Aviation Has the CFIs it Deserves

By Scott Spangler on November 13th, 2010

Called with the dawn of Veteran’s Day to substitute for a middle school special education teacher, I missed the online AOPA Aviation Summit presentation that conveyed the results of its survey of flight training dropouts. I haven’t found the archived video, but I did find a couple of releases that provided some the the information I’ve been waiting for.

AOPA SummitMany in the industry, it seems, were surprised that the cost of flying, while a factor, isn’t the primary reason 80 percent of students quit before receiving their certificates. According to AOPA Convenes Major Flight Training Summit, students quit because of poor educational quality, poor customer focus, poor community, and poor information sharing.

In the AOPA Online Newsroom, AOPA Convenes Flight Training Summit provides more specifics. The research’s 47 statistically valid attributes fell into “11 discrete factors that affect the student pilot experience. Five of the 11 are directly related to educational quality with respect to both individual instructor effectiveness and flight school support for and management of instructors: effective instruction; organized lessons; flight school policies that support and maximize instructor effectiveness; providing additional resources; and test preparation.”

In other words, it’s the teacher’s fault, just as it is in public schools when students don’t meet expectations set by politicians and other experts. This should not surprise anyone on either side of the airport fence because in the pantheon of professions, Americans behold teachers with stratospheric disregard. Unappreciated with over work, low pay, and responsibility without support or authority, we have the teachers we deserve.

AOPA’s survey results will add new nuances to the decades-long flight training talkfest, and I’m sure they will be dissected at the GA Pilot Training Reform Symposium, to be held in Atlanta this coming May. All the stakeholders will nod knowingly and sagely predict that implementing changes they propose will make training better so students will see their training through to certification. There are sure to be charts and graphs and well defined best practices that will result in a perfect world.

But until we make teaching a profession worth doing, and one done well, all this work is certainly doomed to fail. And I’m sure that the requirement that first officers have 1500-hours before hauling passengers will surely speed this change because airline hopefuls will now see flight instruction as a viable career option. (Read with the sarcasm needle pegged in the red.)

As most teachers will tell you, achieving the desired results is simple, but not easy. One must accept that the primary learning team is a student and a teacher. (For me, a teacher is a student of a particular subject who shares what he’s learned about it with others.) Whether they meet in a classroom or cockpit, both must be on time and be prepared to teach and to learn.

But sharing knowledge requires effort, and teachers and students are not immune to laziness. A teacher who doesn’t organize and prepare for an upcoming lesson makes the same contribution to failure as a student who doesn’t do his homework.

This is where the secondary learning team, parents and school administrators, plays a crucial role. Administrators must hold teachers responsible for being prepared and—equally important—they must stand by teachers who reward students for the work they did or did not do.

Parents must ensure that students are ready to learn and support teachers and administrators in the consequences their children earn. When the student is an adult, teachers and administrators must agree on—and stick to—motivating consequences for being unprepared. One solution might be to spend the hour on the ground, doing the assigned homework, instead of flying. For repeat offenders, maybe the teacher should charge a motivating  “no homework” rate.

Like I said, it’s a simple solution that is almost impossible to execute because it demands the individual effort and long-term commitment of students, teachers, and schools. Actually, it might work in aviation before it works in schools on the other side of the airport fence because flight schools don’t have to worry about the agendas of parent-teacher organizations, unions, politicians, taxpayers, and special-interest groups.

But aviation does have a century of tradition unimpeded by progress. If you’re not sure what that tradition is, just ask any flight instructor trying to make living by teaching alone. –Scott Spangler

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101 Responses to “Aviation Has the CFIs it Deserves”

  1. Larry Says:

    Flight instruction cannot pay a living wage except in rare cases. This is a structural part of aviation and cannot be changed since giving flight instruction itself is prohibitively expensive and legally risky. There is simply no solution under current circumstances.

  2. michael hartman Says:

    As a long standing flight instructor it is no suprise to me to see the drop out rate so high. In my opinion one of the major reasons are the University flight schools as the one at my airport in Logan Utah. They all seen to think that former students should be their flight instructors with no supervision from someone experienced and their flight instructor/students only seem to care about building time not giving quality instruction. I’ve talked with some of there studnts who have taken as much as 2 years to get their private completed.

  3. Mike Says:

    In my experience, the much larger factors in student retention and conversion (from student to pilot) are the off-putting facilities and attitudes a novice needs to contend with. Yes, I’ve had instructors who should not have been, but they are experienced only if you can stomach those first factors.

  4. Daniel Says:

    Cost is not the only factor nor sometimes even the most important factor in why a student quits. Every dollar spent flying could have been spent elsewhere: a successful student has to decide that flying is the better value.

    A student has a life outside of flying and sometimes it seems to them that it is taking just too long to become a pilot, compared to the other things they could be doing with their time. When a student is cash strapped I give the ground lessons for free and only charge for when the prop is turning and still they quit unless they decide that the benefits of being a pilot outweigh the cost, time and effort required.

    Any study of this sort has to filter out the people who were unlikely to complete their training from the beginning. What percentage of basketball students quit before reaching the level of moderately competent high school reserve? Very few people who try basketball go on to play basketball on a regular basis. That does not necessarily mean they received poor instruction.

    What the industry needs is not a general survey of students who quit but a survey of students who quit, were coaxed to come back after a change was made and then went on to get their pilot’s license. Those are the people who really would be pilots if only we instructors and flight schools did better. We could learn from a study like that.

  5. Marty Says:

    Apples and Oranges Scott. Public school is a requirement, flight training is not. Flight students should demanded good training or find another instructor/school. “Unappreciated with over work, low pay, and responsibility without support or authority, we have the teachers we deserve” is the unions mantra, it does not fly under a system of free enterprise.

  6. Steve Says:

    I am surprised by all of this. I have and always have had a very high student retention and completion rate. My student starts are consistant with prior years even though there has been a recession. And yes cost is an issue. If more could afford to fly at all there would be more student starts. Only a certain percentage of the population has the disposible income for flying lessons, let alone flying after they becomme a pilot. There is also a lot more competition (distractions) for that disposable income today.

  7. Mike M Says:

    As a flight instructor, I try my best to make my students aware of the cost financially and the time that it will take right up front. It is not a light commitment. Many prospective flight students want to know just how soon they can begin to fly for a living without understanding all that is involved. It does aviation no good to take their money and have them fly for a few hours only to be set up for disappointment. Honesty is the key. Flying is a wonderful thing to do, but it takes time, effort and a good chunk of money to do it. The sooner a student understands that the better.

  8. Jeremy Says:

    It would be nice to see instructors who do it because they love teaching. Teachers in schools are there because they have had the desire to teach for many years, it is their passion. I’ve seen many pilots move up through CFI just so that they can build time and move on. Teaching is not something that everyone is good at and those that arent good at it shouldnt be forced into it because it is the only way to go. This will only perpetuate the problems that students are facing. I havenever known a pilot who’s has set the goal of being a CFI as a long term career. I feel that the problem with this is rooted in how the job has been perceived for so long. We’ve made it into a stepping stone so therefore it has become one.

    Two solutions come to mind: 1. Find a new way for low time pilots to gain experience. This means more information on the types of jobs that a low time pilot can hold. 2. Give better incentives for pilots to be a CFI and stay a CFI. This could be increased benefits after a certain number of years or based on the quality of students being produced. Better pay would also be an incentive. I’ve always found it insane that pilots are trained by peers with relatively little more experience then the student.

    The career path to being a professional pilot is difficult and the economy has not helped. I just hope that some good alternatives come along that will produce better pilots and hold instructors to a higher level of service to the students.

  9. Dave Says:

    Flight instruction is a two-way street. While I agree that there are many sub-par CFIs, there are just as many students who a) think that since they paid the money they can show up unprepared and learn to fly in the minimum time, or b) fly once a week, weather permitting, and can’t understand why they’re not progressing. Perhaps some of those that don’t finish were not meant to be pilots. Also agree with Mike, we need to be a little more welcoming across the board, especially to those new to aviation.

  10. Kastanes Says:

    As long as we have a system where the first career stepping stone is as a flight instructor, we are going to have this problem. These young people, barely experienced pilots themselves know nothing of teaching, don’t have the experience to impart any wisdom, and in many cases are working as flight instructors only because that is the only aviation job they are qualified for. As soon as they build enough hours to get in the right seat of something, they’re gone. A 250-300 hour pilot barely has enough knowledge and experience to keep him/herself alive in a flying machine – and certainly not enough to really teach someone else the intricacies of flight. As long as we pay instructors the absolute minimum we can get by with, well, we will be getting what we pay for!!

  11. Arnie Says:

    ten years ago I learned with the best instructor there is, had he been an evalgelist he would have converted all who met him. His “graduation” rate was almost 100% but he still has no students today. Why? No aviation. Our small town $22 million airport is deserted. There is no wealth left in the middle class to support aviation. Who wants to be involved in a sport of the elite? Only the elite.

  12. Jim M. Says:

    For some reason general aviation thinks that a proficient pilot will naturally make a proficient teacher. It’s one of the only industries that employs its graduates as teachers while they are merely using the teaching time as a stepping stone to another profession altogether.

    Teaching is the profession. Aviation is the subject. A good teacher can teach just about any subject, yet the best practitioners of any subject usually make lousy teachers. And that is the basis for general aviation training – become proficient at flying then call yourself a teacher for the next 500 hour, with absolutely no training or experience in the art of teaching.

    In addition, WWII aviation training was structured to teach the lowest level trainee to become a pilot. The training was rudimentary and unforgiving. Not much has changed over the past half decade. It’s still the same boring material, based on the same arcane narratives, taught mostly by men and women with no experience in the actual art of teaching.

    And yet people wonder why the attrition rate is so high with GA new starts and retentions. I think it’s pretty clear.

  13. Jon Says:

    As a current instrument student Id like to add my few cents worth.

    My flight school is pretty good, organized well enough but leaning towards the amateur end of the spectrum. One problem that seems to come up over and over again is that the instructors change too often.

    Getting the Pvt or Inst rating is typically a lengthy process for those of us who also have a day job and instructors get fed up pretty quickly with very low wages and dickensonian working conditions (no paid sick leave, medical forget it). I have seen many come and go during my time as a student. One result of this churn is that the student has to regress a little as the relationship with the new instructor gets built, this alone has caused some drop out.

    I also wonder about the poor state of the industry at large, a new young student who comes to flying looking for a career will soon find out as they become more familiar with the real world of flying that the prognosis for becoming a professional pilot is not so great, years of right seat low wages, 1500 hours of experience and an industry hell bent on reducing costs.

    I am not a professional pilot and I don’t envy those that are, if the travelling public knew how poorly we treat these well trained ladies and gentlemen they would be as appalled as I am.

  14. Rod Rakic Says:

    Good post Scott!

    Is this the video on AOPA Live that you were looking for?

    http://www.aopa.org/aopalive/#ooid=RqdHB0MTrLrTaeH84u-Xl7XqGblhA6mm

    #AOPA10 #Learn2Fly

  15. Green Says:

    I am the 20%. I am also someone who isn’t necessarily doing what they love for a living because what I love doesn’t pay. Same rules apply to being a CFI. Great job if you can afford to have it but the market pays what the position is worth. I had a great instructor but he is young and follow up was not his strong suit. I could have missed a month and not received a phone call. Once I received my PPL no one called me to begin instrument training. Now I am stuck in aviation purgatory where flying is expensive and almost totally off limits financially and I am just skilled enough to go flying when conditions are right. It’s no wonder people can’t stay current. The pipeline has leaks.

  16. Matt Wallis Says:

    As a CFI I have to say that the majority of my students prolong their instruction due to the expensive nature of the game. I will agree that alot is the instructors fault. The problem I see and ran into with many instructors is that they are building hours for the airlines with no real love for teaching.

  17. Tracy Says:

    Can the Brewmaster who makes the best beer in Milwaukee be the CEO of Miller Brewing Company? Is the best surgeon in Minnesota the leader at the Mayo Clinic? Obviously, the answer to both questions is no. Then why does acceptable stick & rudder skills and a CFI certificate (or a ATP certificate, for that matter) make anyone a good teacher? It doesn’t.

    The fact that giving (some would say, enduring) hours of instruction is one of only 3 ways to get into the airlines (the military and self-financed timebuilding being the other career paths) changes the focus of most flight instructors. Giving hours of instruction is a means to an end – and not an end itself.

    I earned my BS late in life as an adult learner just as I am now receiving flight instruction. In both cases I found the older ‘adjunct professor’ – the part-timer who teaches for the joy of teaching – brought a MUCH better learning experience to the student….that’s me! I’ve fired PLENTY of flight instructors…some well-recommended…..some not. Some lazy and unprepared, some ‘hobbs-watchers’….some not worth a damn.
    The best loved to teach and it showed.

  18. Mark K. Says:

    First off, great article. The concepts about our changing career path are true – and holding our CFI’s accountable AS WELL as the student is a virtue. Coming back to flight instructing after furlough I find, like most in aviation, not much has changed. Students routinely come unprepared or having not met the requirements of the lesson, i.e. not complete the flight plan beforehand or planning the return trip, having flows/procedures down, etc. I have yet to have any student “sandbag” a flight (fly backseat and observe) after much push, consistent emails and phone calls. They’re just typical American students – not to say they’re all like this but you’ll find most foreign students do not apply American study habits to themselves. Pushing a consequence on students for not being prepared is a great idea, charging them for not completing assignments and not letting them fly well, does not fly. They will leave and find another CFI. People are too cheap to worry about that, but sadly will regret their actions later by leaving their good CFI (in theory). On top of the flying, students commute from all reaches to fly with ME for multiple reasons – by giving them the proverbial handslap for not being prepared, they would become disgusted with my “parental” attitude towards them and find their time wasted and move on. So far I have kept all my students since my furlough in January.

    Second,I find Mike Hartman’s response (2nd response) false, and obviously one sided. I attended one of these “horrible” universities and brought so much more knowledge to the table compared to the local flight instructors. In fact, I was routinely used for various topics because their CFI knew my competency while sadly exposing the lack there of along with being lazy.

    People are people, and CFI’s are people. The most important thing a student should do is field their CFI’s, give them an interview. This also gives a CFI a chance to interview them in reverse and ask them questions to see if they’re a temporary “meal ticket” (I mean this in the most positive and honest way) or a potential aviator with class that he can be proud to spend long hours with.

    …obviously, finding the best is word of mouth – but that comes from good teaching. Embrace your lousy paying, living at home with parents job and you’ll be a happier aviator in the long run.

    Trust me.

    Mark K.
    CFI/CFII/MEI/ATP
    4,000+ hours.

  19. George Kaplan Says:

    The low student completion rate is complex; however,the AOPA survey does hit on some common themes…many flight schools have poorly prepared, inexperienced, low time CFIs. Also in the mix is the cost of renting: not cheap anywhere. I teach at a low budget flight school with well worn equipment. The seats are ripped; the plastic panel flakes; not a posh Cirrus operation by any stretch (not a Bob Miller/over the airways franchise!). It still costs $125/hr solo plus $35 for me, and we barely keep the place open. Despite the cosmetics, we have a small but steady flow of students. All of us are part-time instructors, but we turn out pilots. It is not a function of the facilities or how pretty the a/cs are, but simply taking teaching seriously. Every student doesn’t work out, but many do. It takes dedication to the craft of teaching & motivating students. I don’t see that so much in the “puppy mill” CFIs that populate other flight schools in the area.

  20. Scott Spangler Says:

    An interesting range of comments here. Specific to the point of my post and the critical nature of good teachers to the future of aviation, please scroll up to Jim M’s comment, which, succintly put, says “Teaching is the profession. Aviation is the subject.”

    Larry says low-paid CFIs is a structural part of aviation today, and this, in part explains why 80 percent of students quit. And, relating to Marty’s comment, we have the instructors we deserve because of free enterprise. Those who would like to teach for a living are also smart enough to realize that they can just as easily live a rewarding life in another field.

    Please understand that CFIs are only a third of the problem. Students and schools complete the troika. There were some good ideas here, but nothing has addressed the fundamental challenge: how do we get individual instructors, students, and schools to change for the better?

  21. Ron Says:

    I know many professional flight instructors. I believe the average flight time for a CFI at the place where I work is nearly 5,000 hours. Some are at the 1,000 hour mark, others are more like 30,000 hours.

    These are CFIs who have no desire to do anything else. Typically people who are retired or well-off enough (perhaps their spouse works) that they do the job because they love it. Retired airline pilots. People who got into aviation late enough that the 121 route doesn’t make sense. Folks who instruct part time. Etc. About half are aircraft owners. Almost all are tailwheel pilots and have aerobatic training.

    The money is not great, the work is hard, and there are all the typical frustrations of being an instructor, but by and large the quality of instruction is high.

  22. M. Cotherman Says:

    In my experience I have to say that having “instructors” who are there only to build time are a big problem! I have my private SEL/instrument and I’ve had both instructors with thousands of hours flying experience who want to teach and new CFI’s who are OBVIOUSLY there because they need to build time. I was ready to throw one of them out of the plane while we were on final a couple of years ago. If I would have had to put up with him during initial training, I would not have completed it… at least with that company.

  23. L Says:

    I started flight lessons twenty years ago, as a teenager. I quit because I couldn’t stand the sexist jerk instructor, and I didn’t know enough at the time to find someone else. I started again last year and am now a certificated private pilot. But I know firsthand that sexist CFIs still exist; I left one flight school recently because their new instructor doesn’t think much of girls. What a dick. I think it is appalling that men like that can destroy dreams of girls.

  24. Recent Student Says:

    Passed my checkride several months ago. Took me 6 months from start to finish, about 75 hours which I’ve heard is not uncommon. The least I’ve heard of at this school is 55 hours, and the most about 130 hrs. I don’t know what their drop-out rate is, but think it’s pretty high.

    Yes, cost is a huge factor for most, but I think too often instructors are more at fault for students not finishing.

    My experience for what it’s worth:
    I knew little to nothing going in on what to expect, which I think is about par for many students. But as I read about everything I could on the Internet, etc. as I went along… and found what I was experiencing is not at all uncommon.
    The FBO where I took both ground school and lessons has 5 instructors.
    I’d give the ground school a B- grade. The instructor was good but often not really prepared for the evenings lesson. He often just read the textbook to us stopping to further explain something once in awhile. He did seem to really care about the students succeeding but was overworked I think and didn’t have the time to properly prepare. To date only 25% of the class have gotten their Private Certificate.

    The actual flying lessons: I flew with all 5 of the FBO/school’s instructors at various times. I was just lucky in that I happened to get for my primary instructor the one I think was the best. He was the best in that he had a lot of experience, and more importantly had a good way of hammering you when you needed it but also building you up and encouraging you. He was just plain a nice guy as well as a good instructor. Of the other 4 instructors, 2 are good and I liked flying with them but both were just fill-in part-timers with this FBO; another is experienced and good but is extremely tough on students, almost brutal at times (another student recently called him “overly harsh”); the last instructor had little experience but seemed to have a large ego, he wasn’t very good and was somewhat of a jerk on top of it… I wouldn’t fly with him anymore after the third time anymore. And this FBO has been funnelling the majority of their new students to this guy since too!!!… I feel sorry for them, am sure most of them don’t have a clue what a better instructor is like because they have little to compare to.

    I’ve talked to several other students, past and present, of this school and all feel pretty much the same way in retrospect.
    The FBO’s #1 concern is getting your money, the more the better. Once they got you coming and, more or less, hooked, their caring is superficial. And most feel they string you out as much as possible for more hours.

    They fly charters also and often lessons get canceled at the last minute (usually with little apology) because the FBO sent the instructor on a charter flight. This can really be tough on a student, especially when they are at difficult stages or trying to get ready for their checkride. While understandable at times, it happened way too often.

    This FBO does it all, they give (and charge for) the FAA written and the checkrides. Students can easily feel roped in there with little alternative.

  25. Peter Says:

    Beautifully written article although AOPA might be a little off base with their survey results.

    It took 17 years for me to get my license, but finally managed this year at age 42. All of my instructors over the decades (embarrassed to say that!) were engaged and competent and made the journey fun.

    The biggest obstacle was money. Money, money, money. We’re flying planes that were designed when gas was .25/gallon and built when gasoline was .50/gallon. Let’s call a spade a spade here. Gas is now 7x that expensive!

    When I started flying I was a poor sap like all my friends. I couldn’t afford my license until I got a lot older and thriftier. I have friends who are broke who still fly planes they own and I think they all deserve medals for showing that it can be done. But it’s EXPENSIVE, which kills so many dreams (aside from sexist a-holes. More women in my hobby please!).

    The LSA ‘revolution’ may save the airplane industry but even those planes are expensive. It’s imperative we attack cost to own/operate because gas aint’ getting any cheaper!

  26. Doug Says:

    Posters here have already hit on a number of excellent points. Learning to fly requires the involvment, participation, and cooperation of several parties. As I see it, it boils down to something like this:

    1. Students need to:
    – be genuinely motivated to learn to fly
    – have adequate financial resources
    – have an aptitude for flying
    – study diligently and thoroughly
    – put forward their best effort
    – pay attention to the instructor
    – ask questions when they don’t understand

    2. Instructor’s need to:
    – have a genuine interest in teaching
    – have a real aptitude for teaching
    – have the energy to teach
    – be willing to teach
    – know the subject matter
    – be competent aviators themselves

    3. Flight schools need to:
    – provide an environment where the above two can work together effectively
    – not impose unnecessary complications

  27. Doug Says:

    Posters here have already hit on a number of excellent points. Learning to fly requires the involvment, participation, and cooperation of several parties. As I see it, it boils down to something like this:

    1. Students need to:
    – be genuinely motivated to learn to fly
    – have adequate financial resources
    – have an aptitude for flying
    – study diligently and thoroughly
    – put forward their best effort
    – pay attention to the instructor
    – ask questions when they don’t understand

    2. Instructor’s need to:
    – have a genuine interest in teaching
    – have a real aptitude for teaching
    – have the energy to teach
    – be willing to teach
    – know the subject matter
    – be competent aviators themselves

    3. Flight schools need to:
    – provide an environment where the above two can work effectively
    – not impose unnecessary complications

  28. Rodney Says:

    My experience as a student has been very similar to others. The available instructors are very poor teachers. The most often asked question I get from an instructor is “what do you want to do today?” No plan, No preparation, at times I have been given another instructor with little notice and invariable he had no clue where I was in my training or, in one case, was unfamiliar with the plane we were flying in as he usually flew a Cherokee. At one point I was having trouble getting my landings to what they should have been and their “solution” was to have me do touch and goes every lesson for weeks, making the same mistakes over and over again until, after reading several books on the subject, I basically tried different things to teach myself. My main instructor is also the A&P and a charter pilot so lessons are canceled at the last minute because of charter flights. It is a long process and I almost gave up a few times. I felt many times that the only interest they had was for my money. Bottom line, most CFIs know little about teaching but a lot about flying.
    A solution- Provide information on teaching techniques and how to teach flying to students. Has anyone heard of any references for CFIs on actually teaching versus flying. Maybe include techniques for when your student is stuck or dealing with difficult students, making up curriculums, being prepared. I think many CFIs would be encouraged if AOPA, NAFI or other organizations could publish this information and it would help if CFI was treated as a career like ATP instead of a stepping stone.

  29. Robert Says:

    “Those who cannot do, teach”
    Been true for millennia, still true today.
    In any major university with multiple schools, the school of education students and grads are always the ‘bottom of the barrel’. Those who could not get into medical school, business school engineering school, journalism school, international studies, sciences, law school – drift into teaching. Also, the ones who want and expect to work 8 months a year, 8 am to 2 pm with long summer vacations Those who want a strong union to give them top benefits. Figure out the HOURLY wage of a senior teacher including benefits and pension, and the ratio of pay by hour to effort is pretty astronomical compared to a lot of other jobs in this country today. It is a self-selecting process. You get people who want not to work hard. You get people who can’t face the challenges of real demanding professions. (I’m talking about general teachers, not flight instructors.) Only a minority excel or care. The rest excel in mediocrity and union politics. And the system is stultifying to bright students. Our culture today seeks to homogenize the exceptional top students.
    We are getting the results of a system we have created, but the very least of it is lack of reward for a highly unionized teaching force that makes the former auto industry look stellar by comparison.

  30. Jesse Says:

    One would think that with the state of GA today “new blood” would be welcomed. I have not found that to be the case.

  31. Jay Says:

    We are all aware that we basically have students teaching students and that instructors are not paid enough to keep at it. Those who have enough experience to get a livable flying job leave their students and go when and if opportunity knocks, at which point they move into some part of aviation where they themselves start the learning process all over. Been there, done that.

    I’ve heard experienced pilots say that flying is so easy that you could train a monkey to do it if you had enough bananas. And yes, I’ve met pilots who make that statement somewhat possible to believe.

    But after having flown at least 2 careers in aviation, as I look back, I have flown doctors, lawyers, governors, presidential candidates, professionals of all strata and even some of the wealthiest businessmen on the planet who thought it would be a good idea to learn how to fly the airplane in case I keeled over at the controls. And you know what? As intelligent and qualified as all those people were in their fields, not once did I feel threatened by them being able to take over my job as a result of them getting flight training. But for some reason, they are willing to put their life in my hands under all types of conditions and then complain about paying my very modest day rate in a time when sound judgment and playing to the letter of the FAR’s can actually put you out on the street. Could it be that the aviation learning curve is so steep that a CEO training to pinch hit in a corporate airplane in an emergency is comparable to a 5 year old standing at the end of the runway as an airplane goes over and then declaring to his father that he knows how fly?

    Aviation is a highly selective industry and when it comes to selecting qualified pilots, it takes one to know one. Most of the time the public doesn’t find out who was qualified and who wasn’t qualified until after the lawsuits are filed and the surviving family members meet in court.

  32. Nick Frisch Says:

    So many good comments –

    my experience with flight instructors – after having worked at and managed several schools, training operations, and flying clubs – is that they often do not understand customer skills and relationship building. Our electronic entertainment culture does not lend itself to developing relationship skills.

    Many of my briefings to the CFI’s ended up being about building appropriate teaching and customer relationships rather than the finer points of technique.

    At the FBO school I ran for 10 years, I made a book report on “The Savvy Flight Instructor” a mandatory part of the job interview. That was one of the best things I’ve ever done regarding hiring. Wish Scott Brown would update it. He understands both teaching and relationship building.

    Managing a customer’s expectations and emotional states are terrifically important, as are listening skills. Aviation is an expensive discretionary activity, easily foregone by many.

    A feeling of gratitude and satisfaction following a lesson are typically followed by feelings of excitement and anticipation for the next lesson. People are more likely to continue with things they enjoy and look forward to. How many instructors are in touch with their customers emotional states when they leave the building? During preflight? During a postbriefing?

    Further, how many CFI’s (or Chief CFI’s) are likely to listen empathically rather than become defensive when a customer has a complaint or problem? Flying, more so than most education, is a relationship activity.

    BTW, I agree with all those who commented on preparation and professionalism, and the need for same. Low pay cannot be an excuse for anyone who has accepted the job.

  33. Kevin Says:

    When I went through my private training 5 years ago, I went through 2 flight schools, 3 different airplane types and 5 instructors before receiving my certificate. Most of the CFIs left mid-training for airline jobs. It was frustrating to say the least but I wanted it bad enough that I took the lumps and kept going. Many would have given up; in fact some did. The flight school I eventually completed my private and then my instrument with is one of the best I’ve seen. It has very good completion rate and is always busy. I think the key is only one of the CFIs is full time (he is also head of the flight school and does managerial work as well). All the others have full time jobs or are retired and train flight students part time because they enjoy it. I have flown with several of them for BFRs, WINGS, etc. and have been quite happy with all of them. Some of them also donate time to fly Young Eagles. Having a CFI who enjoys the job is definitely one of the major keys to flight training success. We are living in the “Now” generation and it just seems that many people feel that if they can’t have that certificate (or whatever they desire) in hand immediately, it’s just not worth the effort. What a shame.

  34. Robert Mark Says:

    First I’d think we owe a little thanks to AOPA for making the effort to TRY looking at the problem from a fresh perspective. If, in the end, the new research proves what we all thought, so be it. I personally don’t believe cost is the only factor as some people have told me. And actually if you read most of the responses here, you hear much the same thing.

    But I agree with Scott, not because he’s a friend and a bright guy, but because he’s trying to pull us back to the same discussion I’m sure they had in Long Beach last week … what exactly are the solutions?

    Flight instructors are a problem, unprepared students are a problem and for sure, schools operating on a shoe string are a problem.

    Do we try and fix one at a time or all together?

  35. Robert Mark Says:

    And let me run the discussion a bit though with the last comment from Jesse. This pains me and should everyone else too … “One would think that with the state of GA today new blood would be welcomed. I have not found that to be the case.”

    There is no reason for this, yet CFIs put up with it in order to keep their jobs and flight school managers often feed this problem because they are sometimes not even paying attention at all.

    But my guess is that Jesse might have been talking about the community of pilots that AOPA learned is what people really need to keep them coming back.

    That fails us over and over again.

  36. Brian Says:

    This article is BS. I agree with Tracy, their are many older flight instructors who teach for the love of sharing something they love with next generation. Also, teaching high school is a rewarding and well paying job. In this economy, it provides a good benefits and security, and very competitive pay, especially considering that typically their are less 200 work days per year.

  37. Bob Says:

    I’ve been a flight instructor for over 30 years and have seen my share of lazy students and, even more disappointing, lazy and ineffective flight instructors. From experience I think the instructor curriculum has gone down hill over the past couple of decades. I know young instructors that won’t teach spins because they’re afraid, gloss over departure stalls because they’re afraid, refuse to land on grass strips or short runways because they lack the experience and confidence, etc., etc. How can they effectively teach if they lack confidence in themselves. Instructors need to be prepared and that includes knowing the FARs, the theory of flight, weather, engines, instruments and most importantly, they need to be able to fly airplanes. The FAA needs to regulate less and focus on producing flight instructors that can teach.

  38. Steve Monday Says:

    As a potential student, I must be completely honest. Cost has been a considerable factor for me beginning my flight training. I have had a good job and made decent money. LIFE costs money and FLYING was an expense I could not afford since the payoff was nothing or minimal.
    I considered a late-in-life career change to professional piloting. There was absolutely no way on this earth I could afford the cost of flight training when compared with the employment outlook in the aviation industry. The high cost of training with the low pay of time building and the low pay of entry pilots was a very big deterrent. I have read a number of responses that say the cost is not a factor. It may not be the main factor but it is a major factor.
    With that being said, I must concede that if you have a poor CFI the student is doomed. Additionally, the pay for being an instructor is peanuts compared with that of other professions. Most instructors are part-timers doing flight training because they love it, not because it is feeding the family.
    A number of issues must be addressed before the blame can be placed atop the CFIs shoulders.

  39. Don Lauer Says:

    Like any young pilot in his 20’s I too wanted to be an airline pilot but early on I realized that was not to be. I put my focus on being a “professional” flight instructor. I had endured several different flight instructors on my path from private to CFII and was well aware of the shortcomings of the system. I moved from Ohio to Texas to improve my opportunities at instructing. When I began my instructing career I immediately discovered that my students were “teaching” me as much as I was teaching them. Flight instruction is a one-on-one situation and the instructor has to learn about each individual student and tailor each lesson to fit “that” student. We all know the standards and the goals but there are always multiple paths to reach the goals. I was up front about what I expected from the student and what they would always expect from me. The student knew I respected them and that for there scheduled lesson time I was there just for them. The students respected me and knew that if they gave a 100% effort I would give them 100% instruction. I refused to be paid by the flight school, but was paid directly by the student. My instruction rate was higher but it was never refused because the student got what they paid for. I took over running a flight school that had late model or new aircraft, a nice classroom facility and excellant aircraft maintenance but only had 3 part time students. Within 3 months I had 27 regular students and had to hire 2 additional instructors. I know the economy is in the tank right now but people will make the finacial sacrafice if they know they are getting a fair deal. There is an old saying in aviation that goes “Those who can do, and those who can’t teach” It should be “those who can do, and those who can do “better” teach. In 25 years I hired a lot of instructors and I fired several along the way simply because they were not “professional” at what they were doing. I was a DPE in the Fort Worth area for over 12 years and I got to see how poorly some flight schools were operated. When an applicant passed or failed their practical flight test I always contacted the flight school and flight instructor and provided them a detailed debriefing and feedback. They need credit where credit is due but also assistance on what and how they need to do in order to improve the flight training quality and experiance for their students.

  40. andrew peter saridakis Says:

    “Psychology is a science, and teaching is an art; and sciences never generate arts directly out of themselves. An intermediate inventive mind must make that application, by using its originality.” (William James, Talks to Teachers).

    However, CFI training needs to be revamped as a preliminary step towards solving the problem of delivering a high quality product; pilot training.

    Andrew Peter Saridakis, CFI (Gold Seal)
    Boeing 737NG Training Captain

  41. Roger Reeve Says:

    I can’t believe what I am reading. I got my ticket in 1991 but still use instructors often
    as I have a third class special issuance which keeps me grounded a third of the time. Weather
    availability of planes etc. have kept my hours below 300. I have never had a bad instructor.
    My biggest problem is FAA medical certification.
    Those guys draw the same paycheck no matter how
    much or little they do. I am so fed up with lost
    paperwork that I have to resubmit.

  42. Roger Reeve Says:

    When I started flying at age 50 I didn’t expect
    much encouragement from young instructors. I couldn’t have been more wrong. In fact I have
    met a lot of nice people who just happen to be pilots. I have never had a bad instructor. Some
    have been exceptional.

  43. Tim Sudderth Says:

    The article and the comments above brought back back strong emotions about my own flight training experiences. Only my strong determination to achieve a life long goal at age 55 got me through. I tried formal flight schools, then went through four different ‘indepenent’ CFI’s. As a businessman, I was accustomed to the ‘firing process’ and I exercised it.

    Upon retirement after selling my company, I started a flight school, determined to improve the quality of flight training at my home airport. I soon learned that most instructors were only in it to build time and had little interest in the ‘next generation’ of pilots they were influencing. Flight schools MUST NOT be owned or managed by flight instructors! Management must be motivated by the principles of integrity and building a successful business in the world of Aviation in order for flight training to improve beyond it current self-serving state.

    It costs Students a lot, in time, self determination and, yes, MONEY to become a pilot (always has) but it is much more difficult when they have to learn the ‘hard way’!

  44. David Scott Says:

    COST -> EMOTION -> COST

    A simple problem is huge cost. Humans compare what they get for the money they spend. One flight lesson can be equal to:

    1) Take 10 people to dinner at a popular casual peanut shell littered steakhouse – and
    leave a 15 percent tip.

    2) Take wife to dinner, movie, breakfast and moderate hotel for a night.

    3) Take wife to a shopping mall for at least
    a few hours and have a really good cup of coffee.

    4) One college course class at the local community college ( or kids ? )

    5) Enjoy a really good dinner theater with lots of service, good food & show.

    6) A good warm winter coat.

    7) Several pairs of shoes.

    8) About 1,0000 miles of gasoline for the car.

    9) About 450 postage stamps

    10) About one month’s worth of telephone, internet, cell phone and cable bill combined.

    Hence, the ‘pleasure’ factor to money spent is where most cross over. As all know, if you don’t put a lot of close detail work effort into the flying, it is not going to return much pleasure at all, and may be much the opposite.

    How does one feel when you spend a lot a money for something and realize it may not have been so wise of an expenditure, entirely your own decision? This is where, in my humble opinion, is where you find those who cease verses those continue by adjusting their study to overcome this emotion.

    This can be driven entirely without any regard to the CFI. In my humble opinion, this cost driven factor is where mostly the issue lies.

    David Scott 17 Nov 2010 09:51 CST
    djscott@flink.com

  45. Scott Spangler Says:

    Some may question the accuracy of AOPA’s survey, but looking at the general theme of the overwhelming number of comments to this post sure seems to support them.

    The majority are from pilots relating to the challenges they had to overcome to earn their certificates. Many others are from instructors recounting the challenges they’ve had to overcome.

    A few prove that there are exceptions to every rule, and they are the lucky ones. But remember aviation’s 80/20 rule and ask yourself this question: is one commenter here among the 80 percent of students who dropped out before getting a certificate?

    And what about students now in training, who will soon become part of this year’s 80 percent, alienated by the aviation foibles here discussed? Who will save them? It must be us, because in our various capacities, we are the aviation industry. Each of us in some small way, if we truly care about aviation’s future, can make some positive individual effort to make things better.

    It’s clear from these comments that we know what is wrong. But I’ve not read any specific ideas about how to fix it. As in the past, many say or, more often think, “It’s not my responsibility” and “What can I do.”

    More than you think, if you have the courage to stand up to the status quo and actually do something. I’ll have a suggestion or two in my post next week. Until then, can we redirect our conversation here from restating what we already know and start brainstorming ways we might have achieved a better outcome for our recollections of past inadequacies?

  46. Jay Says:

    If I’m understanding Andrew Peter Saridakis correctly from the post above, then I’m going to have to take issue with him about psychology as it relates to aviation. First of all, we have to remember that Pavlov, Maslow etc. are not American names. Modern psychology originated in Communist Russia with cruel experiments on humans and animals alike, to include electric shock and forced ingestion of toxic and hallucinogenic drugs. Remember learned helplessness from your psychology class where dogs finally figured out that moving from one side of the cage to the other didn’t stop the shock treatment, so they just whimpered instead of trying to relieve their distress? Well, the art of teaching criminals to blame their behavior on their parents and their childhood is not to be applied to aviation, or any other aspect of education. It is truly neither art nor science and will be found to be one of the major factors of ruin in aviation, education and society in general, to include divorce and family breakdown. Like the dog in the learned helplessness experiment, many in aviation have expended their resources on training only to find that their money and their best years are gone and their cage is getting smaller with more electric shock torture being applied by the forces that are experimenting on them.

  47. Jay Says:

    I believe that this link http://www.lifeaftertheoilcrash.net/Archives2010/OrloveIncompetence.html concerning the state of the society and the economy and directly affecting the resultant learning process is so intertwined with the aviation training crisis that it cannot be ignored in understanding the problem aviation has. Much of it is just good common sense, but it describes the social interaction factor as it applies to economics and education and thus it directly applies to aviation. It is not a license to be indiscriminately rude or vulgar and yet it sheds much light that can be useful in understanding the crossover to aviation training.

  48. John Donaldson Says:

    All the above are true. All the above are false. And that is the conumdrum. There is no one shoe fits all solution.

    But I do wonder if the we were to drop the term student and insert the term CUSTOMER would that add clarity to the discussion.

    Private instructors big or little schools, whatever, are purveying a discretionary product. A product whose intrinsic value is solely determined by the purchaser. A decision quite frequently mafe on an exclusively emotional basis.

    It reads as if the most succesful instructors understand that basic fact of the market. They understand adults learn differently than youth. Most importantly, they have mastered the art of identifying the value their “customers” place on the product and then create a “value added” experience.

    Can this be taught. YES. Is the aviation instruction industry ready to embrace the concept of customer and all that this implies?????

    JD

  49. Dave Says:

    Many good thoughts here. As Scott implores us to remedies, I want to add that, to me, the survey is very dissapointing. I wasn’t ‘lucky’ to have good instructors ten years ago, I sought them out. Of course there are challenges in accomplishing something as disciplined as learning to fly, but the three fingers pointing back at those who blame schools or instructors is where the focus should be.

    To me the decreasing pilot population and fallout rates have more to do with personal initiative, perseverance, prioritizing costs, and yes, electronic, vicarious experiences. There are GA industry shortcomings, to be sure. But it’s a cop-out to blame the instructors or schools and shows the insincerity and lack of will by the respondents to find a way to accomplish their goal of learning to fly.

    Flying and – keeping current – (something I think is realized along the training way and washes away the enthusiasm for many) is all about love and passion. The schools and instructors are temporary and fade into the past eventually. Cost and effort then become predominant, but usually can be arranged with planning. If ones’ heart and mind are committed to accomplishing the goal of learning to fly, nothing can stand in the way. In our ‘don’t blame me it’s not my fault’ modern society, GA just might not have a chance to be what is once was. I hope it can survive, but blaming others is not the answer.

  50. Tim Sudderth Says:

    It has been my experience both as a ‘customer’ and as a flight school business owner that ‘they'(the CFI) for the most part actually do not understand their students nor have they mastered the art of identifying the value their customers place on the product. They seldom make the effort to even learn why the customer wants to learn to fly. Prominent in the young CFI, right out of school themselves, is an attitude of “this is just another step along the way in developing my own career goals”. Another example is the more experienced CFI who is supplementing his income by instructing; these individuals exhibit a tendency to be more concerned with billable hours than delivering quality instructions and demonstratable results. My best instructors were ‘retired’ with a geniune interest in nurturing aspiring pilot candidates. Thank God for the 60 rule.

    This is far too broad a statement – there have been outstanding exceptions to all these categories and I am not indicting all CFI’s.

    I continue to believe that the best way to improve the training experience, increase program completion and build the pilot population is to take the “business” out of the hands of the flight instructor.

    Many ‘flight schools’ do just what has been pointed out in this discussion; get a building and wait for customers to come. No ‘business’ can survive without marketing and yet it is unusual to see any concentrated effort to attract new customers/students to GA outside of AOPA’s efforts. I ran ads at the local movie theaters for example, with outstanding results and yet my successor who purchased my flight school did nothing to promote new busines and the school failed less than 2 years after I retired.

  51. The Doc Says:

    I have read the above article and the comments. I liked the article and have to say, one cannot include all aspects of any issue in just one article. The comments were “priceless gems of information” and very relevant.

    I will have been a Flight Instructor for 45 years next April 10th and a pilot much longer. I have over 5000 hours as an instructor and have taught in everything imaginable, both civil and military. I’ve always enjoyed flight instruction, because there is a unique quality to the vast majority of people who come to learn how to fly. I like being in that class of people and I don’t mean those who view themselves as “elitist”. I’ve met them too and I avoid ’em. I was a teacher first. I have to say that some of the “commentaries” above were very relevant. I was quite struck by what “Arnie” had to say about the “elite” and what Jon had to say about “the churn”. However, I was most taken by what “L” had to say about “the sexist jerk” flight instructor. Yes, I’ve seen this type of instructor and they give us all a bad name. I’ve taught many women and I learned very quickly that women do not learn the same way men do. Unlike men, you have to “earn their respect and their trust”! I’ve never had a “training failure” or anyone who has not passed their check-ride on the first attempt and those women I have trained, will all provide an excellent reference. If your thinking this is a “sexist remark”, think again, because they simply don’t learn the same. I really “connected” to “L”, as I read her remarks, because I’ve seen instructors “ruin” potentially good women pilots! My eldest daughter is an airline pilot and she is very good, because she was taught with the respect and consideration she deserved. She is also “light-years” above her fellow male counterparts in the business, because she was a “natural” from the beginning, as aviation has been her life since she was a small child! Some instructors give instruction as, “get it, grab it and go”! Sorry boy’s but that doesn’t “get it” with a woman student! They are “not macho” and won’t be satisfied with “being pushed or not being certain” or “half-assed instruction” and lack of respect, which most male students brush aside like so much dandruff. They won’t “settle” with not knowing what was meant to be accomplished, as a man would. They are more “insistent” in knowing what the instructor intends and what is really expected of them. In short women learn differently, because they are perfectionists! Most men aren’t (just show me how to get through this).

    I made up my mind long ago as to why the student drop-out rate was so high and passed my observations and thoughts along to AOPA, but they ignored me. Now they consider to be a crisis, what I observed as a “real problem” many years ago. After reading an article in AOPA Pilot about their concern over the “alarming drop-out rate”, I wrote to them and asked: “Where were you 20 years ago”?

    Yes, lousy flight instruction and lousy flight instructors have been with us for a long time, but that didn’t keep people from learning how to fly. They were around when I learned to fly and that’s a long time. I read every NTSB crash/incident report that has come out since that organization was founded. What the NTSB blames for many “so called” accidents/incidents, is quite simply “exceedingly poor flight instruction”.

    I am reminded of one “highly motivated” lady who came to me to learn how to fly, because she had heard of my reputation. She been with another flight instructor but had been unable to solo, even after 17 hours of training. I took one look at her logbook and determined what her problem was. It was her flight instructor…he was worthless, didn’t have a clue how to teach flying! I had to “start all over” with her from the very beginning. She soloed in 6 hours (normal for my students) and completed her Private check ride at 41 hours and that included her night endorsement.

    All of this is a “consideration”, but not the “primary reason” people drop out of flight training. Back when you could rent a Cessna for $10. an hour and get “a decent instructor” for $5., it was no big deal, but when you change the equation by “throwing in” today’s “exorbitant” costs, then only a fool would continue, if other factors remained the same.

    With a new airplane costing a half million dollars and the hourly operating costs are soaring into the stratosphere, the game has changed and eventual ownership is now only “a dim expectation”, except for the rich and elite. When there are a multitude of “high-paying flying jobs” at the end of the “flight training tunnel”, as there were in the 60’s and 70’s, its worth it! Take that away and “Hasta LaVista Baby”, is what your going to hear! These are “the true facts of the matter”! I read the report provided to AOPA, at great expense and it was mostly bunk and a waste of thousands of dollars!

    To be quite honest and very frank, when the Democrats “stole” the hope of a “bright aviation future” and a thriving general aviation, with the “Luxury Tax” of 1990, the end was already in sight, particularly considering the already devastating effects of actions taken by an ignorant Jimmy Carter in the late 70’s, that assured the demise of the aviation industry in this country! I’ve watched and bemoaned the decline of aviation ever since! Millions of jobs and futures lost, because of the greed of a few politicians! I have written many articles on this subject over the years.

  52. Ken Hairr Says:

    The biggest problem simply cost. Lets face it flying is exhilaratingly fun. I experienced multiple instructors some good, somewell not so good. I kept taking the lessons back in the early 90s because I had a great job and was willing to pay for the joy of learning. To leave the ground and soar un-tethered around the Atlanta skyline is simply breathtaking!

    Years later I earned my Certified Flight Instructor license. Because I love to teach and love to fly, it is a match made in heaven. Being a real estate broker allows me to earn a living so I can provide flight instruction as well because I want to. Unfortunately a flight instructors pay will not support my lifestyle as a flight instructor alone unless I work like a madman. But it digress, I dont fly as much as I would like to on a personal basis, i.e., while not instructing, because it is quite expensive. This being the case, my students either have to work too much to save the money to learn to fly and then continue for fun or buy a tennis racquet instead and give up their dream of soaring. Students seem to either have the time, but not enough resources or have the resources, but therefore no time as the work constantly to earn them.

    The problem high prices! High price of fuel, aircraft, insurance and extensive regulation which requires knowledge of esoteric information that has little to do with flying safety, but more to do with limiting the number of people that can fly. Unfortunately these costs/factors increase the cost to all pilots due to that darn reality of economy of scale which nearly destroyed the aircraft manufactures due to luxury tax in the 90s. Remember how much you paid for your first Garmin when they were only used by pilots verses now being used by non pilots as well.

    Why are cost so high in our industry, because of government. As long as the government uses regulations to raise taxes to bleed profitable industries to feed their pet projects that are not viable or self sustainable industries like ours will just get by rather than thrive. Aviation is still alive because air travel is a superior to other altitude challenged transportation methods for distances more than a few hundred miles. We will all keep doing our part because flying is just so FUN.

    Solution all members of congress should be required to have owned their own business or at least managed the finances of one prior to serving. They should also be required to live by and obey the same rules we do the including medical etc.

    Finally what can we as aviation enthusiast do? Take people for rides, share the experience of why you first started flying and hopefully why you still enjoy it today; Fun, Excitement, Challenge, Superior Transportation, etc. They will keep coming as long as we dont forget why we first came.

    Ken Hairr
    Real Estate Broker, CFI
    Atlanta GA

  53. Eric Says:

    I’d be curious to know what the drop-out rate was more than 20 years ago (referring to The Doc’s post) . I suspect it was less considering how AOPA has just focused on the issue and the pilot population had been larger.

    The question then is what was different about flight training years ago versus today? As has been thoroughly stated, cost and some bad instructors have been a constant. So, what other factors are to blame?

    I think Kevin touched on part of the problem in the last sentence of his post referring to the “Now” generation. Before the wide use of credit cards, people were generally better with differed gratification. Now we’re so used to getting things instantly that the sustained effort to get a pilot certificate doesn’t fit the norm.

    Ironically, training generally takes longer now than it use to, which doesn’t help. Besides just learning to fly, students also have more related subjects to deal with; glass panel avionics is a whole topic in itself. The Sport Pilot program is an attempt in part to alleviate some of this. But for it to work along with other efforts “Now” generation people need to be convinced that becoming a pilot is worth the sacrifice of time and money, a worthy competitor to electronic entertainment.

    I’m not sure exactly how to do this. Maybe students need to be made more aware of what they can do with their certificate after sticking out the training. Hopefully students can be convinced that the digital images on their flight simulator programs, as wonderful as they may be, are no substitute for the real thing.

    When the issue of cost comes up, some say “Well, allowing for inflation, the rental and gas at x amount of dollars back then is equivalent to x amount today. So we’re right on track.” I wonder if such statements take into account the greater buying power of the dollar in the past? So I wouldn’t take cost lightly as part of the student retention problem.

  54. Robert Mark Says:

    Some here have mentioned the low pay for instructors. One reason it is so low at some schools is the fact that schools expect to make a profit on each hour the instructor puts in.

    A fair profit is one thing, but when a school can charge $75 an hour retail for the instructor’s time and give that same instructor only $20, that’s robbery.

    Some instructors know how this game is played and some don’t care. They just want to fly.

    If a school can’t make a profit renting the aircraft and paying instructors a decent rate, then maybe that company’s business plan is unworkable and the place out to shut down.

  55. The Doc Says:

    Great insight Ken Hairr. You’ve said in fewer words and gotten to the “heart of it” what it took me a whole page to express. Yes, there are jerks out there that hold a CFI, but there are a lot of good one’s too! It’s just finding one of those, when you’re not certain what is chaff and what is wheat, that makes it difficult for students. I agree that some outfits “cheat” instructors with “a small slice of the pie”, for what they have to do and that too causes considerable turnover.
    My best Instructor Pilot experience was in the military, when you knew the student would always be there, be on time, be prepared, ready to learn and your check was always on time. Add to that, the fact that they had already been “pre-qualified” and the slackers “culled out”. But then, so too was the Instructor Cadre. One cannot even come close to that in civilian instructing.

  56. Roger Reeve Says:

    The more I read the more I think cost is the biggest problem. I have heard it said that anyone can learn to fly if they have enough time and money. I cannot agree. If you can’t cut it blame the teacher. Some just can’t make the grade.

  57. Robert T Says:

    The straw that broke the camels back for my friend was when he was flying with his instructor and he(the instructor) pulled out a pack of gum and didn’t offer him a piece. My friend is generous and would sometimes buy this instructor small gifts of gratitude. When he became arrogant and not prepared, the gum event was it. How can a student be prepared when an instructor doesn’t tell the student what the next lesson will be about. My friend would love to say what do you have planned for me today and listen to the silence. How about being told study VORs for next week and then next week comes along and then the lesson is not on VORs. He was being paid 55 an hour. Not exactly a low wage for using the plane someone else is paying for to build your hours for your career. Most instructors don’t have customer skills and that’s why the customer leaves.

    My friend went through seven instructors. I met him in ground school, he informed me of the problems he was having, after firing a couple of instructor before finding a good one he got his certificate and is working on the instument. The mentoring idea is a good one that really helps students. My friend would have been one of the 80 percent who drops out if he didn’t have my help. Money would not have played any part of why he almost quit. Firing bad flight instructors was probably the most help I gave him.

  58. The Doc Says:

    In reply to Eric above:

    I apologize for the length of my reply, but you might as well “know all of the truth”.
    The Doc

    Consider for a moment that aviation and flight instruction has had its “hay-day” and its “down-side” since reaching its peak in the early 1970’s. The most pilots and flight instructors ever in the history of aviation occurred then. The numbers only grew slightly by the mid 70’s. However, when Jimmy Carter became President in 1977, everything went right into the “dumper”. Over-regulation killed aviation overall and General Aviation most specifically! Carter and Clinton couldn’t have done a better job, if they had lined up every pilot in the country and shot them in the head!

    Now to your direct questions. First, no one paid by credit card then. If you didn’t have the cash, you didn’t fly. Only a few FBO’s/Flight Instructors would even take a check. We also didn’t have any “generation X” or “generation Y” then, so people had to pay for their own flight instruction out of they’re own pockets. Very few “wealthy daddies” picking up the tab, so those learning how to fly, wanted to “make the best of their investment”. When the student came to you (FBO or Flight Instructor) they already knew what they wanted. The Flight Instructor/Operator was “right up front” and told them how much it would cost, how long it would take and laid out how many times in a given week or month they would have to fly, in order to get a Private or Commercial ticket, in a specific period of time and what study would be required to supplement their flying knowledge and to meet written requirements. There was no doubt in the student’s mind what was required/expected of them and the drop out rate was only about 1%. It was usually because of money.

    A student didn’t come unprepared on a regular basis, because he had already been told that if he did, you’d charge him your hourly rate to “bring him up to speed”, before you went flying and “costing him” was just another lesson he learned quickly. Some people just weren’t cut out for flying and they soon learned if they were or not and they would “DOR”, before they ever got started. I only had one student (out of many hundreds) whom I told to quit, because that student “was not suited to flying”. I did have three others that I refused to “sign-off” for flight tests, because they were unfit to be pilots or refused to accept the instruction that was necessary for them to complete their training.

    In the first instance, I had a lawyer who refused to wear the “hood” and accomplish basic maneuvers “solely by reference to instruments”. (he said he didn’t like having anything on his head, but the truth of the matter was, he didn’t like anyone whom he believed to be “inferior” to him, telling him what to do) I required all my Private students to have at least 3 hours of instruction “solely by reference to instruments”, long before it was an FAA requirement, as encountering IMC for a VFR pilot, was the leading cause of aviation fatalities at the time.

    He had already stated, he was going to “borrow” an airplane and fly from the mid-west to southern California in the dead of winter, with three passengers to attend the Rose Bowl, upon receipt of his license. Because he refused to even attempt to “wear the hood”, I refused to sign him off for his private check-ride and advised if he was still intent upon acquiring the license, he would have to get his recommendation from someone else. He did and received his private ticket two weeks later. He killed himself, his wife and another couple in the mountains of New Mexico, flying in bad weather in late December, on the way to California.

    Many years later I had a prospective Commercial Pilot student, who also refused to wear the hood, as was required by FAA regulations for the Commercial License. It was abundantly clear, he hated constraints of any kind and regulations were “just so much crap”. He was only “a mediocre” student at best, as he took “unacceptable risks”, didn’t pay attention and did not comply well with instruction (he really disliked regulation of any kind). I had picked him up from another flight instructor who had allowed him to “practice the bad habits”, he had learned since acquiring his Private License. After instructing him for a few hours, I refused to sign him off, for the foregoing reasons. So he went to another Instructor who signed him off and he passed his Commercial ride three weeks later. The day after he successfully passed his ride, he crashed and killed himself in a field, while performing aerobatics within 300 feet of the surface, “showing-off” for a girlfriend. He was a likeable guy, but was very un-accepting of any regimen, as in using checklists and established safety procedures.

    In the 60’s and 70s it was customary to give “demonstration rides” to see if a prospective student would want to continue on with flight training. In the late 60’s and 70’s you could rent a Cessna 150 (the most used trainer in aviation history) for $7-12/hr. and Instructors cost $5-7. /hr. So, it didn’t cost an FBO a lot to “induce” student’s to fly, with $5. coupons in the newspapers for a “demo ride”.

    You must remember, before Jimmy Carter gave America 21% inflation and 22% interest rates, the dollar was worth much more than it is now and flying was much cheaper, by comparison. (By today’s monetary standards, learning to fly back then, was like renting an airplane “wet” for about a $1 and hour and the Instructor about $.50 cents and hour.)

    It was prior to this “era” that I learned to fly. I paid $4/hr. “wet” for a C-150 and my instructor cost me $3. /hr. and I went through 3 flight instructors before I had my private License and I got it in exactly 30 days. Total cost of my Private was $600., books flight computer, maps and all. The costs went up slightly in the early to mid 70’s because of “naturally increasing” costs. People started to make more money and have greater benefits. Remember too that the average wage for a production worker at that time was $70-100. a week. However, a persons pay went 4 times further, because the country hadn’t experienced any significant inflation (over 1-2%) since the 1930’s.

    At the close of the Carter Administration, in January 1981, 10 million people in the aviation industry had lost their jobs or were about to, because of the deregulation of commercial aviation. Carter dissolved the CAB and repealed all of it’s regulations, that had provided for “a fair and equitable” commercial transportation industry for over 40 years.

    The “devastating effects” of this has reverberated through our society and economy for 30 years now. The aviation industry has never been able to recover from it. The previously unprecedented “up-ward mobility” of many in the general aviation industry, has ceased to exist and opportunities for advancement have been highly limited. Well qualified airline pilots were walking the streets looking for any job they could get. This was the beginning of the “decline in aviation” in this country. It was the “driving force” behind “the dramatic decrease” in “student starts and completions” in flight training. This has effected the industry overall and it’s greatest impact has been the dramatically reduced wages and opportunities in the airlines and general aviation alike.
    Any fool knows that if you work hard and spend many years of your life and all of your available cash, to succeed toward a goal in aviation, but no jobs will now exist when your done, your going to “cut your losses” and focus your energy elsewhere.

    This was only the first “speed bump”, of many, the Democrats have dealt to the aviation industry, that has finally brought it to “complete prostration”!

    When Jimmy Carter entered the Presidency in January 1977, there were 57 airlines operating in the United States and “all” were making a profit! The average cost of a gallon of fuel (aviation or automobile) was $.27 cents a gallon and Jet A was $.10 cents a gallon. Now there are only 6 “major air carriers” and only one is making a consistent profit! Why did Carter do it? Because he was “well paid” by lobbyists to do it! He owed his election to their huge campaign contributions and he had to provide “pay-back”. He had absolutely no consideration for the millions of people who made they’re living in the aviation industry, what-so-ever…he just wanted “a feather in his cap”! I worked in the Carter Administration and he was America’s first “Certifiable Control Freak President”!

    By 1980, the nation was bankrupt, the “once thriving aviation colossus of the world” was devastated and the country had more regulations and a huge increase in government regulation (which has always translated into much higher taxes).

    Furthermore, general aviation was in trouble and the manufacturers of commercial airplanes were ready to walk into bankruptcy court on a moment’s notice. Douglas aircraft was the first of these to fail. They were bought up by McDonnell Aircraft of St. Louis, primarily a military aircraft manufacturer.

    The “carnage” continued into the 1980’s as the banks slowly closed out airplane and parts manufacturers and airline companies that had been in business for as long as 70 years. All so one man could be President. Flight training stopped. Aircraft sales stopped. The price of fuel skyrocketed into the stratosphere! Avgas went up to $4 a gallon. Jet A went up to $3 a gallon (it’s now $4.53). The airlines laid off millions of people, as they closed their doors. I knew one Captain who worked for Eastern Airlines, flying Convair 990’s, who was doing landscaping to make a living. That was typical. Flight instruction…what was the point?

    As Ronald Reagan took over, things began to come back…slowly. It wasn’t until later in the 80’s that the last of the airlines found themselves in bankruptcy court, as the backlog was so great, particularly in housing where 1 out of every 4 homes in the country went into forclosure. During the surge of the 60’s and early 70’s Boeing and Douglas had millions of workers between them and now they had reduced their workforce to only about 15% of the number they once had. These were the people who took flight training.

    By the middle of the first Bush Administration, the economy was rebounding (remember the country was completely bankrupt just 10 years before), people were working again and flight instruction began again. By then the cost of a rental C-150 was $25.-28./hr. and the cost of avgas was $2.50 a gallon. Flight instructors cost $15 20 /hr. You see Carter did several other things during his “devastating reign” as President, that the country has never and more than likely will never ever recover from. Carter began the Energy Department and the Environmental Protection Administration. These agencies effectively passed regulations that closed 50% of all refineries in this country and their associate storage/transmission facilities. It also stopped the permitting process forbidding the building of anymore such facilities or the exploration for oil in this country completely. That is why we are “completely dependent” on foreign oil supplies (regardless of what lying Democrats tell you) in this country today. It is also why shipments to this country of crude oil are “purposely limited”, because we simply don’t have the “refining infrastructure” to process it. Now you know why fuel prices are so high and why they are only going to go up in the future, not down! All of this has had a dramatic effect on general aviation and flight instruction. Nothing “stands alone”, everything is “tied together”. This country has always had an average increase in oil demand of 3% annually since the 1940’s and that won’t change, because the population is also increasing. Now you know the “overriding factor” as to why the costs of everything keeps going up and up and up. That includes the price of a flight training airplane that was $14,000., when Jimmy Carter came into office and it’s over $300,000. today!

    At this point in history, the people had yet to see the “Coup de gras”, that “shot General Aviation in the head” for good!

    In 1990 the Democrat who controlled Congress, made up their minds that they were “going to get the fat cats” in this country, who they viewed as Republican’s and they “were going to hit them where it hurt”(to quote Tip O’Neill (D-MA) Speaker of the House)…in the pocketbook. So they passed the “Luxury Tax”. It placed an additional tax of 13% on the price of new general aviation airplanes, on top of sales and use taxes already in place. The cost of new airplanes skyrocketed!

    Foreigners of all kinds became alarmed and made a “run” on every “low-time” G/A airplane in the country. Tens of thousands of “low-time” aircraft were bought up, flown to the coast, dismantled, crated up and shipped overseas. The manufacturing of general aviation airplanes had ceased, because no one would pay the now exorbitant price for a new airplane. So every one of them went bankrupt! So did all of their suppliers. Engine makers, radio manufacturers, sub-assembly manufacturers, those who built landing gear, tires, wheels, wiring looms, lighting, brake assemblies…all bankrupt. Another 10 million workers lost their jobs! General Aviation came to a standstill! No more flight instruction, except to those who already owned their own airplanes or were wealthy. Cessna bankrupt. Beech bankrupt, Champion bankrupt, Piper bankrupt, Bellanca bankrupt, Grumman bankrupt. All General Aviation manufacturers bankrupt! Later larger conglomerates “absorbed” them, but they have never returned to their “once prominent” status. Now you know why a general aviation aircraft cost an average of a half million dollars…Democrat politicians, who could care less about those who worked in that industry!

    The industry has only recovered slightly and that is why costs are “out-of-reach” for most who would like to fly, learn to fly or own an airplane. Things were about to “turn around”, when 9/11 happened. Another “cataclysmic event” sponsored by yet another Democrat; William Jefferson Clinton. I know, because I worked for this jerk too and I saw it coming, like you can see a thunderstorm coming across the Kansas plains on a summer afternoon! Now you know why general Aviation and flight instruction has died in America, because Democrat Politicians don’t give a “donkey dropping” about those who make their living at it!

  59. andrew peter saridakis Says:

    Dear The Doc,

    I found your economic analysis of the current General Aviation Conundrum to very accurate and well put together. As a matter of fact, your insights has inspired me to add my comments on growing up surrounded by aviation and now seeing that same aviation industry replaced by shopping malls.

    The economic region I am referring to is Long Island New York. Once the proud manufacturing base of Grumman, Fairchild, and hundreds of associated manufacturers, this geographic space is now the proud base of Home Depot, Fridays, and other spending retail establishments.

    When I worked as a supply chain management consultant many years ago, I was amazed to see how the Federal, State, County, Municipalities, Utility Companies, OSHA, and dozens of other “partners” would openly rape these brand name aviation institutions. These same institutions who formed the backbone of so many of the manufacturing processes we have taught our overseas counterparts. For example, supply chain management, decision science, neuro psychology, educational psychology, just to name a few.

    Republican or Democrat, is an attorney qualified to set budgets and policies? What specific training have these politicians been provided? Our last president was an MBA, well that did not work either. And now what these same politicians have done to corporations they are doing to individuals.

    How?

    In today’s high tech environment like this very blog space the very low tech legal “profession” has obviated the internet! Can you imagine, we actually have less transparency today! Were is the electronic voting, where are the sources and uses of funds for social security and a plethora of other issues they do not want your rightful say on?

    The internet is primarily based upon a binary system invented in ancient Greece. Recall 0,1,001,10001…to an infinite combination. This binary system forms the basis of our voting system today. Black stone = NO, white stone = YES. Interestingly, larger stones were used in combination to open and close city states. Alas, the makings of the first computer. The internet represents a great opportunity to bring the power back to the taxpayer by using the same binary system invented thousands of years ago. However, the internet threatens to break down the intricate political machine that has been built to disguise the very truth you have dispelled in your last thread.

    Yes, aviation medicine, abortion are all politicized issues, that vector the taxpayer from the real issue. Education. “The Doc” do you recall when civics was a required course in High School? Right. Civics has been vectored with school prayer.

    I work in China as an Airline Captain and have been to dozens of factories, and I can say without revocation that 50% of these same factories can be relocated to the United States of America. The average worker in China is inefficient based upon an economic system whereby each member is given a small job task in an furious effort to keep 1.55+ billion people fed.

    Aviation needs to fight Washington. I will ask my wife who stopped practicing as an attorney, if we can sue the Washington attorneys for malpractice. I know she has told me time and time again that government officials cannot be sued. Just doesn’t sit well with me. However, what if these same officials were acting in the capacity of an attorney? Must be a loophole we can use.

    I will start by writing to my congressman in my district and if I do not see results, I will fire him as I have done in the past many times.

    We need to take a leadership stance and formulate solutions. The Instructor Pilot debacle is of our own creation and is paradigmatic of the “dumbing down of America.”

    Andrew Peter Saridakis
    Training Captain, Boeing 737NG
    FAA Gold Seal Instructor
    Harbin, China

  60. Robert Rockmaker Says:

    I attended the AOPA meeting two weeks ago which addressed flight training in America. Most of what we learned from the professional study was a confirmation of why a group of dedicated flight school owners and interested parties have formed the first ever Association for flight schools in America.

    The Flight School Association of North America (FSANA) is mission driven. In order for the GA industry to survive and hopefully build again, the flight schools of America will need to begin to shift to new business culture models. Culture evolvement will play a vital role over the next decade.

    People tend to not change. Culture can change with time. We had our first annual conference in June 2010 and we are about to announce our second annual conference very shortly.

    The FSANA accreditation committees is developing the first flight school accreditation program. This new accreditating program which has been embraced by a wide selection of flight school owners and industry representatives on the working committee will be a start to improving the business models of participating flight schools in the Americas.

    GA in America has a bright future. The FSANA Board has had discussions on the issues of student starts, retention and completions. FSANA agrees with the recently released AOPA study that money is not the number one reason why people are not learning to fly and/or earning their first license to fly.

  61. The Doc Says:

    Dear Andrew Peter Saridakis:

    Thank you for your insights and an excellent post! All the things you say are true. Those of us in aviation “must” band together or we are finished!
    I am a researcher these days, but I have spent the vast bulk of my life engaged in various venue’s of aviation, from Commercial Pilot, to Flight Instructor, to Aviation Educator, to Analyst, to Senior Manager. I’ve watched the “despots of politics” destroy aviation, because it profited them to do so. I have carefully chronicled all of it. What they have done isn’t just disgusting; it’s abhorrent, illegal and dastardly!
    The USA should still be the “preeminent leader” of the aviation industry in the world. However, because the politicians of this country, who “could care less” about the people “who built this nation” and the “greatest air transportation industry the world has ever known”, they have sought to destroy it for their own personal gain and relegate us to “the dust pile of aviation history”! That’s unacceptable to me and I don’t mind telling the world who it was who did it, who, it was who destroyed millions of lives and livelihoods and the dreams and hopes of those engaged in the aviation industry!
    The Doc

  62. Robert T Says:

    Carter was responsible for the the great aviation crash. I guess congress could be eleminated because they aren’t responsible for anything.

    Economics does play some part in less people flying. It’s the congress (democrats and republicans) that changed laws so the wealth was gradually taken away from the middleclass.

    When Bush left as president the economy wasn’t exactly strong.

    You forgot to mention Reagan firing the airtraffic controllers.

    I don’t want to turn the discussion into some political debate so I kept my comments brief. In regards to the economy, there is plenty of blame on both sides and we are in a global economy with competition from abroad which also took away from our wealth. Of course our government could have helped protected some of those jobs by not giving tax breaks for companies that have things produced overseas.

    We really need a three party government so the corporations will have to write three checks at election time instead of just two.

  63. andrew peter saridakis Says:

    To “The Doc”

    Thank you. What I wanted to mention is now China is manufacturing on a JV with GE and other partners, the C919 transport category aircraft.

    Interestingly, when China attempted to build a single engine general aviation aircraft the cost was marginally less than Cessna.

    Liability insurance has still increased the cost of aircraft, parts and instruction up 30%.

    The current general aviation supply chain needs a major alignment, including AOPA.

    There are opportunities that can be exploited in every seemingly negative situation.

    Best Regards,

    Andrew Peter Saridakis

  64. The Doc Says:

    This is directed to Robert T:

    You are clearly “well beyond your depth” of knowledge and understanding of the factors that have brought aviation (most specifically general aviation and flight instruction) to the point of near collapse. It is quite clear that you have accomplished absolutely no research, kept no historical archive what-so-ever and have reviewed absolutely no history surrounding the events you have chosen to discuss, or posses any empirical knowledge that may lend itself to this discussion. That renders you completely unqualified to even discuss this matter with any relevancy or meaningful dialog! While I do enjoy differing points of view, I have no tolerance with those who discuss or in your case “perpetuate sarcasm where it is completely unwarranted”! I do not wish to be condescending, but it is impossible to carry on any meaningful dialog with someone who clearly has “a partisan political position”. As an historian, I have made up my own mind, as to who has worked to “create a positive environment” in which the people’s of this nation can thrive and reach their goals and dreams and those that have only “served themselves”. These “truths” are as clear as the nose on one’s face.

    The facts are: Carter dissolved the CAB, thus destroying the Commercial Airline industry through Executive Order, not allowing for any intervention by the Congress. Since the Congress was controlled by Democrats (as it has been for the last 4 years), those opposing his “edict” in that body, had absolutely no voice in the matter. Yes, many Republican’s strenuously objected and Carter told them to “take a hike”! Anyone, who understands how our government functions, knows that a President can dissolve any “Administrative Agency”, without the approval of Congress. It is clear you do not even understand how you’re own government functions!

    The “fix” was already in and Carter had already spent “his ill-gotten gains”! It purchased his Presidency. The Air Traffic Controllers strike had absolutely nothing to do with the dismantling of the aviation industry. That happened four and one half years later (August 3, 1981)! The firings of 14,500 Air Traffic Controllers didn’t begin until April 1982. By that point in time, all manufacturers of general aviation aircraft and related industries, were in bankruptcy. Yes, it had an “economic impact”…after the fact…after the damage had been done. In-so-far a Ronald Reagan was concerned; He had but one task; Pick the country up and try to put the pieces back together again. After four years of Carter the country was not only bankrupt, its infrastructure was completely destroyed. Add to this, the fact that 1 in 4 of all homes were (far worse than now) in foreclosure and banks and savings and loans were failing by the dozens each week! I am quite certain that you would not personally have any intimate knowledge of this, as you most likely were not even yet born. I was in government all through this period and was “infinitely familiar” with all the aspects that surrounded it. I have worked in six Presidential Administrations.

    Congress did play a very big part, but that was “part II” of the decimation (for personal profit) of the aviation industry in the USA. That is the part that most of all destroyed general aviation and flight instruction in this country. Where were you in November 1990? I was “up to my eyeballs” in the “middle of the fray” and it wasn’t pretty.

    The Democrat leaders, who controlled Congress, shut down the entire government, as “pay-back” to Geo. H. Bush, because he refused to sign the 1991 budget, due to the fact that Democrats had stuffed it full of tax laws that he knew would destroy our country economically, just as they had under Carter. Bush was adamant in not allowing the Democrats to “force another Carter style government” (spending billions without the means to pay for it) on the people. He knew the country barely escaped complete default just one decade earlier and was refusing to allow it to happen again. Carter was guilty of a lot more destruction to the country, than just commercial aviation

    What were these Bills the Democrats had attached to the budget? A new 13% “Luxury Tax” on the sale of aircraft (this in addition to all of the taxes that were already required). This single tax alone, eventually closed the doors of all manufacturers of general aviation aircraft in this country, along with all of their suppliers. The toll was 10 million of the best paying jobs in the country! The general aviation industry and flight instruction was effectively dead! Numerous tax measures (over a trillion dollars…and at that point in our country a trillion dollars was worth 10 times what it is now) that provided for “Phase II” of Johnson’s “Great Society” welfare programs. The bottom line: Tax monies were stolen from the working citizens of this country to “buy votes” for Democrats! I can’t explain it any more effectively or honestly than that! So if you support Democrats, your part of the problem we had then and still have today!

    In so far as the global economy, with competition from abroad is concerned, general aviation has never had any “serious” competition from abroad…not ever! Any competition in those venues was “created” by Clinton’s NAFTA, The World Trade Agreement and Favored Nation Trading Status, that took 45 million of the best paying, best benefited jobs out of this country. So, it should come as no surprise that “average American’s”, can no longer afford to buy general aviation aircraft or instruction. Make no mistake about it; there is some poor flight instruction in this country. Yes, there is some poor P.R. in the business, but if you can’t afford to fly, what difference does that make?

    The Democrats were alone “solely responsible” for the “death of general aviation” in America! Of that there is neither room for doubt nor possibility for debate, among those of us who lived through it, paid attention and chronicled all of it! You either know your subject or you don’t. It is abundantly clear Robert; you do not posses any knowledge of the circumstances or the facts!

    The Doc

  65. Rodney Says:

    One reason the survey probably did not list cost as the major factor is the people that actually started training obviously thought they could afford it. Therefore, of those that started training and stopped it was because of proplems with training, instructors or schools. I am sure there is a vast amount of people that would start training if it were cheaper. Essentially when you have 30 people a week starting training and lose 15 for various reasons it isn’t seen as a huge problem but when 16 start and 15 drop out now you have a problem. The Cost effectively lowers the pool of people that start training and poor instruction, etc. creates a larger than normal drop out rate of those that do start. Was the drop out rate in the 70s as high as now? Was it not seen as a problem because there were lots of people wanting to fly? I don’t know. I do know that GA is getting to the point of only being available to those with lots of money. The rest of us build out own airplane but congress or the FAA could stop that tomorrow.

  66. Robert Mark Says:

    Tim Sudderth’s comment is stunning but true. Having been a CFI for 30 years, I can’t speak to whether the training on customer interaction/ or customer service is even a part of the regime a new instructor must be exposed to before they take a check ride. It certainly wasn’t when I took my training.

    Perhaps a newly minted CFI can tell us whether that’s a part of the training right now. My guess is it’s not.

  67. Robert T Says:

    The article is about flight instruction. It’s dissapointing when any subject gets turned into a political debate.

    Doc I voted for Ralph Nader, you should read his book, Unsafe At Any Speed, it has some has some information that relates to aviation safety. I’ll let you have the last word

  68. Scott Spangler Says:

    Training for all pilot certificates and ratings, then and now, rarely exceeds that itemized in the Practical Test Standards. With CFIs, it’s all about the flying, very little about the teaching (the Fundamentals of Instruction is not something many instructors used with their students, they are the answers memorized to pass a required test), nothing about “customer service.” Instructors learned about dealing with customers only if the flight school they worked for offered it as on-the-job training.

    Actually, an empathetic person who pay attention to the FOI has the necessary knowledge to intuitively provide good customer service. But this requires self-study and some motivation to invest the time and effort.

    But really, why should they? They are just time-building CFIs, the scum of aviation, and they are paid accordingly. If their bosses and aviation really doesn’t care about them, why sould they care about customers?

    It is a situation not yet delved into here. What about life from the CFI’s point of view. In other words, if you want me to act like an adult, treat me like one, in termes of pay, benefits, and respect.

  69. Nick Frisch Says:

    Scott,

    An instructor’s self-interest is tied to customer interest, insofar as customer retention means additional income.

    Distinterest in customer well-being requires disinterest in personal and corporate well-being, or a failure to understand the connection.

    My experience was that new instructors did not typically come from a customer service background. I hired folks from ERAU, UND, Perdue, FSI, and other places. I didn’t really have issues with attitude (once I learned how to screen for it), but college CFI’s are taught by CFI’s who often do not come from a customer service culture.

    To achieve that culture shift, I started before hiring a CFI, with that book report on “The Savvy Flight Instructor” that was required at interview time.

    CFI meetings were about both flying safely and understanding customers. As a school operator, I made an effort to meet each new customer, and to assure them that if they had any problems, I was responsible, and they could come to me if they needed to.

    I’ve seen older adults and young people alike handle customer issues badly, becoming defensive or even combative, and the customers have their enthusiasm dented or destroyed. It is a shame, and so unnecessary.

    Respect for CFI’s is something that costs nothing and yields real benefits in terms of attitude. Everyone likes to be recognized and appreciated, and it doesn’t take a lot of money to do that. I’ve been surprised at the stories I hear of how people are treated at flight schools.

    What I’ve come to realize is that some flight schools have a strong military influence, and some are run by pilots. The military doesn’t really embrace the concept of “customers”, so the mentalities have to be adjusted. I’ve worked with some very fine former military folks, but the customer service concept was something I had to teach them.

    Pilots, especially the most dedicated ones, are often more interested in themselves and technology and flying than they are in other people and their success. Part of that comes from the demands of the industry. Many pilots are not skilled teachers, and 10,000 hours of watching gages does not lend itself to developing strong interpersonal skills.

    As an industry, we tend to train with a single-pilot mentality. We kind of have to, unless we use simulators. Interpersonal skills didn’t really become an issue until Crew Resource Management became important. But really, flight schools don’t train crews as crews, don’t train on interpersonal relationship skills, and certainly ingrain in CFI’s that the way to treat customers is the way that they, the CFI’s, were treated.

    “You are just a CFI” has no place in my lexicon. That’s the language of people who have not outgrown their need to feel superior to someone else. Teaching is a complex skill that is worthy of a lifetime of dedicated effort, and the CFI’s who worked for me knew how much I appreciated their efforts to learn to be better instructors, better pilots, and to build strong future aviators.

    It really isn’t that hard, but it does take the right attitude.

    Nick Frisch

  70. A Higher Standard for Flight Instruction | My Flight Training Blog Says:

    […] as well as a lack of “community” spirit at the airport. You can read the articlehere. This is the comment that I posted there: It would be nice to see instructors who do it because […]

  71. Robert Mark Says:

    To jump in for a moment to the Robert T-Doc debate … you are Doc obviously deep into the political history of how the aviation industry evolved into what it is today. But of course it’s your interpretation of the facts that you’re repeating here.

    To Robert’s point though, the political slant Doc gave this debate is his right as I see it. If we don’t agree with him, we can always debate it, or simply ignore him.

    But when it comes to figuring out how we arrived at where we are today, I think we’d be a little short sighted to say that politics has no part in the debate. Politics is ALWAYS part of the debate when we talk about a government regulated industry.

    Of course, while I appreciate Doc’s insights into history, that perspective probably isn’t going to have much of a hand in crafting the answers we’re after I think, unless of course you agree that the industry’s best days are behind.

  72. Scott Spangler Says:

    Nick, you’re correct that a CFIs self-interest is tied to that of the customer, but when you’re in a death spiral of dispair, it’s hard to see that. It is really no different from people who devote their time to proclaiming their business that they have no time to accomplish anything.

    The Savvy Flight Instructor is a great book and should be required reading by all in aviation, not just CFIs. Makeing its book report an interview requirement is genius.

    You’re right that GA is a single-pilot effort, and that relates to the poor “community” aspect of the AOPA survey. Duane Cole and I used to discuss it often. He ran a flight school after World War II and said he used to hold weekly cookouts, and students just stopped coming because they had other things to do, cut the grass, keep up with their neighbors. Still, it’s a good good idea, and Sporty’s seems to have good attendance at its summertime hotdog gatherings.

    Your attitude is the most imporant if there is to be a turn-around. On both sides of teh airport fence, every school I’ve ever attended, visited, or attended, has its own personality. The same is true of every company I’ve worked for. In all of them, the principal, school owner, or CEO is the nucleus of morale and effectiveness. In my experience, an organization’s effectiveness–good, bad, or indifferent–says more about its leaders than its employees.

  73. Nick Frisch Says:

    I wrote this when I was considering what the imposition of a 1500-hour rule would do to our industry. Personally, I believe that this rule will have far-reaching, mostly negative results, to wit:

    The End of Cheap Tickets

    and Other Unintended Consequences of the FAAs Congressionally Mandated 1500-hour Pilot Rule.

    The FAA has been mandated by Congress to enact a rule that requires airline pilots to have 1,500 hours flight time before serving as an airline flight crew member. This was in response to lobbying by families and the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) as well as the political desire to do something in the wake of the Colgan Air crash that killed 50 people in February of 2009.

    Sounds good doesnt it? We want our nations airlines to be flown by experienced pilots. (We want to be operated on by experienced surgeons, too).

    Unfortunately, the public and Congress really dont understand pilot-making in the U.S. Airline pilots come primarily from five sources: 1) flight instructors (most of them), 2) existing professional pilots (freight, corporate), 3) graduates of airline-oriented professional academies, 4) military pilots, and 5) low-time pilots holding Commercial licenses who graduate from university or private flight schools.

    When airlines are not hiring much, requirements are high, sometimes more than the 1500 hours required for an Airline Transport Pilot license. But, when airlines need pilots, the market flexes to accept pilots with the 250-hour minimum for a Commercial license. These pilots usually go to copilot jobs at smaller regional carriers, then work their way up the food chain. The ability of the market to flex ensures that there is a supply of pilots waiting to be tapped when needed.

    Pay is lousy, career prospects are shaky, and training is expensive. Who would spend $70,000 or more on an education to earn $28,000 starting pay? People do, though, because theyve been told that after they earn their education, they can be hired with as little as 250 hours, and go on to become Highly Paid Airline Professionals.

    Most civilian pilots get their first job as a certified flight instructor (CFI) to build time to become an airline pilot. A CFI will need to train 5-50 students to get to 1500 hours. Some of those students will want to be airline pilots, and many will hope to be CFIs. Being a CFI is the only significant route to building time. Freight and charter companies hire entry-level pilots, but not many. Military pilots often can go directly to major airlines, and they are an important, but shrinking, source for pilots. This will become more so as military operations shift towards remotely piloted aircraft.

    University students at leading schools like Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University may pay more than $200,000 for their flight education, with the hope of either being hired as a low-timer or with plans of becoming a CFI. However, only about one graduate in five has the opportunity to become employed as a university CFI. The others go to small private flight schools where they instruct mainly hobbyists and career changers who are airline-bound.

    Our pilot replacement pipeline is populated heavily with CFIs. They build time training others to follow them. Career changers normally get into the game when hiring is hot knowing that they can get hired at 250-300 hours. Even if they dont immediately get an airline job, they will become CFIs to fill slots vacated by their former CFI who is now an airline pilot. Career changers often train after hours at local flight schools while they keep their day job. They spend a lot of money fast, and are a flight school CFIs dream student and a revenue mainstay of local schools. Those who quit or take a leave from their regular job often attend airline academies where they spend $50-70k+ to take accelerated programs aimed at employment upon achieving the 250-hour Commercial mark.

    Enter the 1500-hour rule. With the stroke of a pen, Congress has erected a huge barrier to entry for domestic airline pilots.

    No more flex. Career changers are going to disappear. With them will go the flight schools that depend on them for revenue, and the opportunities for the other four CFIs from university programs. A university student with a 1-in-5 chance of CFI employment now has few other chances of becoming an airline pilot without paying for about 1200 hours (at about $100 each). Domestic university flight enrollment, already falling, will decline even faster, making it tougher for new CFIs to build time. The new pilot pipeline is now in very real danger of running dry. In the wake of the 1500-hour requirement, you can almost hear high school students vigorously crossing out pilot as a potential career path, and university flight students eyeing changes in majors.

    What will happen when the pipeline runs dry and airlines cannot find enough pilots? The majors will rob from the regionals, as they always have. The regionals will find that they simply cannot hire enough crews to operate as many flights as they wish. The last time this happened, in 2006 and 2007, Congress changed the retirement rules for pilots from a mandatory maximum of age 60 to a maximum of 65. This delayed, but did not solve, the problem in declining pilot populations. In about two years, pilots will begin falling off the age 65 cliff, just as the new-pilot pipeline begins to run dry.

    With the gestation time for a new pilot now measured in multiple years, pilot shortages will likely have the following consequences:

    1) Fewer flights available, period.
    2) Nearly all flights full.
    3) Replacement crews scarce, so delays caused by weather or maintenance that exceed crew duty rest limitations will result in more cancelled flights.
    4) Fewer options when a flight is canceled, more stranded passengers for longer times.
    5) Pressure on flight crew members to show up to fly, even if they are sick.
    6) The end of standby privileges as an incentive for pilot wanna-bes. They may be nominally available, but practically worthless.
    7) Pressure on airlines to hire marginally qualified pilots as an alternative to none at all, and to get them through training.
    8) Minimum currency training done by airlines because trainees cannot fly the line during training.
    9) More airline pilots coming from the ranks of pilots who have previously dropped out of aviation and may not have flown for years, but who have the requisite hours.
    10) More foreigners hired to fly U.S. airliners, as airlines press Congress for H1 visas.
    11) Much higher average cost of tickets, double or triple, as airlines realize they no longer need to sell seats at a discount.
    12) Airline profits improve as discounting disappears.
    13) The end of discount fare sites like Expedia, Kayak, etc.
    14) Starvation for tourist destinations that depend on cheap air travel.
    15) Business travel far more inconvenient.
    16) Far more electronic meetings.
    17) Lost business for hotels and rental car companies that depend on business travelers.
    18) The end of frequent flyer miles, as airlines easily fill seats with full-fare passengers, and have no incentive to offer discounts.
    19) More highway traffic deaths as higher ticket prices force families onto highways for marathon overnight drives to holiday visits.
    20) An increase in corporate and charter flights as businesses look for alternatives to airline travel.
    21) Increases in the sales of business and personal aircraft.
    22) Further constriction of the airline pilot supply as corporate and charter operators fish upstream for pilots.
    23) Increases in airport congestion as a result of more corporate and charter flights.
    24) Lost sales for airliner manufacturers as lowered overall airline flights demand fewer airplanes.
    25) Reductions in airport noise complaints as training schools close.
    26) Reductions in the sales of new training aircraft as schools close and flood the market with used airplanes.
    27) Much, much laughter from the worldwide aviation community which recognizes 250-300 hours of training as ideal for right-seat airline candidates.
    28) Higher salaries for pilots. Pilot unions ecstatic until union agreements force unionized airlines into the hiring line behind non-union airlines that can raise salaries faster, and union members defect for higher-paying corporate jobs.
    29) Many opportunities for pilots who have achieved the magic 1500-hour mark.
    30) The rich will find airline travel more onerous, and will seek out private aviation with increasing frequency, taking more pilots out of the available supply, further restricting airline operations. The poorer folks trying to get to weddings, funerals, and vacations will be the most impacted.

    Market efficiencies have brought about many of the benefits of deregulated airline travel. With a single rule, this market will be disrupted far out of proportion to the supposed benefits gained. No family of the Colgan Air crash will get their loved ones back, but more families will die on the highway. Airline travel will be less safe as shortages create incentives for hiring less-qualified, less capable pilots, and airlines pressure sick pilots to fly.

    A note about pilot qualifications: many people equate hours with experience. Some truth to that, but not much in this context. Perhaps you have seen the Discovery Channel show about Ice Road Truckers. Consider that experience, for their hiring purposes, is likely to focus on driving trucks, driving in the mountains, and driving on snow and ice. A thousand hours of driving a Mazda Miata around South Florida is not really experience where the Ice Road Truckers are concerned. Airlines have the equivalent flying heavy iron in actual weather, as a flight crew. The strategies that the few remaining pilot aspirants are likely to use will be time building in Light Sport aircraft the aviation equivalent of driving around Florida in a Mazda Miata.

    Will airline travel be safer as a result of this rule? Not likely. How much safer can it get, really? But there sure will be hell to pay in other sectors of our economies, and in the lives of those who take to the highways thanks to our short-sighted rule-makers.

    About me

    Nick Frisch is a Commercial Pilot and 30-year flight instructor who has managed flight schools both local and university, most recently for the Florida Institute of Technology. He has trained hundreds of pilots for airline, corporate, charter, and personal business operations.

  74. The Doc Says:

    In response to Robert T:

    This is a political debate, because the dilemma that we all now face and is being discussed, was caused by partisan politicians! It became that when the members of the Democrat Party decided to kill aviation and thus flight instruction, in this country, for their own selfish political purposes! It is quite easy to see you are another “partisan liberal Democrat”, as you defend those who destroyed the lives and livelihoods of millions of American’s, simply because your one of them! If it were Republican’s who did the “dirty work” would you be as supportive? I think not, but you can bet I would “let the chips fall where they may”! History is what it is and try as you may like, all that I have said is indelibly etched into history!
    My only goal here is to educate, because we have an entire generation of flight instructors/aviators who don’t know the facts and Robert T is one of those. How in the world does anyone expect to remedy the problem if it cannot be identified, because someone insists on being a “politically correct” (lying about it) “partisan politician”? Take my word for it, we must all identify the problem, the causative factors, before a solution can be agreed upon and a remedy achieved! Failure to identify who caused it and render that entity impotent, then any effort to achieve a remedy is useless and cannot be sustained!
    If we all believed the “shallow theory” (the costly AOPA study, by someone not in the business) that it was poor P.R. by flight instructors, that was solely to blame and settle with that, then nothing will be accomplished, because the “real problem” will still be viable and a presiding factor over any remedy.

    Bottom line: It was cheap to fly in the 60’s and 70’s and they came to learn to fly, by the thousands! There was no “government intervention” and so aviation and flight instruction flourished! (This “concept” has always been true throughout history)
    Sure there were some flight instructors who cared more about the hours they were acquiring and they had poor or no P.R. skills, but it still flourished! It was once true of the steel industry in this country and the same “political entity” decided to regulate and tax it into extinction and so it was. The same was once true of the energy industry in this nation. The same political entity decided to regulate and tax it to death and so it was. The same was once true about the liability insurance industry and tort claims, but the same “political entity” took huge bribes from tort lawyers and now 1/3 the cost of an hour of aircraft rental and flight instruction at a flight school is liability insurance coverage and some still believe this isn’t about “partisan politics”?

    I didn’t intend this to be “so focused” on politics, however the “naivet” of some, render that impossible.

    Now you know why aviation fuel is $4.50 a gallon instead of $ .10 (Jet A) and .27 cents (Avgas) as it was in the 60’s and 70’s. You can’t separate politics from this problem, because the “political entity” is the “wolf at the door” of aviation and flight instruction! Ignore that and no remedy can ever be made! Aviators and flight instructors “must” get smart in order to solve this problem and “identification of the culprits” who killed the business, is mandatory!

    PS: I don’t have to read Nader, I knew him! He was an idiot then and his works, while making a good point about the worthlessness of cars G.M. was turning out, didn’t change the fact of what he was…a “leftist dolt”! Now that you’ve “managed” to move the dialog away from the central issue of aviation and flight instruction, I hope you’ll be satisfied.

    PPS: The comments by Nick Frisch have come as close to resolving the problem of flight instructor education, in the area of P.R., as any I have seen. Fail to take care of business (the student customer) and your business is through. I always wanted the student to know what progress they had made that lesson and what was to be expected the next time, before leaving my presence. Letting them know you cared about them, always gave them a reason to come back. I frequently picked up students from other instructors and was told they knew that “they weren’t appreciated by their previous instructor”. I endeavored to never have that said about me.

  75. Tracy Says:

    Mr. Spangler:

    You are absolutely right.I’ve NEVER received a phone call from a CFI nor a flight school owner asking “Hey, we haven’t seen you in a while…is everything ok?” Never. So far in my flight training career I’ve trained at 2 schools who closed down from bad management, lost 3 outstanding CFII’s who changed employment and moved on, fired three CFI’s who were either incompetent,rude, or just could not SHUT UP! In EVERY case, management just didn’t exist and didn’t care. One school – a Part 141 school – had a Chief Pilot that was rarely on site and had an attitude only Attila the Hun would love….no personality and just plain old damn rude. THIS you just do not do to a student that represents $20k of billable revenue!
    Maybe that’s why they are out of business.

    We MUST get these players out of our industry !!! In my experience, economics and Darwin combined to take out two already……

  76. Bobby Says:

    The question here is what is your goal in life? To be an Airline Pilot? If YES than being an instructor is just one way of doing it but not the only way. The problem is this industry like all industries in this country have and will continue to change in this ever changing world.
    I’m sorry but what happened 30-40 years ago WILL NOT happen today and what will happen 30-40 years into the future will not be the same as today. You need to change/adjust to the ever changing economic and socio changes if not you will be one of those companies people never thought would go away…and someone new with the understanding and willing to adjust will take over.
    As for Instructing the problem is not eveyone wants to or should teach (just like an athlete just because you were a great player does not mean you can coach) BUT most were told or brain washed to think that is the only way to go IF looking to become an airline pilot.
    The problem is before most pilots flying in the Airlines now and about to retire came from the military. What did military pilots have over flight instructors when going into an Airline? Better Training?…Turbine Time?? If one did not make it into the military and you still wanted to be a pilot, what could you do? Well get your ratings and either time build as an instructor or fly in some Part 135 or 91 operation and try building hours that way…the hard way. Not many made it all the way in fact very few, if you look back at how many started and ended up getting a job at an airline it was not as positive as one might think compared to military pilots coming out.
    The probelm today which really started back in 2006/2007 is that there are not enough pilots coming out of the military today as before for the simple reason that there are no big wars anymore, large cutbacks, not many leaving early, most are being trained today to fly remote control planes and not many pilots are needed anymore in the military. I would hate to see us start WWIII because we are short of pilots (although I would not put it past our gov’t to start a war because of hard economic times…not like that has never happened before…) However going back all these Vietnam pilots started retiring at 60 some years back and it’s like a vaccum. Most are at majors so when they retire the majors get all the high PIC Captains from the regionals and when they leave from there the FO’s finally upgrade and all of a sudden there were not enough pilots to fill up those F/O positions. Why? Because they are not coming out in numbers like they did before. Why? No big wars anymore (Vietnam, Korean and WWII), military cutbacks. And then some regionals lowered their minimums to 250hrs?? So you are going to take someone driving a VW and put them into an 18 wheeler truck? I’m sorry only 25-35 percent made it. Why? Again what did military pilots have over flight schools pilots? And the gov’t had to get involved and bail them out like they always do and raised the retirement age to 65. Now what is going to happen today because all these pilots are going to retire again. Raise the retirement age to 70?? Lower the minimums to 250hrs??? Since the last great era of hiring (the 70’s) the population not just here but around the world has quadrupled more people are flying today than ever before (and not just the elite) you look at the orders of planes, how the demand of flying has increased (I mean you haven’t seen street traffic decrease have you?) Where are they going to get pilots from? There are not enough!
    Now if you want to be an instructor, that some do want to do which is fine, then instruct we need good intructors out there just like good school teachers BUT if you also want to be an Airline pilot then get into an Airline first and get a Senioity number than instruct (you can ground intrcut or be a sim instructor) but you know what? I think they will be better instructors now that they know what it is to be and what it takes to be a Professional Airline PIlot. It boggles my mind to see some of these young intructors (with Attitude and Cockiness) telling these students, “Well for you to be an Airline Pilot, the Airlines prefer this and this and blah,blah, blah…
    How do you know?!? Have you ever been a Professional Airline Pilot yet!
    Unfortunately the Pilot rumor mill and Flight school rumor mill is worse than a co-ed dormitory and this is a big, Big probelm out there. The reality is IF you want to be an Airline Pilot (which many do not) Go to an Airline career fair and ask the HR and PIlot recruiters (who actually do the hiring at most or all of these Airlines) and ask them what they are looking for. And you will come to find that most are just looking for Good Employees. The hours and experience will get your foot in the door as far as an interview Not a job. This industry is changing and Airlines (which are just corporations looking for a profit like any other industry) are just looking for a good employee and not trouble makers anymore. At the end of the day this is a job like any other job (there are good days and bad days) but a pilot is at least doing something they love to do and geting paid for it. Most people in this country do not have that luxury. It is a Passion not everyone likes to fly in fact in this country of over 300 million very few do and on top of that want to fly for a living (for some it is just a hobby). If you do not like your job then change it. This is the reality of today but the hiring has already started in the Airlines and it is just the tip of the iceberg. I just do not see where they are going to replace all of these pilots retiring the next several years.

    This should not be about politics or paying your dues, or doing it the right way or wrong way or paying for your job…

    What this is about is the reality of this small industry (there are many industries in this country and world…it’s not the only one) and the changes it is going through and one adjusting to it and if your goal in life is to be an Airline Pilot then go for it and pursue your dream. And whatever your goal is; flying for a Major or Regional or Corporate or other… my advice is get to that goal as quickly as you can because the quicker you get there the quicker you get a Seniority number and after that make the right choices when moving from one company to another while pursuing your goal and again don’t waste time.

  77. Robert Mark Says:

    Nicely said Bobby, Tracy and Doc.

    Now Doc, I agree with much of what you’ve said but I still don’t understand how rehashing that the Democrats are part of an axis of aviation evil is going to solve anything. Please accept the fact that we believe you are an aviation business historian. What do we do now?

    Bobby, you mentioned that it’s not like the old days which is true. One thing no one has mentioned is that the G.I. Bill I sued for my flight training in the early 70s no longer exists.

    The government paid 90 % of the cost. Was that a handout … probably. But those of us in the military during Vietnam – many who were regularly being shot at – it seemed like a nice pat on the back or making it home alive.

    Could ex-military – currently untrained pilot wannabees – stimulate the industry. Sure they could if we still had some reward for soldiers. But not while we owe China a bazillion dollars.

    To Tracy’s point … To this day as a freelance instructor I still follow up with people. And I’m amazed at how many are surprised at that fact.

    Sorry folks, but a lot of what’s wrong with this industry – NOT ALL OF COURSE – is that people who run flight schools like airplanes and don’t seem to care a hill of beans about running a business. And as Scott said earlier, employees assume the philosophy of their leaders. Much of what I still see today from those leaders is not good business, not even close.

  78. The Doc Says:

    To Nick Frisch:

    Your knowledge and insight is priceless. You have stated it as succinctly as can be done. You have the experience to know what you’re talking about and the vision to see where it is going. I have seen over time, the actions taken by politicians to “purportedly correct a problem” that only created greater ones. The 1500 hour requirement is just one such example. Unless you have been “keeping score” on this legislation, go to the “Library of Congress” (where I spend hundreds of hours engaged in research and see who it was who “authored” this legislation and those who voted for it in the Congress. It is there you will learn who is responsible for the “execution” of aviation and flight instruction in this country. These people must be stopped, before there is nothing remaining of the profession we have all been engage in. I already know who they are and why they do what they do. For the most part they are “mindless idiots” who “shouldn’t be allowed out without a minder”. Yet here they are, making our laws. It is people like these who must be forced out of office, because like you say, it won’t be long and all aviation this country will be dead, brought to a standstill because of stupidity.
    As professionals engaged in aviation, we can do nothing and watch as our “legacy” goes the way of the DoDo bird or we can be activists, advocating for our industry. The choice is yours. The dilemma can be turned around and a “sound” aviation culture can be returned to America, but the roadblocks (ignorant politicians) must be removed first! This is where AOPA has failed us all! They knew who the problem makers were a long time ago and what they were doing, but they refused to address them, because they didn’t want to alienate anyone. I’m sorry, but when you find a snake you have to kill it before it multiplies and eventually kills everything around you and maybe even you. The decision now rests with those who want to save what is left and “turn it around”. The only other alternative is just so much “empty dialog”.

    The Doc

    PS: The present Secretary of Transportation is not a friend to aviation, he’s part of the problem! The present Administrator of the FAA was an excellent selection (I don’t know how that happened), has all the right qualifications, is a dedicated individual, but is presently wearing a straight jacket, that limits his ability to move the industry. He also has 16 years of “trash” to clean up. I watched for the previous 16 years (1993 2008), while one Administrator after another completely destroyed that agency, because they were inept and completely unqualified to manage it. Turning around the “woes” of aviation and flight instruction won’t be easy nor short term. It will take “bold and decisive management” at the very highest level of government and I’m sorry, but it will be very difficult, if not impossible to accomplish, as they have demonstrated at the top, that really isn’t very high on their agenda. It is then left to industry and individual professionals to do the job.

    PPS: I was shocked and amazed to read the details written by Tracy, regarding his tribulations as a student. That shouldn’t happen to anyone. If this is now “typical”, I’m going to have to reconsider my position on this issue.

  79. Robert T Says:

    Doc If by chance the turkey at your Thanksgiving comes out undercooked please spare your family an explanation that it’s because Jimmy Carter caused an enery crisis that we just could never ever recover from. Happy Thanksgiving

    By the way name calling really reduces the respectability factor

  80. Nick Frisch Says:

    Doc,

    thanks for the kind words. It is heartbreaking to recognize that our once-robust aviation training industry is likely to be an historical curiosity.

    I agree with you that this is a leadership issue. America chooses its leaders, so our malaise has its roots in the education and moral fiber of our citizens. Alas, civics and civility are somewhat lacking.

    We are like spoiled rich kids squandering the legacy of the “greatest generation”. I’m actually encouraged by the depth and length of our economic recession, as it has a way of focusing attention. I’m less amused by how it is being handled, but perhaps that will change.

    With regards to the AOPA, I must rise to the defense of this tactically brilliant organization.

    AOPA has done ever so much to preserve the freedom to fly, keep airports open, derail needless rule-making, and educate both the aviation industry and our regulators. They also publish information about candidates’ positions on aviation. I’m a big fan of the EAA, too. They are the grass roots “freedom to fly” folks, and without them and the AOPA, we’d be like Europe.

    When I discussed this (the 1500-hour rule) with Bruce Landsberg when it was being debated in congress, he was of the mind that there was so much bipartisan support for the bill that there was no way the AOPA could be effective in fighting it. Their hope was to influence the final rule-making to mitigate the more devastating effects. However, based on what I’ve read so far, we’ll have, substantively, a 1500-hour rule.

    My “crystal ball” isn’t perfect, but it doesn’t take a genius to understand what happens to an economic system constrained by a key variable. Folks have been crying “wolf” on pilot shortages for years, and the system has always flexed to mitigate a shortage.

    Now that it cannot flex, I believe the wolf will be at the door. However, I share a home with an aviation training consultant who believes the industry will find solutions to prevent a pilot shortage and once again I’ll have cried wolf needlessly. I hope she’s right. I like cheap tickets.

  81. Tracy Says:

    Doc:
    Thanks for your kind thoughts; every word is unvarnished truth.
    A few details: I am 52 years of age and working – slowly – towards a CFI rating. I truly hope to give to this industry what it desperately needs: responsible flight instruction. My years as a Technical Trainer and a yearning to PURSUE good instruction should make for an instructor who GIVES good instruction.
    Bring an adult, I’m not one to be pushed around like some young adults may get from lousy CFI’s. I have no problem telling an instructor we are not a good fit, or your flight school is lacking in skills & professionalism. I have age, maturity, financial capacity, and tact…..something missing in much of the small town flight school training environment.
    Postscript: I have recently found EXCELLENT flight instruction, both locally and regionally, and I am continuing on my Commercial ticket.

  82. The Doc Says:

    Hi Nick:

    Thanks for your reply. My enmity towards AOPA is limited in its scope. I have long been a member of that organization and have attended many a meeting, workshop and seminar proffered by that organization. Yes, most definitely AOPA has been the pre-eminent organization involved in General Aviation (I’m not denying the contribution of EAA, which has been substantial). However it has always been my view that AOPA did not take nearly a tough a stance toward the Luxury Tax legislation of 1990, that was clearly aimed at buying votes for those who sponsored and brought to fruition, this economically debilitating law, that destroyed the General Aviation Industry, for fear of angering some of their more liberal friends in the Congress. That was what I found to be unacceptable. It didnt take a rocket scientist to see what was afoot when a Democrat controlled Congress (along a completely “party-line vote), imposed an un-Constitutional measure, that anyone could easily see, would emasculate the industry completely, with flight instruction just being acceptable collateral damage.

  83. The Doc Says:

    To Robert T:

    The turkey came out just right…thanks! Regarding name calling: If the shoe fits, wear it! In your case it quite clearly does! Yes, Carters egregious stupidity “created an energy crisis, where none previously existed, that the people of this nation have yet to recover from and again, it is clear “you haven’t a clue” as you are the “quintessential Carter Liberal”, who has an opinion about everything, but doesn’t really know anything!

    Just a word of advice; Do your homework, before you make pronouncement of opinion, it will make you look more intelligent and informed, which I lament to say, is sadly lacking in your persona. Remember, it was you who started this distracting dialog away from the central issue of this blog, because of your leftist partisan political posture and an innate need to defend one of your more liberal heros, who has been a complete failure at everything he has ever endeavored to do!

    PS: How old were you when Carter was busy destroying our nation? Did you ever know him personally? I did, I lament to say.

  84. Robert T Says:

    Doc, You turned this into a political debate when you called me a liberal democrat just because I questioned how one man could ruin the whole economy and aviation with it.

    You are not a historian. A historian gives all the history not just one side. You also jump to conclusions and label people with almost no facts.

    I’m not a liberal democrat, you just think that because I questioned your opinion on Carter. I don’t associate myself with any party.

    I said you didn’t mention how Reagan fired the airtraffic controllers and you went on to explain how that didn’t effect the fall of aviation. Did I say it did, NO, I just said you didn’t mention that he fired them.

    RONALD REAGAN RONALD REAGAN RONALD REAGAN

    You blame the whole failure of the economy on Jimmy Carter but don’t discuss your hero Ronald Reagan at all,so I will educate you.

    Ronald Reagan signed into law TEFRA(tax equity and fiscal responsibility act of 1982) this was the “LARGEST tax increase in American History” as quoted by Ronald Reagan’s own Advisor Bruce Bartlet. TEFRA raised taxes by 37.5 billion per year and also raised the taxes on the gross domestic product by almost 1 percent.

    Even though Reagan signed this largest tax increase in history the National Debt went up from 997 Billion to 2.85 TRILLION. Ronald Reagan described the new debt as the “GREATEST DISAPPOINTMENT” of his presidency.

    Some might say Reagan was anti union because he fired the air traffic controllers but he was president of the screen actors guild and supported the Polish labor union Solidarity in its fight against Soviet domination. I’m stating this because like me just because he does one thing doesn’t mean you can just label him(like in this case anti-union).

    You see Doc there is much more to history than just one person. I’m really too busy to make long explanations on the internet to people like you but for you I made an exception. I love history and could go on forever, but I think even you get the point now.

    Now the last question for you Doc, if as you say the President has so much power that even the congress doesn’t have, then why didn’t Reagan who had two terms and the two Bush men that had together 3 terms make things right after Carter who had just one term?

    I’m glad the turkey turned out just fine, you see we can recover from something that happened 35 years ago(the energy crisis). The Japanese could have just blamed the Emperor for everything, or they got busy and became the biggest producers of cars (Toyota) when the Americans had a 45 year head start. Your friend in politics Robert JUST Robert, not Robert the liberal democrat not that there’s anything wrong with that.

  85. Breezotoo Says:

    I think CFI’s should just say screw it – we believe we should earn $100 an hour.

    Let the rest of the aviation community figure out how to deal with educators that need to be paid.

    We have earned it.

    Don’t accept minimum wage. It screws up the industry!

  86. Robert Says:

    Somebody is out of touch with reality. Anybody noticed how many people are unemployed in this country? That the average wage will soon be quoted in yuan and is going down by the hour?

    This means 1) no customers for high falutin’ CFIs; 2) lots of unemployed CFIs, too, demanding pay but no work. Nobody “earns” anything – you get what the market pays you – and sometimes, regardless of waht you think about yourself, that’s jack s…. Let me tell you about highly qualified people with a lot MORE qualifications than CFIs who are begging for any kind of work these days. Get real.

  87. The Doc Says:

    Give it a rest Robert T:

    Youre as transparent as a pane of glass! I referred to you as a liberal Democrat because you are one, regardless of what you wish to project to others, just as Arlan Specter, who ran as a Republican from Pennsylvania and told everyone he was, when in fact he never was and that was brought to the attention of the entire nation eventually! Thus proving once again: You can fool some of the people some of the time, you can even fool all of the people some of the time, but you cant fool all of the people all of the time! That pretty much says it all about youOnly it has now become obvious that youre a fool all of the time! As the Ausies say it: Bugger off!
    Like all liberals, you can lie about it, but like the Zebra, you cannot change your stripes, no matter how you would like to! You are also an unbelievably ignorant jerk and do not belong is such a forum, as you have nothing to contribute to it! I simply cited the facts and you “took it political” from there! You went way overboard to defend Carter, who did singlehandedly destroy the aviation industry in this country! Thats not an opinionits factread some history and find the facts, that is if you can keep your abject laziness under control long enough! You have absolutely no knowledge to back up your assertions. Moreover, you state Reagan gave America its highest increase in taxation ever. That is patently untrue, as that dubious distinction belongs to William Jefferson Clinton, in August 1993! The very fact that you place this onerous title on Reagan is proof positive that your are indeed a liberal Democrat, as that group of reprehensible individuals are the only people in this nation, who maintain that position! You would not have uttered that lie, if you were not one of them! However, Reagan was required to raise taxes, which he was adamantly opposed to, because the country had been bankrupted by the previous Administration and the Democrats who controlled Congress! I am also quite certain you cannot tell me precisely what brought about the aforementioned tax increase, as you simply are too ignorant to know it. Yet more proof of you liberalism! Furthermore, you don’t know it, because it is abundantly clear you weren’t there and didn’t live through that period in history, as an adult engaged in government…I was! And finally, responding to your last distraction from the issue at hand: The controllers were fired because they violated the law! They had all signed a contract with their employer (The Federal Government) when they were hired and they violated that contract and were called to “pay the price” for their “illegal indiscretion”.

  88. Robert Mark Says:

    Doc … you are treading dangerously close to censure on this forum.

    While I honestly don’t see any point to focus on liberal Democrat, conservative Republican or stupid politician of any of those stripes, name calling serves no one’s purposes here.

    You’ve made some valuable contributions to this discussion, but if the best you can muster is calling Robert silly names, then perhaps you’re the one who has nothing else to contribute.

    Rob Mark, Editor

  89. Robert T Says:

    This is for DOC. It’s history time and this time it will be on your much loved Civil Aeronotics Board (CAB).

    You blame Carter for the ending of the CAB. Yes it is true that he signed it into law but the ending of the CAB started in the Nixon Administratioon.

    During the Nixon Admin the Council of Economic Advisors and the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice and other agencies proposed laws which would diminish collusion in the transport markets.

    During the Ford Admin the United States Senate Judiciary Committee which has jurisdiction over antitrust laws started hearings on airline deregulation.

    It was time for the CAB to go, just big government wasting tax dollars and not producing. I thought people that love Reagan would love less government.

    World Airways tried to get a low fair route from NYC to LA in 1967. The CAB studied the request for 6 years and then it dismissed the record as it was “stale.” Continental Airlines waited 8 years to get a route. They got the route only after the United States Court of Appeals ordered the CAB to approve it.

    Deregulation lowered prices a lot for many and raised the price on a few routes. It was good for most of the flying public and hard on the airlines. It is free enterprise. Remember Reagan was against Communism, you know where the Government controls everything. The market place rules the pricing and that makes it competive, it’s not a free ride for the airlines anymore. Many CEO’s seem to still get a decent wage and the Republicans are doing all they can to help them not have to pay taxes on it so that money can tricle down to us. Great idea if your a CEO.

    Doc you seem so interested in my age like that makes any difference. A person can know about history even if he didn’t live in that time period. I was born in 1964. You are not an historian, I’ve never read or heard any historian call someone an idiot like you did Ralph Nader. He was far from an idiot. My next two posts will try to educate you about Nader and Carter next.

    I just can’t believe more readers didn’t question your one sided posts that claimed to be history(the whole picture). Very few made brief facts that faulted some of your points.

    Please respond only if you use nice words and don’t name call. Robert T

  90. Jay Says:

    While true that it’s hard to discuss aviation or anything else without bringing up politics, I think we have a classic example here of how the American people have been duped when it comes to Democrats and Republicans. If you only have two options in politics and both are controlled by the same New World Order people at the top who pay them off and tell them what to do, or threaten them as the case may be, then you will always have the American people fighting amongst themselves about which party caused all the problems and thus the real culprits will continue to laugh while America plays the blame game and falls into the abyss. Yes, it’s true that in modern times Democrats have been associated with liberalism, tax and spend socialism and a welfare state while Republicans have held themselves up as conservatives who hold to traditional values. But the fact is that both are leftist in nature and the only difference is that the Republicans are just like the democrats, only the Republicans lie about it in order to keep some resemblance of traditional values voters in the dark to put them back in office when the voters have had enough of real thing socialism from the Democrats. Until America figures out that it is being played in the blame game for someone else’s advantage and to the same ends in a 2 party system, nothing will get fixed.

  91. Robert T Says:

    Jay, I totally agree with you. I’m glad someone else sees what is really happening. We really need a successful third party. Thanks for speaking up. I only wish all the American people could read your post. Spread the word Jay. Robert T

  92. The Doc Says:

    Robert T:

    Youre an absolute idiot, just like your beloved Nader! Nader was clearly born an idiot like yourself! He was a looser, like Carter, his entire life and the fact that you were stupid enough to vote for him is prima facie evidence that you are a Carter, Clinton, Obama liberal! That is why you chose to attack me, for simply reciting history, long established in the history books of this nation, rather than contribute something meaningful to the dialog here! You have contributed nothing. You are an imposter and only seek to distract from the worthwhile dialog here. Everyone else has contributed a story of why they quit flight training, saw as a reason for its decline or provided insights or history. You on the other hand have provided nothing! Your shallow (in-your face evidence of liberalism) story of a friend, who was upset and left his flight instructor, because his instructor would not share a stick of gum with him, belies his shallowness and you are most certainly cut from the same cloth! How immature and shallow!

    In-so-far as the CAB is concerned, you havent a clue! Your subterfuge as it relates to the CAB and the Nixon and Ford Administrations is concerned, is absurd! Youre an absolute idiot (like your friend Nader). Proposing legislation or rules changes has occurred hundreds of thousands of times since its inception and have been proffered into law, without coming to fruition. But you wouldnt know that, because you havent studied it! You know nothing of history or historians! Yes, historians do recognize idiots and frequently call them out! Imposters and detractors, like yourself, have no place in the debate, as your only purpose and motive is to distract, undermine and move the dialog away from the central issue, just as you have done here! It is quite clear that you are a rabid liberal of the Move-On.Org type. Ive just re-read all of the posts and you have provided nothing but division, distraction and enmity to the conversation! Get out!

    So far as the CAB is concerned, you havent a clue, only rumors that have been passed down to you by your liberal mentors! You really dont know a thing! Since you dont contribute anything to this venue, do the world a favor and get lost! Your mission of division and distraction is completed and your asinine comments are not appreciated!

  93. Nick Fritsch Says:

    Gentlemen,

    It is with regret that I withdraw from this discussion. For a time, I’d entertained some hope that a discussion of the plight of flight instruction and instructors would bear some valuable fruit.

    It is disheartening to me that our discussion has evolved into what seems to be more of an exercise in blame fixing and finger pointing than in civil discussion aimed at working together to solve problems.

    Regardless of whom I agree with, I don’t particularly care to be associated with, or drawn into, discussions that serve to further divide us as aviation professionals, and weaken us as a coalition that might be of some benefit to our industry.

    We cannot change the past. We can influence the future. For my part, I hope to use whatever remaining years I’m given to heal rifts, teach civility, build futures for aspiring aviation professionals, and leave a legacy of positive contribution.

    This discussion, when it remained focused on dealing with the issues of CFI’s, was generating some positive information and interest. My judgment is that we have strayed from our original course into the briar thicket of interpersonal venom.

    I enjoy aviation because it draws people with fine minds from many persuasions and viewpoints. I find delight in those who disagree with me, because they challenge me to examine what I believe. Even when we don’t agree, I try to honor those who enter into the fray with positive intentions.

    It doesn’t really cost anything to treat others with respect. The price of failing to do so is the diminishing influence we might otherwise have.

    It was fun for a while, engaging with you guys in discussions about the aviation industry. That fun is gone for me, so I’ll be signing off.

  94. Robert Mark Says:

    All:

    I am sorry to have watched the discussion disintegrate to the current place it now holds. As the moderator though, I bear a considerable amount of the responsibility for that, not just Doc.

    I am, after all, the person who hit the approve button each time. I thought it might finally work itself out after my first warning, but Doc does not seem to be the kind of fellow who does a great deal of listening.

    For that again folks, I am truly sorry

    You are correct though Nick. When any discussion descends to a point where someone is more concerned about assigning blame or making sure everyone else knows how right they are and how wrong everyone else is, there is no real discussion.

    There were certainly some shining moments to this discussion, and hopefully some thoughts that all can take away for the future.

    So Doc, I hope you’re happy and that you are impressed with how well you shut down the communications. I’m sure my booting you out of the forum will probably gain a title for me something akin to a “Fascist” at very least.

    What’s really scary though is that the people who pull this kind of thing on the rest of us – alienating people all along the way – as they promote their rightist agenda, never seem to understand why people move away and stop listening.

    We’ll have another discussion again soon I’m sure.

    But Doc, I will no longer approve anything from you unless you can make a point without name calling.

    Most of us learned in grade school that doesn’t work.

    You must have missed those years.

    Rob Mark, Editor

  95. Robert T Says:

    The novelty was wearing off on me too. Rob, you didn’t do anything wrong. That’s sometimes the price of free speech. So lets just turn it back to CFI’s.

    I almost quit when getting my private until my third instructor made the flight lesson low key and easy, but most of all fun. The price for learning in our area is about 200 hundred dollars an hour for plane and instructor. If it’s not fun, people probably aren’t going to put out that kind of money unless they are trying to make it a career.

    Now if I quit, then my friend probably would have quit too if I wasn’t there to help him with his problems. If we lose just one student it could cause us to lose others down the road. Once again I will say the AOPA mentor program is a good start to helping students achieve their certificate.

    My instructor told me when he was at a big flight school that most students drop out during their cross country flying because the instructor environment starts to disapate. A student really needs the encouragement when he starts to fly on his own. Just calling a student after the flight and talking about it could help him stay focused.

    That same instructor told me a joke, how do you know someone is a pilot He will tell you he’s a pilot.

  96. Rob Mark Says:

    I still believe as you Robert, that the sense of community to a new pilot is critcal for success. But it’s only one element of the puzzle.

    Time will tell if AOPA is successful, but as you rightly pointed out, if even half of us here could keep just one extra pilot in the system, we’d have made a significant contribution.

    It’s easy to bitch about what others are or are not doing. AS AOPA and EAA well know however, actually making that change sink in to the culture is something else entiirely.

  97. Daniel Says:

    On Sunday the wind was 9 gusting 16 at 90 degrees to the runway. That’s a lot of crosswind for light taildragger like the Decathlon. After five landings my student, who was breathing hard, asked: “This is fun! Can we do some more of this?” My reply was: “Where do I get more students like you?”

    The point is that people who are determined to get their pilot’s license will, even if they have a bad instructor. Good students figure a way around all obstacles, including bad instructors.

    Back when I wanted to get started, I just could not afford $8/hour for plane plus instructor. I figured I could not fly more than one hour every two weeks, so I bided my time, saved my money and eventually earned my license. I knew what I wanted to do and too little money was just an obstacle to overcome. (I was fortunate to have really good instructors, by the way, though I did go interview and fly with several before I settled on the one I wanted.) Now I have over 4,000 hours and I see no end in sight.

    If you want to find a fault in the instruction given by individuals–and there is a lot of poor instruction going on–you have to deal with the individuals and how they train. If you want to find fault with instructing as an organization you have to blame those things we share in common: training standards set by the FAA and the culture our students come out of. If the problem was just poor instruction there would be instructors out there that never had a student quit or transfer away. The real problem is in not being able to judge who is determined to get their license and who is not.

  98. Tracy Says:

    Daniel:

    I enjoyed your post until the last 2 sentences. Students quit or transfer away for many reasons other than poor instruction: a bad personality fit (different than poor instruction), scheduling conflicts, instructors who quit or move on….there are many reasons. I believe we see a high dropout rate when students get poor instruction when they feel THEY have failed, not the instructor….so why bother pursing another instructor? It’s not about sheer determination, it’s a highly trained and respected certificated instructor beating the desire out of a student with lousy instruction. As I mentioned in earlier posts, I’m a bit older than most CFI’s so I really don’t have to accept any shortcomings from younger instructors,however,I’m no bully but I know good instruction when I’m getting it…and when I’m not. The ‘nots’ don’t get my money. Period.
    I’m guessing your view is validated because you don’t see poor instructors wreaking havoc in our industry. You’re good and you know good instructors. Unfortunately, you’re in the minority. I’d study with you in a minute. Come to think of it, I could use a tailwheel endorsement……..

  99. Robert T Says:

    I would like to tell about my flight instruction and get comments on my experience.

    I had three CFIs, We will call them Dare Devil(1st instructor), Miss Perfect(2nd instructor), and Mike(Final instructor).

    One lesson the winds were blowing so hard that when Mike(ten times more experienced than Dare Devil) returned from a flight with a student, he said I only do one landing a day in weather like that, I’m done for the day. This is when Dare Devil said lets go. I was nervous and Dare Devil critized my landings in that wind. That was the last lesson with him. My friend used this same instructor. Dare Devil asked my friend if he wanted to try practicing an engine failure after take off and then do the most of the time impossible turn. I’m not talking at three thousand, how about 6-7 hundred. My friend said I’ll pass on that manuever and then passed on him as an instructor too.

    Then I had Miss Perfect. She just passed her ATP cert and it seemed as if she was holding me to the same standard. I finally performed a good landing and I thought she would say that was nice, instead she said oh Robert what happened. I said what, she said your not on the center line. I tell you from that point I always had my nose wheel on the center line, at least I got that much out of her. She was beautiful which gave one positive to the small interior of a 172 but I would go broke trying to get my private if I stayed with her.

    At this point I had MANY lessons and was still doing slow flight, stalls, and turns and trying to land consistantly well. I didn’t feel good about my progress. I thought I will try the most experienced instructor that most others used or call it quits.

    One lesson, yes one lesson I was landing consistantly well. After that he said you better get your medical your ready to solo, this after I was ready to quit. He checked my stalls,slow flight, and turns and said that’s fine. A few lessons later he said your ready for the cross country. He talked a lot about other things than just flight instruction in the cockpit, like the history of things we were flying over or different things to look at. He put me at ease because I didn’t feel like if I made one little error he would hammer me, he was too busy looking outside. I remember once on final he opens the window and yells hello to some people walking on a walking path just befor the runway, he was a lot of fun. He was friendly to everyone even if you weren’t paying him for a lesson. There were a lot of big heads around that flight school, he had the most experience and students and you would have never have known it. I will say he was a good personality fit which was big. He was 10 dollars more an hour than the others but I saved a ton of money with him.

    When the check ride was approaching he started tighting up on the altitudes and turns. By then I had so much confidence it was no big deal. One time I heard he was flying back seat with a new instructor and student. The new instructor was giving instruction every minute to no end. Mike said would you shut up and let her just fly the plane. Like the cliche goes your private is your license to learn. Maybe Mike didn’t have my flying skills to ATP standard but he definetly got my decision making to that level. Mike was really concervative and that rubbed off on me. The biggest compliment he gave me was at the end of my training. He said I think your going to have a long uneventful time flying.

    I bought him a nice model plane with an engraved plaque with some of the reasons making him a great instructor. He looked really proud to receive that just like the great item I received from him, my private certificate.

    Teach to private standards, build confidence, and have fun. It worked for me.

    Good comments Daniel and Tracy. Your right Rob Mark changing the culture is the hardest part. Knowing what to change is easy.

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