6 bad habits to avoid as a student pilot

3 min read

We asked the pilots here at Sporty’s what they thought student pilots should avoid. We’re talking about bad habits that can get in the way of your goal of earning your wings. Here are the six bad habits to avoid when you begin your flight training. 

  1. Don’t be late for your lessons.

This is an obvious but a sure-fire way to get off on the wrong foot with your training. Not only will your instructor be annoyed, but you’ll soon realize how much money that wastes over time. Flight time isn’t free. The more delays you encounter, the more time you’ll spend relearning the material. Do yourself a favor and aim to there 30 minutes early for every lesson. You’ll have time to review your notes from the last session and get a head start on your preflight. 

  1. Don’t go broke.

This is good advice for any endeavor, but it definitely rings true with flight training. Lack of continuity is a killer. Better to wait a couple of months to save up so you can take your lessons one after the other than to have long breaks in between your flying lessons. There are many options like flight simulators and online training courses that will help you save money on your training. Consider utilizing these resources to save you money for flight time.

  1. Don’t go it alone. 

Find the pilot community, join an organization like EAA or AOPA and make an effort to make new friends at the airport that are either going through the same training or can mentor you. It’s a friendly group of people that can boost your encouragement on learning to fly. 

  1. Don’t lose sight of the fun. 

Taking the time to enjoy your flight training can be really helpful. You’ll be more confident if you’re enjoying your lessons. And the more confidence you have, the faster you’ll pick up the skills needed to become a great aviator. So what do you do to have more fun while flying? Add a breakfast or lunch run to your cross countries. The almighty hundred dollar hamburger is a perfect way to lift you and your instructor’s mood. 

  1. Don’t get discouraged.

Just because your last landing wasn’t the best doesn’t mean your next one won’t be. Stay on the wagon – you’re building a skill set that takes time to acquire. It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen with practice and study. Something that not every pilot will tell you is that learning plateaus are common and nothing to stress about. Talk with your instructor and start mixing up your lessons so you don’t stall in your training.

  1. Don’t rely on YouTube.

Everyone on YouTube thinks they’re an expert, but few of them are. Relying on these short videos to learn aerodynamics is a bad idea. The person on YouTube is probably not as good of a pilot as they say they are, just like people on Facebook aren’t actually as happy as they would have you believe. While there are plenty of online resources to aid your training, we recommend that you verify the source before taking their word for it. YouTube is great for sparking the passion for flying or getting ideas for new places to visit, but don’t depend on it for technical knowledge and in-flight instruction.

15 replies
  1. John G says:

    Learn the material, don’t just memorize it from a Sporty’s or Prepware app. The ground work may not always be fun, but understanding the concepts and really concentrating on learning the maneuvers is key. Do the work on the ground before you take to the air and you’ll learn faster.

    Also, plan on training at least twice a week. Budget time and money for it before you schedule your lesson. For most pilots, once a week will take much longer in flight hours than even twice per week. You’ll spend more money in the long run.

  2. joe says:

    Number 6 made the article worth reading. You tube wasn’t around when I started flying 24000 hours ago, so I had that going for me. Good article.

  3. Bill says:

    Wish I had YouTube 30 years ago when I first started flying. Like starting any home renovation project, watch several on a particular subject and you’ll know it well with different points of view and insight. Yes some are so so but most I’ve seen are done by “experts” and universities that accurately reflect the FARs and AIM. A great review of the basics which I like to keep up on since I mostly fly a heavily automated aircraft. Please not another King video..

  4. Doug says:

    Anyone who thinks YouTube is not an excellent tool to add to your resources when learning any kind of skill is being foolish. There is not a single sentence, word, or phrase that a flight instructor has ever uttered or will ever utter that is not also repeated numerous times by other mouths on the quality flying channels on YouTube. However, everything you do learn on YouTube should absolutely be verified and cross-checked with your instructor or your flying manuals. So why would SPORTY’S say things like “Everyone on YouTube thinks they’re an expert, but few of them are. Relying on these short videos to learn aerodynamics is a bad idea. The person on YouTube is probably not as good of a pilot as they say they are…”? Why would Sporty’s level such accusations at all the real pilots who post free learning videos online? Because Sporty’s has a vested interest in discrediting the free stuff and downplaying it. Why? Sporty’s sells books and video courses which supposedly teach people how to fly. So now, let me tell you what my opinion is on the videos which Sporty’s sells online: They suck. When I purchased their Deluxe flying course I mistakenly thought the DVD’s would follow along with all the course material covered in the books. Boy was I wrong! Talk about tiny little short video segments that hardly cover any kind of information! Sporty’s, your flying DVDs do not cover nearly the breadth and depth of the topics covered by all the pilots with YouTube channels online. For example, your DVD’s have almost ZERO instructions for such basic things as COM radio communication at either controlled or uncontrolled airports. I was astonished at how your DVD has such an incredibly polished look and feel, yet they say so damn little! So keep on selling your watered down several hour DVD’s, and selling us manuals that we can actually download for FREE online, and I will continue watching the thousands and thousands of hours of free online videos put together by pilots with a real passion for sharing in DETAIL how to command an aircraft safely and skillfully.

    • Eric says:

      I absolutely agree with you, there are MANY valuable YouTube channels that gave me great information when I was learning. I did buy Sporty’s course, which was helpful, but I found YouTube to be a great help, too. YouTube has comments, so you can read discussions and differing opinions.

    • Brian says:

      Agreed – YouTube does take some critical thinking, but there are a LOT of good resources out there on it. If ANYTHING it sparks the necessary in-person discussion between student and instructor.

  5. Randall Kelley says:

    YouTube is great for anyone and any age group. I’ve been flying for 50 years and I love YouTube . When watching these boys fly into different places, many where I have been, and lots where I will never go., it’s like sitting in the co pilot seat .

  6. Kit says:

    Unlike many others jumping on this wagon, I enjoyed that WHOLE article (all 6 pointers) and thought it a worthwhile read. Those of us who are students and learning the ropes read the whinning and moaning and wonder just how friendly this hobby really is. Long winded criticism tends to make people crinkle their noses….. Thanks Sportys for these “free” articles for me to read. Keep it up.

  7. Andrew says:

    Different opinions than I’ve heard before and several good points but I think YouTube added an extremely valuable tool to my toolbox. I love how you can pause, rewind and play over.

  8. mark cole says:

    youtube, wikipedia, stackexchannge etc are all INVALUABLE resources to the student pilot or just any old pilot! Pilots are always learning, forgetting, learning again, learning more, etc.

    free resources are a rare treat in aviation, take advantage when you can!

  9. Donnie Underwood says:

    A great article. Youtube is good for some things, but good ole fashion study and reading can’t be beat. As was said above, a lot of the people in the videos have an inflated opinion of their skills.

  10. Hal Gibson says:

    I was a CFII for more than 50 years. In those days we were paid according to what was on the Hobbs meter. And we were scheduled one student after another. That meant we had little time to REAlY talk in depth to our students about some of the most important aspects of flying.. I would like to point out that the new student should find an instructor with good communication skills who will engage in such conversations.

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