#24 What signs do you look for that the student is ready for longer flights?

Mar 12, 2019

What signs do you look for that the student is ready for longer flights?


"I am also a firm believer in the one hour flight lesson, especially in the beginning. There are some students out there who can handle longer flights and actually perform very well but the big majority of newer students are pretty much wiped out at the end of an hour in the training environment. Some people may agree and some may disagree but the point is you should discuss this with your instructor if you feel the training flight over an hour is too long. It is your money you are spending and you have the right to bring it up. Good luck to all the students out there."

Brian Rutledge Operations Manager Helicopter Online Ground School, LLC.

Comment your thoughts below the video!


Hey, it's Kenny with Helicopter Online Ground School. Finishing up my third cup of coffee for the morning. We have another question from one of our members and this is Tim who we have him plastered on our wall at Helicopter Online Ground School several times with him with the aircraft after passing his check rides. He said, "Kenny, really enjoying the daily videos. Helicopter Ground has helped me through private, instrument, and commercial ad-ons. I'm now working on my CFI portions." Awesome, Tim.

His question is about the one hour flight and specifically moving into cross country stuff, so I'm going to just read to you what he asked. I agree with the plan on using the back on the dolly and about an hour. I can relate to that from my private. My question comes when do you start to stretch it out longer than an hour in order to prep them for the cross country flights? What signs do you look for that the student is ready for longer flights? I'm asking not about the cross country attributes of knowledge, just the physical and mental readiness for longer flights that are necessary for the cross country flight. I have a few ideas, but interested in what you have developed over the years.

All right, this is a really good question. I want to recap real fast the one hour flight lesson. Done this video several times over the past 10 years. I'm a firm believer in it. I'm a past law enforcement officer before becoming a helicopter pilot and I became the firearms instructor for our department. Before you go to firearms instructor school, they send you to an instructor development course and that's where I first heard the one hour. They said... Excuse me... They said, "Guys, anytime you have somebody in a classroom environment or out on their range or whatever you're doing, the human brain needs a break at about an hour because anybody loses interest."

I've always hung on to that and then when I started one of my first CFI jobs, I had it explained to me by the owner of the company and I liked what he said. He said, "The first 20 minutes a person's warming up and start to grasp the knowledge. The second 20 minutes they're doing really, really well. And the third 20 minutes they start to drop off. They're still doing it in the good at the beginning, but by the end of that hour they just start getting tired." I've seen it over and over for the years and I'm a firm believer. I like being on the dolly at five zero minutes because you still got to go through shutdown. So you're still going to log about an hour. It just really works best. You can go longer if you need to, but in general an hour is enough. It's a good solid rule for making the most of your money, making the most of your training, and making the best progress. They can be shorter flights. They can be longer flights. But the one hour, in general, is a great rule.

I like a lot of these questions that I get because a lot of people get real technical with their question and I appreciate that, but sometimes they're more technical than I really think about it in my mind. To answer his question... my question comes when you start to stretch it out longer than an hour in order to prep them for the cross country flights. I don't really stretch flights to prep them for cross country. I mean, as you're going around the pattern and you're giving them the initial training, you should get out of the pattern once in awhile and do some short cross country trips to a nearby airport. I always do the trip with the student that the first solo I send them on when they leave the pattern is usually a local airport, just over 25 nautical miles away so they can log that as cross country.

I make sure and do that with them once before we send them on their own to that airport and back. I don't really base it on when they can handle more than an hour because that short cross country flight, they're going to be able to do that in about an hour and the day of when they go to do that, we're going to have everything planned out. The weather is going to be good. Cross country planning is going to be done. We've already been over the route. So by the time that I feel like they're ready to make that cross country flight, I'm not worried about if it taken them a little bit over an hour. It's still going to be stressful for them, but it's a different kind of stress versus going around the pattern, going around and around, trying to hone that takeoff and landing.

They have stress going cross country because they're by themselves and they've got to navigate, but they've already been there. They've already done it once. So the stress in reality shouldn't be too horrific. They should be enjoying that first time they get to go somewhere else. So, I don't really put that much thought into it. When they're ready for cross country, they're ready for cross country. I don't ever really start stretching flights out. If I'm in the pattern, we're in the pattern doing what we need to do. If we're doing cross country, we're doing cross country.

It's a great question and I'm not berating Tim at all. It's just, it's more thought than I really think about. So I just want to recap. I'm not asking about cross country attributes of knowledge, just the physical and mental readiness for longer flights that are necessary for the cross country flight. I have a few ideas, but interested in what you have developed over the years.

I go back to what one guy taught me when I was a new CFI. He was like, "Hey, when they can go around the pattern three times with you sitting there and you don't say a word, you don't do anything, you don't touch anything, and they can go around the pattern three times with three consecutive nice takeoffs and landings without you saying a word, never touching anything, they're ready for solo. When they can do that and you can jump in with them and they can take you to a nearby airport and come back and you don't have to say anything, you don't have to touch anything, they can handle it all on their own, then they're ready for cross country flights." That's kind of a technique I use, but as far as really stretching the flights out, I really don't.

It's an hour, about an hour in the pattern. It can be a little bit more if it needs to be. It can be a little bit less. I like using this subject because if you are a new student and you have a instructor who's flying you 1.5, 1.6, 1.7, going around the pattern around and around, that guy or gal is stealing your money. When you're a new, okay?

One of my good friends, one of my first students, to this day one of my best friends, we'd always fly an hour and he knew how I felt about the hour and I'm like, "Well, there's an hour, we should go in." And he's like, "Yeah, okay, but hey, can we just go play for a while? Do some autos?" I'm like, "It's your money, man." And he could afford it and it wasn't taking away and it was at an hour it was fun time. Well here he's like, "Here, you just do a couple. Let me watch you do them."

So, he was spending that money knowing that it was fun time. Some people can do that, some cannot. If you really are concerned about the money and you're trying to save every dollar and you're trying to stretch that training dollar, keep those flights at one hour. Just saying. Be shut down, turn everything off at one hour. You can be really confident that, hey, I've just spent the money on a good lesson. If you're having a bad day, cut it short. If you're having a great day and you want to fly a little bit longer, that's okay too. One hour's a great general rule.

Hey, thank you everybody tuning in and the emails. This is turning into a really neat deal. Started as a fun day. Three weeks ago on a January day I was outside drinking coffee and I thought, "I'm going to shoot a video real quick," and then boom, been doing them every day since. So, subscribe and click the bell so you'll be notified of new videos. Put your questions down below about flight training in general, but specifically about the one hour flight lesson. What have you experienced? Do you use that? Do you have an instructor that's out there flying you in an hour and a half and you're kind of questioning what's going on at that point?

Put your questions down below. Also, I'm going to put a link for Helicopter Online Ground School. We have private, commercial, instrument, and certified flight instructor courses. Right now the private pilot membership is only $49 a month if you want to go monthly. Has a 24 hour free test flight. You can go in and look at the training for 24 hours and you'll be billed nothing. If you decide it's not right for you before the end of that 24 hours, simply remove your credit card from the site, from settings, you will be billed nothing. Or if you're a PayPal member, go into PayPal and end your subscription. That's a really good deal. Keep the training as long as you like. You can cancel anytime. Same thing with the yearly. If you join for a yearly, you've got 24 hour test drive, test flight, go in, check it out. If it's not right for you, just remove your credit card information. And then remember if you become a yearly member, if you want to keep it more than a year that's great. If you don't, remove your credit card before the end of the year.

So again, thanks everyone. This has been awesome. We will see you again tomorrow in the next daily video.