Have you become discouraged or burned out in flight training? Are you not getting along with your instructor? Have you run out of time or money? Well, you’re not alone. Plataeus and road blocks are all too common in flight training. In fact, it’s a normal part.
This podcast is all about fighting the ‘Resistance’ so you can become who you were meant to be; an Aviator.
In this podcast we will discuss:
- Blocks that could prevent you from becoming a pilot
- Some actual stories and struggles from people like you
- The “Right Stuff” myth — and the real definition of someone who has it
- The Resistance — what it is and how to fight it
- The Two You’s — how to choose the one that will get this done
- Stories from people that overcame hardship
- How to work through your problems to achieve your goal
It’s true that flight training isn’t always fun or easy. And as you run up against these blocks, it may seem that you’re alone. The easy thing to do would be to quit, move on, do it later, or never, and just stop. But what good does that do?
Why did you start pursuing aviation in the first place? Why did you want to become a pilot? Drawing from that initial passion, and visualizing who you were meant to be is key to your success.
At the end of the day you need to make a choice. Are you going to go after this or not? If you are, and I think you should, you need to work through the Resistance and become your best self.
Does it all sound crazy? It’s not.
But please, do me a favor. Before you quit flight training, LISTEN TO THIS PODCAST!
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On this episode of Aviator Cast, don’t quit flight training.
Welcome aviators to another episode of Aviator Cast. Load up your flight bag with useful flight training topics, interviews in aviation passion. Let’s kick the tires and light the fires, coming to you from Angle of Attack Headquarters in Homer, Alaska. Here’s your host and flight instructor, Chris Palmer.
Welcome aviators, my name is Chris Palmer. I’m coming to you from Homer, Alaska. Today. We actually have a sunny day for once, it’s been pretty rainy recently. We’re transitioning into some new seasons here and flying is slowing down a little bit. I’m moving into the office a little bit more, working on some projects.
I’ll tell you more about one of those projects at the very end of the podcast here today, but I’m doing things a little bit differently today, so usually when I record podcasts and do this sort of thing, I’ll do a bunch of them at once and so I can be consistent and release them over time and know that I just have four to six weeks of content that is going to come out. But I’m doing something different today. I sat down today, I had a subject that I wanted to work on and I knew it was very important to talk about it right this instant, and so I stepped out of my normal work schedule, my normal content schedule to do this podcast today. Now, I feel like I’m on fire. I’m very motivated today about this subject as a result.
And so I hope that as I go through this that you can tell that my passion comes through, that I’m very excited about this. I also don’t want to be overbearing on this topic and I just want to add some thoughts to a troubling trend I’ve been seeing, and it may not even be so much a trend as just an age old thing that happens to pilots as they are going through training. This is just something that happens to everyone.
So, I’ve been getting a lot of messages through social media from people seeking advice, because they feel like they want to quit their flight training, or put it off until later. And so I’ve been responding to those messages. I really enjoy getting those messages and responding to people, but I feel like I was getting many of those at once, and it just started to tell me, hey, this is a topic you need to talk about right now. And so that’s why I stepped out of my normal schedule to start working on everything. And I’m really glad I did, because I feel like this is really going to be effective for those of you that are kind of on the fence or having some trouble.
So, there are many different reasons to want to quit. There is having trouble with your instructor, which I heard a story about that, we’ll talk about that here in a second. There’s family things that happen, which is probably one of the roughest things. Some people run out of money, some people stop having fun during the process and other people just have this idea that they aren’t capable of doing it or that they aren’t the right stuff. We’re going to be talking about that here in a few minutes, what that means, but you can’t think that you’re alone in this.
I mean, so many people have gone through and become pilots. You know, we all have gone through in one form or another, a very tough situation, as a pilot, becoming a pilot to get to where we are. And so I want to illustrate that today, not only with comments that people have, but with some quotes and with things that I feel are a good perspective to push through this so that you find the motivation and you don’t quit. It really helped that my thoughts can be about me because I am very passionate about this subject today, and hope that it comes through well for you guys. So you aren’t the only ones to go through this. Now I got permission from several of the people that sent me messages, if I could share their messages on the air, and I did get permission. So I’m going to share three of those instances now and maybe place yourself in these shoes and see if this sounds like you.
All right, so here’s the first quote. “I did a mock checkride this morning. Just the oral exam part. I did it with an instructor that has had a bunch of successful checkrides with the DPE. I have scheduled to do my check in November. Man, I really tanked it. I failed bad. I don’t know what to do now. The instructor was nice enough to send me an email with a brief outline of the questions he has gotten from this DPE so that I can study, but I’ll be honest, I’m shook. I’ve been really having this nagging ‘You are not good enough’ for a while now and this might’ve put the nail in the coffin. I get he was trying to help but it might’ve just pushed me into canceling my checkride altogether.” This for me just sends off so many alarms and you’re going to see why here in a few minutes. So that was me quoting that. So that’s that one instance, okay?
“Hey Chris,” here’s another one. “Hey Chris. Good to see you have got back into the podcast, long time listener. I thought I’d reach out to you as I have a problem. Effectively I’ve plateaued in my training and lost the buzz. My wife was diagnosed with MS some time ago and due to fatigue, she now only works part time. Where I live, Australia, is very expensive to fly, probably double the cost of the USA. I’ve been pretty down also, but worried that if I see a psych I’ll lose my medical. So do you have any advice?” Close quote. All right. There’s another one. I mean what a tough situation to have a family member going through that. That’s really a tough life thing happening.
Okay, here’s another one, and all of these I picked because these are people that have not become the pilots yet. You’ll hear some others later that have pushed through and gotten there. All right, here’s another quote. “I quit in 2002 during my pursuit of an instrument rating. I quit because I just wasn’t jiving with the flight instructor. What sucks was that not only did I walk away from the IR pursuit due to other life events such as moving to a new city for a new job, I stopped flying altogether. That ended up being a 17 year absence from flying. I just got back into flying and recently got my flight review done. I’m going to make it a goal for 2020 to restart my instrument pursuit.” So that’s what I get really nervous about, close quote, by the way.
That’s what I get really nervous about when someone is getting into training, or rather wanting to leave training, is that you may be leaving it forever if you step away. That when you’re right at that precipice, right at that threshold, I want you to move across it and we’re going to find out some ways to do that today.
So first I want to start with the end in mind, in that my eventual goal today is to hopefully inspire you to never give up, to push your way through this entire process and know that it will be worth it to become a pilot. So that’s what we’re trying to push for today, okay? So for those of you that are struggling with one thing or another, there’s a whole long list of them. Of course, they’re going to be very personal and hard for you. I totally get it. I’ve been through many of those things myself. I shared quite a bit about my own personal story several episodes back when I talked about becoming a commercial pilot. Kind of some deep, personal stuff that tried to get in the way of me achieving my dreams. So we’re going to find a way to push through that. It’s going to be worth it. And I hope that this podcast today inspires you to do that.
Okay, so you guys have maybe seen the movie the Right Stuff. Now the Right Stuff is this Hollywood rendition of astronauts from the space race that were having to go through the entire process of proving that they were the best of the best, and that they were going to be the best people in the entire world to become astronauts. And they went through all sorts of crazy training and crazy tests, and it’s a pretty funny movie to see, all the stuff they had to go through. And it’s actually fairly historically accurate in that they put these astronauts through the craziest things, and some of them weren’t even relevant, at all, to what they were going to go through. But we all know that those astronauts that went through that ended up becoming, and going through, actually, some fairly intense situations in space as we were learning more about space travel and things.
So anyway, these were the best people, the smartest, the healthiest, they were the best in the nation and eventually made it up into space with this space race. So as such, and because we have this kind of nostalgia, and folklore of the aviator that steps out of his biplane and has a sack of mail over his shoulder and a leather jacket, and goggles, and bugs in his teeth, whatever, that we have to be and model that type of aviator, or we have to be able to show the right stuff. We hold up the right stuff as if it actually still exists, and it actually does not.
So today, we have learned so much about aviation over the many decades that it’s been around, now over a hundred years, that we don’t need to prove the right stuff all the time, okay. It’s not real. The right stuff is not real. It might be for certain applications like space travel, okay, I get that. But when we’re talking about having a very rewarding career in aviation, I’m talking, even the people that are in the military and flying fighter jets, or the people that are at the very top of their airlines in seniority and making a lot of money, or the people that go through flight training just to have a license to fly for fun and for a hobby and to expand their world and to have adventure. We don’t need to be the right stuff like we were before, especially here on the general aviation level.
So, I can almost guarantee that looking around you, knowing your network of pilots, and it may be small at this point if you’re just starting out, but there is no one around you, not your instructor, not the old guy that’s been flying at your airport for decades that has the right stuff, okay? So there’s just many, many steps ahead of you in the process. And they found a way to get through this process, to push through their barriers, and get to where they are today. It’s something that almost everyone has to go through. And so they aren’t the right stuff. You may look up to your instructor as someone that has the right stuff, is the right stuff, but guess what? They were probably a lot like you when they first started out flying. And you look at the chief pilot at your flight school and think, “Oh man, they’re like a god.” Well guess what? They started out at nothing as well.
And so we need to put things in perspective that the right stuff is unrealistic. So a couple thoughts here. You don’t have to be a perfect pilot. You just have to be better than good enough, and willing to always improve. You don’t need to make a lot of money, you just need to save up for your time, the time that you’re going to strike and get it done. In other words, you don’t have to be wealthy to become a pilot. You don’t have to be the epitome of health, you just have to be healthy enough to honestly pass your medical exam and maintain personal medical airworthiness.
So we’re, what I’m trying to do is I’m trying to push aside this myth that you have to become the right stuff or that you are the right stuff, whatever, okay? There is an unrealistic goal that people have, especially in their own minds, as to what type of pilot they need to be in order to get this done. Yes, we have standards in which we test too. And of course your instructors are going to make sure that you’re ready before you go to your checkride and get your license.
But guess what? Getting your license and passing a checkride means absolutely nothing. What matters is that you are going to be a safe aviator. You’re going to take your family, make good decisions, and always return home safe. So that’s what matters the most. And if that’s who you are is just an average pilot who yes, you struggle with things but you know how to push through and you make safe decisions and you’re good at flying, but you know, hardly anyone’s great at flying. And that’s the epitome of a good aviator to me. Someone with today’s, modern day, right stuff is someone that can manage everything that we have to do these days and they’re just safe. Okay? And, and they get it done. So that is the right stuff to me. Let’s push off the old right stuff and start at that baseline.
So I want to talk about something called the resistance. And this is going to be the core of the rest of this podcast here. The resistance comes from a book that I listen to once or twice a year because it is so impactful and powerful and directly to the point, and it’s called the War of Art, by Steven Pressfield. Now, this book is more directed toward the creative pursuits, but I actually think that learning to fly is a creative pursuit, okay? It has so many parallels to being a writer or a photographer or someone that creates something. Everything we do, I think, is creative, and in aviation, it is a creative pursuit as well, okay? So we’re going to start from that correlation, with the War of Art, and I’m going to have quotes throughout here that are just so spot on.
So we’re going to define the resistance because the resistance is very, very real. So, here’s a quote from Steven Pressfield from the War of Art. “Rule of thumb: the more important a call or action is to our soul’s evolution, the resistance will fill toward pushing it.” Okay? So the more important a call or action is to our soul’s evolution, the resistance will fill toward pursuing it. So the more important the goal, the more the resistance will push toward us. Okay?
So the resistance is very real. The resistance is kind of like the subconscious self that is self destructive and trying to hold us back from doing what we were meant to do, or becoming what we were meant to be. So it takes the form of things like procrastination, excuses, laziness, lack of motivation, fear is a huge one, self doubt, and just about anything else that gets in the way of you becoming the best you. But at the end of the day, being human is to have resistance. We have this subconscious resistance that has always pushing against us. It’s one of the most exhausting parts of life, okay? Getting up every day and fighting that resistance to just do what you’re supposed to do, achieve what you’re supposed to achieve. It is always there. It will always be there and we need to recognize it and find out how we can get through the resistance, okay?
So again, aviation is one of those achievements that faces heavy, heavy, heavy resistance. I see this all the time, and I have been known to say that plenty of people have time and money, but they don’t have the ability, or the hardest commodity to come by is hard work to just push through this process of becoming a pilot. Okay? And the reason why that resistance is so strong. Man, I love flying. I wish I could summarize in a few phrases what flying actually means to me, and what aviation means to me. It’s not my entire life, right? There are things more important than flying, but flying and aviation is so good for my soul. It is my calling, it is what I’m here to do. And I am so grateful to get to do it, all right. And because of that, because it is so important to me because it is so important in many people, it’s a strong, strong, very important thing, the resistance is equally as strong.
So I think that becoming a pilot or an aviator makes us better people, more well rounded, capable, and just more whole. And the resistance absolutely hates that and is going to try to destroy it at every single turn. So what I’m recognizing here in what people are writing me, and when I see people fall off and they don’t get their training done, they don’t become a pilot, or whatever, is the resistance is getting the best of them. Now, I don’t mean that to be derogatory, I’m not trying to insult everyone. Again, to have the resistance is to be human and we need to figure out how to push that aside. So there are two yous, there are two separate yous and we’re going to be talking about that now.
So here’s another quote from the War of Art, by Steven Pressfield. Quote, “Are you paralyzed with fear? That’s a good sign. Fear is good. Like self doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do. Remember one rule of thumb: the more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.” How powerful is that?
Let me read it one more time and let me, I just want this to sink in, okay? “Are you paralyzed with fear? That’s a good sign. Fear is good. Like self doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do. Remember one rule of thumb: the more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.” All right? I mean, if I were to just sum this entire podcast up in one quote, it’d be that one. Now I have several more from Steven Pressfield, but it’d be that one quote. So we’ve identified that we have this subconscious, and we’re going to be calling that subconscious the resistance. We know that flight training can suck at times. Okay? We know that it’s going to be hard. It’s just how it is. We may go in with so much passion and expecting that it’s going to be so fun that we don’t have those roadblocks, those plateaus, those things that get in the way of us just achieving something we care so much about. But guess what? The resistance is a powerful force, it is real and it is going to try to derail us at every single turn.
So talking of two yous, what we want to do is we want to separate that emotional resistance-ridden being, and take a step back and look at things holistically. So yes, the resistance is real. Yes, things get hard in flight training, but we are going to set that aside. We can visualize it, we can see it there. We know there are problems, we know it hurts, but we’re going to look at it and observe it, okay? Now we take a step back.
So, now we’re going to get into a future you, visualizing who you are or who you were meant to be, all right. And I, man, I think this is just so real to me. I can’t even, I just wish I could express it in perfect words, but I hope it’s coming across. So we’re separating the resistance and we’re going to now have a different you, which is visualizing you as the future you, okay? So here’s another quote from Steven Pressfield. This is so huge. All right, here we go. Quote, “We fear discovering that we are more than we think we are. More than our parents, children, teachers think we are. We fear that we actually possess the talent that our still small voice tells us. That we actually have the guts, the perseverance, the capacity. We fear that we truly can steer our ship, plant our flag, reach our promised land. We fear this because if it’s true then we become a strange from all we know we pass through a membrane, we become monsters and monstrous.”
That is, close quote, that is absolutely true. 100% true. So we are going to come through that membrane as he calls it, I also called it a precipice or a threshold earlier, and we need to decide or you need to decide that you are going to push through this resistance in your fight training. It will come up. If it doesn’t come up in your private pilot is going to come up in some other rating. At some point you will have a lot of resistance to become what you have dreamed to become, okay?
So let’s visualize that you, that is a certificated pilot, okay? An aviator. You are capable of doing this. You are talented in certain areas, you are knowledgeable in the area that you need to be knowledgeable in. You are safe, you are efficient in how you fly and you are worthy of the title pilot or worthy of the title aviator, all right. So visualizing that you, embrace it, okay. Imagine yourself as that pilot. Visualize yourself.
Really, I want you to close your eyes, unless you’re driving, but visualize where you are, what type of plane you’re flying, where you’re flying, what the light is like outside. Is it sunset, sunrise, is it bright, what kind of clouds are around and where are your hands and the flight controls? Are you holding the yolk? Or are you holding a stick, if your dream is a Super Cub, or something, and where’s your hand? Is that working on something on the GPS or is it working on something on the iPad or working on the throttle, or checking some other systems over there. And what would that feel like to be in that position to be doing that type of flying that you dream of? What kind of emotions would you feel?
I’d imagine that it’s a deep joy that you would feel, like a quiet happiness that just makes sense. And often that’s how flying is for me too, where these perfect moments reveal themselves and life just makes sense. Everything has come together and I know I’m right where I need to be. Is that what you’re feeling as well? What does your confidence feel like in that moment? You feel like you can handle this? Do you feel like this is something you can do? And what is your command of the situation? Do you feel like you have full control over the safety and the the ultimate success of your flight? All right, that is you. That is you as an aviator. You are an aviator and the sooner that you can embrace that, the fact that you are an aviator, is very, very important because if you can visualize yourself as that, okay, and then still observe yourself as that resistance-ridden being, then you can start to work the problem and work through it.
All right, so now we’re going to focus on the long game, push through, work the problem, take steps to work through that resistance, again, one little step at a time. And here is another quote from Steven Pressfield, and I think this is the last one we have from the War of Art. Quote, “Our job in this life is not to shape ourselves into some ideal we imagine we ought to be, but to find out who we already are and become it.” Close quote. Super powerful. I just, gosh, I just wish I could reach through the screen or through the mic here and grab you guys by the shirt and just shake you a little bit and say, “Hey, this is worth it. You can do this.” That’s how I feel right now.
Okay, so some final motivational thoughts. Apart from again, the two yous, and separating them and embracing who you really are as an aviator, okay. So some final motivational thoughts. You can do this. I know you can. So many people have done it before. It’s just, it’s part of this. This is not an industry where you can have participation trophies. There are just too many official barriers with checkrides, and time to be logged, and experience and things. You can’t fake this, and while you can’t fake it, I also know that you can do it. That you can learn those things, that you can become those things and that you can do this, okay? Work the problem, okay? So if that problem was money, time, instructor issues, family, meaning those medical things, that was one example from earlier. Whatever it is, start to work the problem, okay? Start to think about how you can work around this without having your emotions or the resistance too involved.
So think about the practical steps you can take to move forward to just work the problem and work through this. That’s what I always find myself doing. And whenever people write, because I’m not emotionally involved, I can take a holistic look at it and say, “You need to talk to your instructor about this, and you need to do that, and you need to do this, and you need to do that, and that’s the best way forward.” And it kind of opens people’s eyes sometimes, but they just can’t see through that because they’re too emotional about it.
So remember again that flying isn’t always fun. That might be blasphemy. You guys might hate me forever for saying that, but flying isn’t always fun. This is something that we work toward. And that reward that you get at the end is very worth it for having gone through those things. It’s fun most of the time, and it’s great most of the time. But it, there are those moments where it just isn’t, especially in flight training when you’re really trying to grow.
This is a goal worth achieving. Remember that because it is a goal worth achieving that you will become that better person. The you, as it says up here, let’s see, becoming the you who you already are, and you’re finding who you already are and you just become it. Because we know that we want to be that person.,The resistance is going to be very strong and we need to push through it. So dig deep, recognize the two yous, and assuming you’re going to do it, okay. Assuming you’re going to push through and become a pilot, and I think you should, I feel you should, be the you that is an aviator, okay. An aviator works the problem, figures it out and pushes through and I have the utmost faith that you will do so, and that you will find those things that you need to do to make this happen, that you will work the problem, that you’ll take one little step ahead and keep working through it.
Now I want to share a couple more examples of, that people sent me that had faced issues and they worked through it, okay. So here are a couple more stories just to relate to show you that you aren’t alone in this, okay. This is so, so common for many people. All right, here we go. Here’s one from a friend of mine that, actually really cool story. I’m actually just going to have him on the podcast later, but he’s going through his Air Force training now, and he’s older. Anyway, just such a cool story. I think you guys are going to love talking to him later, but anyway, this is the message that he sent me.
“I think I’ve told you my story, but I decided to go all in and take out loans and just do it when I was 26. After about two months of training, three CFIs and 3,500 in debt, I had gotten a rousing 7.5 hours.” That’s pretty shocking, by the way. “I realized this was not sustainable, especially with a brand new baby to take care of, so I quit. After two years, or about two years later, I got another 14 hours as part of my Air Force training. Then about nine years later, after looking at schools a few other times, I decided I was going to use my tax return and credit cards if I had to in order to finish. I ended up putting a few thousand on the credit card to finish, but it was worth every penny. I don’t know if there’s anything I felt more fulfilled in achieving. The question I would ask is why you ever started in the first place. If it was to get rich or be someone you saw on YouTube, then quitting may be the right answer. But if it is because you love airplanes and the freedom you feel when you fly, then there is no way you can quit.” I just loved the way he phrases that.
Here’s the last part of his quote. “They,” meaning you, the audience, “Have to realize that the bad or hard times, which everyone has, are far, far outweighed by the amazing, awe-inspiring times. I can’t imagine my life without flying in airplanes. I believe there is a place for everyone in aviation that wants it, but it is also okay that not everyone wants it. The key is to be honest with yourself because if you quit just because it is hard, you will never feel satisfied. On the other hand, if you push through the hard, it will be even more rewarding in the end.” Close quote. That is just pure gold, and when you guys hear his story in another podcast, it’s just going to make even more sense, so stay tuned for that in the future.
All right. Here’s one last quote from someone that wrote me today. Okay. Quote, “A month or so before my PPL checkride, I was flying with my instructor around noon as convection was really picking up and it got super bumpy. I really thought I was going to puke and I hate puking, so much so that I thought of it and it made me start to hyperventilate during the lesson. I got real quiet while I focused on my breathing, my instructor could tell I wasn’t quite right and told me to focus outside the cockpit, which did help. When I got home, my now wife could tell I wasn’t feeling well at all. I told her I was questioning everything about this whole learning to fly thing. She helped remind me that aviation is obviously a big passion of mine and that it may not always be a fun thing. Silly as it may sound, that was a breakthrough for me. I realized that you can be passionate about something, but that doesn’t mean it’s always going to be fun. I was back in the saddle a few days later. Now I have my PPL and my own Cessna 150.”
So some amazing stories today. I hope that for those of you that are out there thinking of quitting, stopping this process, you can see that A, that’s not a good idea, if you ever do want to become a pilot, because you may not be able to finish up for a long time, and B, that it is worth it to get through, and C, that the resistance that you feel is completely normal and natural, okay? So I hope you feel inspired today. I really hope that you won’t quit. This is so rewarding and worth it to go through this process and I believe that you can work the problem as an aviator, okay. And that you be an aviator. You can be that you that is an aviator. And as I always say, which is so, so important, at the very end of my podcasts, throttle on, which means to keep pushing forward. That’s really what throttle on means at the end of the day.
Okay, so very quickly before we end this podcast, you’ll have some ending messages here. I just announced that I’m working the next few weeks on Checkride Ace. It’s something I’m working on for those that are going to be going through checkrides. A lot of it has to do with this resistance stuff, to make sure that there isn’t that resistance to getting in the checkride, but I’m involving the community in on this at every step, so stay tuned on social media, be part of the conversation. I really appreciate everyone that’s contributed to that so far, and thank you so much to those of you who, this morning, when I brought up this subject of this podcast and then I was very inspired to do it, that you stepped up, shared some of your stories and allowed me to share some of those stories here on the podcast. I think that was very helpful and I hope this podcast subject finds you well. All right, my friends, thank you so much for all you do. Keep pushing through. You got this. Until next time, throttle on.
We sincerely thank you for joining us on Aviator Cast. Please subscribe through your favorite podcast service, and leave a review. Check out more flight training resources at angleofattack.com. There you can find this podcast, many free aviation training videos, as well as online ground school for private instrument, commercial and CFI. Got a checkride coming up? Checkride ACE from Angle of Attack is your ultimate companion, guiding you through the process so you can conquer your big day. Thanks once again for joining us on Aviator Cast. Turn left, contact ground point niner.
Chief Flight Instructor and President of Angle of Attack. Founded in 2006.
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