Flight Training - March 2011 - 6
By Ian J. Twombly
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FLIGHT TRAINING BLUES
STRIKE THE RIGHT CHORD WITH YOUR TRAINING
few years ago I decided I wanted to act on a decades-long aspiration and learn how to play guitar. My goal seemed reasonable. I wanted only to play as part of the local bar’s open mic blues night, although I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to daydreaming about living like Jimmy Page for one night at Madison Square Garden.
I signed up for lessons, went as scheduled, practiced hard, and read all I could find. I learned a few chords, no songs, and spent a few hundred dollars, not including the guitars. Today they sit in my basement, waiting for me to pick them up. My guitar experience is a perfect example of what’s happening in flight training today. Students walk into flight schools all around the U.S. modestly thinking they can have some fun with their lives, while the scenes in Top Gun are running through the back of their minds. And the first thing most flight schools and instructors do is talk about safety, regulations, costs, what doctors to go to for a physical, and responsibility. Goodbye, Top Gun, hello exit door. This month Flight Training takes a compelling look at why people don’t finish training. The issue comes on the heels of a major research study AOPA commissioned to learn why people quit, and what the proper flight training experience should look like (see “Making It Work,” page 24). The lessons from the research are many, but at the risk of oversimplifying a very complex and multidimensional issue, they can be broken down to three key points— get involved with your training, get a good flight instructor, and have fun. Looking back on my failure in guitar training, the parallels are clear. I walked into the music store and was assigned an instructor. He was thoroughly competent on the guitar, but was more interested in teaching me his way than my preferred way. I tried to direct the training, but it never clicked. Wanting to avoid upsetting him or the store, I opted to quit. Make sure you don’t make the same mistake. Every flight instructor should be professional enough to understand when the relationship isn’t working, and be more than willing to help you find a new one. But you have to stand up and say something. Quitting shouldn’t be an option. Despite wanting to learn how to play blues, my guitar lessons consisted of talk of Van Halen, the instructor’s favorite band. Never did we channel my inner Muddy Waters. He may have had a progression in mind, but I wasn’t aware of it. Having a clear plan from beginning to end is critical to success as a student of flight. It’s sometimes hard to see the relationship of the maneuvers to real flying, but a good syllabus will show this logical progression. Be your own advocate and make sure you can see a pilot certificate in your future. Finally, and I think most important, have fun. The research found that the overwhelming majority of us are learning to fly for fun. We profile a flight school that truly understands this in “Is This Flightopia?” on page 32. Talk to your instructor if you feel bogged down, and make a plan to go fly—just to fly. Having fun and learning are not mutually exclusive. On the contrary, they complement each other well. Don’t become a statistic. Take control of your training and enjoy yourself. With the right attitude and tools, you’ll look forward to your lessons and your certificate will be a sure bet.
E-mail Deputy Editor Ian Twombly at ian.twombly@ aopa.org; Twitter: ijtwombly; and visit Flight Training on Facebook.
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Flight Training - March 2011
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Flight Training - March 2011
Flight Training - March 2011
Air Safety Institute
Since You Asked
Legal Q & A
The Flight Training Experience: Making It Work
Where Do You Stand?
Is This Flightopia?
The 12-Step Lesson Plan
Who Will Fly?
Career Pilot News
Can a CFI Use Pizza in the Cockpit?
Flight Instructor Burnout
By the Numbers
Flight Training - March 2011 - Flight Training - March 2011
Flight Training - March 2011 - Cover2
Flight Training - March 2011 - Contents
Flight Training - March 2011 - 2
Flight Training - March 2011 - 3
Flight Training - March 2011 - President’s Perspective
Flight Training - March 2011 - 5
Flight Training - March 2011 - Right Seat
Flight Training - March 2011 - 7
Flight Training - March 2011 - Flight Forum
Flight Training - March 2011 - 9
Flight Training - March 2011 - Going Places?
Flight Training - March 2011 - 11
Flight Training - March 2011 - This Weekend
Flight Training - March 2011 - Tech Tip
Flight Training - March 2011 - Success Story
Flight Training - March 2011 - Air Safety Institute
Flight Training - March 2011 - Since You Asked
Flight Training - March 2011 - 17
Flight Training - March 2011 - Final Exam
Flight Training - March 2011 - Legal Q & A
Flight Training - March 2011 - Flying Carpet
Flight Training - March 2011 - 21
Flight Training - March 2011 - Insights
Flight Training - March 2011 - Checkride
Flight Training - March 2011 - The Flight Training Experience: Making It Work
Flight Training - March 2011 - 25
Flight Training - March 2011 - 26
Flight Training - March 2011 - 27
Flight Training - March 2011 - 28
Flight Training - March 2011 - 29
Flight Training - March 2011 - Where Do You Stand?
Flight Training - March 2011 - 31
Flight Training - March 2011 - Is This Flightopia?
Flight Training - March 2011 - 33
Flight Training - March 2011 - 34
Flight Training - March 2011 - 35
Flight Training - March 2011 - The 12-Step Lesson Plan
Flight Training - March 2011 - 37
Flight Training - March 2011 - 38
Flight Training - March 2011 - 39
Flight Training - March 2011 - Weather
Flight Training - March 2011 - 41
Flight Training - March 2011 - Flight Lesson
Flight Training - March 2011 - Who Will Fly?
Flight Training - March 2011 - Career Advisor
Flight Training - March 2011 - 45
Flight Training - March 2011 - Career Pilot News
Flight Training - March 2011 - Can a CFI Use Pizza in the Cockpit?
Flight Training - March 2011 - Flight Instructor Burnout
Flight Training - March 2011 - By the Numbers
Flight Training - March 2011 - 50
Flight Training - March 2011 - Advertiser Index
Flight Training - March 2011 - 52
Flight Training - March 2011 - 53
Flight Training - March 2011 - 54
Flight Training - March 2011 - 55
Flight Training - March 2011 - 56
Flight Training - March 2011 - 57
Flight Training - March 2011 - 58
Flight Training - March 2011 - 59
Flight Training - March 2011 - 60
Flight Training - March 2011 - 61
Flight Training - March 2011 - 62
Flight Training - March 2011 - 63
Flight Training - March 2011 - Debrief
Flight Training - March 2011 - Cover3
Flight Training - March 2011 - Cover4