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The Frustrating Process to my Private Pilots License

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This is a write-up I wrote after receiving my private pilots license last December (12/12/12!) and while it was six months ago, I recently sent the link to a friend of mine who is struggling with his own flight training. After reading it, he said that he "felt like someone actually understands" his lack of motivation when it comes to being 'stuck'. Just thinking that by sharing this, I might help someone else. (www.joeburlas.com) المزيد...

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flygirl620se
Sharon Stewart 6
To anyone considering or working towards their PPL. Regardless of where you get training, Part 141, Part 61 etc., be observant of your instructor. You can always tell the ones who are just logging time trying to get to the airlines. They will not be that interested in actual teaching. A good CFI will not only give you classroom instruction, but will quiz you on what you have been learning. A good CFI will give you an overview of what she/he hopes for you to accomplish with each lesson. If they are on the phone or staring off into space during preflight and NOT asking you questions on why and what you are looking for during that inspection, they probably don't care. During flight maneuvers they should be not only explaining how to do a maneuver but also why the aircraft does what it does. A good CFI will offer constructive criticism and is interested in answering your questions. If you are doubtful of the training you are receiving, ask around and switch schools or instructors. Remember it's your time and money! HAPPY FLYING!
burlas00
Joseph Burlas 2
Actually my last instructor, the one that got me my license, was the best that I had and he was actively trying to work His way into the airlines. As long as they take the job seriously there is nothing wrong with somebody wanting to go to the airlines and not be a full time instructor. More or less you want to keep your eye out for good work ethic more than their future plans. Conversely, the worst instructor i ever had, had no aspirations with wanting to go to the airlines, in fact he was happy with his salary job at the school and made up reasons not to fly. Guess he wanted to do the last amount of work but was FAR from ambitious.

I have no problem with his using CFI as a tool to go places in the industry. I plan on doing it to and as long as they're serious about teaching you - more power to them. In fact sometimes it's about who you know in this industry it seems, so perhaps it might even help down the line.
flygirl620se
Sharon Stewart 2
Sorry Joseph! I didn't mean to imply that all CFI's are looking to go to the airlines. There are good and bad both ways. The first flight instructor I had was fantastic and he ended up with Delta. I had 2 others after I started my instrument training that WERE marking time for that FO position and they were awful. That's why a student really needs to be tuned in to what and how they are being taught.
burlas00
Joseph Burlas 1
I completely agree, sir. Just wanted to make sure that you didn't take what I wrote as a CFI rant. I plan on going the CFI path myself to build hours. Since I don't know if I would have got my license without my last instructor you can bet I'm going to try and be the best instructor that I can.
burlas00
Joseph Burlas 1
Would you mind venting in a survey about flight training I just made? I can use some of this data to draw conclusions for a proposal I'm doing. I'll post to everyone that responded here and then I'm going to squawk it. Thank you in advance! Survey can be found: http://form.jotform.us/form/31806722149151
CaptainFreedom
CaptainFreedom 4
Great story. Stick with it. At 24 years old, you have a life of flying ahead of you, even though you probably don't see things quite that way. Don't get down on the length of time it takes. I've wanted to fly since I was 5 years old, and am finally doing it over 40 years later. You have a long flying career ahead of you.
burlas00
Joseph Burlas 1
Would you mind venting in a survey about flight training I just made? I can use some of this data to draw conclusions for a proposal I'm doing. I'll post to everyone that responded here and then I'm going to squawk it. Thank you in advance! Survey can be: http://form.jotform.us/form/31806722149151
burlas00
Joseph Burlas 1
I started at 24, and now rounding out 28 in July. I appreciate that though, as sometimes I I wish I had done this much earlier in my life. I'm proud of my military service, but sometimes you wonder if pursuing the military route earlier with a pilot's license may have mattered. Your comment means a lot though!
FedExCargoPilot
FedExCargoPilot 2
And that's just the beginning
biorider
John Jones 2
An instructor that I used had a lapsed CFI. My 35 hours with him didn't count towards my license. I would advise you to stay away from instructors with nicknames like 'Crash And Burn Bob'. Moral - check your instructor's credentials and currency with the FAA.
burlas00
Joseph Burlas 1
You mind doing a survey about flight training I just made? I can use some of this data to draw conclusions for a proposal I'm doing. I'll post to everyone that responded here and then I'm going to squawk it. Thank you in advance! http://form.jotform.us/form/31806722149151
joeyb767
Joey Baiardo 2
I am a civilian, not ex-military, working on an AFB, and we have an Aero club. I took ground school there and have one flight hour so far, and I understand how long things take, as I ended up going to grad school that Lockheed paid for, and then started a family. However, the Aero club allows anyone working on base to join, or any active or retired military person, and the cost to learn to fly is far cheaper than other schools I looked into. There are many other Aero Clubs nation wide, that others may be able to learn about near them and benefit from.
I'm still a member and intend to return to my lessons soon. Best of luck to those other aspiring pilots, and congrats to those who have achieved this dream!
burlas00
Joseph Burlas 1
Would you mind venting in a survey about flight training I just made? I can use some of this data to draw conclusions for a proposal I'm doing. I'll post to everyone that responded here and then I'm going to squawk it. Thank you in advance! Survey: http://form.jotform.us/form/31806722149151
bill54494
Bill Menzel 2
A lot of Joe's frustration has to do with the path he chose to follow. Besides those things that were out of his control (weather, plane and instructor availability, etc.), he also had some personal and family priorities that affected the progress of his training. I am NOT criticizing him for attending to those priorities; in fact, I commend him for it. However, for those who might wish to pursue flight training, his experience should not discourage them from starting out.

First of all, you don't have to have a college degree to get a pilot's license. If you want an airline job, you probably do, but it doesn't have to be in a field related to aviation.

In my part of the country--and I'm sure this holds true in many places--it is easy to find excellent flight instructors who are not going to leave for the airlines. In my small town I can name four very good CFIIs, one of whom is also multi-engine and single engine sea qualified and a Designated Pilot Examiner as well. Within less than an hour's drive there are probably a dozen more excellent CFIs and CFIIs and another Examiner. Some of these instructors run FBOs, others run--or instruct for--flight schools, and some are free-lancers.

In my experience there are several factors that directly affect one's progress through flight training. Motivation and available time are the most important. Others that are almost as important are support from spouse (if applicable) and the financial means to pay for the training. Most people have the skills required for piloting an aircraft, but there are some who do not. There are some fears to be overcome; after 46 years and more than 2,000 hours of flying, I still am somewhat intimidated by full-power stalls, even though I've successfully survived every single one :-)

Joe's story is a good one to read, but if you want to be a pilot, ask around. Talk to as many knowledgeable people as you can. If you don't want the university degree, find a flight instructor or flight school with a good reputation. A well-regarded instructor with grey hair would probably be ideal, but don't totally rule out the young instructor who wants to head for the airlines.

Flying is not for the careless or the faint of heart, but if it's in your blood, DO IT! And have fun, too.
burlas00
Joseph Burlas 2
I agree that you do not need a college degree. And I appreciate you for the commendation. My experience with a part 61 school left something to be desired, but I imagine that it was that particular instructor and nothing more. Overall, I think that the length of training that I undertook, while not ideal, made me a better Pilot in the end. I had much more time to digest the information and put it to practice. Perhaps I would have come across those learning experiences on my own, but Each flight experience is unique and my story is there to help others who made find themselves down and out in their own flight experiences.
bill54494
Bill Menzel 2
Your story is a valuable contribution to the annals of flight training. Thanks for sharing it.
burlas00
Joseph Burlas 1
Would you mind venting in a survey about flight training I just made? I can use some of this data to draw conclusions for a proposal I'm doing. I'll post to everyone that responded here and then I'm going to squawk it. Thank you in advance! Survey can: http://form.jotform.us/form/31806722149151
Coolbreeze
Coolbreeze 2
I totally understand your frustration. I also attended a Part 141 school and I went through six instructors to finish my degree. Three instructors were used to get my Private License and because of that, plus a very hard-ass Chief Flight Instructor, it took me 113 flight hours (not including ground instruction)!! After I recieved my license, I had a great instructor for my Instrument, a crappy instructor for my Commercial, and the best instructor of all for my Multi-Engine. Countless weather delays and aircraft maintenance also pushed my completion of the program into five years at the University. Since I finished all of the required classes for the Professional Flight Degree, I also picked up an Aerospace Management Degree in the process.
USAFcptnShades
USAFcptnShades 1
113 hours to obtain your PPL!?! Am I reading that correctly!?
burlas00
Joseph Burlas 1
Would you mind venting in a survey about flight training I just made? I can use some of this data to draw conclusions for a proposal I'm doing. I'll post to everyone that responded here and then I'm going to squawk it. Thank you in advance! http://form.jotform.us/form/31806722149151

[This poster has been suspended.]

burlas00
Joseph Burlas 2
There is a reason we do what we do. flying for those who do it is more about the freedom and responsibilities at the job brings more than the money. I understand your concernabout the lack of return on investment, but most of us knew that going in.
Coolbreeze
Coolbreeze 1
BTW, all the instructors left for airlines and other programs except my Instrument instructor.
seniorpilot13
Peter Karalus 1
As a long time CFII, over 35 years both FAA and USAf allow me to throw out one thing most of you don't mention in your flight training. ..an that is the CFI's PAY...A very touchy subject for most of us, few of you consider what it takes to become a CFII and trying to earn a living being one. Most of the instructors I know are doing it for the LOVE of flying and teaching, they most certainly can't earn a living with it. Thank goodness my retirement pay from 33 yrs in the USAF can supplement my flying costs, my wages sure won't. Many of you students think nothing about wasting your and our time with poor scheduling, late arrivals , and demands on our time you can;t imagine. We too have families , are faced with many other obstacles affecting our jobs, and have to settle for min pay , no allowances, no health care, but full dedication to impatient students unwilling to sacrifice the time needed to meet their own schedule. I have heard a lifetime of bitching students, but have tolerated them because I truly love flying and love to teach. Meet us at least half way dear people and you will receive more than just the " Book work" of flying. We have knowledge you can't find in Books, tempered by many years of experience, even the newer CFI's have an excellent knowledge of their trade, NONE are paid their worth though. So, if you truly desire the rating, work at it, and contribute to your learning, accept it's erratic scheduling, wx can't be scheduled dear people, and keep at it, well worth it in the long run. Good luck and Safe flying.
burlas00
Joseph Burlas 1
Considering my GI bill paid for my flight training, I can honestly say I have yet to complain about how much I am billed. In fact, most flight schools are in charge of giving the 'portion' of the $45 an hour to the instructor and then using the rest for their own flight department costs. I'm not saying that this is the case at my school but I will say that often times the student has little to do with how much an instructor gets paid. If you read my article, you'll see that it was more frustrating in terms of staying motivated when an instructor did not want to fly than anything else. This was not a bitching session but a chronicle into what I had to overcome to get my ticket punched. We've all been there, and I was just sharing. Please let me know if I inadvertently blamed the cost of training on my frustrations and I will fix it. Thanks.
burlas00
Joseph Burlas 1
Would you mind completing a survey about flight training I just made? I can use some of this data to draw conclusions for a proposal I'm doing. I'll post to everyone that responded here and then I'm going to squawk it. Thank you in advance! http://form.jotform.us/form/31806722149151
CaryA
Cary Alburn 1
I think many pilots have similar frustrations in achieving their initial goal of a private certificate--which, by the way, is only the beginning, or as I like to say, a license to learn. But sticking with it is not only a valuable personal decision, but it opens the door to a world that only a very small percentage of people ever get to experience.

A little more than 40 1/2 years ago, as I was about to turn 29, I called the manager of the Elmendorf AFB Aero Club, told him I was getting out of the USAF in 6 months, and asked if it was possible for me to get my private license before then. "Sure, Cap--come on over, and we'll talk about it." I started ground school that week, I was paired with a truly excellent instructor, and I began my lessons in the dark in late November 1972. Flying through an Alaskan winter could be daunting, but early in February after some 64 flight hours, I took my check ride and received my own license to learn.

Now I fly strictly for pleasure, but I've instructed, flown single engine charter, and with some exceptions, thoroughly enjoyed being one of that small percentage.

So congratulations on a job well done, which is really only beginning. If you get as much joy out of flying as I've gotten all these years and hours, by the time you get to be my age, you'll look back and say, "I'm so glad that I did that!"

Cary
burlas00
Joseph Burlas 1
I love hearing stories like that, they are the most reassuring. I very much look forward to being able to look back in old age and retirement on my years as an aviator! Thank you!
burlas00
Joseph Burlas 1
Would you mind doing a survey about flight training I just made? I can use some of this data to draw conclusions for a proposal I'm doing. I'll post to everyone that responded here and then I'm going to squawk it. Thank you in advance! http://form.jotform.us/form/31806722149151
jjdenike
james denike 1
A lot has changed in the past 35+ years or so. I can recall when a CFI took some pride in seeing his/her students be able to solo and solo cross-country in 25 hours, then spend the next 25 hours finishing the cross-country requirements, and doing the pre-checkride polishing and checkride completion. The FAA has never addressed why the average flight time requirement is probably above 80 hours. Assuming the student had the financial means to go straight through, anything over 65 hours is milking it.
What the industry really needs but will probably never do is recruit a core of professional CFIs who really want to teach and are paid accordingly. The current career path of a CFI only is simply a shortcut to poverty.
burlas00
Joseph Burlas 1
Would you mind venting in a survey about flight training I just made? I can use some of this data to draw conclusions for a proposal I'm doing. I'll post to everyone that responded here and then I'm going to squawk it. Thank you in advance! Survey can be found here: http://form.jotform.us/form/31806722149151

[This poster has been suspended.]

BDant93
Blythe Dant 5
Phil I do not care to start an online contest of who's is bigger, but it sounds to me as if you have some bitterness towards flying. I'm not 100% sure of that but if it is the case then why bother to trouble being on an flying website? I am a CFI with multi commercial and do care about my students, their decision making, their abilities, but most of all their safety. There is nothing that would crush me worse to know that a student I signed off for any license has been in an accident that has hurt or killed them. This is why with some it takes longer than others, it's because we as instructors would like to see that our students are capable and safe, so that we can avoid as many accidents as possible and make good pilots.
BluegrassFlyer
Randy Michel 1
Some just string you along and don't sign you off period. Seen more than enough of those.
flyingcookmosnter
flyingcookmosnter 1
I second Phil's comments. Flight schools have a unique conflict of interest. Do they really want you to finish quickly and cheaply? Nope.
THRUSTT
THRUSTT 2
Quickly and cheaply is not the way to go. There are instructors and schools who milk it. You have to be smart and figure that out quickly when choosing a school. The FAA's mins. of 35-40 hours isn't realistic now with training in airplanes with glass and high performance. I am very doubtful of the person that gets their private now at 40 hours, they are more than likely not capable of navigating in todays complex and busy airspace safely, and using the equipment in the airplane efficiently. Also additional things like cockpit resource and assessment skills can't all be taught in 40 hours with everything else. You may think you know it, or your CFI may tell you you're good to go, but that isn't the case. On the other hand, the guy training for 40 hours in a remote grass strip in a Cub with a good stick and rudder instructor, who plans on flying in uncongested areas like that in similar aircraft may do well in the 40 hours.
burlas00
Joseph Burlas 1
Mind doing a survey about flight training I just made? I can use some of this data to draw conclusions for a proposal I'm doing. I'll post to everyone that responded here and then I'm going to squawk it. Thank you in advance! http://form.jotform.us/form/31806722149151
THRUSTT
THRUSTT 1
I'll do it.
teresa2518
teresa2518 2
I'm Director of Operations at a flight school and a flight instructor with 400 hours dual given. We do want our students to finish cheaply and quickly because if it takes longer than expected the students get frustrated. A frustrated student will not finish or even if they do they will not continue to fly after their training is over. I have never made a student do a flight I did not think they needed. The key to the regulation is 40 hours in the minimum. The only realistic way for most people to finish in 40 hours is committing to at least 3 flights a week and not having those cancelled by weather. That really isn't realistic in most climates. I have had all of my students who flew consistently finish in less than 55 hours. In a Part 61 environment, many students will fly a few days in a row then not come back for a month. Those people will take 60 or higher hours to finish because consistency is important in learning the motor skill.
madtrader
madtrader 0
In part 141 I think it's only 35 hours for the minimum.
burlas00
Joseph Burlas 1
You are correct sir!

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