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What is an Instructor?

Pilot? Flight instructor is an advanced pilot certificate. Flight instructors also must have a commercial or airline transport pilot certificate. A flight instructor can then add various ratings to the certificate to become an instrument flight instructor, multiengine flight instructor, and so on. In training to be a flight instructor, an applicant learns, and is tested on, what and how to teach pilots, and how to maintain training records. To keep their instructor certificate valid, they must actively and effectively teach (every two years they must recommend at least five students for a practical test, and 80 percent of their students must pass the practical on their first attempt) or attend instructor refresher training programs. The point is that your flight instructor is qualified and current to teach you how to fly and how to guide your training.

Flight instructor age and experience is a much-discussed topic in aviation. Traditionally, flight instructing is the first rung in the ladder to reaching a secure, well-compensated flying career. That means many flight instructors are young much younger than many of their students and are just beginning their professional experience. If you then add a very good job market for aspiring professional pilots, you have a situation where young flight instructors spend a relatively short time teaching students before they are hired by an airline or commercial or business aircraft operator.

The fast that an instructor is young and lacking vast flight or teaching experience does not necessarily mean he or she cannot be an excellent instructor. Having a genuine interest in teaching a student well more than makes up for raw experience.

Also, young instructors often are accused of being disinterested in the welfare of their students, and concerned instead with building flight time to meet minimum experience requirements for a professional pilot position. A big reason for meeting and interviewing instructors is to judge their attitude regarding teaching.

On the other hand, a veteran instructor who truly is dedicated to and effective at teaching student pilots is the best of all possible worlds. If you find such an instructor, congratulations! It's worth some inconvenience in your drive time and/or the instructor's availability to partner with him or her for your training.


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