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Career spotlight: A noble callingCareer spotlight: A noble calling

Teach for a living

Editor's note: This article was updated July 2 to indicate that Max Trescott became a Cirrus Standardized Instructor Pilot in 2006.
Imagine a career where you could set your own hours, work completely for yourself, create lifelong friendships, and get paid to fly. It seems impossible, but for professional flight instructors it’s the norm.
Advanced Pilot
Max Trescott shares tips for IFR flying at the Carbondale, Illinois, AOPA Fly-In in 2018.
Photography by Mike Collins

While most pilots consider flight instruction a necessary evil on the way to bigger and better things, modern professional flight instructors have shown it is a job fully worthy of being its own career. California-based Max Trescott has made instructing into a career, and he couldn’t be happier. A former sales and marketing professional for a tech firm, Trescott now instructs primarily locally in the Cirrus SR22 and SF50 Vision Jet.

Since starting to instruct full-time, Trescott has written books on advanced avionics such as the Garmin G1000. It’s part of his successful strategy of specializing in a specific area. “Very early on I decided to specialize in glass cockpits,” he said. “Specialization has worked extremely well for me.” In 2006 he became a Cirrus Standardized Instructor Pilot, or CSIP, and about three years ago decided to teach only in Cirrus aircraft. You would think going from any airplane to only one would limit your market, but for Trescott it turned out to be a great decision. “I instantly got much busier and had to raise my rates.”

About 18 months later he paid for a Cirrus SF50 Vision Jet type rating, and he now has about 200 hours of instruction and mentoring in the aircraft. When not flying he’s continuing to write books (one on the Garmin G3000 will be out this summer), and he hosts and produces the popular Aviation News Talk podcast.

To be a great instructor Trescott says you must be knowledgeable, but willing to admit when you don’t know the answer. You also need to put your client’s needs ahead of your own, and most important, be patient. “You’re going to say, ‘more right rudder’ 100 times to the same person,” he said. “I joke that I can say it in 12 languages.”

For his previous career in tech Trescott traveled extensively and he wasn’t interested in doing more, so the airlines were never a goal. He’s found that he loves helping people achieve their goals. “I’m always having fun when I’m in an airplane,” he said. “We’re joking, we’re laughing, we’re learning. I get to watch the world go by below me.”

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Ian J. Twombly

Ian J. Twombly

Ian J. Twombly is senior content producer for AOPA Media.

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