How long does it take to solo? Two CFI options/opinions’. What do you think?

Published by: Paul Hamilton on 11th May 2018 | View all blogs by Paul Hamilton

We want to get more pilots into the sport. A big question most potential pilots ask.

 

How long and how much will it take me to learn how to solo and second get my pilots license?

 

Two FAA certified Flight Instructors answered this solo question with two different answers.

CFI 1 ---- I can solo you in less than 5 hours.

CFI 2 ---- It usually takes 10 to 20 hours depending on how fast you learn.

Which CFI would you go to or recommend to a friend or family member?

Comments

21 Comments

  • Jim Garrett
    by Jim Garrett 3 months ago
    CFI 2. is my choice. He/she will ensure that there is ability and safety to go along with the first solo.
  • Thomas Nielsen
    by Thomas Nielsen 3 months ago
    CFI 2 - Hands down. I came into the sport with 600 hours fixed and all the bells and whistles, CPL, MEIR, Land and Sea. I thought it would be easy, there is just one bar....right :-) It is just not possible to be proficient let alone safe in 5 hours.
  • Doug Boyle
    by Doug Boyle 3 months ago
    Anything other than CFI2 is a disservice to the pilot/student, and ignores the integrity we collectively desire in the image of our Sport. Personally, I won't talk to anyone about buying a Trike until they are fully immersed into Training. In a few instances they show up with a Trike and want to learn to fly. We train in mine first to reduce the tendency to just "go for it"! It is some of the hardest psychology to communicate to a "cowboy" without being subject to a "self-serving" brand. For this reason, if we are not on the same page, I prefer not to participate.
  • Larry  Mednick
    by Larry Mednick 3 months ago
    There are plenty of sports that you can just do for fun and dont need to be good at it. Flying isnt one.

    I just had the privilege to train a 43-year-old in 5.7 hours to solo. That was very atypical, and we had a lot of fun training and obviously went very quick with the lessons as he was able to. He now has over 75 hours in just under two months And will be taking his check ride hopefully next week.

    Most students are in tears of disappointment at 10 hours... those landings are tricky...

    flying trikes is not easy. But so worth learning. 10-20 hours is what I tell people. 18 to solo seems to be a good average for those under 65.

    There is also flying and REALLY FLYING. Flying a trike in dead still air using power to land OR doing power off landings mid-day (as part of the training and not the solo) are 2 different things. Kind of like saying you can ride a horse if you only walk him and hold on to the saddle horn real tight. Im not sure Id call that knowing how to ride a horse.

    So my point is what level is the student being soloed at. Not sure there is a right answer, but in either case 5 hours is usually no where close to enough training to even attempt a power off mid day landing. Recently I trained with a WSC CFI and asked him to do just that front seat even. He thought I was asking him to do something no other instructor would ever ask a student to do. I advised he not teach WSC moving forward without really starting over so to speak.
  • Abid Farooqui
    by Abid Farooqui 3 months ago
    LOL
    How long did it take you to learn to drive a car?
    And you were 16 then and you sure aren't now.
  • Tom Currier
    by Tom Currier 3 months ago
    CFI #2, then another after that. I did my initial training to sport pilot and soloed after about 15 hours. As Larry can attest to my land landings sucked; I was spoiled doing power on landings with extended runways over no thermal activity getting my WSCS. I then training with both Larry and Wes who dialed in my power off landings and training me on spiral training. The take away is no matter how comfortable you are with a trainer, get another perspective somewhere along the way. You will *always* learn something new.
  • Frank Dempsey
    by Frank Dempsey 3 months ago
    I've soloed a young hang glider person in 5 hours once several years ago. I soloed another guy in 50 hours. He was 72 years old. On the average, it's 15-20 hours. I soloed in 2.5 hours back in Y2K but I was hang gliding with a Hang IV rating in world class air (rough stuff) three times a week and I was also in my low 40's. The older the person, generally the more hours they will need to get to solo. I vote for CFI-2.
  • Paul Hamilton
    by Paul Hamilton 2 months ago
    To follow up on this "Frequently asked question", yes I know those who throw them the keys after a few lessons and hope for the best. In the long run it usually does not end well. I personally train the student almost to the checkride competency with flying to other airports for solo. That way when they solo, they are "turned loose" with total competency for cross winds, spiral recovery, crowded airspace at airports, emergency procedures, etc. If someone has all this knowledge and skill it minimizes the risk for hazards that come up. Power off and power on low approach landings are consistant so all the solo flying is practicing the right thing. Cross country is the only activity that is left after solo typically unless the student wants to do it before. So I guess it takes a while to solo with me but there is very little training before the checkride but a couple of hours nailing down the PTS tolerances.

    Thanks all for your comments it shows we are all thinking similar training before solo.
  • Larry  Mednick
    by Larry Mednick 2 months ago
    I sent a student to a good friend and CFI that purchased a REV. After 6 hours the student felt the instructor was trying to teach him to a higher standard than what he required to solo his new part 103. I talked to CFI and he said he isn't ready to solo. I talked to the REV owner and he said he would only fly in dead calm air and had a square field to land in. So what do you know? SUCCESS! the owner soloed his REV in dead still air and loved every second of it. He had several successful flight until he came back and encountered a little turbulence. Only $820 to repair the REV and no bumps or bruises and now the owner says "maybe this isn't for me..."

    What do people expect? It is really sad that there seems to be way too many people not giving flying the respect it deserves. Get all the lessons! and then when you are doing great after about 30 hours of solo get more lessons. I just took up a 300 hour CFI in 15-25 the other day and I'm sure he learned a bunch.

    Training is cheap! Lack of training can be costly!
  • Doug Boyle
    by Doug Boyle 2 months ago
    I, perhaps, know to whom you refer....
  • Larry  Mednick
    by Larry Mednick 2 months ago
    Why yes you do Doug. This is the 3rd time a student soloed their REV without finishing their training. All 3 were the same result. Funny to hear in each conversation them thanking us for the excellent build quality. I’m not joking. They realize if they were in a more minimal build construction they may have gotten injured.

    So preventable...
  • Rizwan Bukhari
    by Rizwan Bukhari 2 months ago
    That's terrible, but why would an instructor let a student solo after 5 or 6 hours? Other than safety, doesn't that hurt instructor's pocket too.
  • Doug Boyle
    by Doug Boyle 2 months ago
    And, predictable! Those of us inside the industry are better suited to prognosticate than those outside. Those outside only see their fantasy being realized but tend to be the bane of future growth through rumors and innuendos about the safety of such. The very last thing they will attribute is their own short-sightedness. If possible, we must side-step this tendency through building the training into the price of procurement. We've been here before with Ultralights and it culminated with the crashing of the Industry in 1983.
    As much as the advent of Sport Pilot was bemoaned, it has made the Sport safer. The negative side-effect was a reduction in the infrastructure which provides the after-care. Additionally, it has increased the cost of availing one's self of this very important component. The very reason one avails themselves of the Part 103 direction is to minimize expense. Experimental-Amatuer Built (EAB) has been getting safer through improved education and I think it will behoove us to put our heads together to find a similar path to accomplish the same.
  • Larry  Mednick
    by Larry Mednick 2 months ago
    Rizzy, they just pack up and leave. They don’t need our approval to legally fly their 103s. And as Doug says that IS the benefit of Sport Pilot.
  • Rizwan Bukhari
    by Rizwan Bukhari 2 months ago
    This is really sad. But I see what you are saying. I think some five years ago, this guy who lives in Boise area got some marginal training. Moved from a 19 meter single surface Northwing to a small 12 meter wing. Couldn't handle the Trike and stalled the Trike on landing approach. Totaled the Trike, hurt himself too. Needless to say, he doesn't fly Trikes anymore.

    I guess the lesson for anyone reading this is, take appropriate training and don't take chances with your life.
  • Tom Currier
    by Tom Currier 2 months ago
    On this topic I'm moving from a 19m to a 17m Northwing sail on my trike. Anyone in the know see an issue with that? The stall speed is 2mph higher but otherwise I think it will handle pretty much the same.
  • Larry  Mednick
    by Larry Mednick 2 months ago
    Tom, 3 things to consider, take off speed on the water is probably going to be more like 5-7 MPH faster and the drag is probably going to be less which has to do with how it pulls you up on plane during the initial start of the take off. also the yaw control over the carriage may be less. the Cygnets have a high area of vertical area in front of the hang point. adverse yaw is very much controlled by using a large wing. as you go smaller on the wing, you may loose yaw stability and combined with faster roll rate that the 17 will have, the adverse yaw may be greater and take longer to coordinate especially if the pilot does not push forward to coordinate their turns.

    Having said that, the 17 flies infinitely better than the 19 in my opinion...

    I used to fly a 15m on my Cygnets and they were like the Miss Budweiser hydroplane on take off and that was on a much lighter 582. Scary at times to be honest. I also used vertical stabilizers on the back of the floats which helped a lot.

    My suggestion is get some time on it and make shallow turns at first in calm air and then when you are comfortable and everything feels good, take off into a 5+ MPH head wind before you do no wind take offs in the water.

    Those are the kinds of things to consider in my opinion. Now they are using a 20m wing as the new standard. So the direction you are going has pros and cons for sure.
  • Doug Boyle
    by Doug Boyle 2 months ago
    Richard Pierce bought a 17M NW from Kit Clews for use on his Air Creation 582 float trike. Your 912 and Cygnet floats is a much heavier configuration which is why Airtime has gone to the NW 20m wing. Water Ops is where you'll notice the difference; the 17m won't have the lifting capacity of the 19m. Wingspan is the same but the aspect ratio is higher; the loss of squares is accomplished with a smaller chord-which is where the lifting capacity is derived. one-up you probably won't notice; hot days and 2-up you will. Go up to Lake Winnepasauki (sp?) and see if Richard will let you demo his on your trike. He also has a Trim System for sale which has never been installed. This might accomplish what your after on your 19m.
  • Tom Currier
    by Tom Currier 2 months ago
    Doug and Larry, thanks for the comments. My feeling on my current 19m is that I have much more lift than I need. I'm in the air in 6 seconds with no wind, and much shorter with a headwind. My latest flight into strong headwinds had me in the air in less that 80'............so, I don't think losing a bit of lift will be too bad. I am concerned about speed though. I like to rotate up at just under 40 and this will have me skipping along a bit faster

    After your comments, Larry, I'm concerned about yaw stability. I experience yaw on descent with the bar all the way back and at idle. I usually correct it by easing the bar a bit forward or applying power. If this smaller wing will induce more yaw that might be an issue.

    This all said I think the 20 is going to be too much lift and sail for me. I'm a strapping 155lbs and none of my passengers has been more than 180....most are around my weight. When I catch a thermal it can literally toss me up a few hundred feet in a heartbeat.
  • Doug Boyle
    by Doug Boyle 2 months ago
    Tom, I can appreciate what your saying but keep in mind that your weight is a small percentage of the overall weight. The overall weight is what the wing selection is geared towards and designed for. As the years go by you'll see that "time on the water" IS the Danger Zone in float planes. Getting off the water in six seconds is a good thing! Ramphos uses a Grif 16m wing in their configuration and can be sampled through Gil in NY or (?) in Va. For all the reasons Larry mentioned these crafts are all mated accordingly. Your not the first that would prefer less sail while in the air....Kit Clews, a very accomplished Float trike pilot, had water-Ops issues just recently while switching to a smaller wing on a 103 Cygnet. They are all a bit different on the water!
  • Doug Boyle
    by Doug Boyle 2 months ago
    (Edward Wilson in Chesapeake Bay, Va.)
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