Hello, again. I have been away up from writing for a while. I had a few things going on in life that prevented me from writing. As Arnold said, I am back.
Those things keeping me away from putting words to paper included teaching during the time of Covid, editing and publishing some incredible books, preparing for retirement, getting a house ready to sell, actually retiring, and creating a new business.
To say I am excited about the possibilities of the future is quite frankly, an understatement. I am particularly excited about publishing and marketing more books, taking on a three-year rebuilding project for the Cessna 170, and teaching people how to fly… in airplanes… in a new (to me antique) airplane… as soon as I find it.
In the meantime, I am teaching in privately owned aircraft and in rental planes provided by clients. I will fly later this morning and I prepared for the flight shortly after waking. Looking over the pilots’ information manual, I reflected on the difference between being a flight instructor today compared to when I first started. Thinking back to those times right after the FAA freshly-inked my flight instructor certificate, I am amazed at my ignorance of the time.
When I first began teaching people how to fly, I had the feeling that I did not know enough to teach the nuances of flying. During those early days 44 years ago, I questioned my experience level. At that time, I only had experience flying taildraggers, Cessnas, Pipers, some Beech aircraft, and a smattering of antique airplanes, with a few experimental homebuilts thrown in for variety. Looking back from my perspective of today, I was, in fact, more experienced than most flight instructors at my level of experience and age. But at the time, what did I know? Not much.
Today, I know more. A lot more, the most important of which is everything I realize I don’t know.
One thing I know is the difference between instructors, especially the new guys and old guys like me. The industry is hurting for good flight instructors. Professional flight instructors. Unfortunately, I am afraid the shortage of instructors will continue.
Most of the young instructors are only building time to go onto a bigger, better, flying job. And there’s nothing wrong with that, for the most part. However, while they are building their time, flight instructors must give their students the best flight instruction possible. They should do the job. Too many young flight instructors become bored after the first 500 or so hours. For them, teaching becomes a drudgery. Consequently, they do not provide the best instruction to their clients.
Not providing the best instruction to student pilots is a big mistake made on the part of a few young instructors. If the student they have signed off for certification becomes involved in an aircraft accident later, those instructors need to realize all kinds of people will be seeking them out to ask questions.
Those flight instructors need to be able to answer the questions as well as possible. And that starts with the integrity of the initial flight instruction.
The other part of the equation regarding the CFI shortage deals with the old guys, like me. Many of us who have a lot to contribute are not doing so for a variety of reasons. In some cases, older CFIs have lost their passion for flying. Some have had medical issues with aging. Some have decided they do not want to put their retirement funding at risk in the event of an accident and resulting lawsuits. They are all good reasons, and I get it. But it doesn’t help the industry. There will be a pilot shortage and this upcoming scarcity of aviators will not help the traveling public.
In the meantime, I’m going to go out and enjoy teaching young people how to fly new technologies as well as the old-fashioned way—in taildraggers.