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How to Choose a Flight Instructor

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How to Choose a Flight Instructor

Articles have been written on what you should look for in a flight instructor, but I’m going to share some inside secrets that many publications don’t know. Below I’m going to discuss some of the obvious and some of the one’s you probably never would have thought of.

How to Choose a Flight Instructor

Written by: Jacob Kasprzyk (Gold Seal CFI, CFII, MEI, ATP)

Articles have been written on what you should look for in a flight instructor, but I’m going to share some inside secrets that many publications don’t know. Below I’m going to discuss some of the obvious and some of the one’s you probably never would have thought of.


This is without a doubt the most important trait to look for in your flight instructor. Above all else you want to make sure you’ll get along with your instructor. You are going to be spending many hours in the cockpit with close proximity to your flight instructor. You want your flight instructor to be someone with whom you can easily get along with. At the very least you want an instructor who seems to enjoy spending his/her time with you. If you’re a laid back person, maybe the military drill sergeant style instructor won’t be your best match. It’s a good idea to search for a bio on your instructor to find out a little more about them prior to making a selection. If one isn’t available, then ask the Chief Instructor or Senior Instructor at the flight school who they think would be the best match for you. Flying is supposed to be fun and rewarding, don’t let a personality clash ruin the experience for you.


Its important to know what to look for in experience. Many people assume that an older instructor will be a better instructor because they have to have more experience and are more mature. This is not always the case. Some of the most experienced instructors that I have ever met are in their late 20’s or early 30’s. They have the most instructional hours given and the highest percentage of completion of their students. That does not mean that the grizzled, hardened, older flight instructor isn’t of value! Many of these instructors have lived and experienced every aspect of flying and can call upon their many years of industry experience to help you on your path to becoming a pilot. What I suggest is that you look for an instructor who has experience doing what you want to be doing. The guy who has 3000 hours in a light trainer will probably have more practical experience than the guy who has 3000 hours in a Boeing 747 if you just want to be a recreational pilot. If you have your eyes set on becoming a professional commercial pilot, then the instructor with the experience flying the “heavy iron” may be better for you. To start with, look for an instructor who holds a Gold Seal from the FAA on their flight instructor certificate, then at least you can count on them having the experience  and record you’re looking for.


Flight instruction is one of the most common paths that pilots take to gain flight hours that are needed for other flying jobs. Because of this, an instructor may only be in it for the short-term. They may only be interested in helping themselves gain the logbook hours they need, not the training you need. Ask them what their goals are and how long they see themselves instructing for.


It’s sort of a “Catch-22” in the industry. The instructor who has a lot of students and a loaded schedule has to be that way for a reason. They are probably well liked and very good at what they do. However, this can be a bad thing too. You want to find an instructor who is not over-worked. Many flight schools offer flight instruction 7 days a week and almost 365 days a year. If that’s the case, when does your instructor rest? How many days a week do they work? How many hours a day do they work? It is not uncommon for flight schools to expect their instructors to work 12-hour days, 6 days a week. One of the last things that you want is a tired instructor (who you're paying for) that just wants their day to end, to be the one teaching you how to safely fly a plane, that and I doubt they’ll be very fun in the cockpit!


You don’t want a personal trainer who doesn’t show up on time for your workout, a doctor who can’t put on a clean outfit, or a lawyer who doesn’t take the time to answer all of your questions. Why expect less from your flight instructor? On your first meeting note their attitude, their punctuality, their appearance, and even their grammar. These are easy insights into things to come.

Other Student’s Reviews:

Find a forum or website that is actively used by other students and find out if anyone has any experience in dealing with that instructor (www.pilotplanet.com). We call it a PIREP (Pilot Report) in flying when we report on what flight conditions we’re experiencing. I call it plain common sense to avoid an instructor that has a number of bad reports.

Remember that your flight instructor will be the most influential person guiding you to becoming a safe pilot. Choose your instructor wisely. If your first choice does not work out as well as hoped, don’t hesitate in speaking with the flight school management in finding you a new instructor. The flight school should respect your desire and help find the best match possible for you. Don’t worry about the instructor’s feelings, a true professional will always be looking out for your best interest!

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