When forming a flying club, there are a few members that you will want from the outset, each bringing a particular knowledge base and skill set. Among those key members are a Certificated Flight Instructor (CFI), an A&P or someone with a mechanical background, and someone who has owned an airplane. Here are the advantages of having a CFI as a founding member.
A CFI will bring more than just the practical skills to train members in aircraft operations. They often provide leadership skills that help establish a culture of safety and care for the aircraft.
If one of the club’s missions is flight training, the CFI is critical. However, having a CFI as a founding member is important even if your club does not plan to offer primary or advanced instruction. An instructor can provide transition training, as well as providing members with recurrent training, like flight reviews.
Club CFIs are typically conservative in their decision making and demonstrate respect for their students and the aircraft. A club CFI may form stronger bonds with his students than a CFI at a flight school, since both the instructor and student have invested themselves in the club and are likely to have a relationship that lasts beyond the time it takes to earn a certificate.
Because a club may not be a formal training environment, it can be helpful for the club to have a syllabus for the CFI to follow. Remember to involve the CFI in developing the operating rules of the club, so that he or she has a vested interest in educating new members and students on these rules during checkouts or training.
Whether a CFI is paid or receives credit toward flight time is a function of both the club bylaws and the local airport rules. A conversation with your airport manager will help clarify the regulations at your specific airport.
If the club doesn’t have a CFI as a member, it is valuable to have a relationship with the local FBO or flight school so the club’s training needs can be met. Remember to discuss with your insurance company any liabilities associated with non-club member CFIs providing training in club aircraft.