The Next Hiccup

Well, folks, I can’t seem to win at this flying thing.

I enrolled at an aviation school, got a flight instructor and began again. Now I’m a few more lessons in, a few hundred more dollars spent, and have somehow managed to go backwards.

As my mentor helped me to understand, my instructor is afraid to let go of the plane and its costing me time and money. I am at about 10 flight hours now and I have an instructor that won’t let me taxi, takeoff, land or get on the radio for even a second. It’s pretty frustrating considering with other pilots and other instructors I have done all of these things before.

Our lessons are simple, she takes me up, I put on foggles and do very basic maneuvers or simply go up and down, left and right without foggles, and then she lands the plane, taxis it back to a parking spot and the lesson is over. I thought I was getting somewhere because I have begun filling out the flight manifest and doing the preflight by myself. It has been brought to my attention I am mistaken. At this rate I’ll never solo.

Our next ground lesson is on the four forces of flight. Oh goody. The one after that is on aircraft systems. I am bored out of my mind and have already done all of these lessons before on my own time.

When I enrolled I was told my five logged flight hours and other not-so-logged flight hours would be taken into consideration. In reality, I’m barely flying the plane during any of my lessons and I’m paying dearly at a fancy flight school to review ground lessons I already know.

How do I feel about flying these days? Frustrated. Bored. Depressed. Angry. Ready to give up and quit.

It doesn’t help that it’s so ridiculously expensive. I feel like I am throwing hundred dollar bills in the trash. And I feel incredibly guilty because this is money that could be going to other ambitions my husband and I have. We work so hard lately and barely see each other. We’re trying to save up for a house and to send my husband back to school. Every time I shell out hundreds of dollars for one lesson and don’t actually learn anything new I feel like I’m failing my family. I feel like I am letting a bad instructor take advantage of us. I ask lots of questions and I study everything she tells me to but I still feel like I’m spinning my wheels and the guilt of how much I’m spending to get nowhere is crushing. It keeps me up at night. Exibit A: It’s after midnight now and instead of sleeping, I’m writing this post.

My flight instructor hasn’t been on time to one of our lessons. She chats with other pilots passing by in the hall during time I’m being charged for ground school. I’m hearing a lot of “we’ll get to that later” when I ask questions. Frankly, I’d like to fire her.

But on the other side of that coin is the realization that the aviation world is small, the female aviation world is smaller and I’m really not sure I want to piss off one of the few allies I have in a town I just moved to.

My mentor and I talked it over and came to a decision. I’m going to talk to my CFI and explain that I am disappointed with my progress so far and starting with our next lesson I will be in control of the plane the whole flight unless there is a life threatening situation where she needs to take it from me. If she agrees, I’ll give her another shot. If not, I’m switching instructors. Again.

More than anything I am brokenhearted. I wanted so badly for this plan to work out better. So far it doesn’t seem to be working out at all….except for my instructor, who is banking.

10 thoughts on “The Next Hiccup

  1. Don’t give up on flying. Just get a new instructor. And ask the school to refund your money! There’s a lot of really bad flight instruction out there. Your greatest odds of success will come with the right instructor, and it’s pretty clear you have the exact opposite right now. Before starting with someone else be sure to interview them thoroughly, see if they’re a good fit. That’s free. Talk to their current and former students. Doesn’t cost anything to do that. Ask to fly along with the CFI on a lesson; just ride in the back seat with a headset on and see how the instructor works. Cost? $0.00 I don’t understand why students allow themselves to be “assigned” a CFI. You are the customer!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Great advice! I’m definitely going to be doing that moving forward…although since this school trains on Cessna 152s it would be pretty hard to sit in the back seat for a lesson ;p I’ll definitely be interviewing before switching to someone else though.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This really ticks me off because flying is so expensive and demanding. A student pilot (any pilot for that matter) should never be subject to a poor instructor who isn’t even willing to let you actually fly. Demos are fine, and taking the plane to prevent a crash is expected. But to not let you take-off, fly and land is criminal.

    I really appreciate the fact that you are looking to support the home team and fly with a specific pilot with specialized, factory installed plumbing. But, gravity doesn’t care how a pilot relieves themselves, it acts without discrimination. You should be looking for the best instructor, period.

    Please take a informal poll of all the available instructors and ask them two simple questions. “When you have a question that you cant answer, which instructor do you turn to for the right answer.” And “Which instructor gets all the students the are struggling?” All you want is one name from them. Interview over. When you have multiple Instructors telling you that they go to a particular instructor to answer the hard questions and takes only the problem students, then you will know who to choose for the next series of flights.

    I am going to forward this article to a friend who is a pilot for a major airline. Karlene Pettit lives in Seattle and is very active in the general aviation community. She might know someone in Oregon that can help.

    Best wishes,

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Rob! You’re always so helpful! I tried to go with a female instructor because I figured women know how to talk to women about mechanics and science a little more clearly. But after this experience I’m with you, I don’t care if its a male or female instructor anymore. I just want someone that is good. Thanks for the tips on interview questions. That will make this process a lot smoother!


  3. Bold Bluebonnet, time to get rid of the gender bias and fire her tush! (being polite). You won’t lose the female support. But there are good instructors and not so good, and part of being a pilot is taking command of your plane (and your life). You deserve the very best. And you should have that. I’m really disappointed that this instructor is taking her job so casual. But the reality of her not allowing you to fly, is either she lacks confidence in herself, or these are the rules of the school. If this is how the school operates, change. But, you really should have a sit down with the instructor, explain your expectations… every flight you should be conducting all walk-arounds, taxing, takeoffs and landings…unless the wind is too strong for your ability. She is there to guide and observe.

    Personally, I think you should bail on this one. I doubt a talk will fix this. Finding the right fit is essential. I just realized I have a couple posts on my blog for finding the right flight instructor from back in 2011. I hope there is something you can use. Usually the comments help a ton. Here you go: Part 1
    Part 2
    I hope these help. You can find my email on my blog, too. Write. Hang in there. Don’t quit. You will learn from this!!
    Hope we can talk!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: The Reluctant Instructor | The House of Rapp

  5. Just for comparison, my VERY FIRST flight was in a Piper Cherokee Warrior III out of Santa Monica, a fairly busy towered airport. I had never sat at the controls of a small plane before. I did not work the rudders and I did not touch the radio.

    I did *every* other thing. I started the plane, taxied up to the run up area, followed the checklist for the run up, taxied over to the hold short line, taxied out and took off. We did a bunch of maneuvers over the practice area of Simi Valley where I climbed, dover, did steep turns and shallow turns. Then we headed back to the airport. I lined us up, slowly descended on the center line for the only runway and, as the plane bounced five feet into the air the CFI grabbed the controls, landed it, and handed the plane back to me. “Sorry, I forgot you hadn’t landed before, we’ll talk about that on your first real lesson.”

    It was an introduction to flight experience, and I would suggest that you are getting less from an actual lesson that you are paying for.

    (I also had a different instructor who was terrified a student would kill jim, so he tapped the controls all the time when he though you were doing the wrong thing.)

    I’m glad I found your blog (and that other blog authors I follow are already jumping in to help).

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: Are We There Yet? | The Bold Bluebonnet

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