Feeling Overwhelmed

Hello. I’m new to the forum. A little about myself; I’m 28 and live in NJ. I currently work in the railroad industry, and looking into becoming an airline pilot. I’ve always loved traveling, and this career can take you to some amazing places! I’m feeling kind of overwhelmed though. I had my 10th lesson toward my PPL today. I go to a small Part 61 school. Flying is quite a bit more difficult than I expected going in, and I’m not a “natural” at it unfortunately. I also feel very tired after my lessons. There is so much that has to be managed and coordinated at once. You also can’t focus on any one thing for too long, or you’ll miss something critical that’s going on. The requirements for an airline job still seem kind of daunting to me as well. The field is a tough barrier to entry. I guess it’ll start getting “easier” eventually once I have more experience flying.

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Matthew,

The mentors will chime in soon but as a private pilot I can only suggest you take it all in and make the safest decision for you. Unfortunately flying is not for everyone as you can get saturated with information at some point and you have to overcome it BUT if you have the drive and will and you study while not at the airport and take the time to keep at it you will get the hang of it.

Just remember flying is challenging as we are moving in a 3 dimensional world versus driving straight/back, left/right.

I know this wont make sense but it does get harder and it does get easier and what I mean by that is once you get the hang of everything it comes easier but flying single pilot is very tedious as you have everything going on and you no longer have an instructor with you helping you along the way. So maybe get a picture of you cockpit and go to staples to blow it up and chair fly as much as possible to try and overcome the challenges you have.

Matthew,

I’m not sure where everyone got the idea that flying was easy? While it’s not rocket science there’s a reason why most people who start training never even earn their PPL. The fact is not everyone can or should be a pilot, let alone an airline pilot.

The one thing you don’t mention is how often you’re training? You state you’ve had 10 lessons. If those 10 lessons were over a few weeks (maybe flying 2-3 times a week) I’d be concerned. If they were spread over months then of course you’re overwhelmed. There’s a reason the airlines and the military train every day. Flight training is built one skill upon the last and consistency must be a part of that training or you’re just wasting time and money.

Adam

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Matthew,

Welcome to the forums. I would not describe myself as a natural at flying either. It took me a long time to really get acclimated to flying and to feel comfortable in the airplane. After ten lessons, I would not expect you to feel overly comfortable after just ten lessons, but your comfort level should be starting to rise soon.

Take a look at the FAQ section as there is a lot there that will benefit you.

Out of curiosity, what do you do in the railroad industry?

Chris

Matthew,

Feeling overwhelmed in the beginning stages is normal. It’s too early to be getting discouraged. Also, I don’t think anyone is a natural when it comes to flying. It’s also not easy. If it were easy than anyone could do it.

Tory

Thanks for replying. I’m a Conductor on a freight railroad. I’m not flying as much as I would like though. I get two days off per week, so I try to schedule lessons on my days off. My instructor has 70 other students, so he is often booked. Weather also cancels some lessons. Sometimes I’m only flying once a week if that.

70 students? :face_with_monocle:

I’m not flying nearly as much as I would like. Due to weather and my instructor’s availability, sometimes I only get to fly once per week. I do see that flying consistently is key to skill retainment and progression. I was thinking about ATP. The program truly immerses you in aviation. I don’t think I’ll be able to work on the railroad and still attend the program however. Well, I do have savings so maybe I’ll take the leap.

I’m hoping you meant to say 7 students.

No wonder why you feel the way you do. If you only have two days off per week with an instructor that has a full schedule, I can’t imagine that you’re flying each opportunity you get. It’ll be a long time before you get your private with your availability. I recommend reserving a minimum of 3 days a week for training. Aviation needs to become more of a priority. If it doesn’t, life will prevent you from ever achieving your goals to become a pilot. I’ve seen it time and time again.

Tory

Matthew,

That’s why I asked the question. When I started flying it took me nearly 2yrs to get my PPL. Same situation as you (and frankly as most who try and train part-time). It was frustrating, expensive and did little for my comfort and confidence. When I made the decision to fly professionally I knew I couldn’t go the same route. This is not a sales pitch for ATP but just imagine trying to get your PPL, Instrument, Multi, Commercial, and 3 CFIs at the pace you’re going now. You’ll be 40 by the time your done!

Not trying to dissuade you but if you’re instructor is too busy and you only have a couple of days off a week perhaps you should stop and regroup. I’m sure you want to keep flying but training sporadically takes you one step forward and two back. It won’t belong before you get frustrated or simply think it’s not worth the expense. Maybe wait till you have some vacation and can fly 2 weeks straight to get a solid foundation or at least until the weather at improves.

Adam

Matthew,

Sounds to me like you need to fly at a school where you can fly more consistently. Seventy students is a lot, I have no idea how your instructor would manage that case load.

No matter what school you go to though, only having two days off per week is going to make flight training take a very long time.

Chris

Hi Matthew,

I’m in a similar boat with you. I’m in my fourth week at ATP and have a decent amount of hours and take offs and landings under my belt already. While the overwhelming feeling is dying down, my flight control coordination has me concerned. While I can fly the plane, I have insanely bad habits of staring at my instruments vs flying VFR. My instructor isn’t getting it into my head to keep my eyes out the window and I feel it’s up to me to force that. I’m hoping my coordination will get better with that.

My point is, I feel a bit worried about my skill as well, but I keep trying to tell myself that 20-25 hours isn’t much in a plane. Plus, it’s hard to judge when I haven’t had many hours maneuvering the plane and have been doing pattern work for many of those hours. Not to mention the lower density altitude that comes and goes in my area throws me way off with such a drastic performance increase.

Hopefully things will get better with time.

PS: the overwhelming feeling will die down. I was very worried about that as well, and I mean very worried, to the point I thought I couldn’t overcome it. But as hours passed, my brain kinda got acclimated to all the moving parts. Once you get past that and are confident in coordinated flight (my lacking part) you’ll be good.

Matthew,
I want to jump in on this as a Jersey guy we need to look out for each other. I started flight lessons at 15 because my parents were willing to indulge my desires to learn rather than wait a bit when I would be closer to the minimum age to solo (16) or get the PPL (17). The result was a slow, protracted process that took more hours (read: money) and was more disjointed than it needed to be.
Two things:

  1. Get the time issues resolved and make sure that it is only time and not just money. When I instructed a long time a go, too many students were holding back due to finances, not the lack of time. Flying is expensive, you know that. If you can’t pay for your lessons out of pocket to the tune of three flights a week (my guess about $600-$700 per week) than save until you can do it all toward at least each license or rating.

  2. Make sure the flight school and instructor are working FOR YOU. There is a lot written here and other places about how and what to look for, but understand, your instructor while taking your money (and the FBO, renting airplanes) are the tools necessary to get the job done, only you can know if it is affective and you are really learning and not just helping (your instructor) build hours toward flying for some regional airline in the near future. This is a tough one because you may not know your being short changed expecially if you instructor seems to be a nice guy and you get on well with him/her. Just a quick primer, your instructor must give you a pre departure brief about what your doing and what he expects from you over the course of the flight, at the end, you need to be debriefed on how you did, what could have been better, and what to study for the next lesson. If your instructor is meeting you at the airplane, briefing you while taxing out and moving from you right to his next student, you are being short changed big time. Ideally you should get at minimum about 20 minutes (better 30) on the front end, no less than 10 on the back end. All without the clock ticking on the airplane (engine running).

The flying can be tough, you will have peaks and valleys with understanding. Don’t let the system be an issue. Study on your own, ask questions and don’t take, “we can discuss it in the airplane” as an answer. It’s way cheaper to pay your instructor for his time on the ground, without the cost and distraction of an airplane with the engine running. Good luck.

Don

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Hey mathew, everyone on here has awesome advice, i just completed my PPL in november at a local and was in the same boat as you with working full time as well as odd shifts (10pm-5am sometimes). In my experience, i cannot overestimate the value of adaptability, pinch in time whenever possible even if it means leaving a shift 5 am, driving 40 min to the airport and orep for a 2 hour first cross country at 6. The more consistant i was, however that consistancy was made possible, greatly increased confidence. And dont beat yourself up over things like scan or division of attention im sure most of us agree comes with time and are still improving on or practicing everyday at every level. Especially during ifr training.

For students like you I would take a piece of paper and completely cover their instrument panel. You’d be surprised to see how close to on altitude and airspeed they could do at that point with just looking outside and getting a feel for the aircraft. Did maneuvers and pattern work that way many times. All you really need is a horizon and your own two eyes. Our 141 chief pilot was known for doing the same on commercial evals. Just a technique.