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How Many Hours to Solo?


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Had an ATP pilot that came in a week ago for a Rotorcraft add-on and per the instructor after she had left, that she hovered with acceptable stability with out him on any of the controls on the intro flight. It sounded like he had not seen this very often and was quite surprised I think. As far as myself, it was a few hours of stick time to get the hover down where it actually resembled something of a hover in calm wind. I was a late bloomer and solo'd just shy of 16 hours and still working on the hover with winds.

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Hopefully others will chime in. But somebody told me, when you figure out the hover you'll be the first to know, and when your ready to solo you'll be the second to know. Hopefully others will chime in, as I am only one of many here. Maybe Witch or some others here can add there .02 worth for your poll.

 

One thing I have to add and I am sure I am not the only one, is the feet / pedal work. In the beginning my feet were so uncoordinated, I literally didn't know my left from my right. Took more than a few hours of deligence and patience from my instructors to help me get past it. Somehow my feet learned to "dance" and I am doing better, but they still catch me once in a while if a gust snags me while doing hover patterns, or a clearing turn. I wonder what will happen if I should try to fly something with the blades going the "wrong" way....... I hate to think about it LOL

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Depends on the student. It takes some students 10-20 hours to demonstrate the consistency needed to solo. It takes others 20+ hours. As an instructor I look for the ability to consistently fly a safe approach, and consistently perform a survivable autorotation. Although I would like my students approaches to be perfect, and for them to be able to perform a perfect touchdown auto, it just isn't realistic to expect that level of proficiency from a 20 hour pilot. So I look for consistently safe approaches, and the ability to recognize and correct mistakes. Every part of the flight is important, but IMHO those two are the most important for a solo student.

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Oh Brushfire, I'm ashamed to admit this, but I soloed at 32 hours. I guess I'm a slow learner.

 

But on the other hand, in the plane, I soloes at 21 hours. Planes are easy to fly.

 

I'm coming up on 60 hours and I'm way behind the learning curve-probably get the checkride at 80 hours. So therefore I look at it this way: the hours add up in the end-experience.

 

To tell you the turth, I was about to give up at 35 hours because I hadn't soloed yet. It was frustrating-couldn't fly, couldn't hover, couildn't auto...it was hard to not walk away. The money situation, while not a problem at this point, does get ne worried. I want to keep flying-and I will-and build a career as a pilot.

 

Don't tell anyone, but there are a couple of people that are bugging the crap out of me. Mainly because of their experience and attitude to flying and their assesment of my ability to fly and control the aircraft. It's the dislike of authority in me. And when someone tells me something that's false as true, then I'm suspicious.

 

Don't ask me why I posted that last paragraph. I'm pissy.

 

Later

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Hey Witch,

 

I only brought your name up becuase I knew you were somewhere in the midst of getting your PPL as well, and we were on the same page this week with nite flights.

 

As of last night I have close to 40hrs now with my check ride in the next couple of weeks and I don't feel that I am ready personally. But I have been told by my instructor that I am overly hard on myself when I make mistakes and that I need to lighten up. I felt the same for the written but did decent on it, so maybe I will do ok on the checkride.

 

This last week, the flying is getting to be alot funner; cross country flights, pinnicals & confined area, intro to stuck pedal landings and nite flying. I am really excited about my XC solo this coming Monday, as its one of the last tasks I have to do except profiency for the checkride.

 

I do understand the frustration part. Like I mentioned earlier, I had some problems with my feet not wanting to keep the A/C pointing where I wanted it. The instructor was patient but demanded alot from me, and it got very frustrating at times. But I think it made me better in the long run. The plan is to finish my PPL with as few as hours possible so I can put the extra money into the CPL/Instrument and start logging PIC and still get the experiance. So thats maybe why I am hard on myself possibly so I can keep pushing while being as efficient as I can be for the dollar spent.

 

As far as the guys with attitudes, that is a crappy situation. I feel for you, really do.

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Personally, 11 hrs to solo in the Huey. But the military system is a bit different from the civil world.

 

In the civvy world, I have had students usually solo around the 20 hour mark, but one lawyer took 70 hours. A retired 747 pilot, with 20,000 hrs and 700 hrs as a PVT pilot in his own H500, had to go right back to basics for the R22, and he tossed it in at my recommendation after 20 hrs, deciding he could never make it to CPL level. He was too used to giving orders and could not fly, navigate, make radio calls, and make operational decisions, on his own.

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To be honest, I'd be very suspect of anyone being signed off to solo at 10+ hours. Partly because if you had any kind of system malfunction, I would not expect a 10+ hour pilot to be able to sufficently handle it (friend of mine had an oil leak with rapid decrease in pressure on his first solo X/C, so don't call on luck; eventually everyone of us will have his/her first emergency situation, just a matter of time).

 

Then again, recall the path you want to go. If that happens to be the whole 10 yards to CFI/II, followed by a life as instructor in a Robi, you will need to have logged 200+ hours anyway.

 

I think a good time for first ramp solo followed by X/C solo is somewhere in the middle of your PPL. Of course, if you're just the crack to ace it in min hours all the way, 15+ to solo is about the expectation. On average, in between 25-35 hours would be a descent goal, but 40 and even 50 hours wouldn't be a shame, just means you probably did more maneuvers before and should be even better at this ball game, preparing you for whatever emergency lingers around just waiting to jump on you SOMEWHEN :huh: .

 

Cheer up :) ,

Lance

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Oh Brushfire, I'm ashamed to admit this, but I soloed at 32 hours. I guess I'm a slow learner.

 

But on the other hand, in the plane, I soloes at 21 hours. Planes are easy to fly.

 

I'm coming up on 60 hours and SNIP SNIP....

 

Witch,

 

I'm right with you. Solo'd with about 30 hours, now with about 60 hours (will be taking the checkride in a couple of weeks). I was in no hurry and still am not in a hurry. It's been great fun so far.

 

Paul

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I'm curious to know an average number of hours needed to solo. Like hovering, I know it probably depends partially on the student--I'm just looking for a good average for the average pilot.

 

Thanks,

z

There's a guy I've met who flies for Forbes. He learned to fly in a civilian program the RAF had in Britain. He claims, and I have no reason to not believe him, that he soloed at 8 hours. He also said that in that program, he hadn't learned to hover yet, and that their idea of landing was a full down auto.

 

It took me around 35 hours, but I did know to hover...

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Hey Witch, what training a/c are you flying?

 

For the initial poster, figuring out the hover / solo time, you need to look at a few other things: Aircraft being trained in, previous muscle memories and learning methodology in copying maneuvers demo'd and the instructor themselves have different ideas of what they want for solo items. I know in a 141 curriculum, you have certain structured elements to complete (groundwork, auto's, vtol, traffic patterns etc), and after doing the tasks with some profiency and the instructor feels your ready, then you solo.

 

Some say it takes little longer to hover / solo usually in a R22 compared to the S300 (along with the 20hr dual SFAR prior to solo I have heard about). I have only flown a R22 for about 30 mins, and thinking back, it seemed alot twitchier (sp) than the 300, but maybe at the time I didn't know what I was doing anyways!

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I soloed at 15 or 16 hours, in a TH 55. Memory fails me as to exactly when. Out of my flight (thirty or so warrant officer candidates) all were soloed by 20, or gone. Solo was make or break in Army rotary-wing flight school when I started in '68. About 50% of those who started but didn't complete the course, quit in the 4 week "preflight" segment. I'd guess another 33% or more, washed out in Primary, most before solo.

 

There was an article in Rotor & Wing some years ago, where the author had a verbal brief by Stan Hiller and then flew one of the Hiller prototypes, solo.

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Hi,

 

I soloed in helos at 9.5 hours (269C). Went solo in the R22 later in the course after 1.2 hours time on type 21 hours TT Rotary (Australia does not have min time reqs) This was after about 3300 hours in fixed wings.

 

I used the same training method that I had been shown in the fixed wing...it is much cheaper to fly a lounge chair around a circuit than it is an aircraft. Soloed in fixed wing at 10.2 hours.

 

So when it came to flying the helo, I spent a lot of time sitting in a lounge chair and 'imagining' myself flying the departure, circuit and approach with some hover turns at the bottom. (this is what you see a lot of professional sports persons doing before they complete a shot etc especially golfers)

 

Did this during the week and on the weekends, put it to good use in the helo. Instructor was very impressed with my ability and when I told her how I trained myself, she said that she was going to suggest that to all her students.

 

Another fixed wing student that was learning to fly helos at the same time took over 20 hours to solo in helos and he had over 8,000 hours fixed wing, so there is one comparison of the methodology, albeit with a very small sample size (1).

 

One thing to remember before you start, is to make yourself a mudmap of how things will be done, get it checked by your instructor and then off you go. If you get the wrong info down on paper and learn that, you have a lot of unlearning to do!

 

Tinkicker

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Around 20 hours or so. Any more than 30 and I would consider that a reason to question what's going on. I had one woman who had nearly 100 hours and still hadn't soloed. We spoke with her very early on about maybe spending the money on something different, but she was adamant she was going to learn to fly. I don't know if she ever succeeded or not.

 

The best 'wonder student' I had hovered and R22 in the first lesson and completed his checkride in 40 hours, with his 40th hour being the flight to his checkride. He did it in 4 weeks as he was leaving to go to Iraq and wanted to do it before he went. He flew RC models, so I guess that may have helped him out. Also a lot of studying at home.

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I think the Instructor has more to do with it than the skill of the student. There's a HUGE difference between being physically able to control the helicopter and being competent to safely operate the aircraft while flying solo. I don't think I've every signed anyone off to go solo in under 30 hours, probably never will, and I've had a few of those guys that can hover on the first flight. The reason is pretty simple: I've never had a student that could perform an acceptable Auto in less than 30 hours. I'm not talking about knowing the sequence, or being able to scrape something "decent" 1 out of every 5 tries. I won't sign someone off until I believe that, all things being equal, even if they don't save the aircraft, they'll have a better than average chance of walking away. Something to think about...

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I soloed at 26 hours. I probably would have done it around 22 or 23 hours but I didn't have my medical done yet. There was one perfect day when my instructor told me that if I my medical was done she would have had me solo. One of those days of training where you leave there felling good, having done perfect patterns and approaches, ( with the instructor on board ).

 

I hovered adequately around 14 hours or so. On my first solo the instructor got out, had me pick the helicopter up, do a clearing turn, and set it down. I did this twice. She gave me the thumbs up. ( There was no traffic that day at the uncontrolled airport that I fly out of ). I picked it up, did my turn, made my calls and began to ease forward. While taking off, I remember my right leg with my right arm resting on it shaking so bad, like it was shivering. When I was turning from my crosswind to my downwind at about 800 feet, I remember thinking, holy crap, I'm flying this thing by myself. I was nervous about nailing the approach but everything went perfect. The plan was to do two patterns but after I set it down, I waved her over and said I was done for the day. It was a cool feeling logging those .2 hours in the PIC and solo section of the log book. It all felt like a dream that day. I did my check ride at 60 hours.

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I will be honest, I didn't have auto's down to a tee when I solo'd and I admit that freely. Was I a threat to humanity? Only to myself and if I didn't accept the responsibility then I shouldn't be flying. My instructors felt I was ready to solo, and I feel by them doing this that it helped push me to be a better student so I could see my limitations that I didn't realize before. I wasn't sent on my solo XC the next day or anything else crazy, but it gave me a taste and we did another 4-5 hours or so before I solo'd the second time.

 

From a students prospective, I feel there needs to be a balance. One of pushing the student (me) and also holding the student back to far with mundane traffic pattern work where we become frustrated becuase no progress is being made it seems. Today I met a prospective transfer student that had 80 hours but no pilot certificate from my understanding and the drift I got was he was transferring so he could get it finished. I don't know his background or training schedule at the other school, so that could have been part of it?

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Like Wally, I received my training from Uncle Sam way back when, and went solo at somewhere around 10 hours. If you couldn't do it by 20, you were gone, and at 15 they were looking at you very critically, expecting you to be eliminated. At 10 hours, I could hover and I could do autos - had done many by that time. Of course, that was a different system than what is involved in civilian schools. Civilian schools, and their CFIs, have a vested interest in extending the time before solo, because they both make more money the longer it takes. I'm sure none will admit to that, but money is always lurking around somewhere, and denying that is simply dishonest. It might not be the primary motivation, but it's still a motivation.

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Like Wally, I received my training from Uncle Sam way back when, and went solo at somewhere around 10 hours. If you couldn't do it by 20, you were gone, and at 15 they were looking at you very critically, expecting you to be eliminated. At 10 hours, I could hover and I could do autos - had done many by that time. Of course, that was a different system than what is involved in civilian schools. Civilian schools, and their CFIs, have a vested interest in extending the time before solo, because they both make more money the longer it takes. I'm sure none will admit to that, but money is always lurking around somewhere, and denying that is simply dishonest. It might not be the primary motivation, but it's still a motivation.

 

Gomer, I've seen some excellent posts from you on this forum in the past, but this reply is complete and utter BS.

I'm sick and tired of people getting on here and whining and complaining about the horrible schools and CFI's that steal their money. If you don't like the school, leave. If you decide to spend 50-80 thousand dollars and you don't sign a contract, then you have it coming. Students need to take some personal responsibility and protect themselves instead of passing the buck. GET A CONTRACT, if you don't like it, don't sign it and find another school.

 

Ok, that being said, a CFI's first and foremost responsibility is also to protect. If you can't protect the student or the equipment, then you can't instruct, it's that simple. I'm sure everyone in the army was very proud and impressed at your amazing ability to do proficient Autos at 10 hours. Personally, I've never seen a student, including myself (incidentally, I also went through school at Muther Rucker), who had the presence of mind at 10 hours to not only understand the sequence of control inputs to Auto, but also know where the winds are, and have the situational awareness to always scout for forced landing areas. Gomer, at 10 hours if your engine had failed you would have been hurt, bottom line.

 

The problem with this arguement is that new students come on here and think," Oh no I should be soloing, my instructor sucks, my school is cheating me...etc". These students need to understand that, first of all it doesn't matter when you solo, period. It's a requirement you have to meet for your PPL, and the goal is the certificate, not the solo, isn't it? You could solo at 40 hours, and take your checkride at 50 if your instructor felt it was prudent. Everyone preaches hovering and the solo as the "Holy Grails" of helicopter flying. Sure you need to hover, who cares if it takes you 20 hours. Yeah you need to go solo. Once again, who cares when you do it. The bottom line is that your instructor isn't going to sign you off until HE thinks you are ready, not the other way around.

 

Focus on the goal, which is the Certificate. Solo when your instructor thinks you need it and be pleased that he or she has considered your safety ahead of everything else.

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Personally, I think i was ready at 10 hours and then agian at 20 but it's not my call.

 

If my instructor didn’t have to answer to the school's owner, aka the helicopter’s owner, and if his work record wouldn’t reflect the fact the he was canned because he soloed a 10 hour student with his boss' 200k helicopter which subsequently was destroyed, then I think he would've soloed me.

 

It's kind of like a rental car, you don't own it so you don't really drive it as if the financial consequences of an accident are the same.

 

I mean would you personally do this with your multimillion dollar helicopter that you are making payments on and upon which your livelyhood depended?

 

http://www.griffin-helicopters.co.uk/videos/

 

Select the "Will I fit through the gap?"

 

 

As is stands, it's not like people are going to solo and then quit so if they solo at 10 or 25. I don't think a student will realize huge savings by hovering early.

 

The goal is 1000 anyway right? What is it that they say; it's a marathon not a sprint? I hate expensive marathons. ;)

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