Why Should You Teach?

Why is it important for new pilots to teach younger pilots?  Many young pilots question why they should teach others how to fly.  For whatever reason, they fail to understand the concept that in teaching others, what you are really doing is reinforcing your own knowledge more thoroughly.  When you teach others how to fly, you become a much better pilot for the tutoring of others.  The reason for this is quite simple to see and understand—if you have an open mind and are receptive to new perceptions, concepts, and ideas.

In looking back over the 30 years of my professional flying, I can say without reservation the very best pilots with whom I flew were current or former flight instructors.  Whether I flew in the same aircraft with them, I flew on their wing, or I led a formation, the very best stick-and-rudder pilots, I realized, were those who took time out of their lives and their careers to help others learn and understand flight.  In so doing, they received greater rewards than they ever imagined.

Many new pilots fail to realize the value in teaching; this may be a result of their limited view created by too few hours in their logbook, their perception of what a pilot does in the performance of flying, or the lack of understanding the importance of teaching.  Whatever the reason, their view of flying can be skewed.  In other words, they know what it takes to get the airplane off the ground, cruise through the air, and safely back on the ground again, but they know little about flying with finesse.

Flight instructors know what it means to fly with finesse.  They have studied the techniques, analyzed the why, experimented with how, and applied what they learned to their own flying skills.  Another way to look at this is that after becoming private pilots, those who were inclined to teach continued to evolve as serious pilots.

This is not to say other pilots fail to evolve.  However, in many cases, pilots who take positions flying night cargo or passengers to vacation and business appointments, simply engage the autopilot and sit back while enroute to their destinations.  Like their passengers, sometimes the only mental activity charter pilots and freight captains engage in is looking at the scenery pass by the window.

The flight instructor on the other hand, is working – working hard – thinking, teaching, analyzing, explaining, using CRM techniques, and demonstrating maneuvers.  In the process of accomplishing all these things, the flight instructor develops into a much more highly refined pilot than those who merely sit and watch the scenery slip by, the DME drum count down to the destination, or the picture change on the G-1000 TV set in front of them.

Yes, teaching others to fly is a hard job.  It takes a lot out of you on occasion, and at the same time, isn’t all that hard.  Along the way, you can make some incredible friends who will remain your friends throughout the rest of your career.

And oh, yeah, it is a lot more rewarding than you can possibly imagine.


© 2011 J. Clark

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4 Responses to Why Should You Teach?

  1. midlifepilot says:

    Great post, Joe. It’s a ways off and possibly only a dream, but I’d like to think somewhere in my 50’s, after 10 years with my PPL, that I might find time and money to do my CPL and then my Instructor Rating. Notwithstanding the challenges, I would love to teach others!

  2. Joe Clark says:

    Thank you, Dave. I think you will be an excellent teacher; your posts are insightful and will prove to be a solid base of information for you when you begin teaching when you are ready. All you have to do is keep progressing in the direction you wish to go.

  3. Well said, Joe, and it’s so very true. Flight instructors are the very heart of aviation safety and don’t get nearly the credit they are due. The accidents that have been prevented by good instruction would fill a mainframe. Some of my most satisfying experiences have been teaching others to become flight instructors. As you know, those students really hold your feet to the fire and force you to dig deep for answers.

  4. Joe Clark says:

    I have to agree with you, Harrison. There is something especially rewarding about teaching pilots to become flight instructors.

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