Choosing a flight instructor is one of the most important decisions you’ll make as you work to become a pilot, and later as you work on additional certificates and ratings. And that’s because having the right CFI can be one of the biggest factors in your success. Not that you can’t succeed with an awful flight instructor, but it’s so much easier if you’re with the right flight instructor.
Most likely, you’ll get to choose a new flight instructor multiple times, either because your first flight instructor has moved on, or you’ve moved to a new location, or you’re working on advanced training in some aircraft in which your previous flight instructor doesn’t specialize. And the flip side of all of this is firing a flight instructor, which we’ll talk about later.
Since choosing the right flight instructor is so important, you’ll want to give this a lot of thought and not just sign up with the first flight instructor you come across, or your friend, or your employee who’s been itching to get you to fly with them.
Unfortunately, in some cases, you won’t get to choose your flight instructor. If you learn to fly in the military or in a Part 141 school, you probably won’t have a choice of flight instructors. Though you will probably end up flying with multiple instructors. And that’s a good thing. As every CFI tends to put more emphasis on some things and less emphasis on others. And by flying with multiple instructors, you’ll pick up on nuances that your primary instructor never mentioned, or didn’t put much emphasis on.
Ultimately, when you’re working on a pilot certificate, or a new rating or certificate, or transitioning into a new aircraft, you’re working to assimilate a body of knowledge to help you become the best possible pilot. Your goal is not just to pass a checkride. Your goal is mastery of the aircraft. And to do that you’ll pull from many resources. You’ll try to be a sponge and learn as much as you can from books, online courses, and videos. And you’ll try to learn something from each of the flight instructors you fly with.
Choosing a flight instructor is not a precise science; there’s no textbook-like process or formula for choosing that person. Ultimately, it’s a subjective process, and that’s appropriate, because there’s no one flight instructor who’s perfect for everyone. A flight instructor who was ideal for a pilot friend of yours… may not be the right one for you for a variety of reasons.
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