Top 5 Mistakes Beginning Pilots Make

Suffice to say we’re all guilty of at least one.

With the passage of time and the gaining of experience, you will learn you are not the only pilot who has made mistakes. [Credit: Shutterstock]

Going through flight training is a lot like going through puberty. You will make mistakes, and at the time, you will think you are the only one who has made them. Then with the passage of time and the gaining of experience, you will learn you were not the only pilot who made this mistake. 

Here's FLYING's list of five of the most common mistakes learner pilots make:

1. Underestimating the Time Commitment Required To Learn To Fly

You can't learn to fly in one weekend. In addition to learning how to control an aircraft, there is a great deal of study to acquire the knowledge about aerodynamics, weather, regulations, aircraft systems, and decision-making. You'll need time to absorb information as well as develop the physical skill required to fly. You can expedite the process by flying several times a week and studying nightly.

2. Neglecting the Ground Portion of Flight Training

Self-study and preflight briefings are where you learn new material. Skip these tasks and you make learning to fly more difficult.

3. Not Listening to Your Instructor in the Aircraft

If your instructor says, "my controls!" make sure there is a positive exchange. There is probably a really good reason the CFI wants to take the controls, such as to avoid a midair or hard landing. Don't argue: hand them over.

4. Relying on GPS Instead of Learning Pilotage and Dead Reckoning

While GPS is an important tool for pilots, you need to learn the basics first. If you can't navigate by looking out the window and referring to a sectional, you probably shouldn't be in an aircraft.

5. Training Without a Syllabus

When you are starting out, you don't know what you don't know. A syllabus presents all the information you need and helps you keep your training on track. It also prevents you from being at the mercy of a timebuilding CFI more interested in building their own hours rather than teaching you to fly. Insist on using a syllabus in the aircraft and on the ground.

Meg Godlewski has been an aviation journalist for more than 24 years and a CFI for more than 20 years. If she is not flying or teaching aviation, she is writing about it. Meg is a founding member of the Pilot Proficiency Center at EAA AirVenture and excels at the application of simulation technology to flatten the learning curve. Follow Meg on Twitter @2Lewski.

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