The Value Of A Great Instructor


What do all legends have in common? They all had great instructors. The pathway to becoming a great pilot begins with a great flight school and flight instructor. Obtaining the right instructor is a very delicate and detailed process. A failure to find the right type of instructor will result in a serious waste of money and other valuable resources, mainly lost time. However, with the right guidance and solid information, this often stressful process can be simplified in a way that paves the road to becoming friendly with the skies.

Choosing the right flight instructor is no different than shopping for the right type of lawyer, medical doctor and dentist, plumber, or any other type of professional. But what any prospective pilot must consider is that learning to fly is a process and that requires having an organic relationship with the instructor because there are levels to this process and profession. Once the fears of flying due to the COVID-19 clears up, there will be a forecasted demand and boom in the aviation field. This will generate a need for pilots, both seasoned and new, thus requiring pilots. There are several ways to finding a quality fight instructor.

First, search for recommendations. The best place to begin is locating the Designated Pilot Examiner (DPE) and with the FSDO office’s listings of any Gold Seal Instructors in your area. The DPE is certified by the FAA to inspect and check the competency of CFI’s and issuing the FAA pilot’s licenses. The Golden Seal distinction is awarded to certified flight instructors (CFI’s) whose students successfully pass their check rides 80 percent of the time. To locate CFI’s that have been awarded Master certification status, you can research them at WWW.SAFEpilots.ORG. Once you’ve picked out several ideal instructors, interview them.

Second, observe the instructor’s use of learning tools, resources, and technology and the syllabus. This syllabus is perhaps one of the most critical aspects of the student instructor learning process. The flight training syllabus is the road map for a student’s success. It details a clear pathway for completion of the training. Furthermore, It also provides accountability and transparency for the student and the instructor. According to the AOPA, a good syllabus allows for; a better standardization of both students and instructors, lower costs for the student, transparency, and documentation. Tim Roach agrees. For Tim Roach of Texas, the traits of a good flight school and flight instructor are “A good syllabus, and they stick to it and a good mix of CFI’s with different personalities and dedication to see the students to completion of their goals.”

Thirdly, an empathetic instructor should be willing to train on your schedule. After all, you are the paying customer. They work for you. An expert flight instructor is of little value if they can not adjust to fit your schedule. Some flight schools may be popular. Therefore instructors may simply see you as a means of profit over person, as they are in hot demand and are expediently on to the next student that day, or perhaps they’ve been instructing for so long and are void of true concern for the student’s needs or learning curve.

Fourthly, acknowledge your instructor as an experienced professional. When a student shows that they are respectful to the instructor as an in-depth professional with a very impressive flight resume, they tend to be more considerate and empathetic to the student’s needs and are willing to go the extra mile to assist the student in completing their goal of completion. For many CFI’s they have been involved with aviation as a career much of their adult life. For many, they have a background in military, law enforcement, and air ambulatory. Therefore, they are walking encyclopedias and human googles when it comes to aviation. Their expertise should be highly regarded as golden, not authoritative or my way vs the highway but that the instructor largely knows best. The instructor is a professional.

Lastly, be willing to learn from an instructor outside of your immediate background. The world of aviation and aerospace has underground tremendous leaps and bounds over the last 25 years alone. The field is continuing to rapidly advance. Over the past couple of decades, there has been a sharp increase in ethnic minorities and women that have gained access into the field of aviation throughout a host of capacities. In order to become a skilled pilot, it requires leaving one’s comfort zone.

It is human nature to seek out things, situations, settings, and people who provide us comfort. However, what if your instructor is a woman, of a different racial background/heritage, or even someone who poses a serious age gap? For example, some persons who are somewhat pronounced in age may initially be reluctant to learn from someone who is in the late 20’s or early 30’s. Just as in the case of age, race and gender may pose a challenge to some as well. Some people, including some women may be skeptical to seek out a female instructor due to having had minimal to no experience with female pilots or pilots of a different race. This results in the student being unconvinced of the professional skill set of the instructor. Also because aviation is a field that is very much so underrepresented by African-Americans and other ethnic minorities, some may be hesitant to have an instructor that is racially different. However, expertise and knowledge is what a student is seeking, not gender or racial parity.

Look for an instructor who shows indicators of being well prepared to instruct. They are professionally dressed which shows the seriousness of their desire t properly instruct and train. They must have great communication skills. Students n any discipline will makes mistakes. That is what the instructor is for, to properly and tactfully correct students in the process of minimizing errors. Safety is a given. A thoroughly professional flight instructor will be safe at all times and follow every safety procedure to the perfected letter. An instructor must be humble and patient due to the learning capabilities and learning curve of student. Therefore, an instructor can not instruct by being emotional, however empathetic. Next a good flight instructor must be challenging. This pushes the student to strive to be their very best, thus building a high degree of skill.

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