Why do they say "Anyone can learn how to fly"?

Aceman

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Aceman
All:

From all the reading I've been doing this past year and all of my flight experiences throughout my life, I find this statement a bit misleading. It's one thing to keep the airplane straight with no rudder input or rolling/pitching input. However, it's a totally different ballgame when trying to coordinate flight controls in turns and keeping control, glidepath, and coordinated flight while landing/climbing or keeping a turn at 30-degrees with no altitude loss and keeping the same airspeed regardless of the wind conditions. IMO, pure stick-n-rudder is not easy. Yet so many people are able to fly a plane as if it was as simple as driving a car. How is that so?
 
All:

From all the reading I've been doing this past year and all of my flight experiences throughout my life, I find this statement a bit misleading. It's one thing to keep the airplane straight with no rudder input or rolling/pitching input. However, it's a totally different ballgame when trying to coordinate flight controls in turns and keeping control, glidepath, and coordinated flight while landing/climbing or keeping a turn at 30-degrees with no altitude loss and keeping the same airspeed regardless of the wind conditions. IMO, pure stick-n-rudder is not easy. Yet so many people are able to fly a plane as if it was as simple as driving a car. How is that so?
The key is in the phrasing
The phrase is: "Anyone can learn to fly"
Not: "Anyone can learn to fly well"
And definitely not: "Anyone can perform basic maneuvers to the ACS standards"
And certainly not: "Anyone can fly well enough to qualify to become a pilot"
And most certainly not: "Anyone can fly an approach and follow a glidepath in turbulence and IMC"
 
More extensive training.

I will agree that most people can be taught to fly an airplane. The number who can fly them well, or obtain an instrument rating is a lot smaller.
 
All:

From all the reading I've been doing this past year and all of my flight experiences throughout my life, I find this statement a bit misleading. It's one thing to keep the airplane straight with no rudder input or rolling/pitching input. However, it's a totally different ballgame when trying to coordinate flight controls in turns and keeping control, glidepath, and coordinated flight while landing/climbing or keeping a turn at 30-degrees with no altitude loss and keeping the same airspeed regardless of the wind conditions. IMO, pure stick-n-rudder is not easy. Yet so many people are able to fly a plane as if it was as simple as driving a car. How is that so?

where are you in training?
 
Most absolute statements don't work as literal statements. But I think it's true that "most" people can learn to fly in benign conditions. A subset of the group can learn to fly to ACS standards. As a group, we do puff out our chests a bit much and make it sound harder than it is.
 
Most absolute statements don't work as literal statements. But I think it's true that "most" people can learn to fly in benign conditions. A subset of the group can learn to fly to ACS standards. As a group, we do puff out our chests a bit much and make it sound harder than it is.
The physical mechanics of keeping an airplane in a safe configuration, taking off, and landing? Sure, your average person can learn that.

But is the average person disciplined enough to study and become proficient in the FAR, airspace rules, various types of navigation, communication, weather, w&b and fuel planning, emergency procedures, and sound aeronautical decision making?

I think you have to really have a passion for flying to get through the above items and to be good at them. I'm a reasonably intelligent person and many of the above areas have been challenging for me during various courses of my training. We don't operate the airplane in a vacuum. All of the above items are just as critical as being able to simply point the plane at something and get there.
 
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Nearly anyone can. The REAL question is whether or not they WILL.

It’s a matter of economics.

I’ve always said being a Navy pilot doesn’t make me amazing. It IS proof of my AMAZING ability to learn how to fly EXACTLY HOW they teach it.
 
Nearly anyone can. The REAL question is whether or not they WILL.

It’s a matter of economics.

I’ve always said being a Navy pilot doesn’t make me amazing. It IS proof of my AMAZING ability to learn how to fly EXACTLY HOW they teach it.
What percentage make it through primary training and get their PPL? Would you say?
 
My Air Force instructors liked to tell us, "With enough bananas we can teach a monkey how to fly."

Can't speak for the Navy, but about one third of my class washed out of UPT. None of us received a private license. If we wanted, we could take the commercial knowledge test and receive a Commercial Certificate with SEL, Instrument and MEL limited to centerline thrust.

I have only taken two civilian checkrides: single-engine sea, and CFI.
 
When people say “anyone can learn to fly” they don’t mean that in the literal sense. Obviously there are those with mental / physical disabilities that prevent them from piloting an aircraft. But, can the vast majority of people with average intelligence and hand / eye coordination learn to fly an aircraft? Absolutely.

Instructing in the Army I’ve seen all types. It basically comes down to drive and how quickly the student soaks up knowledge. Seen slow learners that eventually get it but will never be a “Chuck Yeager.” Then there are those who I had to constantly challenge with something new because of how fast they were grasping the basics. Outside of a few that tap out and say flying helicopters isn’t for them, the vast majority make it til graduation.

We like to brag about the special skills we have as pilots but that’s only something for a FB post to make non flying friends jealous. Kinda like tail wheel guys bragging about how difficult it is to fly a tail dragger. Truth of the matter is, most boneheads can do it, it just might take longer to learn than trike flying. Sure, it’s more difficult than driving a car but the length and depth of training reflect that. Stick with it and eventually you’ll get the picture…or not.
 
Geesh… probably ten percent of the people who give it an earnest attempt ever finish their license.

Prolly less than one percent who take a discovery flight.

I’ve personally only instructed maybe two people who I honestly don’t think can do it… out of a couple hundred.

Maybe 20 percent washed out of navy primary, half by choice, other half couldn’t meet standards.

Maybe 5 percent washed out of advanced strike (90 percent unable to qualify at the boat).
 
Yet so many people are able to fly a plane as if it was as simple as driving a car. How is that so?
Flying is the easy part. It's the decision making and the bizarre rules that's hard.

Well that and unlike most modern devices, aircraft have a lot of controls and buttons that can damage the aircraft and/or unalive you without trying to stop you. For instance, we've all seen the video of a helicopter tour passenger attempting to pull the rotor brakes in flight.
 
Geesh… probably ten percent of the people who give it an earnest attempt ever finish their license.

"Earnest attempt" is such a slippery term. I know a few people who would swear up and down that they're serious about training, but in reality they're lifelong student pilots who dabble, taking a lesson here and there, and will never commit to flying frequently enough or studying hard enough to get over the hump. If you exclude the folks who stop after a discovery flight but include these jokers, I have no doubt it's only a 10% pass rate. Barring an intellectual or physical disability, are there really that many people who are seriously driven to earn a certificate, show up and put in the work, but will never truly be capable of passing a checkride?
 
My definition there (having run a flight school) is putting $500-1000 towards it and quitting.

Discovery flight folks do one flight and vanish.

Truly unable is less than a percent in my experience. More than that don’t believe they can…. And therefore quit. Don’t really have a guess at that.

Edit: those that SWEAR they’re serious before I ask, are 90 plus percent never gonna finish….
 
Anyone can learn to fly. ;)

 
My definition there (having run a flight school) is putting $500-1000 towards it and quitting.

Discovery flight folks do one flight and vanish.

Truly unable is less than a percent in my experience. More than that don’t believe they can…. And therefore quit. Don’t really have a guess at that.

Edit: those that SWEAR they’re serious before I ask, are 90 plus percent never gonna finish….

I did a discovery flight in maybe 2000 and again in 2016. Came back around about 2020 when the $$$ was right. I hope the same happens with other discovery flights.
 
"Anyone" can learn to fly, but not everyone can learn to fly.

Most people of average intelligence can learn to fly. Some take longer than others for the basic skills to "click", like riding a bicycle. Once it clicks it really is easy. The older the student, the longer it takes. And a few, sometimes even those of high intelligence, seem to lack the 3D spatial awareness and/or coordination needed for it to "click".

Then once the mechanical side is mastered, the student needs the academic ability to learn all the peripheral stuff, regulations, meteorology, planning, etc., which would be tough for people of much below average intelligence, even if they were interested, which is less likely.
 
Stick and rudder is easy. It’s challenging for many students because they think it’s a rarified skillset and outside their experience. But maintaining balance, manipulating controls to make the vehicle go where you want, and guiding it by your sight picture is something you’ve been doing since childhood - riding a bike, driving cars, running a boat, skateboarding. Don’t get wrapped up in convincing yourself that stick and rudder is some extreme black art. Many more people than you might think can get that part down well enough to not bend the airplane.

Navigating, communicating, maintaining situational awareness, complying with the regulations, and making sound decisions while the environment is changing is what trips people up. Many people are not cut out to do the headwork that being a safe and proficient pilot requires.
 
Kind of reminds me of the Pixar movie Ratatouille.

"Anyone can cook."

The moral of the movie was not that everyone has the ability (the main human protagonist was especially inept) but that the talent can come from unexpected places, not just the typical stereotypes.
 
My Air Force instructors liked to tell us, "With enough bananas we can teach a monkey how to fly."

Can't speak for the Navy, but about one third of my class washed out of UPT. None of us received a private license. If we wanted, we could take the commercial knowledge test and receive a Commercial Certificate with SEL, Instrument and MEL limited to centerline thrust.

I have only taken two civilian checkrides: single-engine sea, and CFI.

My class was about the same, 1/3 washed out.

You didn't take a Commercial ASE checkride?

I did my PP ASEL and ASES before UPT. After UPT, I did my Commercial Glider. Then later ASEL CFI ASE. And more after that.
 
Kinda like tail wheel guys bragging about how difficult it is to fly a tail dragger. Truth of the matter is, most boneheads can do it, it just might take longer to learn than trike flying.
Truth is it only takes longer if you start in trikes
 
Anyone with any resemblance of a brain can be taught to taxi, takeoff, fly straight and level in just a few short hours. Now, landing, that’s the tricky part.
 
All:

From all the reading I've been doing this past year and all of my flight experiences throughout my life, I find this statement a bit misleading. It's one thing to keep the airplane straight with no rudder input or rolling/pitching input. However, it's a totally different ballgame when trying to coordinate flight controls in turns and keeping control, glidepath, and coordinated flight while landing/climbing or keeping a turn at 30-degrees with no altitude loss and keeping the same airspeed regardless of the wind conditions. IMO, pure stick-n-rudder is not easy. Yet so many people are able to fly a plane as if it was as simple as driving a car. How is that so?
In USAF pilot training we were told that even a monkey can learn to fly given enough time and bananas. Unfortunately, the USAF had a shortage of time and bananas. Hence our high washout rates.
 
So there I was….

Aircrewman Mitch Hargis (GREAT guy, but the kind you didn’t wanna play cards with… VERY sharp, very witty) used to run around the squadron saying “feed me enough bananas and I could fly the jet too!”

Well… one day BC (black cloud) Foster was having his turn in the barrel on a night carrier recovery, Hargis was in the back seat…

Hargis chased me down after the flight… “Tools, you gotta help me!”

What happened?

“You know how Foster had a coupla bolters? (We all did) Well, I’ve been carrying around a banana all cruise for a situation like this. After the second one I thought it would lighten up the mood a little if I leaned up, threw the banana in his lap and said ‘here Sir, eat that and see if it doesn’t help’, he didn’t think it was funny AT ALL!!!”

BWAHAHAHA! I about peed myself…. Don’t worry, I’ll smooth it over! Freaking hilarious.
 
Anyone with any resemblance of a brain can be taught to taxi, takeoff, fly straight and level in just a few short hours. Now, landing, that’s the tricky part.


Yep ... I've told several folks that only part of flying is hard. Taxi out, line it up straight, full power, keep it straight for a few seconds and then the hard part starts! ;)
 
Anyone can learn to fly with a good instructor, unfortunately they are few and far between.
 
I saw small planes land at race tracks I was racing at in years past. Mentioned to my wife that maybe I should get a PPL someday?
She gave me a "pioneer" flight I think it was called for my birthday one year.

It was good for 24 months, when it got to 23 months she said are going to waste that flight I gave you? I called and made appointment for just a couple days before it expired. Of course it was sales pitch to come to their flight school.
I was late for my flight time because I couldn't find the flight school.
I got some mild motion sickness during the landing and thought wow that's not good. Not sure if this is for me?
I am pretty sure they thought they would never see me again.

Went home and thought about it for a couple days. I thought am going to prove them wrong and called up and signed up for lessons.
First thing I did was get my 3rd class medical.
I was mid 50s and a slow learner who had zero aviation background. It took me 1.5 years to do it. I was never late again and never ever cancelled any of my appointments. Sure had plenty of cancellations because of the weather but not of my doings.
I noticed as the months went by they always made sure I had a plane to fly and a instructor since I was never late and never cancelled. I hammered it out at the end, flying 2-4 times a week and buckled down at the end.
Yup it cost a fortune because at first I didn't study enough and I was distracted by other things in my life.
Now I fly 3-7 days a week and am damn glad I did it. 54 days in row this past summer. No regrets.
 
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Anyone can learn to fly.

It's that venn diagram of "can learn" "has the money to learn" "has the time to learn" "has the desire to wade through FAA legalese and regulations" "at the end of it all, still thinks it's worthwhile" -- which dictates if they will/can learn to fly under the current system and their own realities.
 
Bulllllll Sheeeeeet!

My CFI had another student concurrent with me...mid pattern she apparently go so flustered she threw her hands up and screamed "I CAN'T DO THIS!" after apparently being coerced into getting the PPL cuz husband lost his medical but still wanted to fly...CFI said it was the first student HE ever had to fire...that person could not and should not have ever been in the pilot's seat...

Ya know those people that accidentally hit the gas instead of the brake...then freak out and watch themselves drive themeless full throttle into a wall? (I actually know someone that did)...those people also should nixed from the PPL candidates list...
 
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Flying is the second best thrill known to man. Landing is the first.

Almost anyone can fly (keep it straight and level on a calm day) after less than an hour of training. Learning to take off takes a bit longer, and landings are where it gets complicated. So that statement is technically true.
 
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