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Learning to Fly in a Week - An interesting article

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Hey guys,


Thought I might share an interesting article that I came across about someone who managed to get their Sports Pilot Licence (US equivalent to RA-Aus) in a week.


The summarised article is:




And the full webblog that he wrote is here:




I'm new here and stumbled upon these forums because I'm planning to go for my RA-Aus licence at the end of this year during my 6 week holiday break. I'm hoping to complete the licence (+ x-country & passenger endorsement hopefully), in that short time. I figured I have a better chance of doing it during that time as I can do it full time and devote everything to getting the licence then (and hopefully have good weather during summer).


I had a lot of doubts about whether that was possible to do in that time, but this article has inspired me. Hopefully I can find an examiner who will share the same enthusiasm as me!



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6 week training.


lazerin, If you drag out your training, It doesn't give you value-for-money, and if you do too much, then you are overloaded and the same applies.


Two 45 minute flying periods a day would very comfortable, with more in the Navigation stages, and having the theory out of the way, in advance saves time. Work 4 or 5 days a week, unless you are in an environment where there is NOTHING else to do. but I would still try to have a break. You should easily do the course in 6 weeks, unless you are disorganised ,or the weather prevents flying for an extensive period. Value for money and a high- quality results are what you want. Nev..



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Guest brentc

Your biggest risk with this approach (aside from the weather) would be the school and their ability to supply you with serviceable aircraft. Try to find a school with a couple of the same aircraft if you can to ensure continuity. I'm aware of a gent who tried this, organised the trip and flights, only to find that the aircraft was un-serviceable for 50% of his expensive 'holiday.'



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I agree with Facthunter. Flying in blocks I think is the best way to to it. If someone only flies once a month (or even once a week) in the initial stages, they don't get into the swing of things. Just as they start to get the hang of something they forget, then have to go over that same lesson again next time. It wastes money.


Doing blocks of training is great because you can really get into an aviation frame of mind, as well as not forgetting the feel of those new-found skills. Two short flights a day is great, and when you are solo that second flight could be solo consolidation.


As well as the flying, you can dedicate your time to theory study, watching and listending to others, and perhaps sitting in on other people's navs.


Once you start doing your own navs the flying will be more tiring so you might need more time to relax. I did some instrument training with two flights per day, maybe a short flight and a nav of up to 5 hours, day and night IFR flying, plus flight planning and theory study. That was too much for me and I was very tired.



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Hi lazarin,


Good luck with whatever training you eventually decide on.


I know for a fact there are some very experienced guys on this site who freely pass on good sound advise, based on their vast experience and are well worth listening to.


Good well absorbed training in the early stages, should should be a great base to build on, for safer flying in years to come.:thumb_up:



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Thanks for all the advice guys, much appreciated!


Nev, I agree with you and feel that cramming it all in a week is probably too intense. Your suggestion of 2x45mins flights per day sounds pretty reasonable. I'll probably be able to do that consistently, weather permitting.


I can't wait till the end of the year. Bring it on!



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I was about 45 when I learned to fly. I found that my hand-brain co-ordination went out the window after about half an hour during the first few lessons, but it got OK after a while. Hope you enjoy the experience.





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Guest TOSGcentral

I am very much in agreement with the advice given but would broaden it a little (as other students will be reading this thread with some interest).



My instructional time spread more or less evenly between course and casual flying so I have seen the pros and cons of both.



The factors you should be interested in are: Continuity of training/money; Establishment of knowledge; & the Weather/Conditions.



Continuity of Training/Money. You will complete the required training faster and save money by having a solid course because you are avoiding the two steps forward one step back scenario between well spaced out single training sessions. Normally two weeks are required for a course (as Nev underlines above) due to efficient volume of training per day.



However you have to manage your training vis a vis subsequent flying and have a plan that will enable you to fly regularly post training. I have seen too many people easily reach the required standard and then not fly for a month or two until they have more money, caught up with the family etc. They then discover that (while they have not forgotten how to fly) they have dropped below the required standard. So it costs them more dual to get back up to speed – it is also a bit depressing!



You are up against the syndrome here of skills learnt quickly have not penetrated sufficiently and therefore fade just as rapidly if they are not consolidated.



In my experience the student who flies casually (providing they fly regularly) turns into the more solid pilot in the long run. True, they are subject to the two steps forward and one step back bit, but the training sinks in and stays in.



The most successful and cost effective way of doing it is (as Mazda moves towards in comment above) get in a solid block of training to get the basic skills and techniques – perhaps the first 5 to 8 hours of the training syllabus. Then tool along for a while flying regularly and let the situation consolidate while still making syllabus progress, getting solo etc. Plan to complete the training in a final solid block for a positive finish as by then you will be coming to the more intricate skill/judgemental areas where continuity is again important.



Establishment of Knowledge. There is generally too little appreciation of the importance of this area and how well it has to be managed. It becomes a critical factor in the school and instructor(s) you select.



I concur fully with comment given above – get your exams out of the way early. Not only are they behind you and not standing in your path as some form of ‘final obstacle’ but you actively need the knowledge that the exams prove you have – and you need that during your training not after most of it!



A pilot is a tight knit combination of skills and knowledge, one facet supporting and complimenting the other. Too often a gulf is left between the two and it becomes a case of most training being practical in the skills area and the knowledge part being just an exam you have to pass.



So students should get hold of a school/instructor that does use the briefing facilities they are required to have, does do pre and post flight briefings, does provide lectures and does have support training literature that you can study in your own time at your own learning rate.



The situation would be easier if instructors (those that do any pre flight exercise preparation) firmly understood that a pre flight briefing is just that – a preparation for what is to be done on the flight that is clearly and concisely outlined in 20 mins maximum – it is not a lecture!



Equally, some knowledge areas do have to be broadened and given in-depth partly because of the size of the individual subject and partly to put the subject in an overall context of the objective being sought. Those are lectures and should be done after the student has finished practical flying training for the day and has a mind that is fully free.



There is no particular advantage between a course or casual instruction in this area – it depends entirely on the efficiency/motivation of the individual school/instructor



Weather/Conditions. The shortcoming of course flying is the restricted time block that it happens in. While this is an advantage in speeding skills progress it restricts the student to a narrow window of exposure to different weather and conditions. This also impacts on exercise flying condition selection.



Ideally the early exercises must be done in calm air and winds. In this way it becomes just the student and the machine, the student being able to clearly see the effect of the various control inputs being made.



Once the student is sure that doing A results in obtaining B and confidence in ability is rising then they may (and should) be flown later in the day as conditions become more convective (bumpy) and the student is able to ‘read’ the air through the control inputs required.



If, when trapped in a set time window of a course, there are days of unflyable weather then there is pressure to press on and get as much done as possible in the time remaining. The student may be flown in totally unsuitable conditions for their standard and, while certainly flying, are just not getting value for money and progress could even be impeded.



This can happen not just by circumstance but also be deliberate selection on the part of the school. I will tell you a short story!



One particularly sad case that came to me was about to give up and was a real mess. He classed me as his last resort. He was not short of a quid and had initially booked a solid course to get him going once he decided to start.



The school had regular customers who got in some training prior to work as the airfield was right on the edge of town. Therefore the guy I got had been deliberately held off until later in the day by which time conditions were far too rough for effective teaching. So he was given long semi-cross country jaunts that were enjoyable but from which he learnt little in syllabus progress terms.



This all came to an end when the instructor lost a landing in an extreme cross wind and damn near totalled the Lightwing they were flying.



Somewhat sobered, my guy bought his own Lightwing, hired an instructor to teach him, and began operating the flying training off his own strip. Something similar happened and control was lost on take-off and the aircraft went, semi stalled, through a fence and also was damn near totalled.



So he was in a mess, certainly confidence wise, when he came to me and discussed the scenario of my getting his aircraft flying and assessing whether he would ever make a pilot. The poor bastard thought (or been told) it had all been his fault!



Once under a sensible training regime, flown in sensible conditions etc etc. I put his confidence back together and he turned out to be a very steady pilot, became a leading light in his small club and had many happy years with his Lightwing – that he never broke again!



All of that was down to two instructors initially flying students in conditions beyond their capability and terming the act ‘normal ab-initio training’!



So the student flying casually over a period of time has it all over the course student. They will be exposed to a variety of conditions and so the thinking instructor will (between flights etc) point out how to ‘read the sky’ before they ever go into it. Identify clouds and what is causing them. Estimate upper winds vis a vis surface winds. Predict how a day will turn out etc. This is forging the Airman, not just a pilot, but you have to start somewhere!



In the casual training environment there can be also more choice on when to fly and arrange the training scenario for a good match of skills and knowledge.



Typically I was often faced with early morning fog that I knew would not persist but plenty of light. So we would pre-flight and then do some work on airworthiness or structure knowledge or perhaps have an ‘informal lecture’ on some of the oddities of flight to broaden the students knowledge base while interesting them but not taxing them.



Then we would have a pre-flight brief, fly the exercise and continue until the air became counter productive. The student was then rested and perhaps given a formal lecture as appropriate and sent home with homework to do to prepare for the next session.



Plenty of progress, good value for money and a rapidly broadening combined skills/knowledge base!



Geographic elements must also be considered. Most people think the summer is the best time to learn to fly. This may be true in the southern states but in Queensland the winter has far the better consistent flying conditions while the summer typically produces a very small daily smooth flying training window and the day rapidly deteriorates into quite savage convective turbulence.



Cross Country Training On Courses. Finally, a few words on this area.



I totally refused to undertake combined courses of ab-initio and cross country in one hit! I had good reason. I was/am primarily an instructor and although making my living out of it I would rather go hungry than take money for the sake of taking money.



Ab-Initio and Nav training are two separate things. In the former you want the student engrossed with the various dimensions of aircraft control and consequent procedures. Certainly the student’s general orientation is important to this but where the aircraft goes and knowing where it is relative to the airfield needs to be a very simple exercise.



In cross country Nav the exercise is primarily mental and management – you have to be able to fly the aircraft automatically with little or no conscious thought. You are not at that stage when you complete the ab-initio phase, you still have to concentrate a fair bit on flying the aircraft and that will distract you from the concentration on the Nav management bit.



So I wanted to see post graduate students with at least 10 hours command time under their belt before starting Nav. Even then there was a lot of ground preparatory work and I introduce the training by a very simple local Nav to primarily prove that the in-cockpit management can be handled while dealing with simple map reading and course keeping. With any rough edges knocked off that were discovered it was worth going on the more expensive exercises with a high chance of success first time.



You cannot do that sort of thing if half the student’s attention is being applied to just maintaining control of a heading!



Sorry for yet another long post but it is always worth pointing out some of the background considerations to what is often too superficially dismissed as not consequent, or is not even realised is present.









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Guest Cloudsuck

G'day Lazarin,


I completed my basic RAAus Pilot Cert in just under 6 weeks (21 flying hours) and did my PPL in 4 months (another 30 hours, should have been shorter). Emersion in training is the best way to go for sure. Good luck with it all.





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Tony, thank you for taking the time to write such a thoughtful and informative reply. I will certainly take all of that onboard and much of it resonates well with my thinking as well.


Cloudsuck, that's great to hear. 21 flying hours is quite impressive, no? I'm often told that the RA-Aus minimum requirements is hardly ever achieved. Good on ya for proving that wrong!



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Guest Cloudsuck

Thanks Lazarin, in actual fact I did it in 20 hours, the 1 hour was the flight test at the end. Good to hear you are motivated, I wish you all the best.





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Guest ozzie

I remember reading in the papers during the pilots strike years ago when Bob Hawk said 'any mug can learn to fly in a week'.006_laugh.gif.0f7b82c13a0ec29502c5fb56c616f069.gif



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Hawks may be able to but the Peacock wasn't so succesful. Anway they both finished up as feather dusters as far as politics is concerned.



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Guess it depends on what's meant by learn to fly in a week. Technically speaking - you have 'learned to fly' once you are PIC. You are technically PIC on your solo. I've seen several GA students solo on their 5th day of training - @ 10hrs TT. So, that fits the criteria for learning to fly in one week.


happy days,



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Interesting read that article. Personally I don't think my instructor would have let me go solo if I couldn't taxi in a straight line, but maybe he did manage that on day 4.


The hours he completed were about the same as what you'd go through to get an RA-Aus license, just all squeezed into a week.


Personally my physical limits for what I could do in a day were a lot lower - about 2 hours max - 1 in the morning, 1 in the arvo. Mind you I was getting airsick most of the time so others may find it easieri_dunno



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  • 3 weeks later...

Guys thanks for all of the info.


I have just completed my training with Airwings in Narranderra. Wally is a great and paitent teacher no question is to hard or stupid just ask.


I had never flown a small plane before I started, I completed everthing in just over a week this included initial training, radio and x country i have only 3 hours left for passenger training was hard but going in prepared was good.


Some people may shoot me down for the next comment but I had been using Flight simulator X with a combination of Joystick, Yoke, Rudder pedals and throttles yes I could have flown large jets but there are ultralights available. the only thing I now realize that I was missing is the tactile feel.


Study is the best I read ,read and re read the manuals and had a good understanding before I got there, read these forums as tony (previous post) said listen to other peoples experiences.


Best of all know your own limits. and don't forget the reserves....


now let the learning begin.







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