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Freelance CFI's Step Inside

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Moving on up - someday
Mar 3, 2003
I left my flight instruciting job almost 9 months ago since I wasn't able to put food on the table for my family. Since then, I have been able to make it by the skin of my teeth. Then I got downsized and now I am back to not being able to put food on the table, and to make it worse, I am not putting food on the table and not flying.

I am going to be getting current soon due to a BFR and CFI renewal. What I would like to do it start freelancing. I have been running some ideas through my head on how to get my name out there and who my target customers would be. The easiest way would be to throw some flyers up on community boards at the local FBOs in the area (Chicago) and target pilots that own their own airplanes.

What I am looking for is some advice from those of you that have been freelancing and have made some progress with it. I am prepared to cover my arse with insurance and go the extra mile to get my self off the ground again and any help you guys can provide is greatly appreciated.

nowakowski21 @ gmail.com

I found my 1 and a half years of freelancing to be the most fun I've had in aviation so far. I was my own boss, made my schedule, and flew a large variety of airplanes. The downside was that in order to make decent money I drove at least five hundred miles a week to several airports within a two hour drive from my house. Just schedule three to four students back to back or three to four hour blocks with one student and charge for ground instruction.

Go to different FBO's and put up flyers. Advertise in the business part of successful weekly newspapers. Talk to DPE's, they can throw you some BFR's, IPC's, and other stuff. Offer specials for birthdays, do city tours, be creative. Talk to lineguys to see who owns what and leave business cards everywhere.

Good luck and enjoy being your own boss.
I see SR-20/22 in your profile.

I know a couple of instructors that manage an SR-20/22 (independantly) and teach a group of professionals to fly it. From what I gather, they charge a premium for their service as instructor (60/70 per hour) and pick up a management fee for arranging maintenance, hangaring etc. Who knows where it could lead to in the future?

I would do/have done this if I really knew how to.
NoPax said:
I see SR-20/22 in your profile.
Let's broaden that good answer.

There are a number of aircraft out there for which the number of available CFIs are limited. The pilots of those aircraft like to have a CFI who knows them available for flight reviews and proficiency training. In some cases, the Cirrus is one, there may be insurance requirements for periodic flight reviews (some annually) with pilots who are "certified" for the type.

Offering something that others don't to the proper target market is always a good idea.
Wander around the T-hangers at your airport and introduce yourself to everyone you meet. Pick a good day and you should find lots of people to talk to and probably will pick up a few students. BFRs at least. It will start getting your name out there.
Ralgha said:
Wander around the T-hangers at your airport and introduce yourself to everyone you meet.

I would love to do that but you need a key card to get anywhere near the hangers and walk around.

I hung a flyer on the FBO's community board, and the next day I get a phone call from the airport's only flight school manager. He says: "I saw your flyer and I wanted to call and wish you luck on you endeavor. By the way, as a head's up, the village has a minimum standard policy that you need to adhere to if you don't want to end up in trouble." I genuinely thought he was being nice and attempting to forge a relationship with me. I head over to the village's website and pull the minimum standards PDF and quickly realize this guy was rubbing my face in the fact that I could not work out of there if I tried.

The flight instruction section of the PDF reads this:

Any person desiring to conduct flight training shall provide the following as
a minimum:

1) Three (3) persons properly certified by FAA as flight instructors to
cover the types of training offered. Both ground and flight school
must be approved under the appropriate Federal Aviation

2) The lessee shall own or lease (under a written lease) six (6) properly
certified aircraft equipped for flight instruction.

3) Paved aircraft parking area and/or hangar sufficient for the storage
of aircraft used for the operation.

4) Adequate space for offices, classrooms, briefing room, pilot lounge,
and public restrooms.

5) Hours of operation shall be ten (10) hours a day, six (6) days a

6) Working capital of $25,000, not including equipment, parts and

This seems to be commonplace around the local airports around here.

How does anyone make any money flight instructing if this is what coporate back scratching gets you?
free lance tax write-offs

If your "office" is at home and you drive to several "sites" you can write off gas, mileage, etc... Keep a vehicle log in your glove box. Writing off the "home office" is a little more stringent--CONTACT AN ACCOUNTANT!

blue skies
If you are thinking about Palwaukee then I dont know that flyers would work, neither Signature nor North American Jet will allow you to do this.

At Dupage The Flight Center will not allow you to do this.

AT Waukegean DB will not allow you to do this.

Your best bet is get a line service job at Palwaukee and make business cards, hand them out to all of the guys whos airplanes you will be moving around the hangers, this is how I got a bunch of flight time. If you need a job as a line guy at PWK just shoot me a PM and I will be happy to hook you up MN.

Most small airports try to protect the local boys. Sometimes you will have to be sneaky and brave. Many times I was pursued by airport managers a business owners and would have to switch airports for a while. I owned a Cessna 150 and lived in the back of my Toyota Tacoma. I would park the Tacoma under the wing of my Cessna and charge about 20/hr less than the local schools. I had no insurance and would do ground school at students homes. As a tip sometimes my students would let me shower and shave and would feed me lunch. I had a few students that would hire me for an entire week or two so I would fly out to their home airport and would live in thier laundry room while we worked on their rating.

Try direct mailings by looking up the names of flight students on Landings.com.


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