Choosing your instructor – Finding your perfect flying partner
Having looked at what it takes to add it to your licence, this week I wanted to ask what is it that actually makes a good Flight Instructor?
Experience? Qualifications? Knowledge? Patience?
Personally I did discover that one instructor who really understood my motivation and who I learnt the most from, but I was also unlucky enough to find the one who I really did not enjoy flying with. Having flown with a few FI’s since, I appreciate how lucky I was to see both sides of the spectrum and when I did become an instructor myself, I really aspired to replicate that good experience with my students. After all there is a lot of money spent on learning to fly and you want to get the most out of your training.
Having done some research and pulling on my own experience, I have put together 5 virtues that I think really sum up a good Flight Instructor:
- They attempt to understand your goals and aspirations
Who are you? What do you do? What do you WANT to do?
If an FI understands your background and what drives you, they will hopefully be able to have some perspective on how you may learn effectively and how to target your training.
- They challenge you
Your FI will hopefully be someone who pushes you to be the best pilot you can be, and encourages you to keep evolving. You don’t want to leave training having never spoken to ATC, or with just enough skill to reach the required standard!
- They understand the learning process and have patience
It can be easy to become discouraged with lack of progression, but you need to remind yourself that everyone is different and there will inevitably be plateaus in your learning curve. A good instructor should also understand this and be able to support you through these phases in training by re-explaining, re-demonstrating and sometimes going back to basics,(without getting frustrated!)
- They admit when they don’t know the answer and endeavour to find out
Nobody can know the answer to every question BUT they should be willing to find out or point you in the right direction! Any attempt to feign knowledge is usually obvious to spot and can cause you to lose trust in your instructor which is often difficult to recover from.
- They are constantly learning and improving themselves
Very similarly to the previous statement, it is important for an FI to be open to continuous learning too. Taking on board criticism, gaining knowledge from others mistakes and pushing themselves to a high standard are all important ways for an instructor to improve themselves and in turn, help to teach you more effectively.
I could list other great characteristics of an FI e.g acceptance, sincerity, professionalism etc, but I really think it comes down to a little but more than that as the above statements will hopefully express. Ultimately it’s about finding out what works for you as a student and being open to different people and styles so you can get the most from your training.