Learning to fly is a life-changing experience. Not only is flying fun, but it’s also enriching opportunity that can lead to many rewarding travel and career possibilities. And when it comes to flight training, there are many paths to choose from. Whether you’re a beginning pilot or looking to earn a new rating or endorsement, one of the most important decisions to make is choosing a flight instructor. While all flight instructors must be certified by the FAA, each instructor will differ in his or her training style, personality, and area of expertise. Here are a few things to consider when selecting a flight instructor.
Meet with multiple instructors
There’s no need to settle on the first instructor you meet if they aren’t a good fit. Take your time to look for an instructor, whether you go through a flight school or look for an independent CFI. There are a number of online directories you can use to locate CFIs near you, including AOPA’s flight school finder and the SAFE (Society of Aviation and Flight Educators) database. Once you’ve tracked down a few potential instructors, contact them to schedule an introductory meeting. This will give you a chance to get to know them and determine if your personalities match well. Remember, you’ll be spending a great deal of time in close quarters with this person. Your lessons will be much more enjoyable if you get along with your instructor!
Ask plenty of questions
Your first meeting with a CFI, whether on the phone or in-person, is an opportunity to ask questions and talk about your goals. Find out more about the instructor’s background and credentials, and make sure you feel comfortable with his or her training philosophy. For example, some instructors prefer to teach in a classroom setting before taking students up in the air. Others believe students should gain hands-on flight experience right away and learn as they are flying. It’s also important to ask about the instructor’s schedule and availability. You don’t want to have to delay lessons just because your schedules don’t align.
Do your research
Once you’ve found a potential instructor, ask if they can provide you with a list of references and follow up with their past students. Do their former students speak highly of them? How many of their students started and completed their training? Positive reviews from former students are a strong indication of a quality instructor.
Schedule an introductory flight lesson
Once you’ve narrowed your list to a few potential instructors, ask to schedule a short, introductory lesson. This way you can observe the instructor’s teaching style first-hand before you fully commit.
A good instructor will make flight training fun yet challenging as they guide you to meet your goals and become a better pilot. If for some reason a particular instructor isn’t the best fit for you, don’t be afraid to switch. Trust your instincts, and you’re bound to have a positive, enriching experience.