I’m a CFI… Now What?

If you’re newly-certified, welcome and congratulations. As of this writing, I’m about 60 hours ahead of you–maybe twice that if you count ground instruction I did up to this point (I also have my AGI/IGI certificates). From my vantage point, I can tell you that although nothing you did up to your checkride will fully prepare you for how bad you’ll be during your first hundred or so hours of instruction, but if you care about the job and your students you’ll learn really fast. 

What’s coming up? First, you’re about to learn it’s really, really hard to let go of that stick. You’ve spent your entire pilot career being in charge. You’ve convinced your passengers (some of whom were probably first-time flyers) that you’ve got everything under control. But now your job is to hand over control to your student as fast as you can safely do so, and that’s surprisingly hard to do at this stage. It sounds insane, but we need to teach these novice pilots how to get out of ugly situations, and sometimes that requires that we do nothing at all. So your job is to sit tight, hush up, and do as little as possible while your student figures out how to keep you both (and the airplane) in one piece.  

Good luck with that. 

Okay, that’s maybe a little-bit dramatic. But not really, if you want to be good at this work. Here’s why: One of the hallmarks of a great flight instructor is the ability to let a student screw up ALMOST to the point of bending metal or violating the FARs without feeling the need to step in and fix it at an early stage. These Ironmen–and Ironwomen–are a HUGE benefit to a student pilot because they make it possible for the student to fix many more of their own mistakes without the kind of “help” that does them no good. Their best skill is a sort of practiced apathy. Whether that’s by constitution or by training is anyone’s guess.

Am I one of those people? Not yet. I have some ways to go until I’m that level of badass. 

Will I ever get there? I sure hope so. Whomever flies the next lesson with me can tell you how I’m doing. 

Stay tuned…

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