Where do you begin?
Years ago I remember a rabbi answering a question as to why he wore the small head covering known as the yarmulke (no, it's not the jet-pilot version of the propeller hat). The rabbi said, "I wear it to tell me where I end, and my religion begins." What the rabbi was saying is that the yarmulke helps to reinforce the idea that something of greater significance lies beyond him. Inasmuch as teaching others to fly represents a responsibility beyond the mere act of performing a service for someone, what do you do to remind yourself of this weighty commitment?
For a few instructors, their mode of dress helps them feel the part of the professional instructor. They may, for instance, wear a tie. Of course, not everyone is from tie land, but it's relatively easy to see the connection between the tie and the yarmulke. Others forgo the tie in favor of comfort. A tiny minority request (or at least don't discourage) that their students refer to them formally by their last names, as a means of reinforcing the significance of their flight training responsibility.
Then there are those who begin and end each flight training session in the FBO's classroom where the whiteboard, chairs, and tables convey the academic weight of the moment. Each or all of these things helps to remind us that we're not just taking someone flying. Instead, we're helping others to learn a skill that will benefit them for the rest of their lives.
So what physical action do you take or what behavioral ritual do you use to help define where you, the ordinary person on the street, ends and the professional flight instructor begins?
By Rod Machado