Tue, 9 May 2006
Pilot Dan, Pilot Kent, and Pilot Mike host a CFI Roundtable
discussion on "Learning to Fly"
- We're joined this episode by 3 CFIs
- CFI Ron "the Rev"
- CFI & AME Dr. Bruce Chien, M.D.
- CFI Joe, Pilot Mike's CFI
- The two most common questions are how much does it cost and
how long does it take?
- CFI Joe: The time depends
on how much to you put in to it and how you approach it and the cost is
related to the time.
- CFI Bruce: Once taught a
General Surgeon who passed his checkride after 19 sequential days of
instruction at a cost today of about $5500. More typically, the cost
would be about $7000.
- Potential students usually only listen to the low time
and cost estimates
- Why is the percentage of students who actually complete the
certification, so low?
- CFI Bruce: Some people
just realize that flying is not for them. Sometimes it's the student,
sometimes the CFI, and sometimes just the teaching technique
- CFI Joe: Agrees that
flying is not for everyone, but also agrees that anyone can learn to
- What should a student look for when selecting a CFI?
- CFI Joe: Recommends the
first 4 to 6 hours of instruction be taken with 4 to 6 different CFIs.
Realize that the first few hours of instruction will be almost
identical across instructors, so use that time to learn the personality
and teaching style of the instructor so you can choose someone who's
- CFI Bruce: Also recommends
flying with several instructors and use your gut feeling to choose the
one who could be a mentor. There's a difference between instruction and
education. Even an excellent student, though, can learn from a
- CFI Ron: Come to it from
the perspective that you are the customer, choosing a service provider.
Look for compatibility first, but ask a lot of questions about who the
person is, their background, their experience, their capabilities, how
they do business, and previous students. You are hiring a person and
need to make sure they fill your job requirements.
- Which is better, a full-time CFI building hours for an
airline job, or a part-time CFI who just enjoys the job?
- CFI Bruce: The connection
and relationship between the student candidate and the CFI is the most
important. Some CFIs just seem to have an ability to easily make that
- CFI Ron: Take a close look
at the training environment. A new CFI who's working for a structured
flight training school is much more desirable than one who is working
independently. The less structured the training environment, the more
important it is to have an experienced instructor.
- CFI Joe: The third option
is a full-time CFI who has lots of experience but has no interest other
than to stay a CFI.
- CFI Ron: Agrees that those
CFIs are usually the best choice, but can be difficult to find.
- CFI Joe: Those CFIs are
not necessarily the best choice, but are just another option. It all
comes back to the match between the student and CFI being the most
- There are resources where you can check an instructors
- Some CFIs have personal websites
- Chicago Flight Instructors Association
- CFI Bruce: The best way to
find those full-time CFIs is to ask other pilots
- How should a student candidate handle a less then
enthusiastic response when they first contact an FBO about learning to
- CFI Ron: It's an old
problem that exists because the people that run FBO's are pilots, with
little or no experience in business, marketing, and customer relations.
- CFI Joe: The industry as a
whole has a profit structure that doesn't attract entrepreneurs
- CFI Ron: If you're treated
well when you first enter a flight school, and get the impression they
are customer oriented, that's a good sign.
- What is the most difficult stage of private pilot training?
- CFI Ron: The near-solo
phase is the most difficult and the most frustrating for the students
- CFI Bruce: Agrees with CFI
Ron but adds the stabilized approach and crosswind landings
- CFI Joe: Teaching
crosswind landings is also a tough time for the instructor
- Are there different tendencies between the young, middle
age, and elderly students?
- CFI Joe: Younger students
tend to immediately accept the different aspects of flying, but an
elderly student wants a more comprehensive understanding of the whole
picture before he or she will accept them.
- CFI Ron: Younger students
to to be more motivated and have good hand/eye coordination, but often
don't have very good learning skills. Older students tend to be better
learners, but lack some motor skills.
- CFI Bruce: The teaching
has to be appropriate to the student. This is why you need to find a
- Some students seem to think they can buy their way to a
- CFI Ron: Sometimes the
hard charging attitude of a successful businessman can be the wrong
attitude for a pilot
- Case study: Boise, ID Pilot lands and departs on a runway
closed for repairs at KSUN
- CFI Joe: Sometimes an
instructor has to refuse to sign a pilot off because he doesn't believe
he is or ever will be a safe pilot
- Is there a problem with CFIs and flight schools not
emphasizing the medical certificate prior to solo?
- CFI Ron: Always recommends
obtaining the medical early, but sometimes students put it off assuming
all will go well. A flight school needs to be up front about everything
a student needs to do.
- It's important to research any possible medical issues
before getting checked. AOPA can help with this.
- CFI Bruce: The average
pilot age is older than it used to be so they will have more
disqualifying conditions. There also seems to be more of a acceptance
to take medications that may disqualify you.
- CFI Joe: CFIs need to
remind students to check how any medications they may be taking will
affect a medical examination, before they go too far with their training
- CFI Bruce: Find a AME you
can honestly discuss any potential issues with, without filling out the
Contact us at by email:
pilotcast (AT) gmail.com
"Learn to Fly" by Josh Woodward
Music on the Pilotcast is from the Podshow Podsafe Music
Network. Check it out at http://music.podshow.com
Pilotcast show notes are at http://www.pilotcast.com
Direct download: Pilotcast_032_2006.05.09.mp3
-- posted at: 10:41pm EDT