Overcoming Flight Training Pitfalls

Regardless of who you are or where you’re at in your training you’ll at one point or another encounter a pitfall in your flight training. A good instructor will help you overcome this mishap and continue forward. However not all instructors are master motivators like Zig Ziglar or others of the liking. You may be “flying solo” in the motivational department. I’ll cover both perspectives overcoming pitfalls for instructors and students.

What are pitfalls?

A pitfall in training is simply a rapid downfall in flying enthusiasm. This can be caused by fear or anxiety. I’ll never forget my biggest pitfall in my flight training…

I was a very young pilot, maybe 2-3 hours and somehow for some reason my instructor thought I was getting close to solo and decided we would go work on takeoffs and landings.

At Ocala (KOCF) we have a narrow runway 8-26 it’s a mere 50 feet wide! Slightly intimidating for such a young pilot. Things were fine until the last landing. I was getting blown off course by a bad crosswind that was increasing quickly. At right around 10 feet or so I told my instructor I was going around. Yet not knowing my go around procedure I took out the flaps.

In a Cherokee 140 is easy to take the flaps out all at once. We abruptly dropped and landed in the grass to the right of the runway.

After a lashing of curse words my instructor finished our lesson by saying “You’re no where near ready to solo!”

The next lesson I went to get the key from the flight school owner and he plainly said to me “You going to keep it on the runway this time?”

I was the talk of the flight school…

Let’s use this story and discuss what should be done as an instructor and a student.

As the Flight Instructor

First off there is no room for curse words in the cockpit. Especially as the flight instructor. Your title is “Aviation Professional” and there is nothing professional about curse words.

It is important for an instructor to help a student overcome these downtimes. Words of encouragement, charisma, and guidance will not only motivate students but teach them to be the best pilot they can.

When something is foul use the phrase “we”

When something was done well use the phrase “you”

Example: That’s okay we just need to practice our go around procedures. It’s something we really haven’t done. But you looked great on the approach, you held a textbook crab angle to compensate for the crosswind.

Share in the fault with “we” and separate yourself from your students praise with “you”

As The Student

It can be easy to get discouraged in flight training. You may not always have an instructor to help you stay motivated along the way. It’s important to stay focused and determined to accomplish the task at hand.

Talk with other pilots to gain insights. Learn from the your mistakes and those of others around you, it’s only going to make you a safer pilot.


We all will encounter or have encountered pitfalls. I’d love to hear some of your stories and how you overcame them. Leave a comment below or Send me and E-mail.

Remember, a good pilot is always learning!

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