Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Light-Sport Chronicles: Heart Like A Wing


In celebration of CFIs everywhere, and one in particular



For the love of flying. John Lampson is a CFI for the simple reason that he loves the gratifying experience of teaching.
It's that time of year! Spring be sprung, or nearly so; if a blanket of frosty white lurks beyond your window, have faith—the end is near. Time now for wannabe pilots and stick jockeys young and old to turn their fancies once more toward the skies. Time also to consider that oft-unsung band of brothers and sisters who give us the sky.

Although many CFIs, as the private aviation cliché goes, endure the flight instruction game primarily to follow that yellow brick road that leads to commercial flying jobs, we all know at least one winged tutor who enjoys teaching in a cockpit for its own sake. I put these rock stars of flight right up there with school teachers, police and fire personnel, doctors, nurses, EMTs and all who benefit the commonweal for the sheer love of what they do. There's something special indeed about people who give the gift of their time and expertise to the betterment of another human being. As we know in aviation, it's sure not for the big bucks.

Think about this: Day in, year out, CFIs wield a dazzling array of skills in the three-dimensional realm of the air. Flight instructors are like circus performers, simultaneously juggling a moment-to-moment focus on the student's actions, while imparting aeronautical knowledge verbally and giving hands-on demonstrations. On top of that, the flight instructor must be constantly ready to react in a split second to dangerous or unexpected overreaction, especially near the ground. Their lives, and the lives of their students, are always on the line.

Finally, they do their best to evoke a calm, cool and collected atmosphere in the cockpit, even when dealing with students overwhelmed by the need to think and act in three dimensions of movement at once.

So isn't it a simple marvel that CFIs do all that without screaming, "You freakin' idiot!" every 90 seconds?

Opening argument: If good flight instruction is therefore an art form, as I've come to believe it is, then John Lampson is an artist.

Exhibit A: During my training, John successfully guided me with patience, skill and thoughtfulness to my sport pilot ticket, all the while infusing groan-worthy humor. My favorite: After spotting a plane crossing our path, I said, "Hey, there's an Extra 300." "Where?" he shot back, rubbernecking left and right. "I only see one!" Bah da bing!



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