Training to become a pilot is a journey that many students struggle with. Avoiding bad habits will help reduce the stress of becoming a pilot. You should always be striving to do the right thing and not make hasty or poor decisions. Here are five bad habits to avoid when training to become a pilot:
1. Taking the Easy Way Out
The “easy way out” mentality is all too common among flight students and even licensed pilots. We have a multitude of tools and gadgets such as GPS technology to make our lives easier while in the air, but we must not forget our basic flight skills such as dead reckoning. You can avoid a potentially dangerous situation by sticking to your roots and being a well-rounded pilot. As pilots, we must not become complacent and rely on the easy way out.
2. Focusing on Landing the “Greaser”
You may have heard some pilots say “Flying is easy, it’s landing that’s hard”. This in principle, is somewhat correct but there are too many students that focus too much on getting the perfect landing. A greaser landing is every pilot's idea of a perfect landing. Although this is a good thing to achieve on any given landing, some students concentrate too hard on trying to achieve this type of landing every time. Always remember the procedures you are taught and concentrate on a safe landing rather than the greaser.
3. Stick and Rudder Mentality
A bad habit that students fall victim to is focusing on the “stick and rudder” aspect of flying and not spending enough time on the knowledge portion. This can significantly delay your licensing. The first part of any check-ride is an oral exam on pilot knowledge. If you do not pass this you will not pass your check-ride. Knowledge is the most powerful tool a pilot can have. It will allow you to make intelligent and calculated decisions in the air to keep yourself and your passengers safe.
4. Tunnel Vision Focus On First Solo Flight
The first solo flight comes with a mix of emotions. You will feel excited and nervous at the same time. Many students want to rush into their first solo and spend a lot of time focusing on the solo. The first solo is a significant milestone for a pilot and it is a testament to the pilot you can become but it’s what you do with all the thousands of hour after the solo that matter the most. If you are struggling on landings pre-solo ask your instructor to skip ahead to a cross country, or take a break and do maneuvers. You can always come back to the solo. Endless hours in the pattern can drive anyone crazy.
5. Not Taking Checklists, Aviation Rules and Procedures Seriously
Aviation rules and procedures are in place to protect you as a pilot and the public as well. Some flight students do not take these rules seriously and end up in a sticky situation. As pilot in command you must ensure you are using checklists and taking personal responsibility for the aircraft to ensure the successful outcome of the flight. You should never be skipping the checklist whether you are a PPL student or an experienced commercial pilot. Many students have failed checkrides because they did not use the checklist. At the commercial level it is a safety control that has to be performed between the pilot and first officer. Missing one switch because you were in a hurry to takeoff could be a very dangerous and expensive slip.
These five bad habits will stunt and delay your journey to becoming a pilot. The best time to get into good habits is during your flight training as a student. Building a solid foundation will help you become a confident pilot that has the ability to make good decisions.