I accepted a layoff from my flight school because you cannot social distance in the cockpit. I am a career CFI with more than 5,000 hours dual given in my logbook.
I was the chief CFI. I billed in excess of 400 flight hours and sent 10 people for checkrides, nine of whom passed on their first try. Two of them were CFI candidates.
I accepted the layoff because I couldn’t imagine risking my health and/or the health of my family for someone’s hobby or vocational training.
If I were still training military pilots it would be a different story. I would train pilots because our nation was in need. But we are not at war, and for comparison, the colleges and trade schools in my state were shut down in early March. How is teaching people to fly more important than other education?
Whether or not flight instruction is an “essential job” appears to be a matter of opinion. The state and federal guidelines for ‘essential jobs’ grouped flight schools under ‘transportation’ which is an essential industry. The owners and Chief CFIs from the local flight schools called around to find out who was staying open, and who was planning to close. Many schools reached out to their clients to explain precautions that were being taken to mitigate virus transmission. Some decided to fly by appointment only. Some shut down. A few maintained business as usual.
A CFI I trained told me he resigned from his job because he didn’t want to be part of the problem. He said he felt putting himself and others at risk by the close quarters required in the cockpit showed bad Aeronautical Decision Making.
A time-builder at the school denied the seriousness of the situation. He’s a twenty-something with a full-time tech job. He is the product of a quick-ticket program and is very, very green. He’s also a part-time CFI, hour-hungry, too. He said he would fly no matter what. I asked him how he was maintaining social distance in the cockpit and he gave me a big smile and said, “It’s all good.” He told me he was avoiding the media reports about the virus. When I told him about the Stay at Home order, he stamped his feet like a child and whined “I want to fly!” His attitude struck me as a new kind of “get there itis”, meaning, poor decisions with a potentially deadly outcome.
I made a note never to fly with him again.
When the virus scare is over I wonder how the pilots who flew during it will be remembered? An examiner I know remarked that she would be looking for those dates in people’s logbooks and will have long conversations about aeronautical decision making with those pilots who flew dual during the Stay at Home order.
Are those hours worth risking illness or getting someone in your family sick?
Not to this CFI.