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9 Common Mistakes Every Student Pilot Makes

All of us have made these mistakes...

1) Trim

Either you're using too much trim, or not enough. Both situations result in an increased workload. Trim the plane, let go of the controls, and see if the nose pitches up or down. If it does, make another small adjustment, let go of the controls to see what happens. By making small adjustments, you'll dial in the perfect trim, and flying will be a whole lot easier.


2) Focusing too much inside the aircraft

It's important to keep your eyes outside, scanning for traffic. The FAA recommends you spend 80% of your time looking outside the aircraft, and the other 20% looking inside checking your instruments.

Swayne Martin

3) Lengthy radio calls

Long radio calls can confuse controllers and pilots alike. Think of what you want to say before you push the mic button.

Corey Komarec

4) Over-controlling the airplane

Use fingertip pressure to avoid over-controlling your plane. It only requires small movements of the control wheel to get the aircraft to do what you want it to.


5) Lack of situational awareness

It can be hard, especially in training, to maintain situational awareness. Keep a continuous scan outside, and cross-check your position with your map and GPS.


6) Misjudging height

It can be hard to judge your height above the runway when you first start training (and even when you're certificated!). Make sure you transition your eyes down the runway when you begin your flare, in order to avoid flaring too high or too low.


7) Hasty go/no-go decision

Don't be impulsive. Look at all the risks involved with the flight, and if there's something you aren't comfortable with, DON'T GO.


8) Unidentifiable checkpoints

This has happened to all of us at some point! Choose checkpoints that are clearly identifiable from the air, and consider their visibility during the day vs. night. Don't choose railroad tracks at night, or a small lighted tower during the day.


9) Getting behind the aircraft

Practice flows for your checklists, and always think of what you can do next when you find yourself with downtime in the air.


What other common mistakes did you make as a student pilot, and how did you learn from them? Tell us in the comments below.

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

Corey Komarec

Corey is an Airbus 320 First Officer for a U.S. Major Carrier. He graduated as an aviation major from the University of North Dakota, and he's been flying since he was 16. You can reach him at

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