Safety Publications/Articles

Demanding More

Sometimes it's perfectly reasonable to demand a little more skill and proficiency from one student than another.

All instructors have minimum standards for their flight students, typically those set by the Practical Test Standards and the instructor's personal experience. This combination assures that students are prepared for the certificates they seek.

Inevitably, there are some students capable of meeting higher standards and eager to do so. Given those two conditions, an instructor should raise the bar of skill and proficiency.

I recall a primary student whose sole ambition was to be a professional pilot. He expressed his desire to reach for a higher level of proficiency several hours after beginning primary training, asking me to make him as competent and capable a pilot as possible. I told him that once we defined the higher standards he aspired to, this might result in slightly longer preparation for his ratings. He agreed to the modified time frame and the increased cost. I agreed to his request, based on my assessment that this young fellow had the potential to live up to his training ambitions.

In the end, he acquired both his private pilot certificate and instrument rating with me. I have no doubt that he'd easily have passed an ATP checkride at the time, were his age and flight time not limiting factors.

While our minimum training standards for the typical student are not necessarily the minimums in terms of safety, they are the least we'd expect from our students. Some students want us to expect more of them. If they're capable of achieving a higher level of preparation, there's no practical reason not to honor their request.

By Rod Machado

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