Flight training is hard, it is really hard. And it is expensive. If you don’t read anything else on this page, remember this: it is worth it!
Make sure you are compatible with your instructor
You and your instructor will spend a great amount of time together, in confined space. You are going to learn to fly from this person. So it is important that you and your instructor have compatible personalities.
Everyone is different
First of all, don’t compare yourself to other pilots! It doesn’t matter how many hours you need to finish, when you solo, or how long time you spend. Flight training is difficult, students are different, instructors are different, and even airplanes are different.
As long as you don’t compare yourself to other pilots, I highly recommend talking as much as you can with other pilots! Everyone I’ve met so far have been more than happy to share their experiences. After all, you have to love aviation to do this. And when you love aviation, talking about aviation is easy ;)
Although some finish quickly, there are things most struggle with in the beginning. And sometimes longer. I struggled to maintain consistent airspeed and altitude, and still do sometimes. It felt like it took forever to master landings, and I still feel I can’t do them as good as I’m supposed to.
It doesn’t have to be perfect
It took me a while to learn this, but everything doesn’t have to be perfect! You just have to be safe and legal. PPL is really a license to learn. As long as you are safe and legal, you still have time to continue improving your skills.
Making mistakes and forgetting things are really easy, that’s why we have checklists! Don’t beat yourself up. Learn from it, but don’t let it overshadow everything else.
Things get better
You will probably experience information overload and task saturation in the beginning, and you won’t even have the capacity to understand everything that is happening. At one point, I was so focused on flying that I didn’t even have enough capacity to figure out the result of 9 + 5.
But as you start to get control over the basics, you will gradually be able to do more and more. After a while, some of the tasks that felt nearly impossible are now second nature.
Being constantly overloaded however does not create a particularly good learning environment. This is why we learn the basics before we learn the rest. Trust your instructor, and trust the training program.
Motion sickness happens
A lot of student pilots experience motion sickness in some form. And this was one of my greatest fears when I started. Let your instructor know as soon as you start to notice symptoms, and take a break before it gets to the point where you have to return to the airport.
A few minutes of straight and level flight, and some fresh air (Cessna 172 has some really great air vents) will do wonders! It can also help to be the one in control, so try to not let your instructor demonstrate maneuvers for too long before you try yourself.
Eventually it will get better. I don’t even think about this anymore.
Learn from everything
I’ve had numerous cancellations during my training, most of them due to weather. A couple due to issues with the airplane. Although I hate having to cancel, this has made me a lot better at flight planning, weather briefing, and simply judging when it is unsafe/unpleasant to fly. This is extremely valuable knowledge!
The best way to finish as quickly as possible, and stay motivated, is to stay active. Fly as often and as much as you can. Study or do other aviation related activities when you can’t fly. Flight simulators can also be a great tool!
The further you get away from flying, the easier it is to give up.
As a VFR pilot, a significant amount of your time will be spent looking out the windows. You are thousands of feet above the ground, often flying in beautiful landscapes (depending on where you are of course). Most people don’t get to do this. So don’t forget to enjoy it!