Finish What You Started!


By Steven Daun, National Chief Pilot

There are 609,000 pilots in the United States. Of those, roughly 80% are “general aviation” pilots. The population of the United States is 327,000,000. When you do the math, you see that pilots make up .19% of the U.S. population. This means that pilots are part of a special and unique group of people. Unfortunately, these numbers are decreasing at a time when the demand for pilots is increasing.

We hear from many people every month who have started their training, but for one reason or another, were unable to finish. The reasons include everything from a lack of finances, lack of time, children, work, life, education, medical issues, etc. You get the point.

There are many other factors as to why so many people don’t finish their pilot education. These include poor instruction, being scared, poor equipment, etc. Unlike the first set of reasons mentioned, these reasons are usually ones that are not discussed and are tucked away somewhere in the subconscious, never to be seen or heard from again.

Most general aviation pilots will express their love of flying in terms of passion and excitement. If you speak with most professional pilots, they will have a hard time delineating where their hobby ends and their career begins.

If you started but did not finish, the good news is that it is easier now, more than ever, to finish-up and earn your certificate or rating. Here is a roadmap to your success.

Step 1: Compile all of your documents. This includes your student pilot certificate, medical certificate, logbook and written test results if applicable.

Step 2: Find a reputable school with a strong background and success record in finish-up programs.

Step 3: Have your instructor(s) determine where your current level of proficiency is for the ground and flight. This now becomes the baseline to finish your certificate or rating.

Step 4: If you haven’t taken your written test, enroll in a class to complete your written test. Avoid the temptation to sign up for a service that encourages you to memorize the answers. This not only increases your anxiety, but makes it harder to correlate the information. Learning the information correctly the first time drastically increases your comfort and confidence.

Step 5: When do you want to finish? You need a goal to pace your training. Your instructor should be able to estimate the amount of ground, simulator and flight hours needed to complete your training. Back into a completion date and then add a week or two.

Step 6: Stick to your plan.

In some ways, the finish-up programs are a little more challenging for both the instructor and student. This is because of the breakin continuity in the training flow. It is easy for an inexperienced instructor to overlook weak knowledge areas because related tasks may have been accomplished in the past. An effective and experienced finish-up instructor will constantly evaluate specific and related knowledge and skills regularly to ensure a well-rounded education. If a student takes shortcuts or memorizes answers without a thorough understanding, they are shortchanging their education. They will soon realize that they will need to learn the information one way or another, so it is easier and more efficient to learn it correctly the first time.

We have found over the last 80 years that incorporating these concepts increases success rates, motivation, excitement and reduces the stress of training for the student.

Remember the recipe for a successful finish-up course is to focus, commit and find the right school. Doing so will soon earn you the title of “pilot.”

Welcome to the club!