Any Rusty student pilots out there?
If a pilot stops flying it's usually not because they fell out of love with it - life get's in the way. It happens for us student pilots as well. What would you do, or what would you suggest a student pilot do to get back into flying and completing their certificate?
6 Replies
I was once a rusty student pilot, I was ready for my checkride when a paperwork issues (that the DPE ended up being partially wrong about) kept me from taking my checkride shortly before my 2 yr ran out.  I was heartbroken and could not go the airport without getting mad for a couple of months after that.  I had chosen the DPE based on his weight at the time I was over 300 lbs and with a Piper Cherokee I had to choose the lighter DPE rather than the one I felt more comfortable with.  

A few years later after losing weight (I am over 100lbs lighter now) I decided to knock the rust off so I went ot a flight school in florida (KingSky they are great folks by the way) who had Piper Cherokees similar to mine.  I was within a couple of hours of being checkride ready when the training plane I was using ereached the 100 hr inspection mark and I caught a horrible cold so I had to come home without a license but much closer to being ready.

Once I got back home and over the cold I started flying my Cherokee again with another instructor, soon I was finally ready for the checkride this time my weight did not force me to hire the smaller DPE (not a bad guy just not the right DPE for me) and I schedueled a checkride with the DPE I wanted to fly with years earlier (not neccesarely an easier DPE in fact some consider him  harder because he is more technical but one I clicked with) and I fianlly got my license.

I know this is a long post but it was the short version of the story  I had every possible problem a student can have but I kept going, most people who start flight training don't finish because life gets in the way, for me their were equipment problems to be fixed (its the nature of aging aircraft) issues with instructors getting jobs and moving away and restarting with someone new, planning a wedding and getting married (to a wonderful women who reminded me I wanted ot get my licens even when I forgot), an armed robery-murder attempt at my business, even a few deaths in the family, life is life and sometimes the univers test our resolve.  Not everyone is a pilot and its not because flying is so hard, anybody can fly an airplane if they take the time to learn it.   Those of us who take our place in the sky are the ones who will not quit no mater what.  Every time we fall down we get back up, every time we stall we recover (nost down wings levil) and keep flying.  

This is not just about flying but EVERYTHING in life, the most succesful people I know have failed far more then everyone else, they keep failing because they keep getting back up again and again and again untill finally they suceed.  Flying an airplane like anything else that take time and effort is well worth the effored.  Calm seas don't make good sailors and those of us who have a tuffer time with the training genneraly become safer pilots. 
Its funny how similar student experiences are! Much like Mr. Lamberts post I ran into some "aging aircraft" issues. I trained mostly in an Archer and the week I had my checkride scheduled the aircraft had gone down for a Major Overhaul and was scheduled to be down for months. Disappointed I looked to other planes that my current flight school had, but they were all Diamonds. It would have taken hours longer to complete my checkride and I just wanted it to be done BEFORE I had to leave state to go to college. I found a smaller flight school 20 miles further from where I lived and they had a Cherokee 180 and thats where I finished my certificate. Of course I had additional hours to fly due to the aircraft change and a whole new wing type but beyond the major change I found something that made me push to the end, and it wasnt the looming departure for college. I had a change of scenery, it wasnt the plane I had spent hours and hours flying in, it wasnt the same wide and smoothly paved runway I had trained on, infact it was a turf strip! I wasnt flying with my instructor who I was so comfortable with, I wasnt going to the same practice area. All of these changes combined showed me, even more, the wonderful opportunities there are awaiting credentialed pilots!

If you have found yourself in a lull, be it via life events, finances, or flying not being a priority any more. I suggest getting with someone who is credentialed and planning a trip. Though I agree with your statement "its not that you have fallen out of love with flying" there is some truth in the statement that you really have. Think of the first day you took your lesson, it was a priority, you wouldnt let anything stop you. If youre not flying now its because you no longer make the time for it. You no longer finance it. You really are beginning to fall out of love with it. Find something to rekindle that spark. Take an adventure. 
I became "rusty" because of busyness and lousy weather. Since then I've gotten "cold feet ". Fear of what ifs. I want to fly so bad. I've got a couple very good pilot friends who have offered to go with me to build up my confidence. Does anyone else struggle with occasional fear?
Ronald Levy
1669 Posts

Marshall Woods:
I became "rusty" because of busyness and lousy weather. Since then I've gotten "cold feet ". Fear of what ifs. I want to fly so bad. I've got a couple very good pilot friends who have offered to go with me to build up my confidence. Does anyone else struggle with occasional fear?

I'm sure many folks do, and I think the best way to overcome that is to grab an instructor and go fly until your confidence returns.
Bryan Lee
3 Posts
Totally agree with Ronald Levy.  Grab a CFI and go.  The biggest mental obstacle for me was remembering that it was okay to be a student again.  I found a great CFI who worked more as a coach than an instructor.  It was a huge help and now I'm flying all the time. Find a CFI, tell him/her what you're going through, and fly together until you feel ready.
Great read, and very timely for my situation. From Nov.1998-March 1999 I acquired 33 hours, was committed to getting my PPL. I had passed the written exam with a score of 96. On my cross-country night flight with my instructor we had an unsafe landing, after I had warned him we were low. We survived but broke our plane in half and had to rent a car to get back home. Needless to say, I doubted my training up to that point, made excuses and just let life get in the way. Fast forward to November 2017, a friend and I had a long conversation about flying in general and my experience. The desire was renewed, but being 60 and some health issues again delayed my reentry back into my goal. I finally got my class 3 medical in October.  That showed up just as we were moving from Tennessee back to Macon, and settling into retirement. Long story short, I found a great instructor here in Middle Ga, and had my first two refresher lessons last week and have two more scheduled for this week, one in the morning. I look forward to gaining my PPL, the plan is to do my check ride on March, 30, 2019, which will be the 20th anniversary of that fateful night that almost ended more than my pilot dream.