Choosing a Flight Instructor

Learning to fly is one of the most exciting opportunities that a person can undertake. There really is nothing like piloting a plane up in the sky all on your own. Everyone knows the pride they feel when they first learn to drive a car, but very few people get to understand how multiplied that pride feels when they learn to fly. However, just like learning to drive a car no one does a perfect job the first time they fly a plane. Even more different from driving a car, the ability of the instructor is even more vital. While making a mistake in a car can lead to a fender bender, making a mistake in a plane can lead to much worse problems unless the person instructing is qualified and knows how much leeway to give to a novice pilot. Often, the quality of a pilot, especially in the early stages is a reflection of the quality of the person who taught them. This is why the most important decision that a young pilot can make is the choice in flight instructor.
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When you put your education in the hands of a flight instructor, you are literally putting your life in their hands. Should a problem arise over the course of a lesson, a quality flight instructor can correct the problem, or in extreme cases take over and save both of your lives. Simply finding someone with a high pass rate is not enough, because too many people succeeding could mean that the instructor is too lenient. It is vital to find an instructor who demands perfection, but will work with you in order to reach that level. An instructor who is not lenient enough can make young pilots feel self conscious about their abilities and begin to doubt themselves. The best advice is to find one who suits your attitude and one you feel will not let you fail.
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In order to find a quality instructor, one should look at credentials as well as personality. In the U.S. flight instructors must at least hold a commercial pilot certificate, passed two written exams, and a practical exam. Beyond those minimums, there are many other qualifications to examine. The number of hours of instruction is generally a good indicator of their experience with teaching. The comments of previous students is also a good indicator. A teacher who has had many successful students that speak highly of them is generally one you would want to teach you. Another important qualification to look at is the number of things that the instructor can train people in. Different instructors are qualified to give different levels of training in attaining a pilot certificate, an instrument rating, a flight instructor certificate, a ground instructor certificate, a practical test, or a knowledge test. One should pay attention to this depending upon what one wants to learn.
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Teaching technique is often the most overlooked aspect of choosing an instructor. Many instructors opt to teach in a classroom type of environment before taking students up into the air. Others bring students up in the air right at the beginning and teach them how to fly by having them fly. This constructivist theory on teaching flight is growing in popularity. Students are expected to learn hands on and have different aspects of the flight explained to them as they are flying. They stay engaged by controlling the plane and learning from their mistakes. Generally, any problems that arise are corrected, and although they may feel like it could be dangerous, a well qualified instructor can handle whatever problems come along. While this is the preference of many young pilots because it means immediate action, some choose to stay with more traditional teachers. They go over the whole display of the cockpit beforehand and talk about what a pilot should keep in mind when flying. Potential problems are discussed so that when they come up, the young pilot can act to fix them with (hopefully) less of a chance of panicking. Once again, the choice of what type of instructor to choose is really just a reflection of what type of person you as the student prefers.
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When choosing who will teach you how to fly there is another questions to keep in mind: do you plan on getting a pilots license for fun or will you be a professional pilot? The level of instruction you receive should depend on that question. A flight club can provide you with enough instruction to become a hobby pilot, but a flight school is a better idea for someone who wants to work for an airline.
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With a good teacher to help you, learning to fly can be a fun experience. While it is fun, it is also necessary to treat learning to fly with the respect it deserves. By keeping those issues mentioned in mind, you can find an instructor who best suits you and you will maximize your educational experience..

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