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The 9 Hardest Parts About Flight Training

If you're a student pilot, or thinking of becoming one, here are some things you need to know.

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1) Weather And Maintenance Delays

Just like being a professional pilot, weather and maintenance delays will affect your training. You will have plenty of flight lessons cancelled outside of your control, and that's a reality you'll need to get used to as a student pilot.

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2) Lack Of Structured Training

The last thing a new student pilot needs is to step into a flight school and not have a clear path towards their certificate. I've been there. At my first flight school, I found myself wondering what the next lesson would entail, even occasionally showing up having to tell my instructor what exactly I wanted to accomplish that day.

This is a poor model for someone with little aviation experience; it leads to overwhelming confusion for many students. Setting expectations for each flight lesson is a good thing. If you don't feel like there's enough structure, talk to your instructor. And if that doesn't work, try a different flight school. You're the client and you should get your money's worth.

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3) Instructor Hopping

If you lose and instructor or two along the way, it can take weeks or months to get proficient with a new one. That's a normal part of training, and something you'll need to be prepared for as your instructors take jobs elsewhere.

4) Finances

Not being able to fully fund training is a top cause of dropouts. If you're not able to adequately fund most (or all) of your training before you begin, you should consider waiting to start. Save up beforehand and apply for as many scholarships as you can find, so you won't get stuck halfway through training by running out of funds.

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5) The "Solo Plateau"

Transitioning from flying with an instructor to those first few solo flights is a huge obstacle that student pilots face. A number of things can go wrong: students don't feel ready, instructors become hesitant, or the weather just isn't cooperating. If you're about to solo for the first time, relax by remembering that your instructor is signing you off because they have total confidence in you.

6) The Length Of Training

Starting from zero flight experience to your commercial rating, CFI, and beyond will take years. You have to be prepared for the idea that getting your "dream job" will take a while. Remember what you're working towards and stay motivated by incorporating fun experiences or trips into your training.

7) Checkride Failures

Failing checkrides isn't an uplifting experience. Students who aren't passing are often left feeling unmotivated to continue.

You should feel fully prepared and confident heading into a checkride. If you don't, consider receiving final instruction from someone other than your primary instructor. A new instructor might be able to tie up unnoticed loose ends.

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8) Remembering The Technical Details

You can't get around this one. Many students begin flight training because becoming a pilot seems glamorous or looks adventurous. But when it comes down to it, flight training is simply a lot of hard work. The countless hours studying pay off in the end.

We're here to help you get there. So check out our training courses, which will walk you through some of the most challenging aspects of learning to fly: Aviation Weather, Charts and Publications, and the National Airspace System.

9) Unexpected Industry Slowdowns

This year proves just how devastating the economy and a public health crisis can be on the aviation industry. If you started flight training during a hiring boom, there's no guarantee it will stay that way through the time you're ready to become a professional pilot. If this is a career you want to be a part of, you need to be prepared for unexpected career slowdowns and delays.

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What else is tough about flight training? Tell us in the comments below!


Thinking about becoming a pilot? Get started with Lift Academy, and find out what it takes to start your aviation career here.


Swayne Martin

Swayne is an editor at Boldmethod, certified flight instructor, and an Embraer 145 First Officer for a regional airline. He graduated as an aviation major from the University of North Dakota in 2018, holds a PIC Type Rating for Cessna Citation Jets (CE-525), and is a former pilot for Mokulele Airlines. He's the author of articles, quizzes and lists on Boldmethod every week. You can reach Swayne at swayne@boldmethod.com, and follow his flying adventures on his YouTube Channel.

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