Throughout my career, I have spent thousands of hours in all types of flying, from private instruction to charter to aerial spraying and more. I would sum up my flight instructing as the some of the most satisfying flying I have done.

Flight instructors have a huge responsibility because people trust them to teach their family members to fly, and to do it safely. With that said, having fun and enjoying this new experience is the ultimate goal and begins as soon as the student arrives at the airport. A good flight instructor makes sure the student is comfortable and ready for an enjoyable experience.

The first lesson involves a preflight inspection of the aircraft, making sure it is safe for the intended flight.  Next is the taxi and take-off by the flight instructor, with the student’s feet and hands on the controls. Once in the practice area, the basic fundamentals of the controls are explained.

In the first couple of flights my goal is to get the student to fly straight and level with gentle turns. I pick out a point on the horizon and tell them to fly to it, then I say, “See! You hardly need me anymore.” Gradually, their confidence starts to build and they become more comfortable.

When we get back to the airport we have a post flight review of all that happened while we were in the air. Then, we make plans for the next flight and what it will entail. I think it’s important to always make sure my students are prepared for what’s next so they can enjoy the lessons and this new adventure.

I feel that it is important to break down the learning process into three manageable steps:

  1. The solo flight – the student flies the aircraft alone for the first time.
  2. Required time – build their hours and pass the written exam.
  3. Private Pilot flight test – prepare the student to pass and get certification.

In my years as a flight instructor I have found that breaking the process down makes it much more manageable so he/she is not so worried about the events leading up to the Private Pilot certification.

Sound interesting and enjoyable? Give it a try!

See you at the airport,

Jim Connell