Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Instructing The Instructor


Ten things every instructor learns, whether he wants to or not


When you're a flight instructor, you're a combination shrink, drill sergeant, mother confessor and cheerleader; and, if you're a good instructor, you quickly realize that the act of instructing is teaching you more than you're teaching the student. Also, some of life's basic truths periodically come up to hit you in the face.

1 Death by starvation is more likely than crashing. Anyone who thinks he or she is going to live a normal life (house, car, two kids, picket fence, dog and two cats) while flight-instructing full time might benefit from a little reality check. The really big schools and flight universities, e.g., Embry-Riddle, pay a living wage, but many of the smaller schools are doing their best to survive, and generally pay by the flight hour. So, you have to really fly your brains out to live a "normal" life. Then you're too tired to enjoy it. This is one reason so many flight instructors are young and unmarried. It's a sad truth, but part of life.

2 Right Guard should hire CFIs as testers. An hour in the cockpit during the summer is almost guaranteed to break a major sweat, something the second student is definitely going to notice. Deodorant is cheap. Use it.

3 Kid gloves sometimes come in handy. When instructing some people, especially wildly successful professionals who may not be doing well in this new endeavor, the instructor has to walk a very fine line. We can't just blurt out that the airplane doesn't really care that they're wealthy and/or a huge success in their chosen field. Those students sometimes have a difficult time adjusting to the fact that their success in the civilian world doesn't automatically make them a better pilot. If that's the case, the instructor has to bring out his kid gloves while they're coming to grips with the new reality. This is where he learns how to be tactful.




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