11 thoughts on “Airplane Private Pilot Syllabus and Lesson Plans

  1. Two comments from a defrocked (expired) CFI: The AFD or equivalent should probably be on your equipment list in addition to sectionals etc. because of comment 2: Some CFI’s I have known have a policy of never actually going to the airport that the student plans, and always make up a reason for a diversion. If one has a print out of the airport and info for destination only, they are left with limited resources to come up with info about their diversion airport without the AFD. Diversions put hair on the pre-solo-XC student’s chest by making them do some figuring and planning in the air, a useful skill in the real world of VFR flying. OK one bonus comment – every student should read the AOPA pilot article “A Flight of Mistakes” about the ADIZ bust as a cautionary tale.

  2. I just started my instrument training and am going through my instructor’s own materials, which happen to be excellent.
    I find that having the following two sections spelled out is really helpful:

    Why is skill XYZ important?
    Common Mistakes

  3. 32 Papa-
    While I found the “flight of mistakes” article was good reading, I actually think that it encourages the wrong conclusions to be drawn. Those guys were so inept and incompetent that one might (rightly) conclude “That would never happen to me!”
    Yet stumbling into an ad-hoc TFR seems pretty easy if you don’t get a briefing or check online for TFRs….especially during the NFL season! The same logic can be applied to many risky situations.
    The human mind just isn’t developed to deal with non-qualitative risks. Accepting, understanding and being mindful that bad judgement and occasional incompetence are problems that affect EVERYONE seems to me to be one of the only ways to teach risk avoidance…whether it’s in aviation, engineering, or any other discipline.
    Any time you hear that inner voice say, in what seems to be perfectly rational logic, “But that won’t happen to me because…”, it should be a wake-up call…

  4. I agree that the “it won’t happen to me because…” is the single most dangerous thought in aviation. The conclusion drawn from that article is more of a “how to do almost everything wrong and still live through it” kind of thing. I disagree about student pilots not going solo XC to an unfamilier airport. The airport should be a benign one, but if they don’t do it during training, how does that prepare them to be a private pilot?

  5. Definitely agree with 32 Papa about “getting familiar with being unfamiliar” while a solo student. If there was one thing that I found difficult before (and after) getting my PPL, it was things such as entering a busy uncontrolled pattern with which i was unfamilliar. I think it would be unfair to students if they aren’t exposed to those kinds of situations during the (statistically) safe time of being a student.

  6. I am as novice to flying as GW Bush is to eloquent speech. How does it cost for an absolute beginner to learn to fly? Where are some of the facilities that offer such lessons? Apperciate all your input!

  7. Jim: Absolute beginner? Figure 60 hours times $100/hour = $6000 plus another $500 for misc. expenses. Any small airport should have a flight school. Ask the local airplane owners who are some good instructors in your region. An ideal person to ask is someone who has been flying for three years or so and has just finished an instrument rating. (The true old timers don’t know any current instructors.)

  8. Yet stumbling into an ad-hoc TFR seems pretty easy if you don’t get a briefing or check online for TFRs….especially during the NFL season! The same logic can be applied to many risky situations.

    Urgghhh… the stadium TFRs are NOT on the briefers’ screens! Pilots are just supposed to know when there’s a game. I fly gliders out of Boulder, Colo., and our airport is just inside the 3NM TFR radius from the University of Colorado’s stadium. Fortunately it’s pretty obvious on the ground in Boulder when there’s a football game on, but if I were approaching as a transient pilot I would have no idea.

  9. EDZ- Heheh… didn’t you know that all Colorado pilots are supposed to be sports fans? I fly from BJC a bit and can tell immediately when its football day by all of the jets that come in for the game.

    Anyhow, Phil the one thing that jumped out at me about your lesson plans is how much time they are scheduled for. Having many of these wouldn’t have fit my schedule too well. What I suggest doing is having shorter lessons available for each of the skills covered in the long lessons.

    I think it’s fantastic that you aren’t taking the typical approach used by so many flight schools of always going to the practice area and flying in the same 40nm box. I’d also suggest getting the students under the hood as soon as they have the four fundamentals down. My primary instructor did this and I found my precision on the controls soared as a result.

  10. Jim,

    It’s probably 10-12 thousand dollars to get a private pilot certificate.

    The average pilot is in the 70 hour range when they take the checkride. There are also a lot of ancilliary costs. Ground school, books, knowledge test fee, examiner fee, supplies (headset, logbook, etc), and so on. Also, there’s a lot of ground instruction.

    Where I teach, we have stage checks, which don’t really add to your skill set as much as they are a QC check before progressing to the next level.

    WHERE you learn also affects the cost. Learning in Iowa is probably cheaper than training at my airport (KSNA). But people who learn at SNA come away with a much greater ability to deal with complex airspace, rapid-fire ATC, and other aspects of flying in an intensive metropolitan environment.

    Whatever the cost, I can tell you this: it will cost more in the future than it does now, so if you’re so inclined, I say “go for it!”.

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