Posted: 23 March 2018
When you think about it, flight lessons are a lot like music lessons.
Though this analogy seems a bit strange, it’s also accurate. Both types of lessons usually last 30 minutes. They both take place one-on-one with your instructor in a secluded space.
Of course, there are some notable differences. In music, the best way to improve your skills is to practice outside of your lessons. Unless you have an actual plane in your living room, this doesn’t really apply to flying.
For this reason, it’s important to make the absolute most of your flight lessons. Here are five tips that should help you do just that.
1. Prepare in Advance
After each lesson, your instructor will likely assign you some reading material.
It’s in your best interest to go through this material as thoroughly as possible. This way, your instructor won’t have to waste any time explaining something you should already know.
If the lesson contains any maneuvers, review each of them step-by-step. You can also do some armchair flying by going through the listed tasks with a checklist in hand. Also, make sure you’re familiar with the instrument rating.
2. Organize the Cockpit
While you’re in the pre-flight phase, make sure your cabin is well-organized. Your pens, sectionals, kneeboard, A/FD’s and E6B should all be readily available.
Remember, your instructor could always surprise you with a diversion to a different airport. If they do, you’ll be glad your A/FD isn’t in your flight bag on the back seat.
3. Keep Your Eyes Outside
During the lessons, your hands should usually be on the controls. However, that doesn’t mean you should be looking at the flight instruments as well.
As helpful as they are, the primary function of these instruments is to validate what you see outside. In fact, many younger students tend to rely too much on their attitude indicators and other digital distractions.
By focusing on the horizon, you’ll be increasing safety for everyone in the air. According to the FAA, your attention should be outside the cockpit 90% of the time.
4. Ask a Lot of Questions
If you haven’t taken flight lessons before, the whole flying experience is probably going to feel very new. The best way to familiarize yourself with it is to ask any questions you can think of.
If your lesson is focused on landings, ask your instructor about the different airspeeds and power settings. Are you learning about stalls? Make sure you understand the difference between crossed-control stalls and elevator-trim stalls.
5. Take the Post-Flight Briefing Seriously
Anything you’ve learned during a particular lesson will be covered in the post-flight briefing. Here, your instructor will go over the things you did correctly, as well as those that need improvement.
Want to become a better pilot? Pay attention to the post-flight briefing. Record your flight times in a notebook, document any relevant flight details, and discuss what to review before your next lesson.
More on Flight Lessons
One final piece of advice: set realistic expectations.
Learning to fly is no easy task, and the first couple of lessons might be a bit stressful. With enough practice and preparation, however, you’ll able to become a licensed pilot and have the entire world at your fingertips.
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