First day for a cocky pilot

Hey everyone!

I felt like talking about my first day would help calm my nerves and help other people who may end up in my situation.

Today was my first day at KBJC out here in Colorado and I’m happy to say that I love the school. The instructors were happy to answer any questions, the students all helped me find my way around, and the entire atmosphere was conducive to just being a better pilot and person.

Here is where my problems started: I’m cocky to a fault. I’ve always been the best on the field, the smartest in class, and the best in my past career. I turned the store I managed from being one of the worst in the nation to the third most profitable out of 1,700 stores. I was GOOD at everything I did and I kept that mindset going into my first day here at ATP. I expected my first day to be a breeze and I would be a professional pilot right away. It turns out, flying a plane isn’t something you can just be good at. Motion sickness isn’t something you can just get over. Some people don’t have the sickness right away and I truly envy them, but that’s not going to be something that stops me from accomplishing my goals.

Today really did humble me more than anything in my life, and it’s hard. It’s hard not being the best. It should be obvious that I wasn’t going to be the great at something I’ve quite literally never done before and honestly I’m ok with that. I mean, emotionally I’m not ok with that due to the cockiness, but logically I know I have to keep working on this and I’ll get better. I wasn’t able to keep a heading, couldn’t keep level flight, couldn’t complete coordinated turns, and couldn’t keep a constant airspeed. All of maneuvers needed to fly correctly, I couldn’t do. Then, I got hit with motion sickness so hard that I couldn’t safely control the plane. And that’s ok! I have to keep telling myself that I’m comparing my skills and abilities to instructors who are TRAINED to do this. They have experience that I can’t touch right now and they’re prepared for people to have the setbacks that I had today. I have to keep pushing myself to overcome my weaknesses and turn them into strengths and I know that will help me prevail and achieve my goals.

I really wanted to make this post to highlight issues that I know some prospective students (and current) might begin the program with. The cockiness, the overconfidence, the feeling of needing to be the best rather than wanting to put in the work to be the best. This post is to hold myself accountable to understand that I need to work harder than I’ve ever had to in life if I want to excel at this new challenge. I know I’ll be able to do it, I just need to keep reminding myself that it will take time.

I believe in myself and I owe a lot of that to the mentors here. Reading your experiences and advice has definitely motivated me to finish this.

I look forward to being back here with some great news soon!

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Congrats Dominic!

It sounds like you learned a VERY important life lesson today (and not one that only applies to aviation). I’ll spare you my Psych 101 evaluation of your post as this isn’t the proper venue. What is important is what you do now moving forward and what you do with your new found humility. As you progress things will start to click and you may find your inner arrogance returning to its former glory. If it does I promise you it will be short lived. The program gets harder, not easier and you will have good and bad days. This is not a competition to be the best. It’s an education. Further we have several name at the airlines for people who “think” they’re the best. They usually don’t do well. Being a good airline pilot means you’re part of a team and if you’re not you may find yourself stuck as it’s a very small industry. But that’s down the road.

If you’re there to learn and are willing to do the work you’ll do fine. If you waste your energy trying to prove something to someone you will not.



I appreciate your blunt honesty. Whether it’s spoken or not, most people want to believe they know what they are doing and they are good at it. However, flying is unlike anything you’ve done before. You have no prior experience and you’re trying to not only learn stick and rudder skills through hand eye coordination but also general aviation knowledge while trying to keep your body from bringing your lunch back up.

Give yourself a break. Keep this humble attitude and work hard. You’ll find your confidence will ebb and flow. You’ll feel like you’re maverick after your private checkride. Then you’ll get to the instrument phase and realize how horrible you are at scanning the instruments that you can’t keep the plane in level flight anymore. You’ll work harder, learn more and get the confidence back… just in time to get to the commercial phase and be humbled again by your lack of precision during steep turns or a power off 180. You see my point… even at the airlines you’ll continue this process. Feeling like you’re Maverick and then one day you have an absolute slammer of a landing and you’ll feel like you don’t even deserve your wings anymore. :joy:

Don’t worry, you’re in for a lot more humbling experiences.


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Hi Dominic,

Truth be told, the lesson that you learned on your first day will hold true for the rest of your career. We all have good days and bad days. We are all striving to be our best, but flying is not only dynamic but also a diminishing skill. At best, we have good moments, but anything can humble ourselves in an instant.


Adam, Hannah, Tory,

First off, I want to thank you three for the advice and encouragement you’ve given here. I know it gets said a lot, but it’s extremely helpful and I can’t thank you all enough for helping every one of us with this journey. I definitely learned the hard way that learning to fly is a marathon and not a sprint, but it’s coming together finally.

To update my journey, I passed the PAR with a great score, nailed landings within the first couple flights, and just had my solo today! I feel like I’m finally understanding the bare minimums of what it takes to become a pilot.

I start night flights and XC flights this week, check ride is scheduled for about two weeks from today. To say it’s going quick is an understatement. But, if everything works perfectly, I should earn my PPL by the end of the month!

I jumped into this program with way too much confidence and got knocked back real quick. I’ve had to temper my expectations of myself and understand that it will take time and consistency to achieve the goals I’ve set for myself. Hopefully I study and practice well enough to pass my check ride easily, but I know it will take work. I’ll keep this thread updated on my progress just in case other people decide they want to see how the program goes for people with a personality like mine.

Thank you all again for the help!

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Glad things are going well and thank you for the kind words.

Keep it up and keep us posted.


You have a good head on your shoulders. Take training in strides. It only gets harder. So, don’t forget to celebrate after each victory.



Sorry I’m late to the party here from your original post, I’m glad you have rebounded from the feeling you had. Passing the PAR is a good relief of stress, I felt like I saw a difference of students who were studying versus those who completed it through stress of worrying to pass it. Congratulations on the solo and moving ahead, there’s always that one wall that we have to overcome, and you did it, kudos. Keep up the good work and continue to work hard, good things come to those who are patience and have a good head on their shoulders.

Did you get a solo picture, we love to see them! :smiley:



Thank you for the update. It sounds like you are doing well now and I am so happy to hear that. Please keep the updates coming.


Thanks @Brady ! Studying for the tests vs working over them has definitely been a game changer. As for the solo picture… that one may have to be taken after I do my do my second flight tomorrow morning. I got a little caught up with ground immediately after and pushing hard to stay ahead with everything.

Brady and @Chris , I’ll definitely keep pushing for this. It’s been nothing but fun and excitement every day I’m in the plane so it makes it extremely easy to work hard on the “not fun” parts of it. I look forward to being able to give more good news real soon!