So you’ve decided you want to start flight training? The first step is to find the best teacher to help you along your journey. Here are several tips to help you.
Interview them: You should sit down one on one with every potential instructor and ask them a list of questions to help guide you to finding the right fit. Some questions that people might ask are about the instructor’s pass rate, their history as a flight instructor (brand new or very experienced), if they are planning to stay at the club or school for a while or if their sights are set on the airlines. You might also try to find out what the instructor would expect from you as far as availability and how many times a week you can fly together.
Fly with them: Hopefully before you decided to pursue your rating, whether for a career or just for fun, you’ve taken an introductory flight. If you enjoyed the instructor’s teaching style during the introductory flight, then chances are you will be compatible throughout your rating. If you did not take an introductory flight, you may contemplate doing so with an instructor you are seriously considering. This will give you a preview of their teaching methods and you will quickly figure out if you can fly with them long-term. Some students may say one instructor is the best and that you should definitely fly with them, but if you go flying with them and don’t like their teaching style, don’t hesitate to ask for a new instructor.
Talk to their other students: If the instructor is experienced, you may be able to talk to some of his or her previous students to find out what they did or did not like about this instructor and maybe even their previous instructors before they settled on this particular CFI. It is true that everyone learns differently so some students may not like a particular instructor’s teaching style or learn well in that manner. It may depend on whether the student already has experience or whether they are brand new to aviation. It is important for the student to make their own decisions about each instructor and not just base their choice on what other pilots might say or think. You will be spending a lot of time and money with this person so it is important that you get along.
Don’t be afraid to use different instructors! What I thought was so great about my flying club was that my instructor wanted me to fly and study ground with different instructors. He actually sent me with his instructor as kind of a “stage check” before I soloed because he wanted me to get used to flying with other people. I also did ground with his instructor before I took my checkride. The instructor was very experienced and knew a lot about how the examiners conducted their oral exams so he wanted to make sure that I had a clear picture of the level of difficulty. In advanced ratings too, you might consider using a different instructor now and again to get a different perspective. The instructor may help you understand something your regular instructor may not be able to help you with. Warning: it might not help to do this when you are brand new because too many opinions can confuse you rather than help you.
Regardless, this is your experience so you have to find whatever works best for you and only you!