Should I find a new instructor, or is this a normal first few lessons?

This forum has been developed to discuss flight instruction/University and College programs.

Moderators: ahramin, sky's the limit, sepia, Sulako, Right Seat Captain, lilfssister, North Shore

Post Reply
suff
Rank 0
Rank 0
Posts: 2
Joined: Fri Feb 23, 2018 12:46 pm

Should I find a new instructor, or is this a normal first few lessons?

Post by suff » Wed Sep 05, 2018 11:10 am

Hello, I just started training for my PPL a week ago and have had 3 lessons in a C150. I'm not entirely confident I'm getting the best instruction and would like to check if my experience is normal. Some things I've noticed:

- Instructor often still starts the engine, shuts down engine, does the dead mag check and taxis etc... I've taxi'd briefly and started the engine twice. I have not taken off or landed.
- Often does not set the altitude pressure or the heading before a flight.
- Does not say "Clear" before starting the propeller. Not sure if this is important?
- Usually 10 - 15 minutes late as he has another student before me.
- Ground briefing is very repetitive of my readings.
- Very little feedback while I have the controls. I've gotten a "good" once or twice. Otherwise I have no idea how I'm doing at all.
- I noticed aircraft is leaking oil, wasn't very concerned and very briefly checked the oil level.
- Last lessons practiced climbs and descents. I probably only did two or three of each in the hour lesson. I felt like most of the time was spent flying away from the airport and back.
- Texting the office once while climbing out, and often during the ground briefing.

I definitely do not feel like I'm being strung along for my money. The instructor is not focused on building time himself either. I just watched some youtube videos of flight instruction and noticed there was a lot more explaining and teaching going on. I feel too often I am flying straight and level in silence. Is my experience normal? Should I look for another flight instructor? Should I ask him to give me more feedback and more time controlling the airplane on the ground? I don't have a bottomless pit of money to pursue aviation. This was the cheapest instructor/plane in my area. The other school has a large wait list, but I could possibly drive for 1.5 hours to another flight instructor ($40 more an hour).
---------- ADS -----------
  

Skymark
Rank 2
Rank 2
Posts: 84
Joined: Sun Sep 17, 2006 9:43 am

Re: Should I find a new instructor, or is this a normal first few lessons?

Post by Skymark » Thu Sep 06, 2018 5:19 pm

I should start by saying that each student, instructor and lesson is unique and different, so it's hard to define "normal". That said, it sounds like your instructor is not focused on giving you the best instruction for your time and money.

You have only had 3 lessons, so it's a bit early for a lot of stuff, but you should be doing a lot, or at least involved, in the other stuff - engine starts and shut downs and the run-up and some taxing, maybe a takeoff

Your instructor is also not doing a good job of "leading by example", saying "clear", checking the oil, being on time, texting....

Your instructor should be giving you a lot of feedback - how else do you know how you're doing?

There are lots of instructors around, if this one isn't working for you, find another one. It's your time and money, get the best you can get.

Paul - a new instructor
---------- ADS -----------
  

annonyous123
Rank 0
Rank 0
Posts: 10
Joined: Sat Feb 10, 2018 10:07 am

Re: Should I find a new instructor, or is this a normal first few lessons?

Post by annonyous123 » Thu Sep 06, 2018 6:06 pm

3 flights and no take off or landing attempts??

I took off and landed on my first intro flight, flying should be conducted mostly by you, unless he is demonstrating or telling you something.

pull the handles, he sounds like knob.
---------- ADS -----------
  

455tt
Rank 3
Rank 3
Posts: 111
Joined: Thu Sep 30, 2010 11:18 pm

Re: Should I find a new instructor, or is this a normal first few lessons?

Post by 455tt » Thu Sep 06, 2018 6:08 pm

Your instructor seems like a bit of a slacker to me based on your comments.

Asking polite but astute questions can work wonders at getting a slack instructor to shape up and be more professional.

Try asking your instructor this: "Say, I notice when starting up, we never shout "all clear" before starting. If someone were to get seriously injured or killed by the propeller, who would be sued if there was a lawsuit, you, me or both of us?"

Another one: "If you have control of the aeroplane most of the time, will it slow down my learning progress?"

It seems to me that you have a better awareness and understanding of good airmanship and of good flight instruction at all of 3 or 4 hours than your instructor has with hundreds of hours.
---------- ADS -----------
  

final28
Rank 2
Rank 2
Posts: 73
Joined: Thu Jun 30, 2016 8:47 pm

Re: Should I find a new instructor, or is this a normal first few lessons?

Post by final28 » Thu Sep 06, 2018 6:19 pm

In my opinion, by the third flight you should be doing all engine starts, run ups, and shutdowns using applicable checklists.
You should also do almost all taxiing, except maybe in tight spots, as well as some basic radio calls. Unless very windy and gusty you should do take-off with some assistance (verbal or slight help with controls) and fly to at least short final, except when the instructor is demonstrating new exercises or explaining something (so that you can focus on listening). After each flight there should be a debriefing where the instructor asks for your input, gives specific feedback on what goes well and what you need to work more on.
---------- ADS -----------
  

Loner
Rank 3
Rank 3
Posts: 119
Joined: Mon Aug 28, 2017 1:14 pm

Re: Should I find a new instructor, or is this a normal first few lessons?

Post by Loner » Thu Sep 06, 2018 6:37 pm

You’re a paying customer.
If you don’t feel comfortable with that instructor then go to management and explain why you don’t feel comfortable and if possible change instructor.
That instructor won’t change for you.
Don’t waste your time and hard earned $
---------- ADS -----------
  

geneticistx
Rank 3
Rank 3
Posts: 137
Joined: Sat Oct 22, 2016 6:07 pm

Re: Should I find a new instructor, or is this a normal first few lessons?

Post by geneticistx » Thu Sep 06, 2018 6:42 pm

I changed flight schools after 7 hours at one school. At that first school in the 7 lessons, I never took off once, never landed, and basically felt like a fool. I switched schools and was taking off and landing on first lesson. A waste of time during my first 7 hours of training in southern ontario. I made the right choice in switching and, for me, I chose the right FTU.
---------- ADS -----------
  

Blackdog0301
Rank 1
Rank 1
Posts: 20
Joined: Thu Aug 24, 2017 3:15 pm

Re: Should I find a new instructor, or is this a normal first few lessons?

Post by Blackdog0301 » Thu Sep 06, 2018 7:22 pm

I would ask to speak with the Chief Flight Instructor and see if this is normal practice. Seems a tad off with how they’re conducting the training. You should be doing pretty much all of the work by now except landing and some more challenging takeoffs.

When I instructed, I would allow a new student start the plane, taxi with assistance, do the runup with assistance, takeoff with lots of help, taxi in, and shutdown all in the first flight. You should be handling the controls for 95% of the time spent in the air. Only time they should be flying is when demonstrating so,thing, or maybe if you’re flying in controlled airspace and altitude and heading control is required.

The fact he’s not even letting you start the plane, I’d speak to someone about it.
---------- ADS -----------
  

C.W.E.
Rank (9)
Rank (9)
Posts: 1262
Joined: Mon Dec 18, 2017 2:22 pm

Re: Should I find a new instructor, or is this a normal first few lessons?

Post by C.W.E. » Thu Sep 06, 2018 7:31 pm

Get rid of him you are being screwed.
Try asking your instructor this: "Say, I notice when starting up, we never shout "all clear" before starting. If someone were to get seriously injured or killed by the propeller, who would be sued if there was a lawsuit, you, me or both of us?"
That is the least important of your complaints because it is the responsibility of the pilot to never engage the starter until you are 100% sure there is no one close to the airplane or walking towards it, the calling " all clear " is not sufficient to prevent someone from getting hit by the prop.

I have often watched instructors and students call "all clear " and hit the starter at almost the same time, even superman wouldn't have the reflexes to get out of the way.

As to the texting that is completely unacceptable at any time during the lesson period.
---------- ADS -----------
  

photofly
Top Poster
Top Poster
Posts: 7327
Joined: Tue Jan 18, 2011 4:47 pm
Location: Making aviation exhausting, everywhere

Re: Should I find a new instructor, or is this a normal first few lessons?

Post by photofly » Thu Sep 06, 2018 8:07 pm

These are things you *must* bring to the attention of the Chief Flight Instructor at your school. Not everything you mention is a bad sign, but put together, they are not good.
I'm not entirely confident I'm getting the best instruction
Not everyone can have the best instruction, but it's the CFI's job to make sure that even the worst instruction is adequate.
---------- ADS -----------
  
Kirk: This is a dangerous mission. Likely, one of us will die. The landing party will be me, Spock, McCoy, and Ensign Ricky.
Ensign Ricky: Aw, crap.

TT1900
Rank 3
Rank 3
Posts: 102
Joined: Tue May 15, 2018 8:19 pm

Re: Should I find a new instructor, or is this a normal first few lessons?

Post by TT1900 » Thu Sep 06, 2018 8:07 pm

Fire him and very clearly explain why to the CFI. Consider switching schools. And don’t cheap out...you generally get what you pay for.

He’s not letting you do the starts/ground handling/shutdown. He’s not letting you fly very much. He’s not providing “feedback”. In other words, he’s not instructing nor providing a suitable learning environment. He’s disrespecting you by showing up late and playing on his phone.

Even if you’re the least competent student in the history of aviation and endanger the lives of all when you’re at the controls, the lack of respect justifies a new instructor.

The only things listed that aren’t necessarily red flags to me are the feeling of long transit and instructor silence. Is the airfield far from the practice area? Silence isn’t necessarily bad. When I have a student who can analyze and attempt to correct errors on their own I leave them to it for the most part, and debrief the finer points on the ground. When combined with the lack of control time however, it’s a problem.
---------- ADS -----------
  

trey kule
Rank 11
Rank 11
Posts: 4533
Joined: Fri Aug 19, 2005 7:09 pm

Re: Should I find a new instructor, or is this a normal first few lessons?

Post by trey kule » Fri Sep 07, 2018 6:57 am

No instructor Should be using their cell phone at all during a lesson, other than that related to the lesson. This is a mention it once. Then talk to the CFI for a new instructor if it happens again.
Your instructor should be totally focussed on instructing you, not texting, calling, or otherwise diverting their attention. Even for “ a quick sec”
Late is not acceptable. Once OK. 2 nd time mention it. Third time get a new instructor. Your time is valuable. You will be doing your instructor a favour as this leisurely attitude towards time will need to change for their career to progress.
As to the other stuff. No comment, as there is (are?) two sides to the story.

The sad part, is that many of these instructors think they are doing a great job.
---------- ADS -----------
  
Last edited by trey kule on Fri Sep 07, 2018 9:55 am, edited 1 time in total.
Everyone is a genius in hindsight

altiplano
Rank 11
Rank 11
Posts: 3632
Joined: Sat Jan 22, 2005 2:24 pm

Re: Should I find a new instructor, or is this a normal first few lessons?

Post by altiplano » Fri Sep 07, 2018 8:21 am

I'd walk.

My PPL is a little faint in my memory, but I seem to recall doing almost everything (with assistance/direction as required) from day 1...
---------- ADS -----------
  

digits_
Rank 10
Rank 10
Posts: 2342
Joined: Mon Feb 14, 2011 2:26 am

Re: Should I find a new instructor, or is this a normal first few lessons?

Post by digits_ » Fri Sep 07, 2018 9:47 am

suff wrote:
Wed Sep 05, 2018 11:10 am
- Instructor often still starts the engine, shuts down engine, does the dead mag check and taxis etc... I've taxi'd briefly and started the engine twice. I have not taken off or landed.
Not normal. Even a total idiot (not saying that you are) should be able to start the engine with verbal guidance.
suff wrote:
Wed Sep 05, 2018 11:10 am
- Often does not set the altitude pressure or the heading before a flight.
Assuming you interpret everything that is happening correctly: very weird. Tell him to follow the checklist.
suff wrote:
Wed Sep 05, 2018 11:10 am
- Does not say "Clear" before starting the propeller. Not sure if this is important?
I've never done that or taught that myself. Look outside is way more important. Seems a bit silly honestly. But opinions vary.
suff wrote:
Wed Sep 05, 2018 11:10 am
- Usually 10 - 15 minutes late as he has another student before me.
Be lucky that it's only 15 minutes :-)
As a customer you can demand better service of course, but that could result in a higher bill. I believe you wrote it was the cheapest option available? In that case I would keep quiet about this.
suff wrote:
Wed Sep 05, 2018 11:10 am
- Ground briefing is very repetitive of my readings.
Have you told him?
suff wrote:
Wed Sep 05, 2018 11:10 am
- Very little feedback while I have the controls. I've gotten a "good" once or twice. Otherwise I have no idea how I'm doing at all.
Ask him. "Am I keeping altitude/attitude/heading within limits?" If no, ask him what you are doing wrong. If yes: congrats!
suff wrote:
Wed Sep 05, 2018 11:10 am
- I noticed aircraft is leaking oil, wasn't very concerned and very briefly checked the oil level.
A lot of flight schools operate airplanes that are legal and safe, but are not in the cleanest condition. It could be that the previous student spilled oil -again- for the 43rd time and he's fed up about that.
suff wrote:
Wed Sep 05, 2018 11:10 am
- Last lessons practiced climbs and descents. I probably only did two or three of each in the hour lesson. I felt like most of the time was spent flying away from the airport and back.
Not necessarily his fault. In Canada there seems to be a consensus you can only learn to fly in a practice area, so most schools have to fly to that patch of airspace to practice the maouevres.
suff wrote:
Wed Sep 05, 2018 11:10 am
- Texting the office once while climbing out, and often during the ground briefing.
Seems to be a big no-no. Emergencies happen, but multiple times over 3 lessons? Most likely excessive.
suff wrote:
Wed Sep 05, 2018 11:10 am
I definitely do not feel like I'm being strung along for my money. The instructor is not focused on building time himself either. I just watched some youtube videos of flight instruction and noticed there was a lot more explaining and teaching going on. I feel too often I am flying straight and level in silence. Is my experience normal? Should I look for another flight instructor?
Are you asking questions? He might just be trying to please you. A lot of students don't like in depth ground briefings and consider it a waste of time. Maybe he has had complaints about that before, so he might be sticking to the bare minimum.

I'd say your first issue is the biggest one, followed by the cell phone usage.
---------- ADS -----------
  

B208
Rank 7
Rank 7
Posts: 694
Joined: Sat Apr 26, 2014 11:00 pm

Re: Should I find a new instructor, or is this a normal first few lessons?

Post by B208 » Fri Sep 07, 2018 10:42 am

suff wrote:
Wed Sep 05, 2018 11:10 am
- Instructor often still starts the engine, shuts down engine, does the dead mag check and taxis etc... I've taxi'd briefly and started the engine twice. I have not taken off or landed.
The student should be starting engine, shutting down engine and taxiing from an early stage. Landing comes a bit later
suff wrote:
Wed Sep 05, 2018 11:10 am
- Often does not set the altitude pressure or the heading before a flight.
Did they require setting? Often the altimeter setting does not change between different flights on the same day.
suff wrote:
Wed Sep 05, 2018 11:10 am
- Does not say "Clear" before starting the propeller. Not sure if this is important?
That's more a technique than a standard
suff wrote:
Wed Sep 05, 2018 11:10 am
- Usually 10 - 15 minutes late as he has another student before me.
This should not happen. Best option is to speak to your instructor about it. Escalate if required.
suff wrote:
Wed Sep 05, 2018 11:10 am
- Ground briefing is very repetitive of my readings.
Could just be making sure that you are well prepared for the flight. While not optimal it is preferable to the instructor that just tosses the students into the plan with little or no PGI.
suff wrote:
Wed Sep 05, 2018 11:10 am
- Very little feedback while I have the controls. I've gotten a "good" once or twice. Otherwise I have no idea how I'm doing at all.
I generally train instructors to make minimal comments while the student is at the controls. This is to prevent the student from being distracted from the task at hand. More experienced instructors will provide more verbal coaching while the student is flying, but overall good instructors are pretty quite while the student has the controls.
suff wrote:
Wed Sep 05, 2018 11:10 am
- I noticed aircraft is leaking oil, wasn't very concerned and very briefly checked the oil level.
All aircraft leak a bit of oil. The level of concern is proportional to the size of the leak. Without seeing what your instructor saw I can't judge what he did. I would, however, ask you to consider that his life also depends on the serviceability of the aircraft and he knows it. He is therefore unlikely to do anything truly stupid.
suff wrote:
Wed Sep 05, 2018 11:10 am
- Last lessons practiced climbs and descents. I probably only did two or three of each in the hour lesson. I felt like most of the time was spent flying away from the airport and back.
Depends what airport you're at. When I taught at Toronto Island it took us 10-15 mins transit time (each way) to the practice area.
suff wrote:
Wed Sep 05, 2018 11:10 am
- Texting the office once while climbing out, and often during the ground briefing.
Not acceptable. Speak to the instructor about that and escalate to the CFI if required.

Overall it sounds like you have a new and young instructor, (which is the majority of the flight instructor cadre these days). Speak to them about your areas of concern and if you don't get satisfaction take the issue to management.
---------- ADS -----------
  

User avatar
pianokeys
Rank 4
Rank 4
Posts: 284
Joined: Mon Feb 22, 2010 9:35 pm

Re: Should I find a new instructor, or is this a normal first few lessons?

Post by pianokeys » Fri Sep 07, 2018 11:38 am

Listen to what youre telling us.
suff wrote:
Wed Sep 05, 2018 11:10 am
I'm not entirely confident I'm getting the best instruction

Usually 10 - 15 minutes late as he has another student before me.

Texting the office once while climbing out, and often during the ground briefing.

I just watched some youtube videos of flight instruction and noticed there was a lot more explaining and teaching going on. I

Should I look for another flight instructor?

I don't have a bottomless pit of money to pursue aviation.

This was the cheapest instructor/plane in my area.
If youve thought these thoughts, youve already told youself you need a new instructor. Ideally, it would be a wise idea to do a disco flight with two or three instructors/schools to get a good feel and save yourself money.

You dont want to pay another instructor to work out the bad habits the previous instructor taught you.

Bail.
---------- ADS -----------
  

User avatar
youhavecontrol
Rank 4
Rank 4
Posts: 285
Joined: Thu Jul 27, 2017 8:17 am

Re: Should I find a new instructor, or is this a normal first few lessons?

Post by youhavecontrol » Fri Sep 07, 2018 11:32 pm

It doesn't sound like he's all that great, unfortunately. Sometimes new instructors forget to let the students do things on the ground, or give feedback unless the flight is awful. Questions like, "can I do that?" or "how was that?" might go a long way. Have you talked with him about any of this?

From what you mentioned, here's my take:

- Instructor often still starts the engine, shuts down engine, does the dead mag check and taxis etc... I've taxi'd briefly and started the engine twice. I have not taken off or landed.
He definitely should be giving you as much of the aircraft control as possible for the ground checks at this point.

- Often does not set the altitude pressure or the heading before a flight.
That's odd. Perhaps he just glances at the altimeter to see if it matches the current elevation.

- Does not say "Clear" before starting the propeller. Not sure if this is important?
Yes it is, or at least it should be. Definitely good airmanship to look outside, call "clear prop" and give a moment before you start.

- Usually 10 - 15 minutes late as he has another student before me.
That's very common. Flight times can be hard to predict and often if a student has questions in the de-brief, it's not easy to just ignore them because you have to go on another flight.

- Ground briefing is very repetitive of my readings.
Your instructor might not be very good at judging how well you know the material.

- Very little feedback while I have the controls. I've gotten a "good" once or twice. Otherwise I have no idea how I'm doing at all.
He should be giving more. Don't be afraid to ask him for more feedback.

- I noticed aircraft is leaking oil, wasn't very concerned and very briefly checked the oil level.
Where was the oil coming from? Perhaps it was just coming out of an air-oil separator. It's very common, especially after spins or stalls. He really should explain to you why he didn't think it was a concern though.

- Last lessons practiced climbs and descents. I probably only did two or three of each in the hour lesson. I felt like most of the time was spent flying away from the airport and back.
Depending on where you are flying, some airports don't allow you to do any maneuvering during the departure until you get into the training area, which can be far away. There might not be much he can do about that.

- Texting the office once while climbing out, and often during the ground briefing.
As much as possible, it's something that should be avoided.
---------- ADS -----------
  
"I found that Right Rudder you kept asking for."

suff
Rank 0
Rank 0
Posts: 2
Joined: Fri Feb 23, 2018 12:46 pm

Re: Should I find a new instructor, or is this a normal first few lessons?

Post by suff » Mon Sep 24, 2018 12:45 pm

Hello everyone!

I really appreciate all of your replies. I don't believe he is necessarily a bad instructor, but realized we might not be the right fit for each other. I booked a lesson with a different instructor at the same flight school. Wow! My motivation is back. My new instructor is absolutely amazing, I feel like I've learned so much more in the short time I've spent with him already. My first lesson with him, he barely touched the controls. I did my first take off and my first radio call. He was there early waiting for me, and I have never seen his phone out.

My advice to anyone in a similar situation: If you have doubts, try a different instructor to compare.
---------- ADS -----------
  

User avatar
youhavecontrol
Rank 4
Rank 4
Posts: 285
Joined: Thu Jul 27, 2017 8:17 am

Re: Should I find a new instructor, or is this a normal first few lessons?

Post by youhavecontrol » Tue Sep 25, 2018 5:50 pm

Glad to hear the switch went well.
---------- ADS -----------
  
"I found that Right Rudder you kept asking for."

lownslow
Rank (9)
Rank (9)
Posts: 1188
Joined: Fri Mar 07, 2008 8:56 am

Re: Should I find a new instructor, or is this a normal first few lessons?

Post by lownslow » Wed Sep 26, 2018 7:38 am

youhavecontrol wrote:
Tue Sep 25, 2018 5:50 pm
Glad to hear the switch went well.
Ditto. Even if your instructor doesn't seem to have their head up their own ass, there are personalities that can mismatch and it's best to avoid those on something that you're paying by the hour to reach a threshold skill level.
---------- ADS -----------
  

wannaflyguy
Rank 0
Rank 0
Posts: 3
Joined: Tue Jan 22, 2019 9:45 am

Re: Should I find a new instructor, or is this a normal first few lessons?

Post by wannaflyguy » Wed Feb 06, 2019 8:58 am

Wondering what you decided to do.
Your description of your first few lessons sounded like a night mare to me.

I've just started lessons, 3 hours in, I start take off next lesson,
Once the instructor went to adjust the carb,
I asked him to explain what needs to be done and to "instruct" me to do it.
He appreciated my attention and interest.

I'm here to learn, I will take responsibility for my learning.
I know what flight lesson we'll be working on at the next class.
Ask questions, lots and lots of questions.

I'm really enjoying this whole process,
hope you found a great instructor.
---------- ADS -----------
  

Post Reply

Return to “Flight Training”