Fear Of Flying Solo

Just this week we have had four people confront us with the same problem…a fear of flying solo. They worked so hard, they complete their written test, and then it comes time to fly on a solo cross-country and they are apprehensive about leaving the traffic pattern. Some people have even stopped flying and are of the mindset, “if I want to fly, I’m just going to fly with my flight instructor”. I guarantee it’s not just those four individuals and there are plenty of others who probably haven’t said so.

Why do we have a fear of flying solo and what can we do about it? I’ve dealt with this before personally. I’ve dealt with my confidence being on the lower scale coming up to my cross-country flight and I’ve certainly dealt with a lot of students who have this fear of solo cross-countries. Here’s how I work it with my students:

I recreate the solo flight. We take the flight dual and that’s our dual cross country. Then if they’re still not confident about it, we can do it again and I’m still there but I’m totally quiet. I sit in the right seat passively and let the student fly the airplane down and back to help build confidence. We recreate it and make it as realistic as possible.

If that doesn’t work, we start smaller. I will take the student to an airport just 10 nautical miles away or 20 nautical miles away. We’ll do it together and then they fly it solo. I’ve even heard of a CFI (World Famous Dr. Larry) who will follow students up in another aircraft. The student does their solo cross-country and Dr. Larry takes off behind them, but they are on the same frequency just to make the student feels better. That’s shows a CFI going above and beyond for his or her students.

It’s normal to have a fear of those solo cross-countries and it’s actually great that you have that fear, because aviation is humbling to you if you have that fear, but at the same time, we need to have confidence in our skills and our abilities. Confidence in the foundation of knowledge that you’ve built as you pursue those further ratings. Start with simple cross-countries, start small and make sure your CFI is, not only aware, but totally on board with starting small and helping you work up to your solo cross-country.

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