The road to becoming a good pilot is largely dependent on your attitude towards your training. When I was a student pilot I had the 5p’s ingrained in my thought process: Pilot Preparation Prevents Poor Performance. Being adequately prepared is a good attribute to have regardless, not just during flight training, but as a pilot it is often underestimated. Think back to your most stressful time as a student pilot, would being prepared have made a difference? Fail to prepare, prepare to fail.
What some student pilots fail to consider is, in the air it only takes one minor distraction or one momentary lapse of concentration for 'you know what' to hit the fan. Fortunately, as a student pilot the majority of the time you’ll spend flying is with an instructor. However, there will come a time when you don't have anyone in the right seat, so you have to get it right from the outset.
One of the biggest challenges you’ll face as a student pilot is stress. The amount of information you are fed when you first begin flying may leave you in a state of hypoxia. Don’t worry we’ve all been there. Take a deep breath. In fact, stress management should be emphasised more than it is in the textbooks; in order to make good decisions in the air you must learn to manage your stress and stay calm. The best way to alleviate stress is really to tackle it head on!
Studying is at the forefront of becoming a pilot and to be honest, it never really stops. A key piece of advice here, start getting into the habit of studying for two to three hours a day as a student pilot. You’ll feel more knowledgeable, you’ll increase your confidence and remember the flight deck is never the best learning area. I can't tell you the amount of times when I was a student pilot and my instructor was trying to teach me VOR navigation whilst I was flying. I recall him saying, “Ok, show me what I just explained to you” and I always drew a complete blank because I was too busy flying the aircraft. This is where the books come in handy, I wish I had read all the books before starting any training. Anything you don’t understand in the book you can find on the internet. You are not alone.
If you plan on having a career as a pilot you have to respect the title of 'Student Pilot.' Everything you learn as a student pilot will provide you with the framework for your future training. The best way to look at this is that you are always a student pilot, you are always learning. If you learn to master the basics at this level it’ll give you the perfect platform for the rest of your pilot career. Preparation is so important, I cannot emphasize it enough, especially at the student pilot level. I used to ask my instructor the plan for the next lesson so I could write it down, go home and study as much as I could prior to my next lesson.
I was going to write a whole new blog about this but one of the most valuable lessons you’ll ever learn will come from other pilots. Surrounding yourself with other pilots can provide knowledge that even the books can't teach, the insight you’ll gain is priceless. Always remember as a student pilot that all the pilots you associate yourself with were in your shoes. A lot of pilots I know love sharing what they have learnt. I’m sure the pilots at your flight school will help you out with anything you ask them. Ask them as many questions as you can.
Always keep in mind that first impressions matter, if everyone knows you’re studying hard and you’re taking training seriously, they will be more inclined to help you with whatever you need help on.
As a student pilot a lot of your lessons are in-flight tests to gauge where your skills are and where your weaknesses are. This is nothing you should ever be ashamed of. I know captains at major airlines that make mistakes. Mistakes make you better as long as you learn from them. You study, you ask questions, you talk to other pilots and you progress.
When I took responsibility for my flight training I bought a calendar, wrote down everything I learned from that week and set goals for the next week. Strive for progress not perfection. In our field you won’t see results overnight but if you set targets and work on them week in, week out, the results will come. Good Luck!