Need input RE: flight instructor

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dwalker

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Has anyone switched flight instructors prior to solo? I really like my instructor as a person but I have gotten the feeling lately he is very very focused on the next phase of his career towards an ATP. I totally get that, it is the next move for him and a very important step in his career. At the same time, I am not paying to have a chaparoned practice session, which is what I feel my last 10 hours has devolved into.
To help understand where I am at, I have about 40 hours in a Cherokee Warrior. Initially my progress was very fast, mostly due to the approx 20 hours of instruction I had around 30 years ago coming back. Everything was pretty good and razor focused until we got to a few things. The first was landings. I have had trouble consistently getting smooth, nice landings. I read the POH and followed it to the letter and had a day of pretty much excellent landings. Then I had a day of bleh landings, the result of too much speed on final, which is the speed the instructor has told me to land at, with the flaps set as instructed. As a result the plane floats a loooong way down the runway, which tends to lead to a balloon or too high a flare and a rough landing. In my instructors words, I stick the landing, but its not pretty or smooth.
The second thing is I chose to not use thier Cessna ground school program, instead using Sportys and ASA ground school/test prep, so our ground schools have been mostly a Q&A session with almost no ground school. That has been OK so far, but I feel like the instructor is annoyed by it.
The week before I was supposed to leave for Oshkosh I had a typical practice day of 2 good landings, 1 bleh and one ugly balloon landing. When we landed back at my home airport he seemed exasperated with me and said he would be glad to fly with me anytime, I was safe and just needed to practice more and I would get it. I left feeling fairly frustrated, because in general I try very hard not to make the same mistakes over and over.
I had a week off in the Quarantine with the wife, so I did a lot of study and spent some time on my simulator.

Last week I had a conversation with an older pilot that I have a huge amount of respect for already, and when I told him how I was struggling with my landings and gave him the speed on final he laughed and told me I was too fast and I needed to slow it down. The next day I had a stage check with a senior instructor, and that instructor really chewed me out for trying to land as fast as I was, and gave me the correct airspeed, which is the same as shown in the POH. I greased that landing right in, no issues. The stage check instructor told me that landing at the speed I was he would have a hard time getting a good landing, and to slowdown and follow the POH. He said he would have a conversation with my instructor as to the landing procedure in the Cherokee, and why he was having me at 85 on final instead of the 65 specified.
Ok, so I thought about all this over the weekend and was hoping to just sort of start fresh with todays lesson. But my instructor canceled on me citing weather, building clouds and crosswinds. I deferred to his experience, but I had looked at the weather and to me it looked like the anticipated afternoon clouds and rain were not going to materialize, which is exactly what happened. 5 minutes of hard rain an hour before my scheduled time, then scattered clouds, lots of sunshine and almost no wind. We have flown in much worse, and at the minimum we could have flown out to one of the practice airports that were very clear for the hour and a half.
And honestly the landing thing is annoying but now that I have confirmation I will just land at the appropriate speeds and the instructor can talk all he wants.

Yet here I am, thinking I need to find a new flight school and instructor. The problem is I honestly have no pilot friends to sit down and hash this out with, and noone to tell me if I am completely wrong and to tighten up and lock it down.
I am not upset about this, I get that the flight school I am at is training mostly college kids headed to ATP, not old guys like me that just want to goof off. I also get that my instructor has a lot on his plate preparing for his next position and probably is pretty stressed about meeting the terms of his CJO.
I get ALL of that.
But I am paying the going rate...

Very interested in hearing all opinions, input, and suggestions.
 

Dana

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Some "hour builder" instructors are good instructors, and some are not. And sometimes an instructor (or school) just isn't a good match to a particular student. But 85 on final (bearing in mind it's been a long time since I've flown a Cherokee) sounds awfully fast. I would talk to the senior instructor about switching instructors, or consider a different school if it's feasible. Sounds like you're at a part 141 school? No real need for that unless you're looking for a fast track to an airline position, the laid back attitude of a part 61 school is often more appropriate for an older student.
 

rv7charlie

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From a non-instructor:

The 'good days and bad days' thing is, well, a thing, about learning to fly. For most of us, anyway. Also, learning to fly can be a bit 'zen'-like; one day the light bulb will just light up; seemingly for no reason.

The speeds thing is just a bad instructor; he's afraid of stall-spin on final. But he's not alone; I've been flying RV4s since the mid '90s, and recently bought an RV6. The -4s had mph ASIs, and the -6 has a kts indicator. After flying it for 2 years, I still struggle to make myself fly final at a 15% lower ASI number on the gauge than I flew in the -4s. :-(

If you do take another lesson from that instructor, ask him for an emergency landing (off airport) lesson. If you're forced to land in a clearing that's a little too small to get stopped when landing 'by the numbers', what will happen carrying that extra 20 mph to the flair?

If I were in your position, but knowing what I know now, I'd try to find an instructor who teaches in taildraggers, even if you continue training in the Cherokee. But if you can find a taildragger to train in, you'll be a *much* better pilot in the Cherokee when you're done. It's a lot easier to transition to a nosewheel than it is to transition to a tailwheel; too many bad habits get ingrained when you learn in a trike.

FWIW...
 

Vigilant1

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Since you have some "life experience" and some flying experience (i.e. you're not an 18 year old getting your first flying hours with Daddy's money), I'd suggest that your own appraisal of the situation is a good guide to action. If you think a change of instructors would be helpful, you are probably right.

Approach speeds: Though the line between "procedure" and "technique" can be blurry in some areas, I'd put approach speeds into the "procedure" category (with variance for gusty conditions, weight, etc).

An instructor with a professional attitude should have no objection to a student wanting to make a change. It's nothing personal. There are lots of good reasons for seeking a change, and all concerned should take it as a sign that you are taking your training seriously. And, as you say in the OP, you are the customer.
Good luck!
 
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Aerowerx

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Any small rural fields near you, where the FBO operator is also a CFI?

I changed CFI's twice, and that was where I ended up. They are usually older so not waiting for the call from United. They are also more patient and have more hours themselves. Mine made his money crop dusting, and I think he instructs just to see the grin on your face when you solo.
 

Pilot-34

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I went to a part 141 school while working on my commercial license I had the exact opposite problem ,it seems like they assigned me to a new instructor about once a week.
each time I got a new instructor it was like a had to learn a new way to fly. It took me a while to realize that each instructor wanted me to fly their style.
Worse yet instructors are human and they make their own mistakes those get passed on to you in style.
Instructors particular in part 141 school have their own agendas too for instance at my school they would often fight over being assigned to the 7500 foot runway instead of the 5000 foot runway.
I routinely used a 2200 foot runway which was far more than adequate for a Cessna 172 and saved at least 45 minutes of time to be put into actually flying.
Don’t get lost in the shuffle, I arrived with 100 hours on my private license and put in over 400 hours WITHOUT getting my com,cfi or instrument.
The point is change instructors if you’re not getting what you need or even feel like you are not getting the best possible instruction but stay in charge of your own training!
Treat this like you were interviewing any other employee invite him to go flying with you to point out any improvements they can make.
 
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Aesquire

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Your compatibility with an instructor is important. You can learn from guys you don't click with, but it's harder on both.

The dirty little secret pilots don't like civilians to know is 90% + of the time, flying is easy. Takeoffs in a "regular" airplane are fairly easy. Monkeys can be trained to do both, easier than some humans. It's Landing that takes real practice and judgment .

There are exceptions. For hang gliders and paragliders takeoff is a skill, which if not focused on leads to immediate unplanned landing. ( around here, in a tree... Aka crash ) Tail draggers have a need for focused practice from chocks out to chocks in. You fly one all the way, ground and air.

But overall, it's the sequence/combo of speed, angle of attack, rates of descent, and direction that get you safely wheels down on the ground undamaged & happy.

Glider guys ( and gals, I use inclusive language ) often ( and sometimes annoyingly ) go on about not having the option to go around, and how that limitation sharpens the skills. Honestly that's making a virtue out of necessity, ( and you should hear balloon pilots go on about purity of flight and skills ;) ) but Energy Management is a Learned thing as important to any pilot, glider, jet fighter, or student to master.
 

dwalker

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Ping me via IM as well if you'd like to chat, I can call you to discuss from a Flying School perspective and how best to handle things. Pretty much the first thing we teach are the "speeds".

Wayne
Will do! Would love to get more viewpoints

Any small rural fields near you, where the FBO operator is also a CFI?

I changed CFI's twice, and that was where I ended up. They are usually older so not waiting for the call from United. They are also more patient and have more hours themselves. Mine made his money crop dusting, and I think he instructs just to see the grin on your face when you solo.
I am investigating that as well. My plan is to ask at this weeks EAA meeting at another local airport than my home airport. I took the easy way out when I signed up, as it is maybe 5 minutes from my door to the flight school.

I went to a part 141 school while working on my commercial license I had the exact opposite problem ,it seems like they assigned me to a new instructor about once a week.
each time I got a new instructor it was like a had to learn a new way to fly. It took me a while to realize that each instructor wanted me to fly their style.
Worse yet instructors are human and they make their own mistakes those get passed on to you in style.
Instructors particular in part 141 school have their own agendas too for instance at my school they would often fight over being assigned to the 7500 foot runway instead of the 5000 foot runway.
I routinely used a 2200 foot runway which was far more than adequate for a Cessna 172 and saved at least 45 minutes of time to be put into actually flying.
Don’t get lost in the shuffle, I arrived with 100 hours on my private license and put in over 400 hours WITHOUT getting my com,cfi or instrument.
The point is change instructors if you’re not getting what you need or even feel like you are not getting the best possible instruction but stay in charge of your own training!
Treat this like you were interviewing any other employee invite him to go flying with you to point out any improvements they can make.
Yes. I do indeed feel like I am frustrating my instructor as he wants to be a good guy and help me, but at the same time he has his career to think about. Again, I do not blame him, I just do not want to waste my time if it can be avoided.
 

Marc W

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Change instructors! I had a similar situation when I got my license. I didn't feel like I had my landings down. I went ahead and took my checkride and passed. The examiner told me I was safe so he passed me. However he showed me how to properly land the airplane. My CFI did move up. I talked to him a couple years later and he was flying for a commuter airline.

My hanger neighbor just gave up trying to learn to fly. He has 104 hours and hasn't soloed. His instructor told him she didn't think he ever would. I have never flown with his CFI but I hear she is a numbers pilot. Everything has to be rigidly by the numbers. That sure wouldn't work for me. I tried to convince him to find a different instructor, but he is selling the airplane and giving up.

We have another student here whose CFI told him he needed to fly with a different instructor because they weren't connecting somehow. The student switched and is progressing again.

I am a low time pilot. Even so I have flown with some real turkeys when doing BFR's. They do all have their own style.
 

rv7charlie

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I'll bet that he's making you keep power applied, even into the flair. If you fly with him again, ask him to do a demo landing, and *you* pull power to idle as he makes the turn to base. Ask him if he'll make the runway. I'll bet you'd land a mile short of the threshold.

Are there any piston singles that can't be flown throughout the landing process, power off? My instructor made me make every landing in the Luscombe by pulling power to idle abeam the numbers, and 'make the runway'. I still land that way, and it embarrasses me every time I have to add power to make the runway threshold.

I do *not* consider myself a particularly good pilot. But I get paranoid any time I ride with someone who's carrying power down final, because I know we'll be in the trees if the engine quits.
 

Dan Thomas

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Get a new instructor, one that isn't milking the students for hours, and one that believes the POH instead of his own made-up procedures. He won't do well when he gets to the ATP checkride if he can't follow the book numbers, and he might have trouble even if he does get hired. Some of the airline accidents in the last few years indicate that pilot skills are suffering, right from the ab initio stage all the way up to airline.

85 instead of 65. That's 31% too much speed, and even more if the 65 applies to gross weight and there's only two of you on board. It also means 72% more kinetic energy, which you have to get rid of somehow to land safely, so the long floats and balloons are the result of that. There are countless landing accidents due to too much speed: ballooning and running out of airspeed at 20 feet and landing hard. Running off the end of the runway. Wheelbarrowing and groundlooping the trike or ending up in the weeds off the side, maybe upside-down. So many students and pilots just don't get the fixed relationship between angle of attack and airspeed, and wonder why their landings are so flat, why their nosewheel stuff is all beat up and it shimmies, why their brakes and tires don't last very long.

Afraid of stalling in the circuit. Yup, many are. I used to encounter students that wanted to fly too fast and I would take them out to the practice area, at altitude, and get them to glide the airplane at the book's approach speed, and ask them to start raising the nose to slow it down, and watch that ASI. Slower, dude. Slower. It took forever, and the ASI needle was indicating below stall when it finally stalled. We'd do it with the flaps out and wait even longer. Then we'd do a skidding base-to-final descending turn and see what happened, and they saw that this was the real risk. After that, book numbers didn't scare them, and they didn't skid their turns. Some were worried about the turns increasing the stall speed, but if you limit bank angles to 30 degrees, the stall only rises by about 8%. Your approach speed is already 30% over stall.

The other problem is carrying the airspeed all the way to the surface and then flaring. That's ain't the way to do it in small airplanes. Here's what it should look like. Start taking off the power and raising the nose when you are still 15 to 30 feet up, getting rid of the speed out of ground effect. That's the round-out. When you arrive at the surface, you flare to stop the descent. The numbers here don't apply to a Cherokee, but you get the idea.

1628611950768.png
 
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rv7charlie

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I'd question that 78 kt figure, unless it's a twin or a Lancair4, SX300, etc. I *try* (so far, not so successfully) to be close to 70 kts by the time I turn base in the RV6. In the -4s, I flew final at 70 MPH. The -6 should do the same thing; I just can't make myself do it yet. That's on me; not the plane.
 

Dan Thomas

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I'd question that 78 kt figure, unless it's a twin or a Lancair4, SX300, etc. I *try* (so far, not so successfully) to be close to 70 kts by the time I turn base in the RV6. In the -4s, I flew final at 70 MPH. The -6 should do the same thing; I just can't make myself do it yet. That's on me; not the plane.
Like I said, those speeds in the picture don't apply to a Cherokee. Here's what the Cessna 206 POH says:

1628612651677.png
 

ToddK

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Short of undisclosed relevant data: 85 is only good if he is thinking in mph (and is still a bit high). All the planes I fly are use MPH. In a warrior, I am doing 80 mph on final. In a 172 I am doing 75 mph. 65-75 knots is where you want to be. If he is telling you to do 85 knots (97mph) on final, you need to have a friendly conversation about it, or talk to the boss if he wont listen. Slow down, fly a tight pattern by the numbers.
 

Turd Ferguson

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My hanger neighbor just gave up trying to learn to fly. He has 104 hours and hasn't soloed.
I can see why he would quit. He has beat himself down to a pulp. This is analogous to one of the obesity TV shows where the obese patient says "Once I reached 500 lbs, I knew I had to do something."
Okay, so the lightbulb didn't blink at 300#, 400# but 500# that was the wakeup call. Nah, what happen was along the way they had beat themselves up so bad they thought there was no other option. That is where you hangar neighbor is. So sad and a loss to aviation to shut people off like that.

His instructor told him she didn't think he ever would.[solo]
Wow! Okay, so not only is the student beating himself up, the CFI is piling on as well. That's some real encouragement there! I hope she provided a reason why this student is a total inept or we might think it's her fault ! The humanity!

I have never flown with his CFI
Thank goodness ! ! !
 

Marc W

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The sad thing is that, based on my conversation with him, I think he could take off and land that airplane without even looking at an ASI.
 

Victor Bravo

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This is a job for the elderly.

Go wherever you have to go, drive a couple of hours, find a smaller municipal airport, and fly a Cherokee with one or even two older instructors.

You will easily be able to identify the correct person by the following method:

First, look for gray hair, or lack of hair. Either is acceptable, pending the results of the following tests.

Second, ask them if they learned how to fly in a tailwheel equipped aircraft (the correct answer is a smile, looking at you over the top of a pair of reading glasses, and a 3 second pause before answering yes).

(redacted due to complaint)

Once this has been accomplished, tell the instructor about your landing experience, the speeds, etc. If he (or she) puts a towel over the instrument panel before you take off... you're with the right instructor.

<smart-a$$ mode: OFF >

The reason for this is that you should be able to fly the Cherokee or any other "normal" airplane by feel. Almost all certified non-aerobatic light aircraft must have an aerodynamic buffet that you can feel. The sounds of the airplane, the air flowing past it, the "seat of the pants" stuff is 100% real on any "normal" airplane. Putting the towel (or the fancy little round suction cup coasters) over the instruments is a tried and true method of forcing the student to use the air and the airplane instead of the instruments. The short version is it's the same reason Obi-Wan put a bag over Luke's head early in his training, and said "Feel the Force, Luke" :)

We now return to the normal, default, Smart-a$$ mode...
 
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