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5 Common Student Pilot Errors

by Jason Schappert

To be the best pilot you can you must be aware of possible mistakes. Whether young or old these are the 5 most common student pilot mistakes.

Failure to use the checklist

I had it fairly easy in my high school years. Most of my tests consisted of open book or open note tests. I figured if I wanted to pass I better take the time to look up every answer to make sure it’s correct.

This is similar to our checklist usage. The answers are right there in front of us but many students fail to use them.

Another twist to this is: Checklist usage for start, taxi, run-up, and takeoff and it remains on the dash untouched for the remainder of the flight.

Although you may think you’ve completely memorized the checklist it’s always good to double check.

Clearing Turns

I find students frequently get so eager to perform their flight maneuvers that they forget where to start. I always start each and every maneuver with a set of clearing turns. It’s important for you as the student to make sure the area is clear before conducting any maneuvers.

Turning Crosswind

This tends to be an unknown with many pilots however the AIM suggests pilots turn crosswind 300 feet from pattern altitude. Example: If your pattern altitude is 1,000 feet, you’d turn crosswind at 700 ft.

Runway signs and Markings

Unfamiliar airports can seem like a jungle even to a veteran pilot. To better equip yourself have a taxiway diagram of every airport you plan to visit on that flight. Be sure to brush up on your runway signs and markings, I have a great video podcast on this subject you can view HERE.

VFR Cloud Clearance Requirements

This is a huge one! I’ve heard stories of students on their checkride flying into clouds because thats the heading the examiner put them on. Regardless you are responsible for maintaining proper cloud clearance which is: 1,000 feet above, 500 feet below, and 2000 feet horizontal from the clouds.
Next time your instructor puts you on a heading that looks like it may break these minimums, be sure to explain to him that you may be breaking the regulations if you continue of this heading.

Conclusion

These are simply 5 common mistakes I’ve observed through giving instruction. Maybe you’ve seen some others, I’d love to hear them! Send me an Email or leave a comment below

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  • http://www.askacfi.com/ Paul

    I’d like to add one that I see quite a bit and that is not being familiar with the limitations in the POH. Max ramp, takeoff, landing and V speeds (especially best glide) should be completely committed to memory. The POH doesn’t get nearly enough emphasis that it should in primary training.

  • http://www.askacfi.com/ Paul

    I’d like to add one that I see quite a bit and that is not being familiar with the limitations in the POH. Max ramp, takeoff, landing and V speeds (especially best glide) should be completely committed to memory. The POH doesn’t get nearly enough emphasis that it should in primary training.

  • http://www.askacfi.com/ Paul

    I’d like to add one that I see quite a bit and that is not being familiar with the limitations in the POH. Max ramp, takeoff, landing and V speeds (especially best glide) should be completely committed to memory. The POH doesn’t get nearly enough emphasis that it should in primary training.

  • http://www.askacfi.com Paul

    I’d like to add one that I see quite a bit and that is not being familiar with the limitations in the POH. Max ramp, takeoff, landing and V speeds (especially best glide) should be completely committed to memory. The POH doesn’t get nearly enough emphasis that it should in primary training.

  • http://www.JasonSchappert.com/ Jason Schappert

    Awesome addition Paul! Students have to keep their noses in the POH and FAR/AIM if only they were more interesting reads! :)

  • http://www.JasonSchappert.com/ Jason Schappert

    Awesome addition Paul! Students have to keep their noses in the POH and FAR/AIM if only they were more interesting reads! :)

  • http://www.JasonSchappert.com/ Jason Schappert

    Awesome addition Paul! Students have to keep their noses in the POH and FAR/AIM if only they were more interesting reads! :)

  • http://www.JasonSchappert.com Jason Schappert

    Awesome addition Paul! Students have to keep their noses in the POH and FAR/AIM if only they were more interesting reads! :)

  • http://www.dannyvacar.ca/ Danny V

    Head down checklists are a big problem too, especially in the circuit. Many times I’ve found myself running through the prelanding check from start to finish without looking outside until I was done.

  • http://www.dannyvacar.ca/ Danny V

    Head down checklists are a big problem too, especially in the circuit. Many times I’ve found myself running through the prelanding check from start to finish without looking outside until I was done.

  • http://www.dannyvacar.ca/ Danny V

    Head down checklists are a big problem too, especially in the circuit. Many times I’ve found myself running through the prelanding check from start to finish without looking outside until I was done.

  • http://www.dannyvacar.ca Danny V

    Head down checklists are a big problem too, especially in the circuit. Many times I’ve found myself running through the prelanding check from start to finish without looking outside until I was done.

  • Keith

    I think students–particularly VFR–should remember that come check-ride time they are now pilot-in-command, and not the examiner. In fact, if I remember correctly, check ride time can only be logged as either training flight (if you failed) or PIC time (if you pass). Quoting the “Examiner Responsibility” portion of the Private Pilot ASEL PTS “Since there is no formal division between the ‘oral’ and ‘skill’ portions of the practical test, this becomes an ongoing process
    throughout the test.” A student can be asked by the examiner to do a bunch of things that would break the rules, but the student is responsible for deciding to follow or not follow. Students should also remember that they can end the test at any time if they are not comfortable with the direction it’s going.

  • Keith

    I think students–particularly VFR–should remember that come check-ride time they are now pilot-in-command, and not the examiner. In fact, if I remember correctly, check ride time can only be logged as either training flight (if you failed) or PIC time (if you pass). Quoting the “Examiner Responsibility” portion of the Private Pilot ASEL PTS “Since there is no formal division between the ‘oral’ and ‘skill’ portions of the practical test, this becomes an ongoing process
    throughout the test.” A student can be asked by the examiner to do a bunch of things that would break the rules, but the student is responsible for deciding to follow or not follow. Students should also remember that they can end the test at any time if they are not comfortable with the direction it’s going.

  • Keith

    I think students–particularly VFR–should remember that come check-ride time they are now pilot-in-command, and not the examiner. In fact, if I remember correctly, check ride time can only be logged as either training flight (if you failed) or PIC time (if you pass). Quoting the “Examiner Responsibility” portion of the Private Pilot ASEL PTS “Since there is no formal division between the ‘oral’ and ‘skill’ portions of the practical test, this becomes an ongoing process
    throughout the test.” A student can be asked by the examiner to do a bunch of things that would break the rules, but the student is responsible for deciding to follow or not follow. Students should also remember that they can end the test at any time if they are not comfortable with the direction it’s going.

  • Keith

    I think students–particularly VFR–should remember that come check-ride time they are now pilot-in-command, and not the examiner. In fact, if I remember correctly, check ride time can only be logged as either training flight (if you failed) or PIC time (if you pass). Quoting the “Examiner Responsibility” portion of the Private Pilot ASEL PTS “Since there is no formal division between the ‘oral’ and ‘skill’ portions of the practical test, this becomes an ongoing process
    throughout the test.” A student can be asked by the examiner to do a bunch of things that would break the rules, but the student is responsible for deciding to follow or not follow. Students should also remember that they can end the test at any time if they are not comfortable with the direction it’s going.

  • Keith

    I actually want to also point out what I believe is an incorrect statement: “proper cloud clearance which is: 1,000 feet above, 500 feet below, and 2000 feet horizontal from the clouds.” As a general rule for most GA recreational pilots flying single-engine prop aircraft, this works. However, 14 CFR 91.155 states that this rule only applies to Class C; Class D; Class E below 10,000MSL; Class G below 1200ASL at night regardless of MSL; and Class G above 1200ASL but below 10,000MSL. All other airspace have different cloud clearances. One example where only remembering this rule is if a pilot regularly flies in Southern California coast area.

  • Keith

    I actually want to also point out what I believe is an incorrect statement: “proper cloud clearance which is: 1,000 feet above, 500 feet below, and 2000 feet horizontal from the clouds.” As a general rule for most GA recreational pilots flying single-engine prop aircraft, this works. However, 14 CFR 91.155 states that this rule only applies to Class C; Class D; Class E below 10,000MSL; Class G below 1200ASL at night regardless of MSL; and Class G above 1200ASL but below 10,000MSL. All other airspace have different cloud clearances. One example where only remembering this rule is if a pilot regularly flies in Southern California coast area.

  • Keith

    I actually want to also point out what I believe is an incorrect statement: “proper cloud clearance which is: 1,000 feet above, 500 feet below, and 2000 feet horizontal from the clouds.” As a general rule for most GA recreational pilots flying single-engine prop aircraft, this works. However, 14 CFR 91.155 states that this rule only applies to Class C; Class D; Class E below 10,000MSL; Class G below 1200ASL at night regardless of MSL; and Class G above 1200ASL but below 10,000MSL. All other airspace have different cloud clearances. One example where only remembering this rule is if a pilot regularly flies in Southern California coast area.

  • http://www.plasticpilot.net/ PlasticPilot

    Few words from Europe. Here the examiner is always PIC, based on the idea that he’s the sole on board having a valid rating. Recurrent checks where the examinee is rated (annual IFR check, i.e.) are different.

    Regarding the speeds, I fully agree with you. My take-off briefings always include rotation, Vx and Vy. Not just “standard take-off” but the actual values.

  • http://www.plasticpilot.net/ PlasticPilot

    Few words from Europe. Here the examiner is always PIC, based on the idea that he’s the sole on board having a valid rating. Recurrent checks where the examinee is rated (annual IFR check, i.e.) are different.

    Regarding the speeds, I fully agree with you. My take-off briefings always include rotation, Vx and Vy. Not just “standard take-off” but the actual values.

  • http://www.plasticpilot.net/ PlasticPilot

    Few words from Europe. Here the examiner is always PIC, based on the idea that he’s the sole on board having a valid rating. Recurrent checks where the examinee is rated (annual IFR check, i.e.) are different.

    Regarding the speeds, I fully agree with you. My take-off briefings always include rotation, Vx and Vy. Not just “standard take-off” but the actual values.

  • Keith

    I actually want to also point out what I believe is an incorrect statement: “proper cloud clearance which is: 1,000 feet above, 500 feet below, and 2000 feet horizontal from the clouds.” As a general rule for most GA recreational pilots flying single-engine prop aircraft, this works. However, 14 CFR 91.155 states that this rule only applies to Class C; Class D; Class E below 10,000MSL; Class G below 1200ASL at night regardless of MSL; and Class G above 1200ASL but below 10,000MSL. All other airspace have different cloud clearances. One example where only remembering this rule is if a pilot regularly flies in Southern California coast area.

  • http://www.plasticpilot.net/ PlasticPilot

    Few words from Europe. Here the examiner is always PIC, based on the idea that he’s the sole on board having a valid rating. Recurrent checks where the examinee is rated (annual IFR check, i.e.) are different.

    Regarding the speeds, I fully agree with you. My take-off briefings always include rotation, Vx and Vy. Not just “standard take-off” but the actual values.

  • http://www.JasonSchappert.com/ Jason Schappert

    Hi Keith!

    You’re correct about the cloud clearance requirements. However I was referring to our basic training as most students train in Echo or Golf airspace. rarely do you fin yourself doing steep turns, stalls, etc. In class Bravo! :)

  • http://www.JasonSchappert.com/ Jason Schappert

    Hi Keith!

    You’re correct about the cloud clearance requirements. However I was referring to our basic training as most students train in Echo or Golf airspace. rarely do you fin yourself doing steep turns, stalls, etc. In class Bravo! :)

  • http://www.JasonSchappert.com/ Jason Schappert

    Hi Keith!

    You’re correct about the cloud clearance requirements. However I was referring to our basic training as most students train in Echo or Golf airspace. rarely do you fin yourself doing steep turns, stalls, etc. In class Bravo! :)

  • http://www.JasonSchappert.com Jason Schappert

    Hi Keith!

    You’re correct about the cloud clearance requirements. However I was referring to our basic training as most students train in Echo or Golf airspace. rarely do you fin yourself doing steep turns, stalls, etc. In class Bravo! :)

  • http://twitter.com/milescowan Miles Cowan

    So true! I just completed my “pre-solo stagecheck,” which is required at my flight school (Panorama @KHPN). The checkride instructor (not my usual instructor) asked for some steep turns, and I went right into the first turn without clearing first. About 45 degrees around he “confirmed” that I was doing the first of two clearing turns. Of course I wasn't intending to, but I rolled out at 90 degrees and did another turn the other direction. He still passed me (I'll solo for the first time this weekend coming up), but it totally slipped my mind.

    Second big agreement (I agree with all, but some especially so): Checklists! I wouldn't have forgotten the clearing turns if I used my pre-maneuver checklist.

  • mzeroa

    Miles!

    Great Experience though huh? Now you'll never forget!

    Glad you passed nonetheless! PLEASE PLEASE! Keep Me posted on your solo! I'd love to hear about it :)

    Jason

  • shane

    Nice video and explanation of crosswind landings, being a new sport pilot myself, I have become more and more confident by pushing myself to practice x-wind landings, and frequently ask my instructor to fly the pattern with me when winds are high, in one case it was a day in which we had 18 direct x-wind, crazy to say, but after 4 or 5 touch and goes, although challenging, really a lot of fun….definitely counter intuitive…just takes a bit of time to train the brain :-)

  • Phil O’Rourke

    hey Jason do u still give lesson’s,and if u do,at what airfield in Florida?

  • Edwin nic

    Thanks for providing me five
    common student pilot errors as it is true that it is not easy to become pilot
    easily. A pilot has lot of responsibilities like passengers safety. I also want
    to become pilot, greatly thanks to sharing me some but special common student
    pilots error. All of the above information which is mentioned in your article
    is very good for my future. Nice and informative post .
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  • John Sandford SR

    Jason … YOU HAVE A GREAT WEB SITE… Obviously you have some very special connections.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    I really enjoy watching your videos… they bring back great memories from some 17 years ago !  Thanks for refreshing those wonderful  memories.
    Cheers,
    John Sandford  

  • Mike

    I own a Light sport Eurofox which is just slightly lighter than a 150. My issue seems to be on landings that if there is a crosswind of 8 knots or more that I get tossed around. It seems to me on your crosswind videos that you are quite stable with very little stick/yoke movement. Any suggestions to be smoother on the windy landings?

  • biloxi

    Clearing turns are vastly overrated. While clearing is a good idea, it doesn’t help to do two 90 degree turns to clear. With an average speed of 120 knots, two aircraft close at 4 miles a minute, so someone out of visual range is in your face halfway through your maneuver. Add in the fact that you need to look above, below and at your altitude, and you really have just wasted your time, and probably won’t see most of the traffic that might be of interest during your maneuver. Look where you are turning, before you turn, and during your turn (chandelle, lazy eight, etc.)  Clearing is a habit, keeping your SA up about what is around you is a habit. Clearing turns…another rote execise.

    Checklists. Less is more. A “pre maneuver checklist” ?  Wow. Memorize. Do. Then verify with the hard card. A checklist isn’t a read and do list.

    Crosswind turn. The AIM isn’t a bad place to start. In singles, I tend to turn when I decide I’m high enough to not go straight ahead in the event of an engine failure. About 500 feet, I turn and evaluate whether or not the airport is an option if the engine should sputter. Before that, I go straight ahead.Takes away the need for that decision in the heat of the moment.  Sometimes outside factors don’t allow me to turn when I want, but  that is my template.

  • Speedy

    Been watching your videos and visiting your site. Just passed my written and have everything done. Two nights ago we did the last of Night emergency procedures, unusual attitudes and four more landings, complete stops.Just doing some solo flying now building confidence. 

    Thanks for what you do.

    Speedy  (not so much anymore at 60)   

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jimmy-Hybrid/100002913935686 Jimmy Hybrid

    Thanks a lot for giving information on 5 common student pilot errors. Taking
    Flight career is a really good option for the apprentices who are really
    interested. The flight academies that provide various aviation programs also
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  • Pingback: Pilot Knowledge and Common Mistakes « Aviator college's Blog

  • Josephelec

    Really enjoy reading and looking at your films, keep it up.
    Bob 

  • Gaurav

    I just busted my ppl check ride for not doing clearing turns

  • Gaurav

    mzeroa your videos are great

  • Holly Davis

    My biggest problem is improper use of the throttle, and incorrect flare on landings. Then I tend to stray from my heading. My instructor says I’m getting better though. I have 11 hours.

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