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Choosing A Certified Flight Instructor

It is crucial for the student to choose a CFI whose teaching style coincides with the learning style of the student because the quality of instruction and the knowledge and skills learned from the outset will follow a student’s pilot’s entire flying career. 

          In a previous article, Air Power, Inc. provided helpful direction on how to choose a flight training center or flight school. Whether an individual chooses a flight school operating under 14 CFR part 141 or 61, that individual must still choose a CFI. The level of individual quality received in ground and flight training is received personally from the CFI. The CFI ultimately assumes all responsibility for training an individual to meet all of the practical test standards (PTS) necessary to pass knowledge, oral, and practical exams (as applicable) in order to gain the desired certificate. It is important to remember that the student chooses the CFI, not the other way around. Some flight schools may automatically assign you a CFI, but ultimately, the decision of which CFI to work with lies with the student.

          The CFI not only must understand the learning process, but also understand and have a firm grasp on the fundamentals of teaching in order to be able to effectively guide the instruction of the student pilot. The CFI is crucial on providing the student pilot with the scenario-based training that the FAA requires.

According to The Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge, the responsibilities of the CFI are to:

  • Orient the student to the scenario-based training system
  • Help the student become a confident planner and inflight manager of each flight and a critical evaluator of their own performance
  • Help the student understand the knowledge requirements present in real world applications
  • Diagnose learning difficulties and help the student overcome them
  • Evaluate student progress and maintain appropriate records
  • Provide continuous review of student learning

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          The student should become as familiar as possible with both the scenario-based training and ground instruction required to gain a specific certificate in order to maximize the effectiveness of the instruction received, and to ensure that the CFI is training in a manner that is efficient. As the student gains more experience, the CFI will hand over more responsibilities of the operation of the aircraft to the student. There should be a steady and measurable growth visible after each flight lesson. A student should not walk away from a single flight lesson feeling as if they did not improve a technique, take on a new responsibility, or diagnose a difficulty. Any flight lesson that ends without growth is simply a waste of time and money for the student.

          Unfortunately, not every student will mesh well with the first CFI they choose to work with, or secondary CFI’s who might assist the student’s primary CFI. This could be due to clashing work schedules, differences in personality, differences in learning or teaching styles, etc. If the student finds themselves in any of these scenarios, it is important to find another CFI immediately. It is crucial for the student to choose a CFI whose teaching style coincides with the learning style of the student because the quality of instruction and the knowledge and skills learned from the outset will follow a student’s pilot’s entire flying career. 

By Engine Sales Representative, Joshua Denton

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