Much emphasis is given to students on how to choose the right instructor. But what if you flip that relationship on its head? Should CFIs and flight school owners interview students to make sure they are right for the school? The idea has some talking about the way to attract the right client, and thereby increase success rates. Here’s a five-point list to consider when you interview your students.
1. Good Judgment
Good judgment is important in life and in flying. Good judgment is the realization that you are not the center of the universe and that learning from others and from your own experiences is an important aspect of successful living and of being a pilot. The aviation industry wants to maintain a stellar safety record. Almost all accidents can be avoided if we have competent pilots with good judgment.
2. A never ending desire to learn
Realize that a pilot never knows it all. Being a pilot is a never-ending process of learning and training. Understanding the learning and teaching process is important regardless of whether you are the student or the instructor. You will not learn everything from one instructor just as you do not learn everything about life from only one teacher. If you ever reach the point where you no longer want to continue learning about flying, that may be a good indication that it is time to stop flying.
3. A desire to develop your memory skills
Learning to fly is a big challenge. This is not because there is anything really difficult to learn or do. It’s challenging because there is quite a lot to learn and some of the processes and knowledge are best acquired if you realize that memorization can be your friend. Memorization is never a replacement for good judgment, but it is a highly valuable asset in aviation. A good way to memorize something is to try and teach it to someone else.
4. A realization that being a pilot will require development of some completely new motor skills
Learning to ride a bicycle or how to dance is not easy for most people when they first start the process. Flying has many new motor skills that in many cases are no more difficult than learning to drive, but are completely new and different. Like driving there is no substitute for learning these skills. Simulators can help you learn many of these skills at your own pace and at a much reduced cost prior to getting in the aircraft. Like dancing and riding a bicycle, flying will become natural once learned. And like those skills flying will also become enjoyable when piloting skills are correctly acquired and a justified confidence is gained.
5. A realization that training never ends
Once you become a pilot you must realize that you continue to need training and proficiency checks. The same applies after you obtain any pilot certificate or instructor certificate. They are not a license but merely a certificate to exercise a privilege that you have earned and which must be maintained to keep valid. The standards are not overly difficult, and are only sound minimum standards. Continued training assures that your skills always remain above these standards.
Don Knight is a longtime flight instructor living in California.