experience in controlled and uncontrolled space and with lots of different situations.

    3) Ditto that "look at the horizon" BS. Not THAT far ahead. You need to pick a spot, its NOT the aim point (where the plane is pointing on final) and its not the horizon. Its somplace in front of you, where you can SEE the horizon in your vision, but thats not the focus. At our practice airport, we have crossing runways - X. Almost 90deg cross, and almost at the center either way. Thats where I learned to focus more or less.

    4) Consistency - On a good day (like light 3-5mph consistent winds nearly aligned with runway) go shoot approaches with all of the above in mind. Keep speeds the same on downwind. Try to use the same landmark for base turn. Try to be the same height AGL on base. Fly the approach at the recommended speed and have a very stable approach. When you start that flare, think about where you are and remember you have a few seconds to "fly it in the flare" - just hold it there and let it settle. Then note what you did and go do exactly that again about 10 times. Once you have a good day of maybe 6 out of 10 landings make another lesson as soon as you can after that has good weather. Ideally less than a week, maybe 3-4 days. And repeat. It will build that mental muscle memory thing. This is what did it for me. It locked in and then I could concentrate on the "other stuff" like crosswind, soft field technique, etc. Just find time to do it repeatedly over a short period without all the "other stuff" mixed in.

    If all else fails like everyone said, go ride with a different instructor, perhaps they will show you a different technique, or spot something in yours. It sure can't hurt.

    Most of all, dont give up JUST because it's taken you a long time in book hours. LOTS of us did the same thing. Its hard not to when lessons get spread out and life intervenes...
     
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  19. Half Fast

    Half Fast Pattern Altitude

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    One more thing - always try to end on a good note. Sometimes if I keep a lesson going too long, my landings get worse. That means fatigue is setting in, even if I don't feel tired. Try to end on a good landing, even if it's a tad early, and burn it into your memory so you can replay it over and over in your mind while chair flying.
     
  20. James331

    James331 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    That's doesn't exactly mean anything, might just be y'all don't mesh, I got a few hours and am not a time builder, but I've even had some guys I just wasn't getting through to, had them go to other good CFIs, sometimes you just don't mesh.

    Really, first and foremost, try another CFI.



    This is the everyone gets a chance at bat and a participation trophy, you can be anything you want to be logic, it's a nice warm thought, but it's still BS.
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2017
  21. Vance Breese

    Vance Breese Line Up and Wait

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    In my opinion you and the instructor are missing a piece of the puzzle.

    Sometimes a slightly different approach makes all the difference.

    A couple of hours with a different instructor may provide the answer.

    I feel learning to fly should no be a competition to fly in the minimum number of hours.

    Please learn at your own speed and progress when you feel ready.

    I feel if you are making progress there is no problem.

    I like to have several hours in without touching the controls before I solo someone.

    Consistent performance is important.

    It doesn’t take a very big mistake to make a big problem.
     
  22. murphey

    murphey Final Approach

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    If it's BS, then why not present the statistics from the FAA? Seems to me you're offering nothing more than the classic, but false, argument of proof by repeated assertion.
     
  23. BillTIZ

    BillTIZ Final Approach

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    Really?
    I did, well actually 41, I had some extra solo time. Granted that was over 40 yrs ago.
    The national average now is between 65-70 hrs.

    If some people are taking 90 hrs, some one needs to be in the 40s to keep the average going.

    For the OP, my question would be, how often are you flying?
    If you are only getting in the air once every other week, that is a problem.

    What are you flying? Same plane every time?
    Bouncing between Piper and Cessna does you no favors. Changing between a 172 and a 182 does you no favors.
    Now changing between an older 172 and a newer 172R or 172S does not help.
     
  24. mtuomi

    mtuomi En-Route

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    Well, I got mine in 40 hours, but I did it in 16 days, so we didn't use hours relearning things.
    It wasn't enjoyable (July, in Florida...), but we got it done.

    Flying once every 10 days is what increases the hours required for the OP. But it is not a race, no-one cares how many hours you had when you finally get your ticket. The biggest concern is frustration that might set in when it takes longer than "expected" (there are no expectations btw). A lot of people stop because they think they are not able to do it. Doing a few lessons and cramming them in in a day or two might help retain things a bit better.
     
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  25. FormerHangie

    FormerHangie Pattern Altitude

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    Learning to fly does require a certain amount of natural aptitude, and not everyone has it. You may want to evaluate whether you think you do or do not.

    This doesn't exactly correlate, but for a really long time I tried to learn to play the piano. I spend a couple of years self teaching, then stopped for a year with a sore elbow, then started back self teaching for a couple more years, making very slow progress. Then daughter #1 wanted to try, so we bought a real piano, and both of us started lessons. After four years of self teaching and another two and a half years of lessons, I was still at a late elementary level of playing, and was struggling at that. I finally came to the realization that I wasn't going to be able to play the piano at any sort of an adult level.

    What I've found about myself, I've observed in other people as well. Those people who have a lot of natural aptitude for something typically pick it up quickly, and retain what they've learned. When I was trying to learn piano, if I stopped practicing a skill to devote my practice time to something else, I found that when I went back to the original skill, I had regressed quite a bit. If i wanted to go back and play a song I hadn't played in a year, I had to relearn it almost as if I'd never done it before, even though it was at an easier level than what I was working on. My daughter, on the other hand, made substantial progress every week and after a few months had progressed beyond where I was, despite my years of efforts.

    One other thing I noticed was that extra practice didn't help. Now, there's only so much any one of us can learn in one session, at some point the law of diminishing returns sets in. I finally got to the point where I was just trying to brute force my way through a piece by repeating a few measures over and over, maybe 30 or 40 times in a row. At one point my wife yelled down at me to try a different song - she was tired of listening the same few notes over and over.

    I'm not saying you don't have the aptitude to fly, I'm just suggesting you examine your progress and evaluate what you think your level of aptitude is. When you get a lesson in, do you make some progress after most of them? When you get back to your next lesson, did you lose much, and did you pick it back up quickly? If you get a couple of lessons in close together, does that help? If the answer to all three of these questions is no, you may want to try something else, maybe glider flying or hang gliding or paragliding.

    If you're serious about getting this done, you've got to figure out a way to fly twice a week. Will the weather be opening up where you are? I did my solo on my ninth session, but that was over a little more than three weeks. I still remember it quite well. We were doing touch and goes, when my instructor told me to make the next one full stop and to taxi to the ramp. I shut the engine off and he gets out, tells me to go make two touch and goes and then a full stop, and come back in. I was really surprised and told him I wasn't sure I was ready. He told me he was sure I was ready, and that I had between where we were and the end of the runway to convince myself I was ready. Turns out he was right.

    At this point, you're heading towards spending maybe $20,000 on your private ticket, just make sure it's worth it to you, and that you'll continue to fly after you get your certificate.
     
  26. 455 Bravo Uniform

    455 Bravo Uniform Pattern Altitude

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    Crosswind landings giving you trouble? They did for me. Instructor couldn't figure out what I was doing wrong for a few lessons. Frustrating. It turned out that I was using both the crab method and side slip method at the same time.
     
  27. James331

    James331 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Lol, well if it isn't in a government pie chart it's false eh?

    Just common sense and experience talking, which is all invalid because I don't have a government stamped excel sheet to back it up lol
     
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  28. dmspilot

    dmspilot En-Route

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    I would be interested in knowing OP's age, and as others asked, how those 41 hours have been distributed over calendar time.
     
  29. Salty

    Salty Pattern Altitude

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    Continuing to work hard at something that doesn't come natural to you, but you desire to do, is hardly asking for a participation trophy. Quite the contrary.
     
  30. DFH65

    DFH65 Pattern Altitude

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    I will just repeat try a different CFI. I am not a CFI but guess I differ from some in that 40 hours to solo seems excessive unless there is some significant issue. Either the CFI doesn't have the tools to teach you or your not picking up what he is putting down.
     
  31. orange

    orange Line Up and Wait

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    I soloed at 112 hours, I spent over $30k on training. If you can afford it, go for it. Think of the extra hours not as a waste, but as gaining experience, and enjoy the extra flying, it's supposed to be fun. Read the comments that people made on my identical threads to yours. Like you, I got lots of good advice and encouragement. But I also had the same naysayers and super pilots who believe that if you don't solo by your 3rd flight, you're not cut out to be a pilot. I was advised to rethink my choice to fly, I had on-going landing issues (at some point it clicked, now it's a non-issue), I had a CFI who was nervous to let me solo since I was his first student and kept making excuses, and I had to wait for my medical to be approved by FAA. Honestly, I was ready to solo at about 60 hours. I got my medical and he still wouldn't solo me, so I switched CFI's. Took 1 flight with new CFI for him to tell me that I'm more than ready. I soloed the following weekend. Try a new instructor.

    Not everybody learns at the same pace. Forget the "Most people solo at 15 hours" naysayers. That may be true for a small number of people living near some podunk airport that has 3 flights a week. I watched a YT video over the weekend where a kid soloed at some midwest non-towered airport where he was the only person in the pattern. I think this is not uncommon in some areas. At my school, most students soloed around 30 and some later. Landings are hard for everybody, but then it clicks. You just gotta keep practicing.
     
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  32. Clark1961

    Clark1961 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    On a 172 it is relatively easy to get a consistent eye height by looking at the bottom of the wing. If I remember correctly eyes slightly below the wing is ideal.

    As others have noted consistency in seat placement during initial training can have a large impact as folks learn the sight picture for approach, round out, and landing. It carries over too as pilots get used to one particular aircraft type. I once flew with a guy who had been flying P.180 Avanti for a few years. He had a tough time landing my Cherokee because the sight picture was so different. The guy had several thousand hours and now teaches folks to fly King Airs so he's very good, just had trouble one day because things looked different. So don't feel bad about having a bit of a challenge learning how things should look and then making it happen.
     
  33. PaulS

    PaulS Final Approach

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    Pay no mind to what others do, everyone is different. How often are you flying?? What does your instructor say? I remember struggling with landings, I finally figured out I wasn't doing what my instructor wanted me to do. I was a little chicken**** and overthinking it. My advice is to put all your doubts out of your head on your next flight and become like a robot. Focus on doing it right, then correct what your instructor tells you to correct, without question other than to understand what he wants you to do. Another thing I did was go through all the steps in my easy chair at home, in my mind, hands moving to different controls, as close to real time as I could, from midfield. Visualizing every step, down to crab angle and kicking the rudder and flaring and landing on one wheel during a crosswind landing. It really helped me.

    Bottom line, you are not unique with your issues, you can't fly alone if you can't land and it's not as hard as you think. I'd step up my flying to a couple times a week at this point if you are not there which will probably help.
     
    Vance Breese likes this.
  34. murphey

    murphey Final Approach

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    (my emphasis)

    Yet some of these naysayers forget one of the fundamentals of the learning/teaching- there are different learning styles. Find another CFI, if only for one lesson. Be amazed what can happen.
     
  35. SkyDog58

    SkyDog58 Final Approach

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    Agreed and that is why it is important that a student finds an instructor that is a good fit for him or her. Even more important is being able to recognize when the fit isn't there and being able to terminate the relationship and look elsewhere. I think many students are reluctant to do the latter out of either a belief that they are the only one to blame for their lack of progress or a fear that they will have to do every lesson over again. I think it is incumbent on an instructor who has a struggling student to insist they take a couple hours with another instructor. To me this demonstrates a willingness to see others achieve over the desire to just make money. An earmark of true professionalism.
     
  36. citizen5000

    citizen5000 Ejection Handle Pulled

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    No one is getting a PPL at 40 hours. Have no clue what was required 40, 50 or 60 years ago. We as pilots should not be comparing ourselves to each other in this way. We want proficient pilots. Not people getting frazzled because of an artificial comparison of learning time. We should encourage people to simply get as good as they can before they are cut loose.
     
  37. James331

    James331 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    But you need a baseline, just like how there are ideal body weight numbers and blood pressure numbers, we need something to compare to so we can judge our health/ability.

    Good average, about 60hrs to a PPL and about 15hrs to first solo.

    There are many past times, hobbies and sports you can suck at and its no big deal, if you just have zero feel for golf, well worse case you'll make some dibits in the turf or maybe send a golf ball into a window, suck and flying and everyone dies.

    No to the OP, like I said before and others said as well, try a diffrent CFI and go from there.
     
    KA550 likes this.
  38. Skip Miller

    Skip Miller En-Route

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    In this case, attempting a go around would be a very bad idea!

     
  39. Rykymus

    Rykymus Line Up and Wait

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    Time to solo is not a measure anyone should be concerned about. Especially if you were endorsed around 16 hrs. Stuff happens that you have no control over. I had to wait 4 months to get my medical so I could solo, and had completed everything except for my solo hours and solo cross country by the time I actually got to solo! Heck, I had 36hrs of dual by the time I actually got to solo!

    It isn't about the numbers. It's about becoming a good and safe pilot. And that's important enough to do whatever it takes to get there.
     
    exncsurfer likes this.
  40. danhagan

    danhagan Cleared for Takeoff

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    My flares between 20-25 hours got ugly, and were getting progressively worse (from no problems landing to what the heck is this new problem). Friend of mine said it was "sight picture" and made a suggestion. Get in the plane and before engine start, crank the seat up until you only have 4 fingers between the top of your head and the canopy and be sure it is the SAME every flight. Problem vanished instantly. Make sure belts are tight in turbulence.

    Had a buddy do the same with his seat and make a light grease marker line at the horizon before take off (don't use a sharpy).

    For the crosswind stuff, pick a breezy day with the instructor and fly several passes over the runway holding center line without crabbing (you;ll be wing low into the wind automatically).