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Too Scared to Solo?

Updated: Mar 21, 2022

While a first solo is always a challenge, for 64-year-old Mark Ballett it seems more than that, even after 42 hours in a C42 - in fact, it feels like a circuit too far. What should he do? Give up, or keep at it? Conquer his fear, or accept it's just not for him?


This is how it is. I am fascinated by flying and all things that fly and always wanted to learn to fly. In fact, I passed a Royal Navy flying grading in a Chipmunk aged 18, without soloing, as it was too windy at the time. Now aged 64 I’m trying again. My problem is that whilst I can fly the plane – my super instructor, Alex, keeps telling me this - I’m scared of going up in the air on my own. Surely, planes need an instructor in them to operate properly?


Now, Alex told me I was ready to solo after 20 hours, but things didn’t work out. Alex didn’t have enough instructor hours to just let me solo; we had to fly to another aerodrome, with a much shorter runway than I was used to, and then I had to go up with another instructor. Sadly, I got lost in the circuit, pointed too much to the left on take-off, and landed a bit to flat, so he quite understandably said ‘no’. But the experience phased me and I contemplated stopping.

Too Scared to Solo, Ikarus C42 G-CFAV

Trouble is, I am compelled to do it, but don’t really want to always have to fly with trusty Alex, or someone else when he retires – he’s currently in his mid-twenties! My very wise daughter, Ruth, says not to worry about it, just keep going and do it when I am ready but WHO takes 50 plus hours to solo? I am a man after all, I can barely show my face in the club house as it is – only a little tongue in cheek, that, and not sure there is a clubhouse, as such - I also realise that the longer it goes on – me relying on Alex, like I do – the harder it will be for me to break the habit.


I’m writing this because I like QuizAero and what it is doing, and I don’t know anyone else learning to fly. Am I alone in my apprehension/fear? Are old folk just more cautious? Is it just plain cowardice? If so, where is Dorothy when you need her?

Learning to fly in the Ikarus C42

I am a pretty determined person, but this is a major challenge for me. Perhaps that is a good thing: it is no small thing to be given free rein to gyrate a flying machine beneath the clouds and above other people’s heads – yes, I know, at least 500 ft above them.


Look, I’m trying to be optimistic. In fact, I have just bought a secondhand set of David Clark H10-30’s because I think sharing headsets may not be a ‘thing’ in the new world order we find, once GA starts-up again. Also, I’m planning a cross-country trip to Cornwall, from Headcorn, with Alex at my side, of course.


Wish me luck and if you have any words of wisdom – apart from ‘just get on with it’ - or you have been through a similar experience as you conquered your own demons learning to fly, please get in touch.


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QuizAero adds: Many thanks to Mark Ballett for sharing his training experience with us. Please share your comments for Mark in the section below.

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19件のコメント


不明なメンバー
2021年11月19日

Just popping on here to update my previous comment. I soloed yesterday after 31 hours patient instruction from Alex and it was brilliant! It turns out there is nothing to fear but fear itself and all went smoothly. The challenge that lies ahead is to keep the momentum going through the Winter months with shorter days and challenging weather, not to mention shortage of instructors!

いいね!
不明なメンバー
2021年11月19日
返信先

Congratulations Timothy! Yes there does seem to be a chronic shortage of microlight instructors too

いいね!

不明なメンバー
2021年11月13日

Hi Mark and Timothy

Gosh maybe its a bigger boat than any of us think. I'm in it too! I actually have soloed, but bad weather and covid has meant that there has been a bit of a gap and I am now finding it really hard to pluck up the courage and confidence to go again. The solo nav-ex feels especially daunting. Can't decide right now whether I'm relieved or sorry that the weather is closing in and suitable flying days few and far between. Thanks to both of you for writing so honestly. Its nice to know I'm not the only one.

いいね!

不明なメンバー
2021年11月08日

I am in the same boat. Cleared for solo by Alex but struggling to find an instructor and worried about losing my edge as time drags on and the winter weather closes in!

いいね!
不明なメンバー
2021年11月08日
返信先

Hi Timothy, I'm still persevering with this and now have 55 hours under my belt. Still not soloed, but did find out recently that the average hours taken to get a microlight licence is directly proportional to age: us old folk are more cautious. Your age plus ten hours seems to be the equation. If you want to discuss further give me a ring - 07968 183055.


Mark

いいね!

不明なメンバー
2020年4月28日

Hi


Its natural to feel anxious and even scared at the thought of flying an aircraft solo. From a professional point of view you are not alone, in fact I'd bet my wages on 99.9% of student / newly qualified pilots feel some degree of fear whilst training or building their skill base post skills test. The trick is how to manage those stresses which is basically caused by your mind creating scenarios that in reality won't happen. It takes a leap of faith of your part, your instructor certainly knows your abilities better than you and once your strapped in and on your way you'll be too busy enjoying the flight to be overwhelmed with any fear.

I hope…


いいね!

不明なメンバー
2020年4月28日

I’m 63 and went solo last year at 62 and around 23 hours. I’ve never found it easy flying solo but like you it’s a life long ambition and I’m going to do it regardless of nerves. My biggest challenge to date was the first solo land away. I’m more worried about getting lost than flying the plane.

Perseverance is the key good luck

いいね!
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