Ah, you have finally made the decision and have decided to learn how to fly an airplane. Congratulations, you will be glad that you did. So what is one of the first things you need to do? Pick a flight instructor, of course! There are five things you need to consider before making this important decision:
- What is the instructor's temperament?
- How accessible is the instructor?
- Will the instructor provide you with a short list of recent students?
- Can you talk to the examiner who tests the instructor's applicants?
- What is the pass/fail rate of the instructor's students?
Now, you might have thought the number of flight hours would be in this list, right? Well, my experience is that there is a difference between an instructor's ability to teach and the instructors ability to fly. The instructor might be a great pilot, but is the instructor a great teacher? After all, YOU are there to learn to fly, and you want the best instruction you can get for the money you are spending. That is how I came up with this list of the five most important things to consider when choosing a flight instructor. That's right - when YOU choose your flight instructor. After all, it's your money, your life and your experience, so don't be afraid to choose an instructor instead of just taking whomever is assigned to you. Let's look at each of these five items in more detail. The instructor's temperament is very important to you. Is the instructor patient, relaxed and confident? Is the instructor organized with a well developed and thought out curriculum, or just interested in jumping in the aircraft with little discussion and taking off? A good instructor will take almost as much time with you before and after the flight as the flight itself. Can you reach the instructor after your lesson, and will the instructor take the time to discuss the lessons with you later? For example, you complete your lesson, drive home, read through your Jepp Private Pilot Manual and have some questions. Will the instructor make his phone number available so that you can call the instructor when you have questions? Before you start taking your flying lessons can you talk to current and/or former students? What is their opinion of the instructor? Talk to the students away from the airport, in a casual way, over a cup of coffee. Listen carefully and don't lead the conversation; just listen. You might be surprised what you learn. Will the instructor tell you who examines their students, and how to reach them? Does the examiner have an opinion as to the quality of students the instructor turns out? This information will help you to know what to expect when you finally receive the flight test recommendation of the instructor. Finally, what is the ratio of students who pass their flight tests the first time versus those who wind up retaking more instruction before passing the flight test. This will help you understand how thorough the instruction is. Learning to fly should be enjoyable, should go at a pace you are comfortable with, and should result in you having confidence when you take that final test to receive your license. Don't be afraid to take charge of your training; you will be glad you did! Until next time keep your wings straight and level Hersch! JetAviator7 They done it! They done it! Damned if they ain't flew. — Johnny Moore, shouted while running to the village of Kitty Hawk. 17 December 1903.