Safety Publications/Articles

From The Right Seat

The Ultimate CFI Book

The ultimate book for flight instructors was first published in 1937 and remains one of the best kept secrets in aviation. You'll never find another book as valuable for flight instructors as this one. It will teach you more about people than any psychology course you're likely to take. Ironically, you won't find this book in any pilot supply shop. It's Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People.

I first read this book in high school on my dad's recommendation, and I still have my original copy. It's one of the most valuable books I own. When I was a confused young flight instructor (I'm now a confused older flight instructor), this book, more than any other, helped me to understand what people want, need, and desire.

Flight instruction is more of a people skill than a teaching skill. As flight instructors, we might have an impressive grasp of teaching theory, but this is no guarantee that we'll be effective teachers. That's because effective teaching requires more than a knowledge of psychology. It requires an understanding of how to influence others and how to create a positive, friendly learning environment. This is where Dale Carnegie's book can help.

Each of the book's four sections contains practical, useful insights on dealing with people. For instance, one of Carnegie's many principles is to arouse in the other person an eager want. He reminds us that people don't always act the way we want them to act. Instead, they behave the way they're inspired to behave. With several examples, Carnegie shows us how we might inspire others (our students, for instance) to behave in a more meaningful way.

The books also presents six ways to make people like you, 12 ways to win people to your way of thinking, and nine ways to change people's behavior without arousing resentment.

While not specifically directed at flight instruction, these principles are universal. They work in the cockpit, on the ground, and just about anywhere you have people.

Carnegie states, "about 15 percent of one's financial success is due to one's technical knowledge and about 85 percent is due to skill in human engineering, to personality and the ability to lead people." If you want to become a better flight instructor or to increase your chance of success in any aspect of aviation, then read this book. It has my highest recommendation.

Great Teachers! New Careers?

I'd like you to meet Dick Branick and Jim Pitman. According to national CFI marketing mentor Ralph Hood and contributing editor Greg Brown, Dick and Jim aren't your ordinary, everyday instructors. You'll enjoy finding out what makes these gentlemen exemplary educators in this month's Instructor Report.

Have you ever thought about getting into the tree trimming business? Bruce Landsberg will tell you about a guy who tried to do it in his Grumman American AA-5B airplane. In this report Bruce offers an important lesson for flight instructors about new pilots flying different airplanes. And if the tree trimming business isn't for you, then what about a career in snow removal? Let Dan Namowitz tell you about a fellow who tried entering the business with a multiengine rating, a half-million dollar airplane, and an empathy bypass. In his thoughtful reverie, Dan makes it clear that our aviation interests are best served when we consider how our actions affect our fellow aviators.

By Rod Machado

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