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Training Frequency

I subscribe to a newsletter published by Sarah of Think Aviation, and last week she wrote about how she felt flying the Q400 after about a month off (behind the airplane), and the importance of flying regularly if you want to be comfortable and competent in the airplane. This got me thinking about my own students.

Sarah's suggestions are totally valid for certificated pilots, but even more true for students--and more true still for early-stage students. I have students who fly about once every two weeks. Their progress is slow, and it's frustrating for them. It's not a lack of aptitude or ability. They just lose too much over two weeks. Every time in the airplane feels like the 3rd flight. I have another student who is flying with me three days a week. It's scary how fast he's improving.

I'm sympathetic to the problem that flying is expensive, and that the flying budget has to be controlled. So what to do? If I was to give one piece of advice on how to spend the budget, I'd advise students to push for higher frequency training until they're ready to solo. Once you're flying solo, at least some of your flying can be done without instructor and therefore about 40% cheaper. If flying twice a week for your whole PPL is too much, fly with your instructor twice a week until you solo, then once a week thereafter (with solo flights in between), then once a week during the XC phase. You'll end up with your license a lot sooner and be able to put more of your flying budget to airplane rental and less towards instructor time.

Geoff Rapoport

Safety and Training

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