A Budding CFI, a New Writer

By Robert Mark on November 2nd, 2011

Editor Note: At least a couple of times each week, someone sends an unsolicited story trying to convince us to publish it. More often than not, the material simply doesn’t fit. It’s either too long, too sales focused or – as happened today in fact – completely inappropriate ( they wanted us to run a story about dental hygiene).

When I first heard from today’s author – Travis Bedwell – he didn’t try to suggest I publish anything actually. He merely wanted to know how I got started as a writer. Clever guy this Travis.

My break as a writer, in fact, came from a guy many of you might never have heard of,  former Flying Magazine senior editor Gordon Baxter.

During the course of a couple of e-mails with Travis, I realized he was a passionate aviator (training for his CFI at Southern Illinois University) with some solid reasoning behind his current flying options. But I also noticed he possessed a talent for putting words together. In the end I asked him to offer Jetwhine readers a few insights into the world of learning to fly from the right seat.

Without further ado, may I present Travis Bedwell, a young man I hope we’ll hear more from over the next few years.

Rob Mark, publisher


Left rudder, left rudder” says my flight instructor as I manage to touch our Cutlass down on the right main wheel first (Note to self: next time touch down on both mains at the same time for a smooth landing).

It doesn’t seem that flying in the right seat should be any different than the left, despite the fact that those instruments that I’ve been staring at for my entire flying career are gone. However, acquiring the skills and traits required to be a certificated flight instructor is the greatest challenge that I have encountered in my flight training.

I chose to pursue CFI training because I want to share my love of flying with others. Some of my colleagues are bypassing the flight instructor route and obtaining more multi engine time hoping to go to a regional carrier. I love flying twins, but that time and place will come later for me. I want to instruct not only to share my passion of aviation, but to become a better pilot as well.

Like any other flight rating, I have ground and flight lessons. The majority of my ground time consists of me teaching for an hour and a half with a thirty-minute debrief; it’s a brutal 90 minutes. Trying to explain topics, such as aerodynamics and weather theory, give a new meaning to migraines. To add to the challenge, my instructor makes me explain the same topic using a variety of methods and visual aids before moving on. Although I shoot him a dirty look, I know that his reasoning is solid.

No two students will ever be the same. In the near future I may have a physics professor or a weatherman for a student, but then again I could have someone that knew less than I did when I started. Practice doesn’t make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect.

The flying portion of my training is definitely my favorite.

Teaching my instructor private pilot and commercial maneuvers is such a rush. It is a challenge to perform the maneuvers up to practical test standards (PTS) while explaining exactly what I’m using as a reference outside and how I’m manipulating the aircraft. Lately, I’ve had to start bringing a water bottle on my flights because I’ve been talking so much I lose my voice. My instructor says this is a good thing.

While my final lessons are getting harder and more intense to get me ready for the checkride, the biggest thing is to still have fun. So on my next flight I’ll keep up the positive attitude and remember to give more left rudder.


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13 Responses to “A Budding CFI, a New Writer”

  1. I'm published! - Airline Pilot Central Forums Says:

    […] I'm published! I can't believe it! A Budding CFI, a New Writer – Jetwhine: Aviation Buzz and Bold Opinion […]

  2. Bill Cartwright Says:

    An excellent commentary of what it is like to “transition” to the right seat. It reminds me of when I was training for my CFI rating (early ’80s!).
    I look forward to more of your posts as it brings back fond memories of my training!

  3. Victoria Says:

    Thanks for sharing! This gives me a good idea what to expect when I go for my CFI!

  4. Piper Mama Says:

    Great post! I know what you mean Travis.

    I’m not a CFI, but studied dance for years. I really learned the most thru teaching others.


  5. Motorcyclist Says:

    Well, that was a nice story, but I really wanted to know how to get started in dental hygiene…. (ducks)

  6. Rob Stapleton Says:

    Great post and one that will give both the new and well seasoned CFIs yet another memory to recount. Keep the posts coming for those of us new CFIs to look forward to.

  7. Garry Wing Says:

    Good luck with getting your CFI license Travis, and enjoy the journey. You seem to have the right attitude (don’t forget; this is supposed to be FUN!). The real challenge begins when you have to teach real students (some know nothing; others think they already know everything.) My best advice: Clamp a Contour or GoPro video camera on the back seat and record all flight lessons. YOU will learn enormously from critiquing your instruction, and the student learns more watching the video from the comfort of their home (90% goes over their head in the airplane).

  8. William R (Bill) Brand Says:

    Travis, you have embarked on a fascinating journey. I’m an alumni of SIU (1975). Although, I had all of my flight ratings and four years in the military as a mechanic and load master flying in and out of Viet Nam, I got my A & P at SIU and stayed for a degree in Occupational Education (Aviation). After retiring from United Airlines, I got an add-on instructor rating for gliders. It was one of the toughest things that I ever did, and it took more than one try (DuPage FSDO). After several seminars with instructors and Designated Flight Examiners (DPEs), I learned that the number one reason that instructors fail their checkrides is that they simply lack instructional experience (think oral). Instructor trainees need to have ample opportunity both in the classroom and the airplane to provide an instructional experience to a student.

  9. Travis B. Says:

    Thanks everybody for your support! It’s comforting to know that there are so many people out there on a similar journey to mine. I’ve been finding that learning how to teach is just about as difficult as learning to fly. Your encouraging words ensure me that after all of the hard work, teaching is a truly rewarding experience.

    I appreciate all of the feedback, and I can guarantee that it will be put to good use. In addition to my FAA, Jeppesen, and AOPA publications, I think I may have to add a GoPro video camera to my bag of tricks as a flight instructor.

    Becoming a Flight Instructor marks a new chapter in my life. The fact that I was given the opportunity to write about my experiences makes it even more special. I am excited to see what the future holds, not only for us pilots, but for the entire aviation industry as well.

    Thanks again!

  10. Charles Lloyd Says:

    As a Commercial Pilot I knew how to perform the manuvers. Now you are on a course to understand in intimate detail all the intricacies of the how to perform and explain what you already know how to do.

    However, as a student CFI years ago, I realized I had to think 10 seconds ahead of the maneuver to get the words out 5 seconds ahead of the action so the student (instructor) in the right seat sees and understands all of this coming together at the proper time and not after the fact.

    You are on a fascinating journey to be a aviation student for the rest of your aviation career. Don’t give up the passion you now have.

    Right or left seat eventually will not be an issue. No matter where you sit you will have one of the best seats on board any aircraft.

    Fly Safe,

  11. Charles Lloyd Says:

    Opps,previous post referenced the wrong seat, which should state “Left Seat.”

  12. R. Doug Wicker Says:

    Nicely done, Travis. You have a real talent for this sort of thing.

  13. what is needed to be a pilot Says:

    Great post Travis. You not only have a passion for flying and teaching, but seem to have one for writing as well. Will be looking forward to your next post.

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