How to Prepare / Navigate Your Training SC

The Requirements

To get your instrument rating (under part 61, which is what most pilots do), you will need a total of:

  • 50 Hours of Cross Country Time as PIC (meaning your X/C time from being a Private Pilot in Training counts when you flew solo, but not the X/C time when your instructor was on board)
  • 40 Hours Simulated Instrument or Actual Instrument Total (means your 3 hours of Sim time from your Private Pilot training counts, and you can do the remaining 37 hours in the real clouds with a CFI/CFII or “under the hood” your choice)  I recommend getting as much “actual time” as possible.
  • A 250nm X/C filed under “IFR” with your CFII that is flown along airways or a route direct by ATC, and during this flight you do 3 different kinds of instrument approaches (like an ILS, VOR, and GPS approach for example).
  • 15 Hours of instruction from a CFII

That’s it!

If you do it right, you can log most of the simulated and cross country time with a friend as a safety pilot and save the instructor fees.  Just find yourself a CFII and plan to fly your last 15-20 hours of Simulated/Actual time and Cross Country time with that CFII. (note: you have to use a CFII, not a CFI for your instrument training, meaning a Certified Flight Instructor Instrument, it is another rating the instructor must hold).

What you need before you start training…

Well you’ve completed step 1, which is to start your ground school well before you start training.  You should work as far ahead as you can in this course before you start instrument training, and it is totally fine to even finish this course before you ever fly with a CFII for your instrument training.

  1. Start Your IFR Ground School Course (this course).
  2. Get a pair of “foggles” or safety glasses with tape or sanded edges to make the edges “foggy” so you only see the instruments.
  3. Download an app with approach charts and low en-route charts, or buy the paper copies for your local area.
  4. Find an experienced CFII that has taught instrument students RECENTLY, not 20 years ago!  And someone who has taught students in the exact plane you will be training in!

What you need during training…

learning needs for pilots

So you may have heard of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (basically what does a human being need to be able to learn, and how important is each one of these needs).  We’ll talk about this hierarchy a TON in the CFI course, but for now I just want you to realize what basic things you need to be successful in your instrument training.  Remember: IFR training is a bit more intensive on the book knowledge and brain work than your PPL training.  For your initial certificate we focused on teaching you how to kinesthetically FLY the airplane, now you’ll learn how to MANAGE your flight and airplane in the NAS (national airspace system).

What You Need To Bring With You To Training:

The obvious:

  • Headset
  • Charts / Ipad
  • Logbook
  • Foggles
  • Etc.

The other important stuff you need to carry in your flight bag:

  • 1 or 2 sealed bottles of water (replace them if you drink them)
  • 2 snack bars (like a nut bar or nature valley bar)
  • Sunglasses
  • Flashlight (regular is fine, unless you really want a fancy red LED one)

The Other Important Stuff You Need to Learn:

  • Physiological: Get good sleep and exercise semi regularly when you are taking flight training
  • Safety: Talk to your instructor about concerns so they can put you at ease (i.e. maybe you’re concerned about not being able to see other airplanes while under the hood, talking with your CFI about how they will keep an eye out for you may make you feel more comfortable).
  • Love and Belonging: Ask your CFI to introduce you to some of the other CFIs and students around the airport / FBO….finding a few study buddies and people with like interests to grab a beer with after work can help you in flight training, even if you’re not specifically socializing with them just to talk about aviation.
  • Esteem: Yes you will struggle here and there in flight training.  I can promise you that whatever mistakes you’re making, as long as you’re still walking at the end of your flight and the airplane is reusable, then you haven’t screwed up as bad as other guys have.  You’re going to make mistakes, have thick skin, shrug it off, try to do better next time.  You will be making mistakes in aviation until the day you take your last flight when you’re 80 or 90 years old….the sooner you grow some thick skin, the happier your life will be!
  • Self Actualization: In simple terms, If you satisfy the needs at the bottom of the pyramid, and can really visualize yourself being an IFR rated pilot and really want it, then it’ll happen.  Visualize, believe you can do it, take care of the basics, and it will become reality.