November “Since You Asked” poll: Would you have canceled the flight?

The November “Since You Asked” poll was prompted by this question from “No Name, Please”:

I just started taking flying lessons to become a commercial pilot and currently I have about 15 hours logged. Recently on one of my dual circuit flights, I called off the flight based on the weather briefing from the FSS, and my instructor didn’t like that idea. Now he is refusing to fly with me.

We asked digital respondents what they would do if the weather looks threatening for an upcoming dual flight. Eleven percent said they would cancel the flight on their own initiative, much as Rod’s reader did.

Thirty-seven percent said they’d head to the airport anyway to consult with the flight instructor. (Who knows, maybe he or she would have a back-up plan in mind. Flight instructors are resourceful that way.)

Twenty-nine percent said they’d call the flight instructor in advance. And 1 percent chose “Other.”

We don’t know what type of weather prompted the student to cancel the flight, or whether he talked it over with the instructor first, but clearly there was a breakdown in communications on both sides of the fence. If I were that instructor, I’d want to know why the student canceled the flight. And if I were that student, I’d want the instructor to know exactly why I canceled it.—Jill W. Tallman

“Since You Asked” polls appear monthly in the digital edition of Flight Training. If you’d like to switch your magazine from paper to digital at no additional charge, go here or call Member Services 800-USA-AOPA weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern.

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  • G Stegall

    In my humble opinion both parties were in the wrong. True, the student should confer with the instructor. But…if the student doesn’t feel comfortable with a particular situation, no matter what the situation is, he certainly has the right to excercise that right. Also, judging from the small amount of information given in the scenario, the instructor seems a little arrogant by saying he wouldn’t fly with the student again. Was the student unsafe to fly with because he felt threatened by the weather, or did the instructor get upset because he lost a few dollars?

  • Megan

    This reminds me of a time I was supposed to do some instrument training with approaches, and practice filing an actual instrument flight plan for the first time. It was VFR, but the wind at the airport was a lot stronger than usual, and gusty, and I didn’t feel confident that I would be able to control the plane well enough while being distracted by all the other things I had to do. But, if my instructor was feeling up to the challenge, I was willing to go. He seemed to be responding slowly just while we were talking about it, and after 5 minutes since he still didn’t seem sure, I cancelled. I figured it wasn’t worth the risk, and it’s hard to learn when overwhelmed by too many tasks. I think it’s important to take into consideration your flight instructor’s attitude and capabilities at the moment as well as your own.

  • John Pollock

    Sounds like lessons from an inexperienced instructor. I am not going to allow flight into adverse conditions that I do not believe my student is capable of performing. The purpose of any lesson is to learn or practice a particular task and if weather is going to divert attention from that task, then we don’t fly at that time. If a student questions the weather, the instructor should be able to calm that student’s fears by either turning it into a teachable moment and explain why the conditon is safe to do, or for the instructor to use the moment as an educational moment for him/herself to better understand the thinking of that student and to adjust his/her instruction to overcome it whether at that moment or at another time.

    Learning is a two way street. At every lesson both the student and the instructor should learn something and be able to apply that knowledge for the betterment of both.

  • John

    I believe an instructor and his student should be as close as possible to having perfect communications. The weather situation should be discussed in advance of flight.

    Students need to know that their instructor has responsibility for making all final decisions and the instructor should be preparing the student to make those decisions when he (the student) reaches that point in his career.

    The ability to accept decisions and or instructions, without question, provided they are not, immoral or illegal, is extremely important. This seems to be somewhat lacking in our society at the present time. Whether this is because of poor parental training, lack of good example, or possibly having had no military training may be difficult to determine and probably makes little difference; the fact is that both have to be willing to understand and work at improving the relationship.

    I do think the instructor, passed up an excellent opportuntiy to do some really important teaching by deciding not to fly with this student any longer and should have actually seized the opportunity to do some really good in depth teaching.

    When an instructor can not elicit immediate reaction from a student and the student is incapable of immediately reacting to instructons from his instructor they are working under less than desirable conditions and need to work at improving this relationship.

    My opinion would possibly be quite different if there were some extenuating circumstances the details of which are not available at the present time.

    Since this is to be a comment and not a book, I will end here.


  • Kayak Jack

    I strongly side with the student who chose to cancel. For whatever reason – weather, indigestion, tired, family emergency, etc. – s/he certainly had the right and obligation to back out if doubt was too strong.

    Whatever else occurred that prompted the instructor to not ever fly with him/her again, we don’t know. This issue could have been the final straw that broke the camel’s back, could have been disagreement over other issues. Certainly, the instructor has the same right to back out.

    Both instructor and student be mature enough to move on. If not, probably hadn’t ought to be in a plane anyway.