I'm certain I know the instructor you mean. Not only was that remark about "dancing on the pedals" very familiar, but he's answered the phone in flight when instructing me also.
I want to offer a few observations in defense of the NFC, based on my own experience:
- for such a large and busy operation, it is surprisingly friendly.
- your experience with the student logs is not typical. They are really quite scrupulous about doing things "by the book" when it comes to paperwork and so on. Until you have a student log, insist that the instructor write his comments on a piece of paper or a notebook provided by you, for later transcription into the student log.
- your experience with that particular instructor is not typical. You have huge scope for choosing your own instructor at the NFC. Each time you're booking in, you specify who you want to fly with (and they have no say in the matter
). If you wish I can recommend a particularly good (if sometimes demanding) instructor.
- If you stick with learning at the NFC, you certainly will get ground training. They will not allow you to progress without doing each of the long briefs and short briefs set out in the curriculum. It doesn't surprise me that much that they let you go flying three times without a ground brief, especially since the weather has been so good. But they won't let you get too far ahead of yourself before getting seriously stuck into the ground briefings.
- Once you have an instructor that you trust and get on well with, you can just ask, at any time, where you stand with regard to briefings, overall progress, what he/she plans for your next few hours of training, etc. It's very important to do that - it gives you some perspective, and it focuses their mind too.
- Don't let yourself get hurried along (that applies at all stages of your training). You are entitled to a reasonable amount of time before and after the airwork lesson to discuss what you will be doing, sort out in your mind anything you are confused about, and then afterwards to talk through any problems or issues you encountered in flight. A good time to do this is in the parked aircraft, after the engine shut-down, when the lesson is still very fresh in your mind. A good instructor will actually give you more
of this pre- and post-briefing than you think you need! And that kind of informal chat is usually free of charge, since the clock stops when the engine does (just make sure the instructor writes down the shut-down time before starting to chat with you!)
- You are not responsible for the NFC remaining on schedule. If they're running late on a particular day, it's not your fault. You are still entitled to your full lesson, and learning to fly should not be accompanied by a feeling of being in a hurry or under time pressure.
Above all, find the right instructor, and your learning experience will be 100 times better.