The path that leads from not being a pilot, to being a pilot, passes through two very important people. Knowing their roles and opportunities to tackle each of them is critical to our timely and affordable success.
Each of us, who received the title of pilot-commander, flew next to, in front of or behind a certified flight instructor (CFI) for a number of hours. The process can be exciting. Or it can be difficult. On the way there may be embarrassment, air sickness or triumph. Most likely, there will be a combination of all these things.
The process of transforming us from ground players to air owners takes time, effort and money – all in limited quantities.
Each of us only has so much time to work. This is true in the macro sense as well, as life expectancy is not infinite as it is on a micro scale, due to family, work and various other responsibilities competing with our time.
The effort component grows and weakens depending on various factors, not the least of which is related to our ability to sleep. But there are other issues that affect our ability and willingness to work well, including distractions that are carried over from our classes without flying.
And let’s not forget the intimidation factor that most of us experience at some point because it is related to strong winds, turbulence, low ceilings or frosty temperatures. All of these problems can ruin our desire to get on a plane and fly.
Money is the last – but no less important – component of our aviation problems. With rising inflation, the few dollars we had to prepare for flights became less than a year ago. When Hobbes turns around, our current accounts shrink. Sometimes it seems like we feel like cash is leaving our hands. This is especially true when it is difficult for us to master a concept or maneuver. But even in the best of times we know that the meter works every time the prop is turned.
It is the job of CF’Is to help us solve these problems. So we pay them. Their task is to help us focus clearly on our studies and practical classes.
A student, or client, or what the FAA now calls students (I’m not sure they could pick up a more awkward word to describe us) comes in on day 1 with enough ignorance to fill a supertanker. Although we have books, videos, and online resources that you can use, we turn to the CFI for guidance, guidance, support, and encouragement.
By the way, these elements are key features in the CFI. In fact they are so important that we will return to them again in a few paragraphs.
The second person that most pilot applicants should deal with is the designated pilot examiner or pilot examiner. The difference is that the first is a person selected, trained and evaluated by the FAA, who has the right to conduct practical tests. The second is an FAA officer who is also authorized to conduct practice tests. The applicant pays DPE for his time. The pilot examiner is worthless, as the FAA already has them on the payroll. However, due to the consistently low number of pilot examiners most of us are following the DPE path.
DPE and Pilot Examiner are both flight instructors. These are experienced professionals who, after many years of training and preparing pilot entrants for practice tests, fully understand how nervous most entrants are. Contrary to popular belief, they are not cannibals who patiently wait for the opportunity to kill an entrant for even the slightest mistake. Rather, they seek competence in their subjects. Be a commanding pilot and you’ll probably do pretty well even if you stumble once or twice.
Standard is not perfection, it is competence combined with understanding. The Airman certification standard includes a statement that exceeding the standards is not a reason for an unsatisfactory result. However, consistent exceeding of standards.
All of this brings us back to CFI, because both the person who teaches us and the person who tests us are CFIs. Knowing this is a great gift. This places the responsibility of choosing a good CFI and a good flight school on the shoulders of the client, the client, the student, the learner – it is also a gift to know who we fly with – it is our choice and not someone else’s.
If the person you’re working with isn’t supportive, rarely encouraging, and can’t give specific guidance on the tasks you’re trying to explore, it may be time to find a new CFI or a new flight school.
If your instructor rarely conducts pre-lesson briefings with you or is too busy to sit down for a post-flight report, you may want to look for a CFI that will be a little more committed to helping you succeed. And if you’re flying with a CFI that greets you with the expression, “And what are we doing today?” this is a clear indication that your best answer should be, “I don’t know about you, but I’m going to find a new flight instructor.”
“If you’re flying with a CFI that greets you with ‘So what are we doing today?’ your best answer should be, “I don’t know about you, but I’m going to find a new flight instructor.”
Remember that you are a client, client, student or learner. Whatever you call it as a consumer, you need to control your learning process. You are faced with your own problems that need to be overcome and your areas of ignorance that need to be filled. This is true regardless of whether you are a student about to take your first lesson or an experienced pilot heading out for your next flight review. We all have something to learn, and we all need someone to help us gain new ideas and skills.
Choose your CFI wisely. After all, they work for you. Good to hire.
https://generalaviationnews.com/2022/02/15/hire-a-cfi-who-works-for-you/ Hire a CFI that works for you – General Aviation News