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freelance instructing

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stranger to the ground
Dec 3, 2001
hi cfi's i am getting ready for my cfi ride soon ,

i just need some pointers from you guys for recruiting students,

my situation right now wont let me teach full time , college , job etc

and also how much does it cost to get insurance ?

any extra information is welcome , thanks in advance.
Student recruiting

Here are some ideas that are somewhat tried and true:

(1) Get some business cards printed. Hand them to EVERYONE. Post them on FBOs bulletin boards. Make nice to the person at the front desk and ask if you can set up a display with your business cards. You need one of those little plastic business card display stands that you should be able to get from the printer or an office supply outlet.

(2) Just tell people you are a new flight instructor and are looking for students.

(3) This actually should have been (1). Tell the FBO at which you're training that you want a job. Take a non-flying part-time FBO job. The idea is to get noticed.

(4) Attend pilot meetings of various kinds. Meet people. Go to static displays at airports. That's how I found my instructor.

(5) Attend FAA WINGS Seminars. Pilots need one hour of basic airwork, one hour of takeoffs and landings, and one hour of instruments to earn their WINGS. My instructor got a lot of business that way. Moreover, it won't hurt you or any pilot to attend a WINGS seminar.

(6) I'll mention this one just because it comes to mind. Place an ad for services in the local classified. Results are usually disappointing. For that matter, scan the Help Wanted section of the classified.

(7) www.avemco.com or AOPA for insurance. MAKE SURE that the policy you purchase includes professional liability coverage as well as hull and property damage. You will likely need two policies. The professional liability clause should, without fail, provide you with a legal defense.

The point is you must do quite a bit of marketing to get students. As you build a reputation for being a good instructor, you'll get lots of word-of-mouth business.

Hope these ideas help. Good luck with your practical.
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The are a couple of ways to recruit students. The first is to put your business card at every airport in the area. There are usually a couple places at every airport, terminal, restaurant, FBO, where you can place your cards. Also, you can put up flyers at the the local colleges, the best kind I've seen is the full page ads with tear off numbers. Lastly, if you have a big expensive school in your area like FlightSaftey, you might try putting flyers on the cars parked there. I've had a few flyers on my car recently from freelancers.

Another part of recruiting is to be at all the aviation related events in your area. Try to meet as many people as possible and give out your cards. Wings meetings are great, since many of the people there will be doing some dual soon. Other things you might want to look into are Angel Flight and your local EAA chapter. Also, if your university has some type of flying club I'd get into that.

The most important recruiting tip is to always give the very best service you can. Most people that succeed at freelancing get many new customers by word of mouth. Always act professional, and always give your current students some cards and let them know your always on the look out for new students. If they think your a great instructor your current students will gladly recommend you to their friends.

There are two types of insurance you'll need, airframe and liability. Airframe insurance will come with the aircraft your flying. If if's the FBO's airplane, they should be providing the insurance on it. However, some policies allow the FBO's insurance compnay to pay the FBO for the damage, then come after you for the money. Make sure your considered “named” on the policy. If your flying a customer's aircraft make sure that CFIs are considered “named” on the policy, or have the owner call the insurance company and get your named on the policy. Even though the owner will be protected if the airplane is wrecked, you want to make sure the insurance company doesn't come after you later. Liability insurance is something that I would buy from AOPA or NAFI. Aircraft insurance policies have liability, however, you'll also want to have some generally liability insurance. For example, six months after one of your students had a private checkride they crash and sue you. You'll need some general liability coverage, the aircraft's coverage won't help you. The whole insurance thing is pretty complicated, I suggest reading all the insurance articles on avweb.com, especially this one.


In any case, good luck. Freelancing instructing is difficult, and it will take some time to get the ball rolling. However, you get to be your own boss, and typically make more money then other instructors.
My suggestion is more down the road. Go to local community college's, High School's and Adult Education programs. Offer to do a ground school for the summer session (or whatever is the next session).

I know 2 people, 1 in NY and 1 in PA who did this. The lady in PA did not even have her CFI (had a BGI) and taught 2 days a week at the local community college, when she finally got the CFI she already had 1/2 of the class lined up.

The guy in NY did the evening adult education gig, he ended up with 8 students from his class.

Not all area's have programs like this, but those who do will consider a class.

I agree with all the others on insurance, my only .02 is to shop around, AVEMCO tends to be cheaper than the others. Although I vaugely remember some wierd cap they had on either the type of equipment or HP.

Freelancing I agree is difficult, but it can be rewarding not only in $$$ but in some of the relationships that will be born from it. I have several close and dear friends that came from freelancing and with that came opportunities that I do not think I would of gotten if I was a flight school instructor.

Best of luck...
My suggestions are to first go to the busiest training field in your area, if not in your state to recruit students. You will possibly get a few students at the small fields, but a lot of student pilots start with a reccomendation from a friend or family member as to where to go. That recommendation usually is to a place where there are a lot of students and a lot of traffic. In my case it was Addison in Dallas, definately one of the biggest training airports in the north Texas area. I even believe it was ranked as the busiest single runway airport in the nation for awhile.

My second suggestion is to hook up with a school or FBO who only takes on Freelance instructors. The benefits of this are, one they expect no money from you so you keep everything you make. Two, they will have many recurring student activities as their previous students reccommend them to you.

A third and really important suggestion is to find a school that will offer more than just the plain jane aircraft. Everyone has 150's, 172's, 172 RG's and so forth. The place i freelanced had 2 172's, 1 182 and 1 172 RG to match the others, but then they had 1 Commander 114, 1 Twin Commanche, 1 Mooney, 1 Bonanza and 3 Barron's of which one was a 58 Foxstar conversion. We brought in a lot of traffic from the other schools when their students found out that we had a much better aircraft selection for training.

Needless to say, with the above things all happening where i had instructed, we had plenty of incoming traffic, and none of our instructors had to advertise themselves outside of the place we instructed. It was nice having all of the students walk in to find us, and if you were there that day they became your student. I know that does not happen often, but if you look hard enough you will find a place, just don't settle for less unless you think you deserve it.
,you might run into problems with the FBO only letting "their" instructors etc instruct in theit planes. Even though I was covered by a non-owned policy and checked out in all of their planes, they still wouldnt let me do it. I call it greed.
CFI Insurance

Im in about the same boat right now; taking the ride later this month.

As far as insurance, AVEMCO does not write CFI insurance any longer; when they got out of the commercial insurance business, I believe they cut off CFIs as well. The only one I have found is through AOPA and its about $400 for the year, including professional liability and hull coverage (cant recall the levels off hand). Please post on here if you find a better deal than that, as there are only one or maybe two companies who even offer that insurance any more.

Good luck on your ride!

AVEMCO got out of covering CFI's???

Does AOPA still have a clause that 230 or 260 HP is the max they will cover in?

That is the one and only thing I hated about freelancing, the **CENSORED****CENSORED****CENSORED****CENSORED** insurance.

too add .02, I agree .. get yourself aligned with either a club or FBO, or in some rare cases someone on the field where you have a choice of aircraft. I found a lot of students had preconceptions on high wing versus low wing trainers. By having some of both at my disposal I was able to retain and attain a few extra students.

Best of luck on your ride!
CFI Insurance

Yep, just checked the AVEMCO site, and they have nothing there for anything even smelling commercial, including CFIs. Their Direct Approach policy covers only instruction you RECIEVE in an owned or rented aircraft.

NAFI has a program through Falcon Insurance Agency http://www.falconinsurance.com/ - anyone have experience with them? Also--is NAFI worth joining?

thanks for the suggestions from everyone.


good question, I have been a member for about 2 1/2 years... I think it is $35 a year, for that you get some decent discounts at various companies like GLIEM, ASA and the such. IF you use the discounts the money saved does exceed the cost, you also get Flying for free for a year. So if you add up the dicounts and the free subscription it will exceed the cost of the membership. The only other thing I used it for was that I think Pilot Portal gave NAFI members a nice plaque for your students who made thier first solo. This was a nice thing that my students really liked.

As for insurance, never used them or even knew they offered insurance. NAFI is owned by EAA if that makes any difference.

Best of luck...
My thoughts on insurance - When I was just starting out, I decided not to buy liability insurance. Attorneys generally will not sue someone who does not have assets - What do they hope to gain? My 1988 Grand AM?

If you are concerned about getting sued, incorporate yourself as a business. That way if somebody does decide to take action against what you have done as a CFI, it will not affect your personal assets - only those of your corporation.
You generally won't be sued if you don't have any assets, however, it still could happen. Laywers will sometimes sue to go after future earnings.
Even though I was covered by a non-owned policy and checked out in all of their planes, they still wouldnt let me do it. I call it greed.

I'd say you're being a little harsh. Profit margins at most flight schools (and everywhere else in aviation) are very slim. Unless a school has more students than its instructors can handle, don't they kind of owe it to their own people not to provide the means by which freelancers can come in and underprice them? The flight school I worked for allowed freelance instructors, but we were ripe with students for our own instructors. Since 9-11, the pickings have been much slimmer, so they have disallowed freelancers. I don't think it has to do with greed so much as good business sense.
Insurance and corporations

The incorporation idea does not work unfortunately. I am not an attorney, but can tell you ANYONE can be sued for ANYTHING. Even if you are not at fault, the cost to defend yourself can send you to bankruptcy.

You may form a corporation, however that does not insulate you from personal liability in every case. If the corporation formed includes you as the only officer and the purpose is flight instruction, I would be surprised if any marginally competent attorney could not "pierce the corporate veil". Just not a good idea.

Insurance, though outrageously expensive, is still the best course of action. In my case, I will be working with an FBO which requires it of their instructors. I also own a home I would like to hang on to for awhile....

CFI, Inc. or LLC

Good post about incorporating or even turning yourself into an LLC. I don't think instructors can become PCs or PAs. I'm no attorney, either, but there are too many opportunities for an independent CFI to comingle business and non-business matters and allow the veil to be pierced.

Just bite the bullet and purchase the insurance. It's much less trouble in the long run and more conventional to boot.