How Do You Choose A Good Flight Instructor? (5 Evaluating Thoughts)

Front view of the BE200 on the ramp
Beech 200

I think of myself as very lucky in the flight instructors I worked with through the years but the question has been asked of me, How Do You Choose A Good Flight Instructor? Thinking back through the years the Instructors I had were very good with some exceptions. I did learn from them all. But how well?

How Do You Choose A Good Flight Instructor?

Take time to interview the people with whom you wish to work with. Patience is truly commendable in your Teacher. You need to know you can trust the Instructor with your life. A bit of Intuition goes a long way. Your choice should be someone you are comfortable with and who is confident and knowledgeable. You have the time to make your evaluation.

How Do You Choose A Good Flight Instructor?

1. Personality.

It goes a long way if you like the person teaching you to fly. I tend to shy away from those who carry an air of superiority so down-to-earth individuals are more to my liking. But each of us must choose whomever we like.

A personable demeanor of a person who is obviously happy doing what they love to do is exactly the perfect candidate. Age is only a factor if you make it relevant. Some like older more experienced Instructors. And for good reason.

I think personality is the best trait. Learning to fly is supposed to be an enjoyable experience.

2. Experience.

Since pilots can get a flight instructor certificate at 18 years of age some quite young people can be on the roster. This is not to say they are less qualified to teach but some students might want someone older.

Younger Instructors may only be on hand to build time and you may not get the best training. Many people are not teaching because they want to. It is a means to an end to achieve 1500 hours.

Younger new Instructors should be quite practiced in doing maneuvers since it is fresh in their memory. An older Instructor might have considerably more experience and a simple question will inform you if you have found a professional Instructor who has the desire to teach.

You can read the FAA rules for flight instructor certification here.

3. Integrity.

The integrity of a flight instructor is a major factor in your choice. You are placing your life in the hands of a virtual stranger and his honesty and good moral character should be a considerable portion in your choice.

A truly conscientious person understands how important their charge is in imparting their knowledge to you. You are paying someone to make you a safe competent certificated pilot.

During my private study, I had one older flight instructor who went far above his pay grade to teach me things he considered essential. Like learning spins and actually landing on a very muddy soft field.

His training followed me through my entire career and I was a far better conscientious pilot by his training.

He also taught me never to intentionally scare a passenger aboard my airplane or  a student after I became an instructor. The best advice ever.

4. Communication and Knowledge.

Great communication skills are essential for Flight Instructors, both listening and speaking.

Being able to listen to what a student says and what they don’t not say needs to be understood and addressed. Far to many students quit because they become frustrated and angry. A great Instructor needs to be able to read their students and help them bridge any difficulty to keep their interest.

Being capable of conveying lessons in a firm and neutral fashion will help a student understand the importance of each lesson without intimidating the student.

The knowledge the instructor is giving is life and death. You must be assured that your instructor has the knowledge to keep you safe throughout your aviation experience whether pleasure flying or otherwise.

5. Confidence.

When you meet your potential Flight Instructor or a very competent pilot you may notice an air of confidence. It has nothing to do with arrogance at all but there are plenty of pilots out there that are way too proud of themselves.

I make a wide berth of such people. Good pilots and flight instructors need no airs.

A confident person will show humility quite easily and IF you can ask a question that they cannot answer it will be a learning experience for you and the teacher.

If they cannot answer questions about the aircraft, maneuvers, or procedure I would not be working with them.

Conclusion:

A Flight instructor’s relationship with you will develop into a close kinship. Perhaps even a close friendship. After all, you will be physically quite close to one another in the airplane for many hours.

I became friends with pilots, students, and instructors alike, and some became lifelong friends.

I never attended a big flight school so my instruction came from FBOs with small flight departments so I have no experience to share.

I wanted to fly every day to get my private certificate and instrument rating so I flew with a substitute instructor but normally flew with one or two. There were a few I didn’t care for.

Pick someone who has a sense of humor.

Let’s go flying. Be safe and always aware.

Please leave comments or critiques.

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