Practice What You Hate

2 min read
Feb 15, 2023

There’s probably not a pilot born who didn’t walk away from a successful checkride and say, “Well, thank goodness I’ll never have to do (fill in the blank) again!” For some, maybe it was stalls. For others, slow flight. Others still, turns around a point or soft-field landings.

There are maneuvers in flight training, different for every pilot, that are either uncomfortable, difficult to master, or just, in some hard-to-define way, unappealing. There is nothing complex about this; it’s human nature. No matter how much we love something, there will always be elements we do not enjoy. 

But another element of human nature is that we tend to resist doing things we don’t like. And in aviation, that’s a problem.

Flight training isn't like college, where elective credits are a huge chunk of the studies. Everything you learned in flight training was core study. Without exception, every single maneuver you flew as a student pilot served a purpose. And that purpose was to craft you into a competent aviator capable of dealing with anything the sky can throw at you.

But here’s the thing: If you didn’t like a particular maneuver or weren’t good at it, I’d bet you haven’t done it since you passed your checkride. And that was how many years ago? If you neglect some element of flying because you’re not that keen on it, you lose a critical part of your skill portfolio as a pilot. 

Flight instructor and learner going over a flight lesson at a flight school

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So here’s the challenge: Sit down and think about what part of flying you hate. If you can’t think of one, you probably repressed it. Go to your library and crack open your old training books to refresh your memory. Sure, they might be out-of-date, but it will help you remember what you did your best to avoid as a student.

Alternatively, look back through your logbook. Review those early pages until you track down that maneuver.

Then, go to the FAA’s website and download the latest version of the Airplane Flying Handbook to read up on your nemesis. In particular, look for explanations of why flight training professionals teach the maneuver you don’t like. You’ll find breadcrumbs in the intro text to each chapter and more details in the text describing each maneuver. These are key, because we adults — confident that we know it all — really don’t learn very well. Not unless someone tells us why it’s important to do so. And I’d be willing to bet that no one ever told you why that maneuver you hate is important.

Finally, when it's time for your flight review, put it to good use. Fess up to your CFI. Tell her what you have been avoiding. Get some dual to brush up. Then, continue to hammer away at it on your own. Because practicing what you hate will make you a better pilot. And that, in turn, will bring you joy.