A bit discouraged and need advice

Not sure where to start might be all over the place. Ok so last Sunday I went in to my local airport flight school and took an intro flight. The instructor who took me on that flight is a 23 year old guy. Everything went well up until the point where we were about to land when we hit what I think might have been some turbulence which felt like speeding over a speed bump. I asked him how often this happens and his reply was “I’ve never had that happen before.” That sort of scared me! The airplane we flew in was a 152. Ok so fast forward to the following Friday (yesterday) which was my first lesson. Now before I even went to this flight school I was already worried because they recently had an accident which killed both student and instructor. So anyway yesterday I go in for my first official lesson and as we are doing our preflight my instructor just doesn’t seem to be taking it seriously. He kept leaving me alone telling me to continue down the checklist while he goes do this or go do that. I felt very overwhelmed because he was just going too fast handing me that responsibility this early in training. Ok so then after that we get in the plane do all other checks, and radio comms but he is still going to fast for me to keep up with. It seemed to me like he wasn’t giving really much attention to the fact that he was training me but more like he was just going with his flow as if I wasn’t there. Now I know I’m not the only student this guy has but I don’t want to end up being in an accident because I did not feel confident with my training. So fast forward to take off. As we were climbing the ride got really bumpy. My fear of flying with them went past the point where I just told him to turn around and land this thing. He tried reasoning with me but I just said no I just don’t feel right at this moment to go and practice maneuvers and run the risk of causing an accident so please take us back. So he turned around and landed. We got back to the school I cancelled all lessons that I had scheduled and left. Now thinking back I’m not sure if maybe it was just me or should I be worried that he isn’t taking training me seriously. The airplane plane we flew in this first lesson was another 152 as well but not the exact one we flew for the intro and this one felt different to me. So I’d like to here what your opinion is on this situation.

Good move. Pick another school. It’s your money and you have the right to feel like you’re not being rushed.

Blowing through check-lists is not cool. Any pilot may be fine with heading up with water in the fuel lines or the aileron linkage being loose…but it’s not cool to put another person’s life at risk or damage their learning session through that sort of carelessness. Your FAA examiner certainly isn’t going to let you blow through safety items or checklists so I’d say in all respects your experience was unacceptable. Not calm and organized, they didn’t explain basic flight related/weather related concepts so you can learn what’s “normal” and “not normal” and what the appropriate actions are.

Example, yesterday we had winds gusting to 22 and a solid crosswind - my instructor talked calmly and at about 100ft above ground to land he announced “My controls” and demonstrated the landing. When we got to debrief he explained all that was going on with the winds, crabbing, heavy rudder use that was required etc. I feel that he understands the concepts fully, lets me take on what I am ready to handle, and when I express any reservations he takes over without any hesitation and then we talk through why I was nervous and how to fix it next time.

Take your money and your career elsewhere.

Good luck.


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Good morning James,

Thanks for posting your insights and concerns, I can certainly see how that situation could leave a bad taste in your mouth.

That being said, allow me to throw in my 2 cents from personal, first-hand knowledge (my apologies in advance for the novel that follows!) As Phillip said, you certainly should feel comfortable with your training and instruction, and it is never acceptable to be rushed through that process.

I can tell you, however, that I myself got my PPL at said same flight school (started last summer). During my 11 months of training, I always felt the staff to be extremely confident; they definitely place an emphasis on safety, above all else, and had an impeccable safety record. I would not be so quick to write off the school as Phillip suggests. If you have concerns about flying, before getting back in the air, I wouldn’t be afraid to request to speak with the Chief CFI (V), and explain your concerns to her. Don’t hesitate to ask to train with another instructor, either, all CFI’s do not teach the same way, and it’s very possible you may find you mesh well and learn better from another one of them.

I certainly understand your concern about the accident, as well. I was halfway through my training when it happened; I had completed my long XC solo flight in that exact accident aircraft, and did a solo flight in it, to the accident airport, less than a week before the accident. Did it scare the bejesus out of my when I saw the story on the news and realized what happened? You bet! Did I contemplate quitting or switching to another school? The thought NEVER crossed my mind once.

Accidents, although certainly tragic and disturbing, can happen anywhere, anytime, and at any flight school. As mentioned, this school had an impeccable record, and I would not hesitate to train with them again at all.

One thing you did mention is that the bumps, turbulence, and what you describe was probably wind shear upon landing, made you uncomfortable. I’m not sure if experiencing those events in and of themselves was upsetting, or if it was that combined with your experience on the ground? In any case, bumps, turbulence, etc., DO happen quite often and are a natural part of flying. If you continue your training (and hopefully you do, and have great success!), it’s just something you get used to over time, as your skills and confidence increase.)

I would certainly talk to the Chief CFI as I mentioned and try another lesson or two, perhaps with a different instructor, but at the end of the day it is your time and money and nobody on this forum or anywhere else, can tell you what to do for that matter. You will have to judge for yourself whether you want to continue or not; I don’t want to discourage you, either, but you must leave open the possibility that, after a few additional lessons, you are still very uncomfortable with the weather, you may need to do some self-reflection, and decide if flying is really for you (unfortunately it’s not for everyone, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.)


Exactly. I did feel like I was expected to know how to preflight on the first lesson. Not only that but already we were going to practice maneuvers when I have no clue what to do on the ground yet. I just felt like this was just an accident waiting to happen so I just made the decision stop the lesson.

I hope you don’t go telling on me. Lol

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James, the first couple of preflights the instructor should absolutely go over them in slow detail with you, so that you can learn it while doing it. If I recall, my instructor did two with me, and then I felt confident to do them on my own; only at that time did he send me out to do them on my own.

As scary as it may seem, going right into maneuvers in the first couple of lessons is very normal. Of course, the instructor should not just hand you the controls and tell you to have at it, lol, but they should clearly demonstrate and articulate them to you first (in the air), then let you try them.

One other thing I should have mentioned, even with bumps, turbulence, etc., there is certainly a limit as to the conditions a new student should train in, in order to help them feel confident and certainly not make them uncomfortable.

James, certainly not, lol, you have very valid concerns and as I said being comfortable with your training is paramount as that will help you succeed and build confidence.

I’m actually hoping when I finish ATP to return to that exact school to instruct, so who knows, perhaps we’ll run into each other some day!



Well, nobody can help turbulence or really avoid it for that matter, so that is something you are going to have to overcome.

As far as the instructor, if you are not comfortable with him and do not think that he is taking you or his job seriously, then it is time to move on.

You will probably need to find another flight school anyways as the instructor probably will not want to fly with you again after you made him do an air return.


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It seems like Michael has a pretty good knowledge of the school and has a high opinion of it. Since I don’t personally have experience with that place or the number of instructors, or the personality and character of the lead flight instructor, I would agree that if your options for other schools are limited or you are going to lose a lot of money by moving - maybe go talk to the lead flight instructor first before leaving there.

Also, I should have stated that flight training is a “adult learning environment”, in that the student is expected to speak up anytime they don’t understand, or are uncomfortable with what they are being asked to do. I have faith in my young instructor, however I do not have any reservation about telling him to slow down or repeat himself. If I ever feel he is skipping over important information, or demonstrates ignorance about an aspect of aviation knowledge that I feel I need to know in order to progress in my training or feel safe, I will address him respectfully but directly.

Let me be clear and say that the fact that there had been an accident at that flight school, in and of itself, would not deter me from flying there. Nor am I trying to say that turbulence is something that you should not learn to become comfortable with as a every day fact of aviation. (My flight yesterday was very bumpy!) My concern if I were in your shoes, would be whether or not I thought the instructing staff creates a learning environment where your concerns are taken very seriously. Indeed I would argue that upon your first meeting with the instructor, they should have probably discussed the learning environment in general and that if at any time you are feeling unsafe or nervous, to simply state your concern. Either a quick operational pause can be taken to explain what is going on, Or the instructor can ask that you bring up that concern in debrief. You need to be able to focus on what he or she is trying to teach you and you cannot do that if you are overly anxious about missing key info or are focused on your survival!

If they have plenty of instructors, and the lead instructor gives you satisfactory treatment with regard to putting your fears and concerns to rest maybe you can consider staying there. Need to get the learning environment right though. Part of that is definitely on you though, if you told this instructor that you are concerned with getting done quickly or spending as little money as possible, maybe they are just busting through the lessons as safe as they think they can. If you are willing to move a little slower or need to, then maybe he needs to hear that.

It’s your money and if you are not getting enough out of the lessons, or you leave the lesson not understanding what just happened (and win up needing to repeat things because they were blown by) then that is a problem.

Good luck, and thanks to Micheal for his input too.


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The one thing I found weird is that you went straight to maneuvers the first lesson and not like the 3rd or 4th. That in my opinion shouldn’t be the first. You should be taught the fundamentals, like climbing, descending, and how to fly straight and level. But like someone said, it doesn’t hurt to try and fly with a new instructor.


I’m going to hope that perhaps your lack of confidence in the school and the young instructor (not his fault he’s 23 btw) added to your apprehension. That said as Chris said there’s nothing anyone can do about turbulence and bumps and the fact is some people get used to it, some don’t. I wasn’t there so I’m not going to Monday morning quarterback this instructor. Perhaps he had preflighted the airplane before you got there and didn’t want to waste too much of your time and money on things other than flying and getting you comfortable with the environment since he knew you weren’t after your intro?

You’re call but if you’re not happy then find a school you feel more comfortable with and try again but understand if you come up with another shopping list of complaints it could just be you.




I suggest confronting the instructor about your concerns. The student and instructor need to have a healthy relationship. You coming on here to vent about what happened before having a discussion with your instructor isn’t the right approach. For all you know he is unaware of his behavior and you bringing it to his attention is all he needs to cater to your comfort level.



I’m just curious, what flight school was it?

When I completed my PPL I learned that you may need to try flying with more than one instructor before deciding to undergo training with one as your main instructor, and that is okay.

Fears when starting training are normal. I think most students must confront some fears as you are experiencing a lot of new things. For me I had to confront discomfort when making final approach and the question of whether flying was an appropriate pursuit considering I have three young children. It took time but once they were faced and put to bed, I was able to grow/focus in my training and now have CPL.

You might consider doing a discovery flight or rent the plane for an hour and get a $100 burger somewhere, just to have time to get comfortable. Maybe even seek out some light turbulence. If you want to be a professional pilot your going to need to face these things because a normal part of the job will involve turbulence… at night… in the dark… in the rainy snow.

For now one step at a time.