Is it common to neglect the rudder during flight training (PPL)?

Hello everyone, I'm a student pilot with about 6 hours logged and predicted to solo at 9 or 10. I've had two flight instructors so far, and whenever I keep the ball centered during turns, they both instructed me to completely neglect the rudder during turns, letting the inclinometer's ball wobble around slightly. For those of you in (or have gone through) flight training, or are flight instructors, is this common advice given to student? I had my girlfriend with me in the back seat the last time I flew and she got airsick, though I suspect the heavy turbulence was more to blame than my lack of keeping the aircraft from yawing about its vertical axis.

other information: aircraft type- Piper Archer II. On the last flight, my instructor's insistence on leaving the rudder alone had me flying with the ball more than a radius to the right of its centered position. I'm also not bashing my instructors here, just trying to figure out why they would have me do something that would avoid the benefits of coordinated flight.


About the prediction of the 9-10 hours- that's my flight instructor's prediction, not mine. He said he wanted me to solo when i reach 8 hours, but I told him I thought it would be unsafe for me to solo with so little time. Again, I'm not getting an attitude, I'm simply curious.

Update 2:

And about 30 seconds after takeoff on Friday, his exact words were "Holy s---! How much time do you have in the sim?" I told him that averaging about 2 hours a day everyday for the past 7 and half years, I'd be a little over 5,000 hours. But still that's not normal flight training, sometimes I fly on VATSIM, but I usually do VFR and IFR flights at leisure.

Update 3:

seems like it never hurts to add more information- I spent quite a bit of time looking and scanning outside- after all, i was dodging Class B airspace around KEWR, KLGA, and KJFK, and every time I looked around, there were at least 2 other aircraft in sight. Aside for being one of my college professors, my instructor also flies 737s for Dominicana (I think that's the name of the Dominican airline) and just got a contract for flying the Gulfstram IV for the Dominican president, so I never questioned or doubted his credentials. When I asked him why I shoudl leave the rudder alone, his response was a simple "you don't need them, you can even keep your feet on the floor."

10 Answers

  • 10 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    You know, it could be that you are looking so much at the instruments and attempting to "keep everything" so correct that you aren't LOOKING OUTSIDE the aircraft? IF that's the case then your instructor would be totally 100% correct to have you ignore the turn coordinator at this time in your training.

    Sometimes those who fly sims too much don't understand their life depends on what is outside the window!!!!!!! VFR means SEE and AVOID not keep the ball centered. Yes you should always fly with coordinated flight but seeing what is outside is critical as well. Don't concentrate on instruments... you are not instrument rated nor on a IFR plan..

    Just a guess on my part but I would bet it's a good guess.

    add - If what you say is the facts, the problem is your instructor has been flying JETS way to long, ask him if he has ANY tail wheel experience? All flight should be coordinated flight that does mean rudders, even in an Archer!

    Source(s): Years - TL
  • Anonymous
    10 years ago

    Sounds like your instructor isn't very experienced.

    Yes, modern aircraft will fly for the most part fine with your feet on the floor.

    But the problem isn't in normal flight, it is when things start falling apart that it will bite you.

    Taking off out of Leadville CO on a hot day, if you don't have that ball centered, you will not climb. Every aircraft needs right rudder (or left if you are flying something a bit more exotic) on takeoff and climb to keep the ball centered. This needs to be drilled in from day one.

    How many accidents to we hear about where the pilot 'stalled the aircraft and entered into a spin?' The reason he entered into a spin is because the aircraft was not coordinated. He probably had a wing drop and instinctively corrected with aileron instead of rudder.

    In turbulence, the yaw axis is the most sensitive to gusts. When the aircraft yaws, it also rolls (try pushing the rudder pedals and see how the wings roll, that is called slip-roll coupling). So of course in turbulence your passengers are going to get sick, especially if you use only aileron to correct and you are fishtailing the aircraft across the sky.

    Use the rudder to keep the aircraft straight, rather than the ailerons. Your cycle of control should always be controlling or eliminating yaw, then roll, then pitch.

    Coordination exercises are the best way to get your feet moving, because it is hard to explain how much and when to use rudder in accelerated flight (rolling into a turn, rolling out of a turn) and the ball is useless.

    What I teach is 45 degree banks opposing ways, with a stop at wings level in between. You pick a point on the horizon and try to keep it steady with rudder. Roll right, hold 45, hold the nose still. Roll left, hold zero, hold the nose still. Roll left, hold 45, hold the nose still. Over and over until you get the rudder dance down.

    As for flight simulators....

    Flight simulators are the worst things for a new pilot. I know, I was a sim junkie before I learned to fly real aircraft, and it took me years to get out of it. The best thing any instructor can do to a former sim junkie is to cover up all the instrument (yes, all of them!) and get you to fly by looking outside. To a newer instructor, a sim junkie can fake it just enough to seem good, but bad habits will show when least expected. Don't chase needles... LOOK OUTSIDE!!

  • Mark
    Lv 6
    10 years ago

    You're confusing turning and rolling.

    The rudder should be used when rolling to a different bank angle. When established in a turn you are not rolling so you don't need much rudder deflection. --Maybe none.

    If you need any, use it. But don't overemphasise it. Your instructor wants--for good reason--to see you go into turns without scanning instruments.

    When in visual conditions instructors watch for students [at all levels] who look at the panel upon beginning a turn.

  • If your account is correct, you have an inept CFI......Bigtime!. Not only is his instruction incorrect, it is dangerous.

    Some day you might get into a plane that will not forgive sloppy handling such as not using the rudder. You have two rudder pedals for a reason, use them.

    You should ask you instructor if he understands the concept of the LAW OF PRIMACY, because he is giving you instruction contrary to it!

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  • Rob G
    Lv 6
    10 years ago

    I'll give the CFI the benefit of the doubt and assume that they are telling you to ignore the rudder so you can concentrate on getting the basics down first. The ball should always be kept in the center unless you are intentionally doing otherwise (e.g. slipping).

    I wouldn't hold your breath about soloing in 9 - 10 hours. That's early, even for the best students.

  • 10 years ago

    No, it is not common. I won't even try to guess why the instructor would even suggest you ignore controlling the airplane properly. It is a habit best not acquired as when or if you wish to take the tailwheel endorsement, you will be in deep trouble not paying attention to the rudder. Most tricycle gear craft are fitted with a aileron/rudder interconnect and when making standard rate turns not much attention is required, but that should not be an across the board assessment.

  • Often during instruction we tend to perceive the spoken word, but not the meaning behind it.

    Being aware of what is happening outside the window is important.

    But knowing what is happening inside the cockpit on the instrument panel is VITAL.

    Learning to scan the instruments in a regimented way will always make you a safer pilot.

    Good habits are best learned early, and because seat of the pants will quite often mess you up someday thus relying on your butt to tell you your attitude is NOT a good habit.

    I suspect in the utter joy of flight your instructor has merely rightly or wrongly observed insufficient instrument scanning. This can wrongly happen as your instructor cannot always have his attention on your eyes but must "sample" your eye movements on occasion just to see how your doing in that regard. If he's looking one way while your scanning this can lead to occasions wherein he MUST correctly assume a little bit of instrument awareness on your part can't hurt too much, because the alternatives while less annoying, are less safe.

    Instruments are a favorite subject of mine that I've neglected for decades. Your Government and mine has gone out of it's way to encourage safe and sane instrument packaging in all aircraft. It really is a science getting the instruments just so, so that your eye can easily detect the errant dial.

    I suspect your instructor is well aware of all the instruments in your plane and is rightly proud when he discovers the slightest indiscretion on your part. Finesse is all part of the game. Don't fight it. Learn instead to enjoy it.

  • 10 years ago

    ALWAYS keep the ball centered, unless you are slipping. Sounds like you need a third instructor or another flight school

    Source(s): CFIIMEI since 1983
  • Anonymous
    10 years ago

    Ignore the rudder at your own peril. Your PPL check ride pilot will not be very lenient on that point. Bad habits will come back to haunt you when you are under stress. Believe me, you will be under a lot of stress.

    Source(s): Naval Aviator / Navy flight instructor
  • JetDoc
    Lv 7
    10 years ago

    Perhaps your instructors are trying to get you to concentrate on more important subjects first, like maintaining altitude during a turn, before introducing rudder control.

    If you think you're going to solo at 9-10 hours then perhaps the attitude of the aircraft is not the only attitude problem you have.

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