Helicopter Solo Flight - When is the right time?

Are you wasting your hard earned dollars flying around solo? So called "Building time"?...

There are specific solo requirements for a particular aircraft rating, other than that there are no solo hours required. Why is solo a waste? Because you don't learn anything while solo, in fact, most students actually exhibit worse flying skills after extended solo than they did before hand. Why? Because they get bored and don't practice the things that keep them proficient and make them a better pilot.

There is a second more important reason that you should not simply build time solo. Relative to the total cost of your training, the cost of a flight instructor is, or at least should be low. This is not to say that some schools won't rip you off, I did see one school which was charging $47 per hour for the flight instructor which is a complete rip-off.

Most flight instructors are rather inexperienced overall; they have just received their ratings and usually have 200 and 1,000 hours total time. The advantage is that they are current in training. Yes, there are exceptions, there are some who have not yet moved on to a commercial job, or who have went back to flight training in retirement, but they are few. Don't be disrespectful to these low-time instructors as long as they conduct themselves professionally; you will be there yourself one day.

The cost of an instructor should be reasonable, if it's not you need to make some noise. This is your chance to have your skills honed to perfection as they should be before your private pilot practical test.

While reviewing the flight training programs at many schools, I found much time building waste. Some examples are after solo on the private where only 10 hours of solo time is required. Other waste was after achieving the private, and building time towards the 150 hour requirement of the commercial certificate which in some cases was as much as 90 hours or even more waste which equates to in excess of $20,000; that is a lot of waste, I wish I had that much money to burn!

What then, to do with all that solo time? Fly with a CFII instructor and make use of that time towards your instrument and CFI(I) certificates. Note that you can not build dual time for your commercial, nor may you log the required PIC (solo) time for your commercial prior to receiving your Private Certificate; but you can, prior to possessing your private or your commercial, log training time for your instrument. There is no requirement to first obtain any other ratings prior to logging instrument training.

I am not saying that you should train for your instrument or CFI(I) instead of practicing for your private; No, that time most likely will be better spent with an instructor ensuring that you are becoming a better, more precise pilot. I would never consider letting a student solo more than is required for any rating, but even more while a private applicant; rather, I want that pilot to take his/her check ride with the skills of a commercial applicant. He/she will feel much more comfortable, will be much more proficient and consequently will do much better on the check ride! END. Jump to Top