Confidence.

WhiskeyTango

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Guys,

Along with some of my recent student questions, I'd like to ask you guys about confidence.

I recently started flying again as a student. I had accumulated about 25 hours 8 years ago and decided it was time to finish. My instructor was ready to let me go again after about 3 flights and I told him I wanted him onboard for one more before I solo'd.

I solo'd again last week.

I asked my instructor tonight while we were taxing about whether he still gets a little nervous. He said only in really bad weather. I always have this nevousness when I am headed to the airport. When I am solo, I feel like I am 12 years old and stealing the family car.

Tonight we did some more stuff but had some serious crosswind and I called it a night rather than going out on my own. The instructor believes I am 'well within the safety margins' but I'm not quite sure I believe in myself 100% yet.

I make all of my landings under different circumstances fairly well, I can complete the various maneuvers safely and accurately, and I understand what is going on for the most part. Yet, I have this nagging feeling that I am going to go off and do something really stupid or get lost or not be able to handle something.

Maybe because I know that I am nowhere near knowing it all, but these guys are letting me fly their planes.

Does that feeling ever go away or is it a good thing? Seems like maybe somewhere in the middle would be best. Keep you alive and studying but not too jittery.

Thanks for any insight you can provide.
 

bigD

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I've been there too, man. I was always both nervous and excited when soloing for the first few times. I remember firing up the little 152 and noticed that my feet were shaking on the rudder pedals. At first I thought it was just the vibration from the airframe, but soon realized it was ME! Heh - but like you said, I never felt necessarily unsafe - just a little curious why the flight school would trust some 16 year old punk like me with their airplanes.

Just remember that your instructor wouldn't have signed you off if he didn't have confidence in you, and that I'd bet EVERYONE was at least a little nervous when they started soloing. I know I was.
 

jaybird

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I can relate to how you used to feel. I had some of the same emotions when I first started through my CFI training. It will go away with experience. Fly as much as possible and as often as possible. As I remember it was the long breaks that would make it worse. Around 500 hours is when I felt most comfortable. I feel the only things that bother me now are weather and mid-airs.
 

bobbysamd

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Building confidence

You'll find that you'll gain more and more confidence as you take the airplane out solo. I remember when I soloed. My instructor sent me out for three touch-and-goes in the pattern. Pretty standard solo. I was whooping it up like crazy, but I was nervous. I remember my first landing. I remember gaining a little more confidence with each takeoff and landing. My confidence increased as I took the airplane out to fly on local solos.

What happens when you solo is you've received enough training to fly the airplane alone safely but you haven't developed enough insights into what you're doing to really and truly understand what you're doing and to feel comfortable with it. Doing it alone without your instructor breathing down your neck provides the opportunity to work everything out for yourself and to begin to believe in yourself.

My instructor told me that at solo you really have learned all there is about flying, BAI notwithstanding. That was simplistic, but made a great deal of sense if you think about it. You have learned to take off and land the airplane, you have learned flight at critically slow airspeeds, and you have learned to maneuver the airplane by reference to ground objects and to correct for wind. You have learned the four fundamentals, i.e. climbs, straight-and-level, decents and turns. You've learned elementary pilotage by learning how to fly to and from the practice area. Maybe you've tried VOR as well. These are the rudiments. Everything you will learn from here on out is amplification and refinement of these basics of flight.

Have fun with your solos.
 
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dmspilot00

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BAI

What the heck is BAI? I keep seeing it on this forum, and have never heard of it anywhere else.
 

bobbysamd

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BAI defined

BAI is Basic Attitude Instrument. You are introduced to it during your Private and it is the first part of the Instrument course. In BAI you learn how to control and maneuver the airplane by sole reference to the basic six-pack of instruments on the panel. At the end of the phase you will have practiced the Patterns A, B and C in the Instrument Flying Handbook. At a 141 school you'll be given a stage check. Then you'll move on to radio navigation.

Hope that helps.
 

Rooster

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I have found that I gained much more confidence when I had opportunities to fly with more experienced pilots. When I was working on my private, my instructor took me on an early morning charter flight in a bonanza. It had a storm scope in it and we got to circumnavigate some thunderstorms.

Another time, I was an instructor getting checked out in a Barron so that I could give training in it. The guy checking me out showed me a simulated engine failure at cruise and then went into a forty five degree steep turn to show me what the airplane could do. In all of my training I was always taught to use shallow bank angles with engine failures. Never would have tried it by myself, but now I had a better idea of the capabilities of the airplane.

Another time flying for a regional I was an F.O. in a SA-227. We got into some serious turbulence as far as I was concerned. I never experienced anything like it. I looked at the captain and he didn't look a bit concerned. We talked about it and he said that it was common in this area and that he had flown in worse turbulence.

I have found that I gained alot from flying with guys who had seen it before.
 

aero99

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Quote from Whisky;
"Tonight we did some more stuff but had some serious crosswind and I called it a night rather than going out on my own. The instructor believes I am 'well within the safety margins' but I'm not quite sure I believe in myself 100% yet."

Bravo Whisky!


I think this is the most important part of your original post. KNOW YOUR LIMITATIONS! Don't get into a situation where an instructor sets your personal limitations. There is nothing wrong with saying " I don't feel comfortable with a 9 knot cross wind". It may be well within the limits of the airplane, your instructor, or the FBO's rules, but you should set your own limitations with what you are comfortable with.

This is what makes a good safe pilot.

As you gain more hours your limitations and confidence will rise and you will be a better pilot.

I remember I was scared silly on my first solo. What was odd was that as soon as the instructor left, the fear left and I just did what I was supposed to do. That one flight was probably the biggest confidence booster I ever had.
 

Saabslime

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I agree with Aero99. Of course its natural to be nervous on your first solo, everyone is. But don't ever stop listening to that little voice in the back of your head. It will save your life one day.
 

WhiskeyTango

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Glad to hear a lot of you have had similar experiences. I think the confidence will come with more time, more exposure to new situations, and more study.

In some ways, it has been like starting all over again. I think you're right, Aero99: Always err on the side of safety.
 
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