Want some heads up on the worst student pilot mistakes before you begin flying?
Knowing how to avoid the mistakes during your flight training will ease your flying massively.
As a result, you will learn quicker and become a better pilot.
In this article, I have listed 13 student pilot mistakes that are most common and errors that will affect your flight training in various ways.
14. Not studying and preparing enough for the flight.
When I was a new student pilot I made the mistake of believing flying is easy and fun.
I expected flying is as simple as driving a car.
Which in reality is not the story.
I did not study enough until I had to face bad weather and my flight instructor getting angry with me.
Why did my flight instructor get annoyed?
Because he asked me a few questions related to the weather while we were flying through the clouds.
I barely answered him anything.
All he said to me before the next flight study well at home. Because I am going to ask all those questions on your next flight again.
If you cannot answer me, I am not flying with you anymore.
Well, that is the first mistake every student pilot makes. They do not consider flying as a full-time course.
They do not take studying seriously. Student pilot thinks that all they need to learn is during the flight.
Which is true by the way, you will learn so many things during your actual flight, however, there are so many basics which you have to learn from reading your books.
You cannot only rely on practical flying to learn.
Which is better do you think?
Learning from your mistake or learning before committing a mistake? Comment below.
I believe learning by reading books is as important as learning from your actual flight.
13. Poor weather briefing.
Speaking about the weather earlier reminded me of this:
Student pilots make the mistake of not reading the weather from actual radar.
Do not simply check the weather of your departure airport before take-off.
Use online weather services to actually find out the weather en route and your destination airport.
Learning about the weather at your alternative airport is crucial too.
You do not want to choose an alternative airport if it has bad weather.
Having a glance at the online weather report of the destination airport will not take not more than five minutes.
Five minutes can save you a lot of hassle.
From my experience, I can say that without studying the weather condition en route can be a waste of time and your money too.
Once you check the weather condition it is your call whether it is a go or a no go situation.
I was too stubborn and once took off in bad weather. I flew only for 20 minutes and got back to my departure airport.
Why is that?
Because en route to my destination airport I faced some heavy rainfall and low clouds, which was not suitable at all for a Cessna 172.
I decided to get back to the airport immediately before the situation got worse.
And most student pilots do this mistake again and again.
But I hope you will be smart enough to check the weather every time before you take off from now on.
12. Not knowing the importance of preflight inspection.
New student pilots are always very excited to get up there in the sky.
I know spreading your wings is fun.
Student pilots in the excitement of flying underestimate the importance of preflight inspection.
Pre-flight inspection is crucial for conducting a safe flight.
Rushing through the inspection and not examining whether everything is fine in the aircraft or not can be fatal.
Imagine during the pre-flight inspection you missed out on checking the engine oil level.
That will cause your engine to overheat during flight and even can result in a fire.
So if you want to become a safer pilot, take time and do your preflight inspection with patience according to the checklist.
11. Not using the checklist.
New student pilots must understand that the checklist was made for a purpose.
The aircraft manufacturer did not actually make the checklist just to keep it on your bookshelf.
Many new student pilots go to the flight without carrying a checklist.
YES, you can find a checklist inside the aircraft. But carrying your own checklist will not harm you.
Use the checklist exactly before, during and after your flight.
All procedures in the checklist have their own purpose.
If the procedure did not have any merit at all, probably the manufacturer would not have bothered to add that in the checklist.
Following the checklist step by step will ease your flight as well as you will be able to conduct a safe flight.
10. Not using airport diagrams.
It is a common mistake student pilots make. Not having an airport diagram.
If you do not have an airport diagram or you did not study the airport diagram, you will be confused inside the airport.
Especially if you are a new pilot and travel to a new destination for your cross country flight, not knowing the airport map can become a nightmare for you.
The situation will get worse if you fly to a big controlled airport with many taxiways.
So studying and actually memorizing the airport map can help you a lot and you will have a lesser headache during taxing.
Study the airport diagram of your local airport as well as your destination airports.
9. Not using enough rudder.
New student pilots make the mistake of not putting enough pressure on the rudder.
During take-off and landing, it is vital to put enough pressure on the right rudder.
Why is that?
There are several factors that cause the airplane to turn left during takeoff and landing.
So you do not want to drift to your left immediately after takeoff.
If you are a new student pilot and drift to the left of the runway after takeoff, you will end up over-controlling the airplane.
Look at the turn coordinator often and keep the ball centered during the whole leg of your flight.
Get used to using the rudder. Knowing how to use the rudder efficiently will aid you in better landings.
8. Over controlling the airplane.
Over controlling the airplane? YES, that is another common error made by student pilots.
Student pilots including myself, in the beginning, tend to have a death grip on the yoke.
New student pilots try to maneuver the airplane with all strength.
As a result, they end up over-controlling the airplane.
And over-controlling will cause all the new student pilots to overshoot their desired altitude and attitude.
Do not have a death grip on the yoke. Control the yoke as smoothly as you can.
The more fluid you are with the controls the better the airplane will respond instead of reacting.
7. Mismanaging trim.
Another mistake is not using the trim properly.
Mismanaging the trim will cause stress for new student pilots inside the cockpit.
Using the trim properly will make controlling the airplane a lot easier.
If you learn how to use the trim regularly, you will notice that the airplane is flying by itself without you having to hold the controls all the time.
Practice to trim the aircraft more often and you will enjoy the flight even more.
6. Staring inside the cockpit.
If you really want to experience the beauty of flying you will have to look outside the aircraft.
Another mistake student pilots make is fixating their gaze inside the aircraft on the instrument panel.
Well, your initial flight training is all VFR. So you are supposed to fly the aircraft with visual reference outside and not by looking at the instrument panel.
You can fly using the instrument panel in the future. But now it is time to learn how to fly the aircraft by staring outside the cockpit.
There is an excellent book by ASA which teaches visual flying outstandingly.
So stop looking inside the cockpit for so long and actually look outside.
You will definitely have to look at the six basic instruments from time to time for safety but fixating your gaze inside is not what you must do.
5. Poor radio communications.
NOt knowing how to communicate during a flight is also a student pilot mistake.
For a safe flight, proper communication is necessary.
Communication will help you to avoid traffic and avoid congestion at the airport.
More importantly, having proper communication over the radio will save your life.
Learn to communicate properly. New students are shy to communicate or may not be confident.
But get out of your comfort zone and actually do the communication yourself.
Practice will make you better and you will get used to communicating with the tower.
If you fly to a busy airport you may get overwhelmed by all the information, but do not get nervous ask your air traffic controller to repeat.
They are there to help and they will happily assist you.
Air traffic controllers their job is to keep the airspace safe for flying.
So do not be nervous and practice using the radio to communicate.
And do the homework before you do so. If you do not practice you will never learn.
Take time and watch Youtube videos on how people communicate in the air and at the same time fly the aircraft.
4. Safe flying VFR altitudes.
One of the worst student pilot mistakes is to not knowing what is the safe VFR flight altitude?
Actually there is a formula for that which student pilots do not know or do not bother to remember.
The formula is if you are flying eastbound or your magnetic heading is anywhere between 000 to 180 degrees, your altitude must be odd thousand plus 500.
Such as if you are flying a magnetic heading of 90 degrees, your altitude must be 5500 feet.
Similarly, if your magnetic heading is between 180 and 360 degrees, then your altitude must be even thousand plus 500 feet.
For example, if you are heading westbound, then your altitude must be 4500 feet.
Have you noticed how I did not use 2500 feet or 3500 feet for my example?
It is because this formula is only applicable if you are flying over 3000 feet above ground level.
Many student pilots fail to remember this and do not follow the rules.
This safe flying VFR altitude was made to keep VFR flying safer by separating the traffic.
So do not make the mistake of forgetting this rule as a student pilot.
3. Overshooting the final.
A perfect landing starts with a good traffic pattern. If you are too slow or too fast in your downwind it may result in confusion and a bad touchdown.
Most new student pilots tend to overshoot the final, which is normal.
I said it is normal because as you will build hours you will experience more and more touch and go and you will learn how to not overshoot the final.
Practice will make you perfect.
However, a student pilot must remember about not overshooting the final from the first day of their flight.
It is common for student pilots to overshoot the final due to several factors while turning from the base.
Overshooting the final will cause to make so many corrections on final to align the aircraft with the runway and too quickly.
This result in student pilots to have bad landings and a not satisfied flight instructor.
If your flight instructor is not satisfied, s/he will not release you for your first solo flight unless you improve your landings.
So remember this always not to overshoot the final.
The sooner you learn to turn on final from base properly, the sooner you will learn to make good landings.
2. Flaring too much or too little. Misjudging the height.
The worst student pilot mistake is to misjudge the height while descending over the runway.
Too often I misjudged the height and made bad landings.
While you are descending over the runway everything happens so quick that you cannot figure out which is the right time to flare.
Either you flare too early or too late, in both scenarios, you will have a bad touchdown.
If you flare too early you will have a bounced landing, if you flare too late your aircraft may float and have a bounced landing.
So ask your flight instructor when is the right time to flare your aircraft. Every flight instructor has their own technique of judging the height.
As you will practice you will improve too. Focus on how to judge the height and the right to flare will improve your landing.
Watch the video below to understand when to flare your aircraft.
Final Tip. Buying a headset.
As a student pilot, you will need a flight headset.
Student pilots often prefer to buy a headset which is cheaper. However, buying a cheaper headset is not always the best option.
You may save a little money buying a cheap headset initially, but in the long run, you will have to buy a better headset for a more relaxing flight.
Think of buying expensive flying headsets as an investment. Because as you will fly more and more you will realize the discomfort of using a cheaper flight headset.
Expensive headsets are tagged a higher price for the quality it has.
A good headset will have lesser clamping pressure on your head.
Once you fly long cross country flights, the pressure on your face will be intolerable.
And headsets have a higher price due to anti-noise reduction in them. A good quality headset will let you feel the pin-drop silence inside the cockpit.
You will only listen to the other voices speaking over the radio and no other disturbing noises.
So buying a good quality headset with a higher price is the best investment for new student pilots.
So as a newbie avoid all these worst student pilot mistakes to become a smart and better pilot quicker.