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How To Be a Successful CFI (Version 2)

Toy Soldier

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(Updated 9-22-03)

If anyone has any ideas to add, let me know. Let's see how big this list can grow. This is a perpetual list. Your ideas will also be added.


PROFESSIONALISM - BUILDING CHARACTER
1. Be serious about the profession.
2. Learn all you can. Get all the ratings that you can.
3. Become a NAFI Master CFI .
4. Join AOPA and NAFI (National Association of Flight Instructors).
5. Wear collared shirts with "Flight Instructor" sewn above the pocket.
6. Be sincere
7. Never get complacent and remember, we are all lifetime students.
8. Don’t become best friends with your students.
9. Don’t use a student as a time builder.


PROFESSIONALISM - BEING PROFESSIONAL
1. Develop the following sheets - as handouts for your students: PVT requirements, Instrument requirements, Commercial requirements, Student-Instructor agreement and expectations.
2. Start and end the lesson on time.


SELF IMPROVEMENT
1. Read the book "The Savy CFI".
2. Do aviation community service activities (CAP, Boy Scouts, etc.)
3. Read about instructing every chance you get.
4. Read the FAR/AIM while using the John!
5. Be an AOPA Project Pilot Mentor.
6. Earn your CFI Gold Seal.
7. Don't "build flight time", gain "quality flying experience". This means getting into different types of flying.


QUALITY INSTRUCTION - BEING STRUCTURED
1. Use the resources that AOPA and NAFI have to offer.
2. Use a syllabus
3. Develop a goals timeline with the student. Help them to establish "dates" for written tests, pre-solo written, checkride, etc.
4. Sign up your students for the AOPA Flight Training Magazine.
5. Always post-brief
6. Arrive early to each lesson. Make sure the airplane is flyable before the student finds it isn't.


QUALITY INSTRUCTION - TIPS TO BE BETTER
1. Plan long cross country trips with your students.
2. Take your multi, instrument students, etc., on a coast-to-coast trip.
3. Preach PTS guidelines to your students.


MARKETING
1. Advertise in the AOPA CFI directory.
2. Use Landings.com to target your students.
Search and market yourself to the following pilots (preferably pilots with planes):

a) Private pilots - offer to do their instrument training
b) Instrument pilots - offer to do their IPC's
c) Instrument pilots - offer to do their commercial training
d) Pilots with airplanes - find one that will let you use their plane for Angel Flights


3. Find students that already own airplanes.
4. Market yourself to the folks that can afford to fly 3 days a week. This will keep food on the table.
5. Market yourself to those that can only fly once in a while - to fill in the blanks of those that fly 3 days a week.
6. Don't sit at the flight school and WAIT for potential students to show up. SEEK them.
7. Do post articles of yourself and your students in the local papers. Network with the local reporters.
8. Interview potential students. Setup an interview methodology that outlines what your student can expect from you and what you expect from the student.
9. Join NAFI and have them give you a listing.


ECONOMICS
1. Charge for all of your flight and ground time.
2. Sell pilot kits and materials to your students.
3. Charge professional rates. IE; $45/hr or more! Give professional instruction!
4. Find students that are willing to buy planes.
5. Conduct ground schools or seminars.
6. Offer specialized instruction. IE; tailwheel, etc.
7. Schedule your students. Don't let them schedule you (within reason). In other words, try to schedule your appointments "back to back" instead of having three a day at different times. Use the calendar to schedule LONG TERM as far out as reason allows.
8. Find your own students and then contract through the FBO for a higher rate.
9. Conduct group ground school on rainy days and charge EACH student an appropriate rate.
10. Convince your students to get a loan, etc., so that they can accellerate their training and fly DAILY without having to "cut grass" to pay for a flight lesson.
11. Charge for no-shows. Your time is just as valuable as theirs. Give credit to your students for the times that you are late or no show them!


TEACHING TECHNIQUES
1. Use 3X5 cards to outline opportunity training. Use them to "fill
in the blanks" when time allows during a lesson. (Keep them in your shirt pocket and pull them out during lulls.)
2. Use powerpoint training aides when teaching ground school(slides).
3. Scan pertinent illustrations into your computer and print them out as enlargements.
4. Use a syllabus. Use a syllabus. Use a syllabus.
5. Use 3X5 cards to "breakdown" the syllabus into "bite size" pocket cards. This will prevent you from having to take the syllabus into the plane with you.
6. Before a students' checkride, have them use 3X5 cards to write down ALL navaids, airport info, frequencies, etc., for the route and area of the checkride. This way they will have handy reference cards already filled out for use during the checkride.
7. Don't just have the students memorize answers and/or details, make sure they know where to find those answers and details. Provide them with as many resources as possible. Answers and details will be forgotton, but resources will usually stick around longer.


THINKING OUT OF THE "BOX"!
1. Occassionally, have your students "teach" you the maneuvers during flight.
2. Have your students teach you ground school topics.
3. During each lesson, "sabotage" something in the plane to see if the student catches it. Ensure that the sabotaged item is on the checklist. This can be as simple as pulling a breaker, turning the auto-pilot switch on, etc.
4. Make training aides of the airport environment. The have your students "walk" you through a flight. These aides can be the traffic pattern, VOR's, holds at an NDB, etc.
5. Use the training aides listed above to have instrument students walk through an approach.
6. Share your professional flying with your students - if possible. I regularly take my students and local CFI's in my company plane. I have shared over 400 hours of multi-dual in the past two years.
7. Find someone that will let your students go with them on trips.


PARTNERS IN EDUCATION
1. Have group meetings with your students so that they can support each other during training.
2. While training a group of instrument students, pair them up using GLEIM syllabus's and then do the following:

a) Determine which of the 26 training lessons YOU MUST give.
b) Have your students fly with each other for the remaining
lessons. Instead of "flying along" for 25 hours of "safety
pilot" time, they can coach each other on the lesson plans!

This will help to keep their training on schedule if you aren't available. I do this now for 5 students. They are sharing 3 airplanes between them! I might fly lessons 1 thru 3 with each of them and then they will coach each other thru lessons 4 and 5. Then I will get back with them on lesson 6. It works great...

SAFETY
1. Ensure that your students get a full weather brief from 1-800-WX-BRIEF. This way you can "track" the briefs that they get.
2. Learn to "block" the controls to prevent inadvertant or excessive control inputs by the student.
3. Ensure that you and your student do a "final walkaround" before climbing into the plane.
4. Have the student jot down their "safety brief" onto a 3X5 card so that it fits in their shirt pocket.
5. Have the student memorize their briefing (if multi, insist they tell you which way they will turn if they lose each engine). Have them memorize their final T/O items, their after T/O checklist, their before landing checklist (and final landing items, if these exist for your aircraft), and of course, memorization of emergency procedures like engine failure.
6. Oh, and teach 'cockpit flows' too. Do a checklist based on where the item is, not based on what order it's in on the checklist (within reason, of course; ie, don't set throttles for T/O w/o setting your prop and mixture first)
7. Have the student do a self brief in the runup area prior to every flight. This includes exactly what will be done if the engine fails after takeoff, and the first two things after departure (ie. straight to 500', climbing left turn direct to the VOR at 3000').
8. Don't teach your student how to "scud run" play it by the rules, and get the approach clearance (as long as you have the charts of course). They will learn a lot more by watching you do an approach. The helpless feeling of beng in the soup will discourage them from popping through a cloud layer.
9. FOLLOW THE REGS TO THE DOT!!! Set the example. Don't take off with an inop fuel gauge just because you know it's full and you'll only be gone for 2 hours. 91.205, follow it!
10. This is especially good for the career/future CFI student but works for everyone. Have them make up a question bank of questions that you have asked them, questions commonly asked on checkrides or stage checks, and any others they have and then cite where the answer comes from. I did this while I instructed and would use those questions for stage checks. What was nice is if the student did happen to see the list before I asked the question, the answer wouldn't be right there, rather they would still have to find it. It also works as a good review for them to study prior to their checkrides.
 
Last edited:

stillaboo

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rl8tiv
Your new list looks alot better (from one of your critics :) ).

Toy Soldier said:
SAFETY

4. Have the student jot down their "safety brief" onto a 3X5 card so that it fits in their shirt pocket.

Have the student memorize their briefing (if multi, insist they tell you which way they will turn if they lose each engine). Have them memorize their final T/O items, their after T/O checklist, their before landing checklist (and final landing items, if these exist for your aircraft), and of course, memorization of emergency procedures like engine failure.

It is a 'checklist', not a 'to-do list'.

Oh, and teach 'cockpit flows' too. Do a checklist based on where the item is, not based on what order it's in on the checklist (within reason, of course; ie, don't set throttles for T/O w/o setting your prop and mixture first)
 
Last edited:

SkyGuyEd

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In addition to SAFETY,

Have the student do a self brief in the runup area prior to every flight. This includes exactly what will be done if the engine fails after takeoff, and the first two things after departure (ie. straight to 500', climbing left turn direct to the VOR at 3000').
 

stillaboo

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rl8tiv
Hey, SkyGuyEd's 'self-brief' is exaclty what I meant to say about the briefing, I just thought it would take up too much space, which is why I just mentioned the 'which way to turn' thing. No fair!

Oh, and I'd say go to 700 ft. before making a turn at an uncontrolled field (I think that's required by the regs - no, I don't know where). :)

Gotta' have the last word
 

Toy Soldier

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Stillaboo

Is this what you are talking about? From the AIM.

4-3-3. TRAFFIC PATTERNS
5. If remaining in the traffic pattern, commence turn to crosswind leg beyond the departure end of the runway within 300 feet of pattern altitude.
 

stillaboo

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rl8tiv
Yep! That's it.

Of course there's non-standard pattern altitudes, and concievably, one could train in a jet (man, would the CFI's line up to teach for free for that guy - destroying your 'be a professional' idea), but any CFI who doesn't know about the rule shouldn't be teaching anyway.

Thanks.
 

Riddle momma

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About proffesionalism

1. Start the lesson on time, and end on time. Don't let students talk you into one more touch and go if it going to get you back after the due back time.

2. Charge for no-shows. Your time is just as valuable as theirs.

3. Always post-brief

4. Arrive early to each lesson. Make sure the airplane is flyable before the student finds it isn't.

5. Don't teach your student how to "scud run" play it by the rules, and get the approach clearance (as long as you have the charts of course). They will learn a lot more by watching you do an approach. The helpless feeling of beng in the soup will discourage them from popping through a cloud layer.

6. FOLLOW THE REGS TO THE DOT!!! Set the example. Don't take off with an inop fuel gauge just because you know it's full and you'll only be gone for 2 hours. 91.205, follow it!

Those are just a few to add on. Most from experience.
 

hydroflyer

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Here are a couple I've found to also help out a lot:

1. Don't just have the students memorize answers and/or details, make sure they know where to find those answers and details. Provide them with as many resources as possible. Answers and details will be forgotton, but resources will usually stick around longer.
Example: How many of your students know where to find Vx, Vy, or crosswind component velocities for their airplane?

2. This is especially good for the career/future CFI student but works for everyone. Have them make up a question bank of questions that you have asked them, questions commonly asked on checkrides or stage checks, and any others they have and then cite where the answer comes from. I did this while I instructed and would use those questions for stage checks. What was nice is if the student did happen to see the list before I asked the question, the answer wouldn't be right there, rather they would still have to find it. It also works as a good review for them to study prior to their checkrides.
 

Toy Soldier

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HydroFlyer, Riddle Momma

Your ideas have been added to the above list. Thanks for your input!

Anyone let me know if we need to add categories or split up some of the current categories - as they get too large.

I am thinking of possibly splitting up the thread if it gets too large and making several titled:

How to be a successful CFII.
How to be a successful MEI.
etc...

Thoughts?
 
Last edited:

Flechas

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Good Job!!

Hey toy soldier, this thread is awesome, dont stop editing the first message with the new ideas. we need more people like you in flight training.

regards.

flechas
 

100LL... Again!

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ToySoldier-

Sorry to throw cold water on this, but the sad reality is that all of this might make you a superb CFI, but here's the advice everyone needs to hear.


Here goes:

1) Network like your career depends on it. It just might.

2) Fly your butt off. Every .1hr you can get. Quantity, not quality will get you hired. NO ONE measures quality. As long as you can pass their laughably easy sim ride, you're golden.

3) Don't waste time learning things that enrich your aviation knowledge. Waste of time. You'll never get hired because of it.

4) The only value in being a safecon winner/wanker is the networking opportunity. Go for it if you must. Do not kid yourself that this measures anything significant. Two months into your career, it will mean as much as being Homecoming King/Queen.

5) Don't p*ss anyone off. You can't afford it.

Is this stuff true? I hope not. Trouble is, I just described many of the people I have seen make it a long way up the aviaition ladder.


I'll take a great CFII over a marginal airline pilot ANY day.
 

hydroflyer

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100LL... Again!

You have obviously missed the point of this whole thread. Until you posted, ther really wasn't any mention to furthuring the CFI's advancement to a jet. This thread is for current and future CFI's who would like to be better and more efficient. Not everyone is in the masive rush you are to reach Comair or wherever it was you were laid off from. Fact is the industry is slow, CFI's will be instructing for a while before they move on. Rushing through and getting "Quantity not quality" as you said will just make it even more apparent you don't care about anything other than getting on to burning Jet-A. Now I agree that you should network and not piss anyone off. I would also say to fly at any opportunity that may come up, but don't screw your students to do so.

Now your #3 item I totally disagree with. Why not expand your aviation knowledge? What can it hurt? Unfortunately you user I.D and post both reflect a negative attitude towards all of this.

One final thought for the CFI's who are trying to be serious, think about this: You never know what kinds of connections a student may have. If you follow most of the advice in this thread, that may come back to your advantage. However, if you follow strictly what 100LL... Again! has said, you may find yourself contradicting yourself and wasting an opportunity. Just network, but don't piss anyone off.
 

100LL... Again!

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Let me clear the air here, seeing as how I got a private message about my post-


I did not do any of the things in my post. I do not advocate any of the things in my post.

However, I have seen too many pilots use this formula to get ahead. It is frustrating to those of us that work hard to be as good as we can.

My post, while sarcastic, has a bit of truth in it, since I am sure we have all seen it happen.

I will say this, regarding the main topic of this post: It takes more to be a good CFI than it does to be an average airline pilot.

To the career CFI's who have always wondered what it is like to fly for an airline: Don't wonder, it isn't that great.
 

hydroflyer

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100LL... Again! thanks for clearing up your post. I agree with what your last post said about being frustrated seeing people attempt to advance their careers like that. The most truthful thing is that it does take more skill to be a good CFI than a good airline or cargo pilot. Flying cargo is far easier than being a CFI, however I still wouldn't mind instructing some on the side in the future.
 
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