Real Answers from Real Pilots

Start Date @ PDK 9/28. Will Post Updates During Private Stage Here

As the title of this post says, I’ll be starting at Atlanta’s PDK location the day after tomorrow. I can’t believe the time is finally here… I’m so excited!

This forum has been a great resource to have as I’ve prepared to start school. I feel much more prepared and at ease about what to expect my first week after reading posts from other students about their experiences. I’ll do the same here and use this topic to post my experiences and updates in the comments during the Private stage of my training. I will start a new topic once I reach the Instrument stage and so on.

Any advice/tips are appreciated! Also, if anyone has any questions for me, please feel free to ask.

Amanda

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Amanda,

Thank you for updating us and volunteering to post your experiences while in the program. Those behind you will really benefit from posts like that.

While it is easy to get caught up in the program and start worrying about what is next, remember to slow down and enjoy it as much as possible. After all, you are flying airplanes :slight_smile:

Chris

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First day down! Key takeaways:

  • Come in with all of your electronic paperwork signed and completed. Have all paperwork you need to bring w/ you organized. Check-in will run smoothly if you do this. My CFI was very appreciative when I came in with all of this ready. It was a good way to start the day off.
  • I had three events on my schedule today. Check-in, orientation, and then my first flight. Check-in was just squaring away paperwork, and orientation was done with the training support specialist at my facility (going through Powerpoint orientation slides). Before the flight, my CFI and I completed the Weight & Balance calculations, which is done before every flight. I’m expected to complete the Weight & Balance calculations on my own tonight for tomorrow’s flight.
  • Studying beforehand- I completed the King Schools course beforehand and highly recommend for anyone else starting out to complete this beforehand. ATP only requires completing it up to Communications & Radar Services, but you will need to complete the entire thing to be fully prepared for the first day. Weight and balance is the last unit in King Schools, but I used the knowledge from that lesson on Day 1. Also, definitely come in with a minimum of the Introduction and Operating ATP Aircraft sections done in the Private Pilot guided independent study in Extranet. It would be better to complete all modules beforehand, but a lot of content from those first two sections came up today. Memorize V speeds and Takeoff & Landing checklists from the Piper Archer supplements.
  • The flight- it was my first flight in a GA aircraft, and I had a BLAST. My CFI was super nice & knowledgable. He let me taxi, takeoff, and do some turns. It was a really easygoing & enjoyable flight. I loved it!!! Again, watch all of the videos in the Operating ATP Aircraft section of the Private Pilot independent study in Extranet. I’ll be re-watching a lot of those videos tonight for review.

Don’t be like me and reach for the yoke to steer while taxiing- lol. I kept instinctually grabbing for it while I was using the rudders (it’s weird to not use a steering wheel for turns while on the ground). I put a sticky note on my kneeboard when I got home to remind myself during tomorrow’s flight.

All in all, if was a great first day! I’m excited to do it all again tomorrow! Now, off to study until my head hits the pillow.

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Amanda,

Glad you had a great first day and start. Being prepared is always a good thing.

As long as it’s not too windy (so you don’t need to yolk imput to counter), try simply keeping one hand on the throttle and the other resting on your lap. It’ll help you combat the desire to “drive” the airplane.

Adam

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Amanda,

I remember doing the same thing with the yoke when I first started, you will adjust to that quickly.

Thank you for the update, please keep them coming.

Chris

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Thanks Adam. I’ve added “left hand in lap” to my sticky note. :rofl:

GREAT write up Amanda! Any bit of advice to help the incoming students is appreciated. It benefits the not only students, but also CFIs. The CFIs are very busy. I know they would all love a student as diligent and motivated like you. I admire your tenacity. You’ve really been listening carefully to all of the advice on this forum about showing up prepared and it shows.

No worries about trying to taxi with the yoke. EVERYONE does that. You’ll get over that quickly. There will be MANY first times. Best advice is to embrace each one as a learning experience.

Looking forward to your next update.

Tory

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Thanks for the kind words & encouragement!

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Day 2 update. I wasn’t planning on giving another update today, but I had a humbling experience (the first of many I’m sure) that might be helpful for some to hear. I had a flight scheduled for this morning that was cancelled due to IFR conditions. This was expected, so no big deal. My instructor scheduled me for the flight simulator today as well. The sim was MUCH more difficult than I expected it to be. I thought I had the takeoff checklist down pat- I’d written it down from memory at least 20 times to practice- but when I got in the flight sim, my mind went blank when trying to take off for the first time. I had a really hard time getting the physical motions down and could NOT keep the plane on the centerline. My CFI had to re-start the sim at least three times because I flew the plane off the runway during takeoff, etc. It was surprisingly difficult to steer w/ rudders and yoke during takeoff. I had a really rough start. Definitely didn’t do as well as I’d hoped/expected.

My CFI also had me integrate using the throttle, trim, and flaps during flight before we practice in the real plane tomorrow. Balancing the use of these while also managing airspeed, altitude, attitude, and bank angle during turns was challenging. I felt improvement towards the end of my sim time, but I definitely have a ton of practice and studying to do.

During the post-sim debriefing, my CFI suggested chair flying while studying. I wish it had occurred to me to do that before now. It would have benefitted me much more to recite the checklist aloud from memory and chair fly the physical motions than writing the checklist down from memory did. It was a humbling learning experience! I look forward to the day that these things come naturally.

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Amanda it sounds like you had a great opportunity to see the challenges that are brought upon us during our training and future career. One piece of advice I could give that might help is going through flows with the cockpit layout picture in the back of your training supplement (Cessna or Piper), I used this as I was getting my flows down. You can see and talk yourself through them, like you mentioned about reciting. I used to do this first thing waking up, mid-day, and evening before bed for about a week or so when I first came into ATP, I struggled during my instrument training until I did this (this may work for you also, but we all learn differently). You can also pull up a larger picture on your computer or TV screen through our Extranet which may make it easier to see and flow through.

Your CFI is right about chair flying, it’ll come in use when you’re practicing future maneuvers and flows during your instrument/commercial training. Hope this little advice about using the training supplement cockpit picture during your learning helps a bit!

Brady

The old saying is, “If flying were easy, anyone could do it.” You’re not expected to be a natural. No one is. Flying is not intuitive. The sim, especially, is always harder to fly because it doesn’t feel like the real thing. Even full motion sims don’t feel right.

You will get better with time. The first few weeks are tough.

Tory

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Brady,

That’s a wonderful suggestion- thank you! I hadn’t thought about the cockpit pictures in the back of the supplement. I will definitely be doing that! :grinning:

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“The sim was MUCH more difficult than I expected it to be”

Really? Amanda, really?

I’m going to apologize first as this is probably not what you want to hear but this is (and has been) one of my biggest pet peeves when it comes to new students.

I for one am glad you were humbled by your experience today. Thinking you can step into a flight simulator with literally ZERO experience and somehow believe you’re going to do well is nothing more than arrogance. These are not inate skills and no one is born knowing how to fly. Know why you did poorly today? BECAUSE YOU’RE NOT A PILOT! You think today was bad, just wait till you step into a Level D full motion jet sim with your CPL and 1500 hrs THINKING you know how to fly and then watch that illusion quickly disappear. That my friend is humbling.

Senior airline pilots earn over $350k a year, work 10 days a month and spend their time at work doing something they love. Greatest job on Earth but there’s a pilot shortage? You’d think everyone would want to do what we do. Truth is many do but they can’t. Why? Because it’s hard. REALLY hard. I don’t know what training or experience you’ve had before but I’m willing to bet this will be the most challenging thing you’ve ever done in your life. The good news is you can do it, IF you’re willing to work hard and learn.

Sorry if you thought you’d be a natural or it would be a cakewalk. If you did then today you learned the best lesson of your career. Flying is hard.

Adam

Adam,

I was ready for a sassy response from you. I’ve seen the same comment you’ve given to others. Just to be clear, it being more difficult than I expected doesn’t mean that I expected it to be easy or that I would do well. I knew it would be hard, but I was presented with unexpected challenges that I hadn’t considered beforehand. I learned something I wish I knew prior that would have helped me in preparation, and wanted to share it in hopes that it benefits someone reading this. I’m a lot of things, but arrogant isn’t one of them.

I suppose I should have said, “I expected to be slapped, but I got knocked out”. Lol

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Checking in on Day 4. The theme of the week is… What is sleep? Literally every minute of my day is spent studying when I’m not with my instructor, and even then, I feel like I’m just winging it and trying to stay afloat. I took a short nap after spending three hours flying & in the sim today… Best nap of my life. It was probably the most self-indulgent and luxurious thing I’ve ever done :joy:

Funny anecdote from yesterday… There was a TFR at my airport because the VP was in town, so I had to travel to a different ATP facility for my flight. Hit a pothole the size of a meteor crater when I was getting off of the highway and got a flat tire/dented rim. I didn’t have time to change my tire and make it to my flight on time, so I requested an Uber and literally grabbed my flight bag from the back seat and started frantically running down the shoulder of the highway to reach the exit and meet the Uber. I made it to the airport on time for my flight by the skin of my teeth. Pouring sweat from running a mile loaded down with flight gear and completely discombobulated, but I got there, and that’s all that mattered. I ended up having a great flight (and by great, I mean that I didn’t make any mistakes that were too terribly stupid), so it was all worth it!

My biggest focus this week has been memorizing procedures. Overall, there is a massive amount of information I’m trying to retain and absorb. I feel a bit overwhelmed at times. I did my first landing today and it was perfectly decent. Well, in all honesty, it was a terrible landing, but I did it. Ha!

Sounds like you’re having quite the flight training experience so far…we’re you able to get your car towed to a shop for repairs or is it still on the highway?

It’s been an eventful week for sure! I got a ride back to my car and tried to change my tire, but my spare was low on air (of course!) so ended up having to call roadside assistance. All is good though. There were five other cars on the side of the highway from the pothole and I actually got off pretty lucky. It had taken out three wheels on one of the cars. How does that even happen?

I’m not lying, you could see that pothole from space :joy: It’s the eighth wonder of the world.

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Amanda,

It sounds like things have been eventful, to say the least. I appreciate your desire to be on time, but sometimes life does happen and ATP, and the airlines, will understand when it does. But kudos to you for being dedicated and thank you for the update.

Chris

Amanda,

There would have been no disciplinary actions taken against you if you would have stayed with your vehicle and waited for roadside assistance. The lesson could have been possibly rescheduled for later that day or the next or a makeup day could have been scheduled for this weekend and no one would have blamed you for what happened nor would they have scolded you for not making a “better effort.” Your car was disabled inadvertently.

I applaud you for figuring out how to make it work, but I wouldn’t recommend anyone to do what you did. I also don’t want prospective students to read this and think that this is the kind of determination that is expected to be successful.

Tory

Good point, Tory! Another lesson learned.