Safety Publications/Articles

Instructor Report

One Good Reason

Would You Like A Good Reason To Be The Best Flight Instructor You Can Be?

Here's one. Recently I had a conversation with a young CFI who had 3,500 hours of flight time. He lamented that he was unable to move up to flying bigger airplanes despite his experience. I asked him if he kept in touch with any of his previous students. He said, "No."

How unfortunate. This young man is depriving himself of a valuable networking resource. His students are his best resume. Some of them work for companies that have corporate airplanes. A few may own corporations that eventually will purchase larger airplanes. Others hear about flying jobs as a result of their association with aviation.

Keeping in touch with previous students through postcards, telephone calls, e-mail, or newsletters means that you have a better chance of flying bigger and better equipment.

But none of this means anything if your students don't respect you as a teacher. This is where AOPA Flight Training magazine can help. Hopefully you'll find these articles useful in helping you to become the best instructor that you can be.

From The Right Seat

Pinch-Hitting CFIs

Overworked? Unable to fly with your students at certain times? Cross-country flights not your cup of tea? I have a solution for you. It involves the CFI-buddy system, and it's an excellent way to make the job of flight instructing more comfortable. The secret is finding a fellow CFI with a training philosophy similar to yours. This is someone you trust, someone with whom you feel compatible, and someone whom you're willing to let work with your students. Once you find each other, you and this other person can pinch-hit for one another.

For example, there was a six-month period of time in my flight instruction career when I was unable to do night flights with my primary students. I was teaching several evening courses at a local college and couldn't find time to fly after dark. So I called on my friend and fellow flight instructor, Tim Peterson, for help.

Having known Tim for quite some time, I knew he was a first-class, top-notch instructor. I trusted him implicitly. After I explained my dilemma, Tim offered to help. I provided him with a copy of my lesson plans, which gave him a good idea about what I expected my students to learn during their night lessons. Thereafter, I knew I could call on Tim to pinch-hit any time I was unable to make a night training flight.

CFI pinch-hitting is helpful in other ways, too. For instance, if you can't find the time for long dual cross-country flights, you might find a pinch-hitting CFI to perform this task for you. After all, if you instruct part time, it may be uncomfortable or even unwise to give up an entire Saturday for one long cross-country lesson when you have three primary students in desperate need of basic training. I've also known CFIs to do something similar with spin training. They find qualified instructors with the appropriate equipment and arrange to have these folks do the spin training.

Pinch-hitting has an additional benefit. When Tim flew with my students, I made sure that he emphasized the need to scan for traffic. Sometimes important things that you tell your students seem to go in one ear and out the other, which is a good reason to have all trainees wear a single earplug during important discussions. But when another CFI says the same thing, it can make a bigger impression on your students.

When you're having difficulty accommodating your students, find a pinch-hitter. It's an arrangement that's helpful to you and good for your students.

By Rod Machado

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