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Flight School Spotlight: CFI Bootcamp

Solving the flight instructor shortage

By Jim Pitman

The traditional approach for filling your flight instructor pool involves one of two options: Train your own, or hire instructors who were trained by someone else. Training your own allows better control of standardization and overall quality, but requires precious time, experienced instructors, and other valuable resources.

Hiring instructors trained by someone else can be more efficient, but the process of finding, interviewing, screening, selecting, and standardizing those instructors also requires time and resources. Even when you’re careful, it’s often only after all of that hard work that you discover a new instructor is not a good fit for your flight school. Fortunately, you have more than just those two options. Mike Shiflett is the owner of CFI Bootcamp, a flight training provider with bases in Miami, Florida, and Palo Alto, California. CFI Bootcamp specializes in CFI training, and Shiflett has created unique training programs that provide a full array of options to fit your particular needs for flight instructor training, anywhere in the United States.

CFI Bootcamp offers an online comprehensive ground training system that includes 42 hours of video instruction. Shiflett’s message to flight school owners and managers is, “Learning to fly from the right seat is the easy part. The bulk of CFI training involves guiding each applicant through the process of acquiring the required knowledge and learning how to teach effectively. This all happens on the ground. You have a limited number of two-year instructors who are qualified to conduct initial CFI training. Let us do the heavy lifting with our online ground training system so that your experienced instructors can focus on the flight training.”

Shiflett and his team have also developed several innovative training aids. “Part of the reason initial CFI training is so overwhelming is because the FAA resources and references are designed to cover everything from gliders to helicopters. We have completely re-written the FARs, FOI, and endorsements to filter out just the content that relates to airplane single-engine land. This significantly streamlines the study process and helps applicants learn what to look for in the official sources,” Shiflett said.

To help save time and improve standardization, CFI Bootcamp provides all lesson plans the applicant will need. “Our philosophy is that a lesson plan is a tool, like a power saw. A carpenter doesn’t need to build his own saw in order to use it properly. School teachers use industry-standard lesson plans, and so should flight instructors. Too many applicants waste valuable time trying to create lesson plans from scratch. We have found that it’s much more effective to start with a high-quality lesson plan and then teach the applicant how to use it as the tool it was designed to be,” Shiflett said.

CFI Bootcamp also incorporates flowcharts that clearly diagram processes for everything from conducting a first solo to operating with a foreign pilot certificate. Samples of all of the custom CFI Bootcamp training aids are available online.

Depending on your situation, it might make more sense to send your CFI applicants to conduct their flight training with CFI Bootcamp and complete the checkride at one of its training facilities in Palo Alto or Miami. “We run a seven-day ground school followed by 15 hours of flight training that is conducted the next seven days. It’s an intense and immersive program where everything is conducted in a scenario-based environment at the application and correlation levels of learning. We have four DPEs at each of our locations. While the national average first-time pass rate for the CFI initial checkride is somewhere around 40 percent, our first-time pass rate is over 90 percent. Flight schools can be confident sending their CFI applicants to us. We’ll train them right and then send them back ready to hit the ground running,” Shiflett said.

CFI Bootcamp is not just for initial CFI training. The program also offers training courses for additional instructor ratings and proficiency training for rated flight instructors. Shiflett makes this generous offer to all flight schools, “If a school has one or more flight instructors that are struggling, I encourage the flight school owner/manager to contact me directly to discuss their issues. Chances are that we have a custom training aid or online module that can help with their specific challenges. We’re not each other’s competition. We’re all here to help each other succeed. As each instructor becomes better, our entire industry improves.”

Shiflett has been training flight instructors since 1995 and worked several years as a designated pilot examiner conducting CFI checkrides. “Experience does matter in this business. I’m blessed with a team of experienced instructors who are just as passionate about CFI training as I am. The proof is in our results,” Shiflett said.

CFI Bootcamp is laser-focused on one thing: creating the world’s best flight instructors. And they want to work with your flight school to help applicants get the very best CFI training possible. “We offer school discounts for our online ground school and all of our custom training aids. Flight schools have the opportunity to create an additional income stream by reselling our products, pass the savings on to their clients, or both,” Shiflett said.

Currently, about one-third of the applicants that train with CFI Bootcamp have jobs waiting for them at their primary flight schools. The other two-thirds are job-hunting. CFI Bootcamp is in the process of creating an online job board to help connect qualified CFIs with flight schools.

Learn more about CFI Bootcamp at its website.

Connect directly with Mike Shiflett via email.

Jim Pitman has been a flight instructor since 1997. He has been a Part 141 chief flight instructor, Cessna Pilot Center regional manager, and Arizona Flight Instructor of the Year. He currently flies the Canadair Regional Jet for a U.S. carrier while working as a freelance flight instructor and designated pilot examiner for the FAA. Connect with Jim at his website (