The Benefits of Becoming a Flight Instructor

Jennifer Roth

With each stage of working towards a career as a pilot, a rewarding feeling of accomplishment is acquired. Whether it is the very first solo flight or passing the ATP check ride, each step is important as well as celebrated. Where a pilot wants to go with their future in the sky depends on which path they take. Someone wanting to just fly for fun on the side may only obtain their private pilot certificate, while others wanting to fly for a major airline will continue on. Flight instructing is not mandatory in aviation. Many pilots have gone on to very successful careers without ever instructing from that right seat, however, there are many wonderful benefits to becoming a flight instructor that come with learning to teach students how to fly.

Flying is expensive and for most people, and building hours in an airplane is out of the question and out of their price range. Becoming a flight instructor allows for a pilot to build their flight hours while getting paid. This is a win-win. Many times, wherever the pilot completed their training will hire them on as an instructor because they know they have been trained accordingly and know the procedures for their particular training program. Becoming a flight instructor is encouraged for anyone needing to build those 1,500 hours that are required to even attempt the ATP rating.

Let’s be honest, the amount of hours required to receive a Commercial Pilot Certificate can feel daunting to the newest of pilots when thinking about going out into the real world. One of the greatest benefits that becoming a flight instructor offers is to continue to learn through teaching, and one of the best ways to learn more is to teach someone who does not know. Flight instructors do not know everything at the point they start flight instructing. When students have questions, they may not know the answer but they have a multitude of resources available to find out. Through this, the instructor has now learned something they did not know, and most likely will never forget. The best way to expand your knowledge bank is to continually make deposits and flight instructing will always require studying and learning.

We can always create scenarios of “what-if” but even the best-trained pilot cannot know or practice every situation that can occur. Flight instructing takes someone out of his or her comfort zone and requires him or her to stay on his or her game. If pilots get too complacent, that is when an accident can occur. Lucky for instructors, the things students will almost always keep complacency from occurring because students tend to do the craziest things. Flight training allows for practicing in real life scenarios. Situations such as unforecast weather, airplane trouble, air traffic, and other events all help instructors quickly react relying on their training. This helps make them not only a better instructor but also a better pilot in the long run.

F-16 jetfighter in flight

Photo by Mark Sontok

Being a flight instructor, here’s a situation a student and myself went through when practicing pattern work at Tulsa International, where F-16’s also spend daily time on pattern work. On this particular afternoon, they began their pattern work while we were on the smaller runway. When the military does their training, the public can only hear the controller talking to them, not their responses. Of course, with fighter jets, things happen way faster than they happen in a Cessna 150, so when we were about midfield downwind, we were waiting on our clearance to land. We continued to wait as we came in closer for landing. We could hear the controller repeatedly giving commands but had no ability to break in and request a landing clearance. As an instructor, I had never been in a situation where the controller forgot we were in the pattern and we had no way of breaking in. It took a go-around due to lack of landing clearance before the controller realized we had been forgotten. At that point, we terminated our pattern work and headed back to our home airport. It was a good experience for both me and my student to experience what happens when other priorities interfere, leaving us to fall back on our training. It gave us both an opportunity to walk through what we needed to do and we had a good ground lesson afterward.

Not all pilots will become instructors, but those who do will gain valuable and life-long experience that cannot be found any other place. There are even a few pilots who, after becoming a flight instructor, stay instructors for the remainder of their career, creating strong bonds with many future pilots and contributing to aviation through teaching. Flight instructing shows future employers that the pilot has commitment and the desire to do what is necessary to be the best pilot they can be.

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Halley’s Comet and the Go No-Go Decision

Shawn Arena

Over the years, I’ve had a lot of memorable flying experiences. And hopefully, by sharing some of the lessons I’ve learned, it will help other aviators in the future be able to make the decisions that will help them fly more safely. I hope you enjoy reading these stories!

Making The Go No-Go Decision

I don’t profess to be an astronomer or cosmic expert, but when the appearance of a celestial event like Halley’s Comet comes around, it does capture my interest. March 2, 1986 was right in the middle of the observation window to see Halley’s Comet, its last recorded appearance. Since I most likely won’t be around to see the next appearance in 2062, the 1986 event captured my attention.

Halleys Comet

Some quick backstory to set the scene: I earned my private pilot certificate in April 1984, so by the time March 1986 rolled around, I began to feel like a ‘real’ aviator. The flight school I earned my certificate at was based at John Wayne / Orange County Airport (SNA) in southern California.

During the last week of February, they hosted an aviation safety seminar (i.e. FAA Wings credit, type program). At the end of the session, a young (and eager I must add) flight instructor approached me and asked if I was interested in joining him and another student on an ‘observation’ flight of Halley’s Comet. They were to be flying a Piper Archer (N81918). Well, I was biased at that time to Cessna aircraft, because that is the aircraft type I was most comfortable flying. And besides, I make a terrible passenger in a small aircraft if I am not flying. Finally, add to that the fact that I didn’t know either of them really well. So, I kindly turned down his offer – a decision I would treasure for the rest of my life!

Grace, Fate, Not My Time – The Result of My Go No-Go Decision

Since March 2nd was a Sunday, the following day was a typical work day. About 10:00 AM I received a call at work from a friend of mine who also flew with the flight school and his first comment to me was “Good, it wasn’t you…one of our planes went down last night!” I didn’t quite put two and two together yet, and went about the rest of my day. For those of you who are reading this and were born after 1995, you probably find this next comment a little stone age, but there was no Internet, texting, or Twitter. We had to rely on the news broadcast at 5 PM, 6 PM, or 10 PM. So out of curiosity, when I got home to my apartment that evening, I turned on the local news. A shiver went down my spine (yeah you guessed it) as soon as the news anchor said, “There was a small plane accident over Newport Beach last night, and witnesses reported the plane doing a cartwheel into the ocean just past the Newport Beach Pier…”

At that moment, I just knew it was the plane I had been asked to be a passenger on. In the coming weeks and months, the mood around the flight school was somber and very sad. Even sadder was hearing that the student aboard that plane was the husband of the flight school administrative assistant. About 6 months later (being the aviation/flying geek that I was /am), I was able to locate a copy of the NTSB accident report (LAX86FA131). To my utter amazement, I read that the student’s wife reported that her husband and instructor had been seen drinking beer before they left for the airport, and that the toxicology tests conducted by the Orange County Medical Examiner revealed 0.32 micrograms of cocaine in the student’s body. So, call it what you want, I learned a valuable lesson from that sad event – never fly with anyone you do not know well and trust, because your life could be at stake. Flying an airplane is serious business, and needs to be properly respected. Trust me, when faced with this Go No-Go decision, I’m certainly glad I made the right one!

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Featured Image by D. Miller

Flight Training Videos: How Relevant Are They?

Mary Ann O’Grady

The term andragogy, which is defined as “the art and science of helping adults learn,” was used as early as 1833 but it was popularized in the United States by Malcolm Knowles in the 1970s (Whitmyer, 1999, p. 1). Originally, andragogy was contrasted with the term pedagogy, which focused on helping children to learn but over time. However, the term pedagogy became so entwined with educational or instructional design that the two terms have become synonymous. According to Knowles, as cited in Whitmyer (1999), andragogy is based upon four primary assumptions regarding adult learners and how they differ from child learners. First, their self-concept shifts from dependence to self-direction. Second, their expanding reservoir of experience serves as a resource for learning. Third, their focus on learning becomes oriented toward the developmental requirements of their social roles. Fourth, they immediately want to apply what they have learned to the challenges of real life. Accordingly, their academic orientation shifts from one of subject-centeredness to one of problem-centeredness as illustrated by the following assumptions:

TopicPedagogyAndragogy
LearnersDependentIndependent
Subject matterOnly one right wayMany ways
Motivation to learn, change or improveExternal and dictated by othersInternal response to personal or career needs
Role of experienceUnimportant, discountedResource that serves as a basis for learning, change or improvement

Must be integrated

LearnerRequires outside directionAbility to self-direct
Learning orientationSubject-centered, Logic-orientedLife/career-centered

Process centered

ObjectiveMinimum requirementsSelf-improvement/betterment

(Whitmyer, 1999)

When entering flight school training, which includes ground school (theoretical), flight school (practical application), and testing (written and practical/flight test with an FAA examiner), the mastery of the course material as well as the practical application is often supplemented by flight training videos. These flight training videos are available through various sources including the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and not-for-profit aviation associations. The format of the FAA broadcasts provides one-way videos and two-way audio satellite broadcasts that conduct short training and briefing sessions. All broadcasts that are classified as actual training courses are videotaped and close-captioned and made available as Video Self Study Courses. For example, two FAA videos specifically addressing aircraft certification service/air worthiness directives are available through Keybridge Technologies, Inc., and additional information pertaining to the ATN may be found on the FAA’s website.

Since the 1930s, not-for-profit associations have purported their mission statements to include the education of pilots, non-pilots, and policy makers alike, and remain dedicated to protecting pilots’ freedom to fly while keeping general aviation safe, enjoyable and affordable. Such associations continue to meet their education goals by providing flight training videos addressing a number of topics:

  • Weather and go/no-go decisions
  • Collision avoidance
  • Weather and pilot error
  • Weather and IFR flight planning
  • Weather and VFR flight planning
  • Avoiding power-on stalls
  • NOAA’s Aviation Weather Center (ADDS)
  • Gathering information about weather
  • Angle of attack indicators
  • Forced landings

The Internet also offers access to information relating to IFR risk management, instrument flying, GPS strategies, practical airmanship, and the strategies for becoming an adequately prepared pilot.

In recent years, the more typical list of instructional videos has been expanded to address more advanced aviation contexts, such as crew tracking, flight simulation, virtual chart plotter, aviation charts, business aviation navigation solutions and business training solutions; fatigue data collection, and mobile TC for the Samsung Galaxy Android Tablet. Updated training products, such as computer software, electronic books, and optional subscriptions that allow access to all the terminal charts and airport diagrams via tablets have begun to replace the traditional hard copy format. Instructional flight training videos appeal not only to novice pilots but also to pilots who are in the process of returning to flying as evidenced by the videos that address the issues of pilot currency requirements, TSA security awareness, the ever-challenging crosswind landings, and non-tower airport communications.

Videos are in a unique position to illustrate both of the two broad categories of practical examples posited by the academic research conducted by the teaching assistant fellows at the University of Wisconsin (1995). First, videos that aid in the explanation of theory and new concepts, and second, videos that illustrate the practical application of basic principles. These practical examples can also be sub-divided into different types based upon the format in which they are being used: analogies, observations, demonstrations that are experimental or mathematical, sensing phenomena, and observing secondary effects. When combined with one or more of the effective teaching strategies (practical examples, show and tell, case studies, guided design projects, open-ended labs, the flowchart technique, open-ended quizzes, brainstorming, question-and-answer method, and software) videos effectively serve to reinforce or anchor the course content for the student.

The guidelines underlying andragogy echo the need for the simultaneous development and presentation of a theoretical and practical foundation since neither one is useful without the other. However, andragogy also reflects adult students’ ability to self-direct as well as their ability to employ multiple means of assimilating the aviation course content. Since the construction of a culture of continuous improvement is a collaborative effort between aviation students and their flight instructors, the access to flight training videos aids in the successful acquisition of the flight school’s learning objectives. Access to advanced technology and the Internet provides aviation students and flight instructors with the capability to conveniently download instructional videos to their computers, tablets, and smartphones. Video programs also allow the production of short videos by flight instructors and their students that can be posted within an online course room or on social media for mutual viewing.

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References:

Strategies for Effective Teaching, A Handbook for Teaching Assistants. (1995). University of Wisconsin – Madison College of Engineering. Retrieved on February 26, 2016, from http://www.engr.wisc.edu/services/elc/strategies.pdf Whitmyer, C., (1999). Andragogy versus Pedagogy. San Francisco, CA: FutureU Press.

Aviation and Your Flight Training: Choose the Best for a Lasting Impression

Wilson Gilliam, Jr.

A paper on economic aerospace forecasting could be as thick as your computer screen is tall. Even the FAA Aerospace Forecast Fiscal Years 2015 – 2035 is nearly 140 pages long. I’m glad this post is long on brevity and to the point about how you can fit into the increasingly influential world of aviation and aerospace.

The word “aviation” may not capture the complete role that aeronautics will have on our world during the foreseeable future. Having been a pilot for almost three decades, I’ve tended to consider the flying universe in terms of my own perspective. Within the last few years, I’ve realized that the aviation / aeronautics business will have an immeasurable influence on the world and will open up a myriad of economic opportunities. There is, or will be something for everyone.

A Cessna Citation on the runway - Aviation and Flight Training: Choosing the Best

Technology is driving innovation within many aerospace subsets. Innovations in imaging are permitting the use of lighter airborne equipment. Smaller, lighter aircraft can now perform aerial observation and recording missions than ever before. Computer chip memory increases are leading to an ever increasing number of features in avionics. Turbine engines are becoming more lightweight, resulting in a popular trend to design and utilize small business jets. These advancements are resulting in an increasing number of aviation career opportunities in the following areas (not all inclusive):

  • Aircraft Crew Operations
  • Drones
  • Air Traffic Control
  • Aircraft Ground Support (FBO operations)
  • Avionics (GPS and aircraft tracking products especially)
  • Aircraft Maintenance
  • Aircraft Design
  • Computer Programming

What better way to get acquainted with this burgeoning industry than earning a pilot’s license or a college degree in aviation? Having “in the seat” experience lends pilots an edge in the aeronautical job hunt by having first-hand knowledge of the flying world at work. This physical skills interface with aviation lays a bedrock foundation for almost any aerospace occupational field.

Pursuing an aviation interest in one emphasis can open doors in another. I remember initially attempting to prepare myself to be an airline pilot. I wound up owning an aviation company with a helicopter ATP (Airline Transport Pilot) instead. Maximizing your exposure within an interest area is the first step toward longer-term success.

Reduce the chances of becoming deflated by learning from a well-established, proven organization. As you begin to make decisions about your aeronautical flight training and/or college education, align yourself with a proven provider. Having a committed, well-experienced organization on your side from the beginning will help contain those early frustrations and career growing pains that all of us have experienced.

There is no substitute for learning from the best. After earning my flight instructor’s certificate in helicopters, I traveled to New York to attend some aircraft transition training for two weeks. The instructor introduced himself to me as Bill Staubach, a retired flight instructor from Fort Rucker. Now, that was a last name that brought back memories.

A helicopter flying with a pilot and flight instructor

The only Staubach that I’d ever known was stitched to the first name of “Roger” and threw a football for the Dallas Cowboys during my childhood. I figured that anyone with that last name couldn’t be bad at anything. I was right about Bill. He flew a helicopter just about like Roger threw a football. The funny thing is that they really were related. Bill is Roger’s uncle.

Before I flew with Bill, I had only performed some well-managed, full-touchdown autorotations. The instructor’s hands were always nudging the controls like Mother Goose and I never knew which one of us was pulling or pushing on what (and that’s not a good thing). Imagine my surprise as I flared too high for our first auto and I noticed Bill to my left, arms folded tapping his feet and hardly paying attention. He was singing…

Oh Susanna, don’t you cry for me – ‘cause I come from Alabama with a banjo on my knee.

The touchdown had nothing to do with the word “touch” and everything to do with slam, bend and panic. The result was an instructor-controlled hop back to the pad and prolonged stint in the classroom, talking about RANT (RPM, Airspeed, Normal Rate of Decent, Touchdown Point). He must have asked me 3,000 times – “What are three indications of an engine failure?” He knew that I knew the answer (needle split, left yaw and quiet). He was ingraining it in my memory like chipping hieroglyphics into a stone tablet. Bill’s skill as a flight instructor challenged me to be a better, more confident pilot. I believe that I passed along Bill’s etiquette and fundamentals to my own students after that.

Giving yourself an edge by lining yourself up with the best is an advantage that you cannot afford to miss out on. If your flight lessons are the first venture into aviation, then your contact with the training school will result in a long lasting impression. Hint: Make sure it’s the right school. The impression will serve to educate and motivate you into remaining engaged in one of many aviation careers.

The aeronautical / aviation industry will have a tremendous influence on the world’s economy in the coming generation. Why not be a part of it? No matter what your age, there’s going to be room for everyone that’s interested. Not only can you work in an exciting environment, the freedom will exist to “spread your wings” to other industry areas as you fly along.

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6 Must Read Tips for Your First Airplane Flying Lessons

Spencer Martin

Your first few airplane flying lessons are some of the most important and memorable you’ll ever have. Here’s how to make the most of your pre-solo airplane flight training.

Get Your Hands on the Controls

You learned to walk by walking. You learned to drive by driving, and flying is no different. It takes hours upon hours of hands-on experience to learn how to fly safely, so don’t let your flight instructor hog the yoke. It can be very helpful to have something demonstrated to you before trying it yourself; in fact, good instruction will require demonstrations. However, one example is usually enough and then it’s your turn to fly again. Even when your instructor is flying, you should follow along with them on the controls to feel how they are maneuvering the aircraft. This builds positive muscle memory and leads to good habits early on. It helps to know what type of learner you are too. Some people like more demonstration than others, but the point is to learn how to fly an aircraft by yourself so the more stick and rudder time you get, the better off you’ll be.

Keep Your Eyes Outside
View from the cockpit of a small plane - Airplane Flying Lessons

Photo by: ravas51

You are training to become a pilot under Visual Flight Rules (VFR). This means that the majority of your time should be spent looking outside and not at the flight instruments. Younger students who grew up looking at screens and digital distractions tend to rely on their instruments too much early on in their training. There is no need to depend on the artificial horizon on your attitude indicator when you have the real horizon right out your windshield. While flight instruments can be very helpful, they are to be used primarily to validate what you see outside. In fact, the FAA recommends “90% of the time, the pilot’s attention should be outside the cockpit.”1 Keeping your eyes outside not only increases safety for everyone in the air, it also leads to better piloting skills all throughout any course of training you set your sights on later. Plus the view is just the best!

Ask a Million Questions

At this point in the game, almost everything is going to be new, so try and absorb as much of it as you can without feeling like you’re drinking from a fire hose. Your CFI will love how engaged you are in your own learning and do everything they can to answer your questions in ways that make sense to somebody new to the complex world of aviation. If the lesson is focused on landings, try and come prepared with a few questions on power settings and airspeeds. If you’re learning about stalls, read the appropriate chapter in your textbook the night before the lesson and take notes on what you don’t yet understand. The more prepared and knowledgeable you are before a flight, the more you will take away from your time in the air. This leads to less repeated lessons and better overall comprehension of aviation and flying technique.

Questions, comments, complaints, concerns?

This is what my initial CFI would ask me every time we got back to his office after a flight to start a debrief. Getting a thorough debrief from your CFI is vital to retaining what you did right, and examining what can be improved upon for next time. Take notes and actively participate with your CFI to get the most out of their critique. Instructors want you to succeed just as much as you do; working closely with them and taking their suggestions seriously will help you become the best pilot you can be.

Become an Armchair Captain

A student pilot in the cockpit - Airplane Flying Lessons

It sounds silly but similar to flight simulator training, chair flying will save you so much time and effort in the long run. Ask any professional athlete how they practice and they will almost all tell you they practice with the same focus they have in the game. Practice only makes perfect if the practice is perfect. Do yourself a huge favor and practice checklist usage, stall recovery procedures, or radio calls on the ground where it is a low-stress environment (and where its free too).

Have Fun with Your Airplane Flying Lessons!

If you get stuck in a rut knocking out lesson after lesson, go for your first $100 hamburger or fly over your house or the nearest scenic landmark (at a safe altitude of course). Training can be stressful at times so it’s perfectly acceptable to do something with your CFI that will be memorable and remind you why you wanted to become a pilot in the first place.

In Conclusion

When everything is new and exciting, your first airplane flying lessons can fly by without you realizing it (pun intended). If you come prepared, are open to new experiences, and take charge of your own learning, then you’ll be enroute to becoming a private pilot in no time.

Get Started With Your Flight Training Today

You can get started today by filling out our online application. If you would like more information, you can call us at (844) 435-9338, or click here to start a live chat with us.

Sources:

1 – FAA-H-8083-3A Airplane Flying Handbook Figure 3-2

Certified Flight Instructor: Want to Learn? Then Teach!

Getting your CFI certificate is not only a great way to build flying hours and “earn while you learn,” it’s a fun job!

Vern Weiss

There is an old Latin principle, docendo discimus, that means the best way to learn is to teach. And it is very true. When you think about it, don’t you understand things better when you describe them to someone else? So often completing a task is rote and done without giving thought to the individual components of a task. However when you describe how something is done it becomes set in your mind. The difference between flying and explaining how to fly is subtle but important. When you fly there are cues you respond to and actions you do intuitively and without much thought. But when you explain to someone how to fly it requires that you stay one step ahead of what that individual is doing and preparing for whatever is necessary to do next. When beginning your ground training you may have noticed that some of the material was purely memorized and recalling facts required dipping into your memory for some trick you may have devised to help you remember things (i.e. “east is least, west is best”) But when you are explaining something theoretical you will find that your are planning your presentation to a student in building-block fashion which makes your own flow of understanding much easier.

CFIs find after they begin instructing that they themselves begin to understand things better. This comes naturally from watching others’ techniques, mistakes and formulating answers to questions from the student. The certified flight instructor may have had some of those same questions but never chose to think the answers through. Of course, it is not expected that you will have the answer to everything and when faced with a question that a CFI cannot answer, the best response is always, “I don’t know but I know where to find the answer.” Then you look it up, explain it to the inquirer and you’re better prepared for when the question arises again; and it will!

The amount of self-satisfaction that a person gets when watching a student succeed, whether you’re talking about someone completing their first solo or a student you’ve signed off passing a checkride, it’s a gift that comes back to you, the instructor. When you are able to mold and guide a student through all the elements of achievement necessary for success your own expertise is validated which feels pretty good.

Achieving a CFI certificate requires some training that, up until now, you most likely have not experienced. As a pilot you are responsible for the safe conduct of your flight however CFIs are additionally responsible. Because of this, during your CFI checkride you will be required to demonstrate many of the maneuvers to the standards in the PTS. In addition, CFIs are required to have spin training, or more accurately, spin recovery. It sounds a lot more difficult than it is and when your own flight instructor is planning your lesson that will include spins, a thorough explanation of what will occur will precede the instructor’s demonstration. When the controls are handed over to you, your instructor will very closely monitor everything that is going on and will take over should things begin to look troublesome. But the up-shot is that when you’ve actually recovered from one of aviation’s most serious situations you will feel infinitely more confident as a pilot.

The experience you gain from teaching in an airplane is enormous but there are other reasons that make it a good career move. Most notably, as a CFI YOU are considered to be the pilot-in-command even though you may have barely touched the controls during a given training session! And what does this mean? Naturally it means that if anything happens you will be the principal respondent to an FAA or NTSB inquiry. However there are other rewards.

Additional Benefits of Becoming a Certified Flight Instructor

For one thing, you are legally authorized to log the flight time which will follow you the rest of your career! Yup…when it’s time to get your Airline Transport Pilot certificate that hour of dual you gave to someone way back when will still count toward the 1,500 hours you need now for your ATP.

Another benefit of holding a CFI certificate is what it says to a prospective employer and even what it can mean off in the future after you are a captain on a Boeing 777. To a prospective employer a CFI says…no, SHOUTS…that you are dedicated beyond just meeting the minimum requirements to be a pilot. It says that you are serious about your aviation career. Professionalism and attitude always mean a great deal to a prospective employer.

But let’s get back to that future day when you’re in the left-seat of a Boeing 777. Does a CFI certificate qualify you for such a position? Of course not. But what it does do is meet one of the requirements for becoming an instructor or check airman for that airline. In the corporate environment it is also very helpful to become an aviation manager, director of operations or chief pilot because one of your tasks will be to qualify your pilots and you’ll likely need a CFI certificate to do this.

The Certified Flight Instructor Certificate

Other than the FAA medical certificate, the CFI is the only certificate that is issued with an expiration date. The valid period for a CFI certificate is 2 years whereas you know that your pilot’s license is good for life. What happens when the 2 years are up? First you must complete a CFI renewal course no more than 3 months prior to the expiration of your CFI certificate in order to renew it. This may be accomplished in a number of different ways. Some prefer to attend one of the CFI renewal clinics sponsored by many organizations throughout the country. Others prefer to complete the entire course online or via correspondence. The important thing to remember is that the actual course completion and application for renewal cannot be more than 3 months before your CFI expires. You will hear a lot of grumbling from CFIs about this requirement but the fact is that aviation and regulatory policies are changing constantly and this is an important way of keeping up with the information you need to be a flight instructor. There are other ways to renew a CFI certificate that are less popular such as taking another check-ride but the CFI refresher course is most favored. Other “freebies” for renewing your CFI certificate include obtaining an additional instructor rating on an existing CFI certificate (i.e. you hold a CFI-Airplane and then get a CFII instrument instructor rating) or by signing off 10 people for check-rides during the previous 2 years with an 80% pass rate on first attempt. Often the FAA principal operations inspector for an air carrier will renew a CFI just on the basis of knowing someone who is an instructor for that airline.

Can anyone become a certified flight instructor? You bet! All you need is a commercial license and instrument rating. In fact some people have taken their commercial pilot check-ride from the right seat and were awarded not only their commercial license but also a CFI-Airplane following that single check-ride!

Another economic nicety is that you can legally give flight instruction holding only a 3rd class FAA medical certificate! In the event that a CFI is teaching an already-licensed pilot who holds a medical you do not need any medical certificate at all!

Whether you are motivated to plunge in fully to build flight time leading to a career or if you like the idea of flying but cannot really afford to do it, flight instruction can provide a solution for both. We’re hearing a lot today about a pilot shortage however the shortage of flight instructors cuts even deeper. There are so many opportunities for CFIs working either full or part time for established flight schools. Many CFIs prefer to remain independent and give instruction without affiliating with any flight school. Sometimes instructors find a comfortable situation with someone who has bought an airplane and prefers to have a certified flight instructor riding along with them. And the beauty of it all is that you are paid doing what you love to do!

Salaries for a Certified Flight Instructor

Most full time flight instructors earn an average of $18,000 to $40,000 per year. Part-timers can augment their income from another job by bringing home an additional $100 to $200 per week from instructing. Then again there are large flight schools that offer sign-on bonuses and salaries reaching $50,000 to $60,000 per year. Airline and FAA Part 142 flight training centers pay their instructors $75,000 to $120,00 per year to train pilots in advanced high performance and transport category aircraft.

Conclusion

As you can see there are many reasons to consider getting a flight instructor certificate. While it often is helpful to ask instructors what it’s like to be a certified flight instructor remember that every instructor’s motivation may be different from yours and it is important to look at all the benefits both long- and short-term and how they might fit into your plans. But aside from all the reasons stated in this article, there is nothing quite like the satisfaction of doing what you love and knowing that, as the instructor, you are controlling the show while someone is paying you to enjoy it.

Get Started With Your Flight Training Today

You can get started today by filling out our online application. If you would like more information, you can call us at (844) 435-9338, or click here to start a live chat with us.

Sources:

FAA Part 61 Regulations

Certified Flight Instructor Training Pays Off for ULA Graduate

Jeff Vogel, Certified Flight Instructor with Upper Limit Aviation is “Living the Dream”. Jeff instructs student pilots at ULA’s Cedar City campus. If your dream is to fly helicopters for a living, contact Jeff.  He is more than happy to talk you through the process of going through certified flight instructor training and becoming a commercial pilot ([email protected]).

Against All Odds – Chasing The Dream Until it is Achieved
Some people have a knack for spending every waking moment working to reach a goal they have set. Jeff Vogel is that type of person; he knows what he wants to do in life and won’t let anything deter him from his dream. The world of aviation can be intimidating, but for Jeff it has been an adventure. At thirteen, Jeff had already completed his first intro flight in an airplane.
“I grew up in an aviation-loving family; I have photos of when I was a baby sitting on the hood of the car watching planes come in while eating french fries. When I was thirteen I flew my first intro flight lesson in a Cessna 172. I remember that I could not stop smiling for weeks,” said Jeff Vogel, CFI with Upper Limit Aviation.
“As a kid I usually had a GI Joe in one hand and a model plane or helicopter in the other, and when I was in kindergarten I remember telling my teacher I wanted to be a pilot.”
Jeff’s father passed away when he was only eight years old. However, Jeff’s father did influence him in regard to “following his passion” for aviation.
“My father told me when I was young ‘Don’t fuss about things in life that you don’t really love or care for… if aviation is your passion and you know that’s what you want to do, give it your all, give everything you have to strive and make it work, and that really stuck with me,” said Jeff.
With his determination to become involved in aviation, Jeff flew an airplane before he drove a car, and while most kids participated in the regular extra-curricular activities after school, Jeff flew over them in an attempt to continue building his solo flight time.
“I remember my Junior year in high school, the football coach came to me and told me that he wanted me to play on the varsity football team. The coach told me that I needed to stop flying so much. I remember looking at him and saying ‘I don’t think so’,” recalled Jeff. “Football was all this guy lived for and flying was all I lived for. I remember flying over the football team while they ran scrimmages saying to myself and smiling, ‘I think I made the right choice here’.” 
Jeff_Vogel_HelicopterAfter Jeff had finished high school, he joined the United States Marine Corp while attending Ohio University and received a degree in Aviation Management.
“I went into the Marine Corp because I thought I would like to be a pilot in the military and it was good. But I realized didn’t want to pursue being a military pilot, but that’s where my love for helicopters grew,” said Jeff.
“I flew around in helicopters in Afghanistan, but that wasn’t nearly as fun as being up front and in control.  I looked at twelve or more flight schools before I choose ULA.  I really wanted to make sure I picked a great flight school. One that would take care of my needs – having an impeccable job placement rate to set me up for success.  So, I chose Upper Limit Aviation and I haven’t looked back.”
Never Looking Back – Setting Goals Until They Become Reality
After leaving the military, Jeff joined Upper Limit Aviation’s Helicopter Pilot program. Like most first-time helicopter pilots, Jeff’s first flight was one he would never forget.
“I distinctly remember my first flight in a helicopter and walking out to the flight line, seeing all the Upper Limit pilots in their flight suits and it was slightly intimidating. But everyone one was just really nice and had a fun attitude.  When we first picked up into a hover, I knew this was something special, and absolutely exciting,” said Jeff.
“I knew this was where I wanted my office to be, in the front seat of a helicopter – in the pilot’s seat.” 
Jeff_Vogel_MarinesFlight school has its challenges, but for Jeff these challenges have been learning tools he’s leveraged for success.
“My biggest challenge was being as proactive as possible. People are there if you need help, especially in Upper Limit, but its up to you to be your own leader and make sure you study” said Jeff.
“You have to be a self driven and motivated individual. I have wanted to fly since I was born. I would pick flying over everything, but sometimes it can be a lot of work. You have to be dedicated and disciplined to become a professional pilot.”
Jeff makes it clear that anyone coming into the ULA Flight program should know a few key things. “You have got to be focused and driven – you have to know where you are headed and the pathway that gets you there,” said Jeff.
“You have to be driven, but it’s a marathon, not a sprint. People can get burnt out and just go too fast without realizing the work behind it.  I like to set a good pace and focus on the finish line.”
Jeff_Vogel_as_a_young_pilotJeff does take some time to focus on other things besides flying, and has found a way to stay focused and proactive to reach his goal of becoming a skilled professional helicopter pilot. Jeff is a newlywed and he loves to ride motorcycles and enjoys the great outdoors.
“For student pilots it’s non-stop studying, and our students group up to study together, and have fun doing it… It’s a family atmosphere at ULA. In the summer students are out by the pool and they study by the pool in-between swimming and playing golf,” said Jeff.
Jeff highly recommends Upper Limit Aviation to any prospective student who has the dream to fly, especially if they are interested in certified flight instructor training.
 
“With big work comes big payoff, and flying helicopters is not for everyone. You have to be willing to sacrifice and stay focused. Everyone at ULA has had to get in a U-haul and move across the country to attend flight school. It’s scary, but understand that most of the ULA students and instructors have had to sacrifice, and those that took the leap and worked their tail off are happy they did.  For me, I am entering into a booming industry with fantastic job opportunities. I am living the dream.”  
Get Started With Your Flight Training Today

You can get started today by filling out our online application. If you would like more information, you can call us at (844) 435-9338, or click here to start a live chat with us.

A Look Inside a Helicopter CFI Checkride

Your initial CFI Practical exam is widely recognized as not only the most difficult of all checkrides; but also the most important. “Checkride” is a term those in the industry use when talking about the FAA Practical Exam. Passing the CFI Checkride, or CFI Practical Exam, is the moment where you are finally going to set yourself apart from a ‘student’ role, to a marketable role as a Flight Instructor. This important milestone is what will allow you to start your career. It is well known that here, in the U.S., your first job as a professional helicopter pilot will most likely be as a flight instructor. First, we will discuss what it takes to become a Helicopter Instructor Pilot; then we are going to go inside a CFI Practical Exam.

Where to start, and what it takes to get there

Anyone who has never flown before will start out as a Student Pilot working towards becoming a Private Pilot Certificate holder. You will need to find a Flight School to begin your training. There are several options out there, and choosing the right one for you is a discussion for another time. Once you complete your Private Pilot Training and you are ready, you will take a Private Pilot Practical Exam. Practical Exams are the same in regards to how the exam is conducted.

You sit down with either an FAA Examiner or a Designated Pilot Examiner also known as a DPE. The day starts with an in person oral quiz known as the ground portion of your checkride. After hours, yes hours, of answering questions; you will either be approved to progress to the flight portion of the exam or hear the dreadful words that you did not pass the ground portion of the exam. If all goes well in the ground portion, you will then move on to the preflight and flight portion of the checkride. This is often times referred to as the ‘easy part’ of the Practical Exam. The only people who say this, are the ones who feel confident in their piloting skills. Make no mistake about it, you can and many people do fail their checkride in the air. This is perhaps why it is so important that you wisely choose who you go to for your flight training.  For another viewpoint regarding the CFI Checkride click here.

Great! You’re now a Private Pilot…..what’s next?

Once you become a Private Pilot Certificate holder, your flight training can go one of three ways. One, you can stop training and remain a Private Pilot. Several people in the General Aviation sector take this route. These are likely the people who are fortunate enough to own their own aircraft and all they want is to be able to legally fly. They have no ambitions of flying for a living and are content simply being a ‘pilot’. However, most of us are doing this because this is what we want to do for a living. This brings us to the other two options in our flight training career. The most common step is to begin your instrument training.

This is where things get ‘serious’. In order to be a Private Pilot Certificate holder with an Instrument Rating, you are going to dedicate yourself to in depth ground training, simulator training and flight training with a view limiting device. At this point in your flight training, you are going to learn how to safely fly the aircraft with no outside references by solely relying on your instruments inside the cockpit. This stage of training is what I like to call, the make or break stage. If you complete this invaluable training, you can walk proud because everyone in aviation will know that you are serious about becoming a career pilot.

What’s the third option?

As a Helicopter Pilot, the other option would be to start training for your Commercial Pilot Certificate immediately after obtaining your Private Pilot Certificate. This option is only available to Helicopter Pilots and many schools do not allow this course of training to be taken. I think it is important to gain the skills needed for an Instrument Rating before you begin training as a Commercial Pilot. In fact, this makes so much sense that those on the fixed wing side are required to receive their Instrument Rating prior to obtaining their Commercial Pilot Certificate. Regardless of your path, you need to do both before you are ready to become a Flight Instructor. You can become a Flight Instructor without being Instrument Rated; but I stand behind my statement that both are needed before you are “ready” to be a CFI. Both the Instrument Rating and Commercial Pilot Certificate will require ground training and flight training. They both also require a separate FAA Practical Exam or ‘checkride’ in order to be granted the certificate or rating. Again, the Practical Exams are conducted in the same manner; pass a lengthy oral exam and then prove your skills in the air.

You are now an Instrument Rated Commercial Pilot. Ready for your first job? Not so fast. Here’s why…

Once you become a Private Pilot, get your Instrument Rating and then knock out the flight training requirements to become a Commercial Pilot; your next step is likely to begin training to become a Certified Flight Instructor. According to the regulations, as a Commercial Pilot you can now be paid to carry persons or property. But let’s face it, at this stage of your flight career, you simply do not have the hours needed to be marketable for a job. This is why the next stage of your training is the most important. It is now time to begin training as an Instructor Pilot. You will begin learning how to fly from the Instructors seat and start transitioning from student, to teacher. You will learn Fundamentals of Instruction and begin writing detailed lesson plans in order to be prepared to teach someone who has never flown all the way up to a Commercial Pilot level. Once you complete your flight instructor training; you will be ready for your CFI Checkride and Practical.

What makes a CFI Practical so different from the rest?

My CFI checkride was in Colorado with an Examiner that is known to be one of the toughest. The practical started with me teaching the Fundamentals of Instruction. We then moved forward into certificates and endorsements. We spent nearly three hours as I was given scenario after scenario demonstrating I knew what I could and couldn’t do as a Flight Instructor. I was then given a list of items to instruct on. In addition to the requirements of the Practical Test Standards (PTS), I taught lessons on Airworthiness, Risk Management, Commercial Pilot Privileges & Limitations, Auto-Rotations, Translational Lift and Special Awareness Training required for Robinson Helicopters. We finished the ground portion at 6;30 that evening…yes, 11.5 hours of ground. I had a 30 minute break for lunch that I used to prepare my next lesson. Day two started again at 7am. We did a thorough preflight and then flew a 1.8hr flight. In total, my CFI Checkride took 18.5hrs over the course of two days. Due to the training, preparation and mentorship I received from Upper Limit Aviation; I am now a Certified Flight Instructor, ready to begin my career.

Get Started With Your Flight Training Today

You can get started today by filling out our online application. If you would like more information, you can call us at (801) 596-7722.

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