Posts Tagged ‘flight instructors’

Your CFI’s voice in your head

Tuesday, October 20th, 2015

Fly the airplaneDo you hear your flight instructor’s voice in your head when you fly? I still hear my CFI John telling me to “look for traffic on the 45,” even though it has been 14 years since John and I flew together, and three years since my airport got a control tower.

It turns out most of us still hear our CFI’s voice when we fly, and our CFIs say a lot. I’ve collected some of the best from the Flight Training Facebook page. Don’t forget to share your CFI’s sayings in the comments.

Takeoffs and landings:

“Watch the runway, your airspeed, the runway, your airspeed, the runway, your airspeed…”—Sergio Rodriguez

“Keep your hand on the throttle during takeoff! And more left (or right) rudder.”—Jeremy Mendoza

“On final, ‘keep the nose down, keep it down, hold it, hold it, don’t flare too early.'”—Daniel Thompson

“Don’t let it touch, don’t let it touch, don’t let it touch”—Janis Horn

“Hold it, hold it”—Nancy Rice

“‘Hold it off, hold it off!’ when landing. And of course, ‘More right rudder!'”—Regina Coker

“More right rudder”—William Fence

“Watch your airspeed, watch your airspeed, watch your airspeed!”—Hicks Dunlap

“Watch your airspeed”—David E. Rowland

“He’s hollering, ‘MORE LEFT RUDDER!’ in a big crosswind landing. Me: IT’S ALL THE WAY TO THE FLOOR! Him: ‘OK THEN THAT’S ENOUGH.'”—Brian McDaniel

“I still hear ‘WATCH YOUR SPEEDS’ every landing.”—Gary Veduccio

“Fly the aircraft to the ground. Keep flying ’til the wheels touch.”—M. James O’Connor

“Hold it off, hold it off, hold it off! (While rounding out over the runway)”—Donnie Beene

“Don’t get flat! Don’t get flat!”—JP Wing

“The right airspeed determines where you land; the wrong airspeed determines where you crash.”—Doug Heun

“Flare!”—Gustavo E. Navarrete

“Don’t let it touch, keep it off, keep it off”—Johnny Ramm

“More back-pressure on the controls during landing”—Nichole Jesse Dyer

“Dance on those rudder pedals!”—Nichole Stacey

“Breathe, please! Did you know you stop breathing between calling finals and landing?”—Anne Hughes

“‘On final, numbers one-third up the windshield and on speed.’ Hasn’t let me down yet.”—Lindsay Petre

“‘Bad horsey, bad horsey’ on final approach and a reminder to keep my feet on the rudder pedals fighting crosswinds.”—Joshua Carroll

“Go arounds are free”—Lisa Osantowski

“Fly every approach expecting to go around. Actually landing should be an unexpected bonus.”—Jay Beckman



“No gorilla grip.”—Nichole Stacey

“Keep a light touch on the yoke, not a death grip!”—Wayne Stiles

“Keep your feet on the pedals, or I’ll start calling you a Piper driver!”—Michael Owens

“Heading, attitude, airspeed, ball in the middle! I teach my students that as well.”—Ron Johnson II


“Pretend you don’t have GPS and find your way home.”—Liam Wilson

“Clear right, clear left.”—Jay Phillip

“See that tower? DON’T HIT IT”—Steve Kittel

“Your mind needs to be five minutes ahead of your aircraft; whatever is behind you has already passed.”—Terry Barton

“Keep your head on a swivel.”—Jay Scheick

“When practicing stalls on my own he told me to “just rip that Band-Aid off,” and now I do stalls simply for the thrill of it.”—Tommy Cheman

“Practicing power-on stalls while hanging on the prop with the stall warning horn screaming, ‘Don’t you stall this airplane.'”—Darren Nishimura

“Aviate, navigate, communicate (in that order).”—Scott Jeanes

“Scan for traffic. Then, scan for traffic, and finally, scan for traffic.”—Victor Huerta

“Stay coordinated.”—Karen Atkins

“Keep the ball in the middle.”—Duncan Malloch

“Pull back, houses get smaller.”-–Chad Obenski

“Cram, climb, clean (just a little at a time), communicate.”—Pamela M. Swanson

“Trim it to stay there” and “See, nothing to it!”—Scott Woodland

“Airspeed and attitude are your friends.”—David A. Brown



“When the defecation hits the rotation, fly the plane, fly the plane, fly the plane!”—Ace Adair

“My instructor used to cut power at 6,000 feet and say, ‘Where are you going to land now?'”—Lloyd Stowe

“Multiengine instruction: ‘If you mess it up in an emergency, turn it into a glider.’ Maintain positive control.”—Windtee Aviation Art

“You fly the aircraft; the aircraft doesn’t fly you.”—Norbert Saemann

“It doesn’t fly you, you fly it.”—Nick Reed

“Always be aware of possible emergency landing places in a single engine plane at low altitudes.”—Jarkko Harju

“If you damage my airplane I’m coming after you.”—Frank Mierau, who said he left that instructor shortly thereafter, and we don’t blame him


Instrument work:

“Small corrections”—Chris Olin

“Small, soft, constant corrections.”—Guillaume Cholette

“I can still hear [his] voice. ‘Oye mi Yason, what are you doing?’ I say it to myself every ILS. Twice on a CAT II.”—Jason Bullard

“Turn, time, twist, throttle, talk.”—Mike Merill


The philosophers:

“There are two types of pilots: one that gets to 400 feet and wonders why the engine stopped; the other pilot gets to 400 feet and wonders why the engine didn’t stop.”—Bradley Lange

“It is better being on the ground wishing you were in the air than being in the air wishing you were on the ground.”—Adrian Pilot

“Airspeed is life, attitude is life insurance.”—Brady Patrick Nicholson

“Never give up.”—Marina Zompanaki

“From my father, who flew in World War II: ‘Always give yourself an out.'”—Tom Harnish

“Little chickens grow up to be old buzzards”—Rob Wahmann

“The three most useless things in aviation: the runway behind you; the altitude above you; the fuel not in the tanks.”—LRod Peterson

“The airplane is the body; the pilot is its soul.”—Ammar Aljabali

“Any landing you can walk away from is a good one. A great one is one in which you can use the airplane again afterwards.”—Doug Heun; Ben-Thomas Cairns;

“Never run out of airspeed, attitude, or ideas”—Bryn Fowd

“It is better being on the ground wishing you were in the air than being in the air wishing you were on the ground.”—Adrian Pilot

“The only time you can have too much fuel is when you’re on fire or overweight.”—Rodney Tuggle

“I actually asked my instructor for some deep, meaningful advice, to which he replied, ‘Uh…don’t die?'”—Ryan Nelson

Thanks to all flight instructors for drilling good practices into your students.—Jill W. Tallman

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Does it matter how you get your time?

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014

10 Ways to ImproveAs airlines begin to spool up their hiring and training, and new commercial pilots are signed off by flight schools, an age-old question has popped up: Do airlines care how you get your time? Specifically, do regional airlines care? Does it matter if you log most of your post-commercial time as a CFI? If so, does it matter what kind of flight school you work in?

The answer is no. The regionals don’t care how you earn that first 1,000 to 1,200 hours. What they do care about is that you have it and that you can document it. Obviously, multiengine time is the most desired time to have, but the days of plentiful FAR Part 135 jobs in piston twins appear to have come and gone. But there are other options for getting time.

Flight instructing is obviously the most common and most time-honored method. Being a CFI will do more for your understanding of the art and craft of flying than you can imagine. Further, your understanding and depth of knowledge about the federal aviation regulations and the Aeronautical Information Manual will never be as good as when you are quoting them verbatim every day.

Depending on where you live (or choose to live), you can also pursue your flight time requirements towing banners. This is generally more common near beach communities, but not always. It’s also got an element of danger in it during the pickup. Many a pilot has earned his basic time flying barefoot in a Cub along a beach. The work can be boring, but in the summer, you can easily log six to eight hours a day, and that time adds up.

Sightseeing flights in popular tourist areas (the Grand Canyon, the Florida Keys, the Rockies) is another avenue for making time, and making time count. A few areas still use pipeline patrols, but these are getting less and less common, and the days of flying a traffic patrol are also coming to an end as more and more cities install cameras on highways. Further, more of these jobs are transitioning to helicopters because of their flexibility and ability to land at the scene of an accident for that “Live at Five” shot.

With regard to flight schools, it doesn’t matter if you work as a CFI in a Part 141 or a Part 61 school. While it’s true that Part 141 schools tend to mimic the airlines with dispatch desks, more rigid scheduling and operational rules, and even flight following, the CFI’s basic tasks don’t change. This is even more true as regional airlines scramble frantically for pilots.

The majors are obviously interested in hiring candidates who have previous Part 121 experience. It used to be that “EFIS and glass” were the big points, but now that every RJ has a glass cockpit, along with many turboprops, the emphasis is on overall 121 experience, with heavy emphasis placed on jet and turbojet pilot-in-command (TPIC) time. Getting hired at the majors from Part 91 and/or 135 corporate positions is harder than it used to be, but it can still be done.

If you’re just starting your career, don’t worry too much about how you get that first 1,200 hours. Just concentrate on getting it, and on getting any multiengine time anywhere you can. Once a regional hires you, the rest will fall into place.—Chip Wright

Cross-marketing flying

Monday, March 10th, 2014

scuba divingI recently touched on the topic of marketing yourself as a CFI. I say “touched” because a 900- word blog simply cannot do the topic justice. Books have been written about it—books geared toward the CFI, no less, and they had far more than 900 words.

But I do want to touch on the concept of cross-marketing. As I mentioned previously, general aviation has not historically done well with marketing efforts, especially flight schools. They tend to rely on walk-ins, word-of-mouth, and website hits. Not many take advantage of cross-marketing with other activities that attract the same demographic as pilots.

The most obvious market is scuba diving. Diving tends to attract relatively well-to-do individuals looking to fulfill “bucket list” goals, or those who are interested in living life from a different perspective. Flying and diving have much in common: Both are three-dimensional activities; both require analysis and planning; both require some specialized equipment; both require a disciplined approach toward safety; and both are best when shared with others. In fact, diving is a highly social activity, much more so than flying is.

Research has shown that as many as 70 percent of pilots are also scuba divers. Note that I did not say that 70 percent of divers are pilots. However, the immediate use of that information is obvious: Divers are a market just waiting to be exploited by you, the instructor-to-be of a bunch of future pilots.

Unlike flying, diving is an industry that is unregulated by the government. It’s largely self-regulated, and there are numerous dive training agencies. The heavy hitter, though, is the Professional Association of Dive Instructors (PADI). Chances are that your local shop is a PADI facility, and if it isn’t, it probably has at least one PADI-certified instructor. PADI is a marketing machine.

As a CFI, you can—and should—try to establish a relationship with your local dive shop. Talk about forming a partnership that might consist of promoting each other’s businesses via brochures or sharing links on each other’s websites. Establish a referral system that provides an incentive for old customers to bring in new customers to either business. If you are not a certified diver, consider becoming one. Even if you are not interested, learn what is required to become a diver, and learn the basics of the training system in use at your local dive shop, be it PADI, NAUI, SSI, et cetera. Understanding the lingo and the training platforms will help you when it comes to talking to potential diving pilots.

Flying and diving are both travel activities. One way to promote both at the same time would be to establish a “flying diving vacation,” such as a trip to a beach that is also a diving hot-spot. Locations like the Gulf Shores, the Florida Keys, the Bahamas, Catalina Island, or even Mexico offer much for divers, non-divers, and pilots. A GA pilot can’t fly for pay, but the divers in the airplane can contribute to the cost of the flight by paying for some of the fuel. For divers who have not been exposed to general aviation, it may be a great way to introduce them to the fun and flexibility offered by general aviation airplanes. You and your new dive-shop partner can heavily promote a trip like this. The dive shop can also promote various diving events that will take place once you actually hit the water (with your scuba gear, that is).

This is just one avenue of cross-promotional marketing. There are others, and some will be local to where you live. So, “dive right in,” and start tapping into revenue “pools” that already exist.—Chip Wright

The August “Since You Asked” poll: Where’s your hand?

Monday, September 10th, 2012

Many student pilots are mystified when something their flight instructor has taught them is overruled by another flight instructor or a designated pilot examiner.

Such was the case in the August 2012 edition of Rod Machado’s “Since You Asked?” No Name Please (there are a lot of people with that monicker who write in to Rod, it seems) recounted that another CFI at his airport insists that a pilot flying have his hand on the throttle pretty much at all times and “goes bonkers” if he catches someone removing a hand from the throttle during final approach–no matter if a trim or flap adjustment is needed. He’s even been known not to sign off a pilot for a checkout if that hand comes off the throttle.

We asked digital readers to finish this sentence: “On takeoff or on final approach, the hand that’s not on the yoke is…”

The vast majority (94 percent of you) said their hand is on the throttle, but “I will take it off to adjust flaps or trim.”

The remainder (6 percent) said they keep that hand on the the throttle, “and it stays there.” Nobody admitted to keeping that hand in their lap.

Rod’s position is that while it’s reasonable to instruct student pilots to keep their hand on the throttle during takeoff or landing, but there’s no good reason whatsoever that a student pilot–or any other pilot–not be permitted to take his or her hand off the throttle to “do his cockpit business.” Those of us who fly airplanes with non-electric trim are thankful.–Jill W. Tallman

“Since You Asked” polls appear monthly in the digital edition of Flight Training. If you’d like to switch your magazine from paper to digital at no additional charge, go here or call Member Services 800-USA-AOPA weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern.