Create a positive CFI culture

Recently I had an opportunity to visit with the NTSB. Normally any visit with the NTSB would be under circumstances that none of us would like to be in, but this was different. I was invited to the NTSB training center by a flight school owner and his instructors. We had just eaten pizza and I was sitting in the classroom when I really began to see some of the secret sauce of this successful flight training business.

This flight training business has a yearly full-day CFI standardization workshop, but they also bring the group together once a month. The monthly meetings do have the usual updates for standardization and ongoing issues, but they go quite a bit farther. They take the time to really share and celebrate successes in a way that makes it obvious the staff feels like they are part of something important and meaningful. It was such an upbeat and inspiring meeting, I secretly wanted to fill out a job application.

This particular monthly meeting included the NTSB meeting, which consisted of a full program of looking at actual evidence of training accidents and a tour of the NTSB training “laboratory.” The obvious effort involved in putting the evening on and having it go beyond the day-to-day logistics and issues of training operations was obvious. The investment of time and energy in the CFI as a person and whole aviator has resulted in such a positive and supportive CFI culture that it overflows into a positive and supportive customer experience at this school.

The CFI is the face of a flight school and the face of aviation as a whole for our new pilots in training. Efforts that show school leadership has an interest and values its CFIs are modeling the behavior we expect to be projected by the CFI to our customers.  As humans we tend to emulate behaviors that are modeled for us. So you may not have the NTSB training center with the pieced together remains of TWA flight 800 in your backyard, but there is always some type of experience you can make available for your staff to feed their own desires as a pilot and a person.

What do you do to create a positive CFI culture?

–Shannon Yeager, AOPA vice president of strategic initiatives in the Center to Advance the Pilot Community

 

Sporty’s, Frasca partner to learn more about sim training

Sporty’s took delivery of a Frasca Mentor Advanced Aviation Training Device in December, as part of a collaboration with Frasca International, Inc., to develop training products that leverage the flight training expertise of Sporty’s and the flight simulation expertise of Frasca. The ultimate goal of the partnership will be to create training materials, course content, and programs to enhance the learning experience through the efficient integration of flight simulation in basic flight training.

Frasca’s research in the use of simulation in basic flight training goes back more than 40 years to studies conducted in cooperation with Purdue University in an effort to improve the flight training experience. Sporty’s use of Frasca simulation dates back more than 20 years, when the Frasca Model 142 was integrated into curriculum used as part of the University’s of Cincinnati’s Professional Pilot Training Program. The advancements in simulation technology and visual systems, along with the amazing capability of modern devices, have made it possible to renew our efforts at utilizing simulation to its maximum potential.

The first step in this partnership is for students at Sporty’s to begin utilizing the Frasca Mentor Cessna 172S Advanced Aviation Training Device (AATD) flight simulator. The Mentor features a 200-degree visual system and Frasca’s TruVision technology.

TruVision provides worldwide visuals, including more than 20,000 runways, coastlines, rivers, roads, and more, allowing the pilot to fly anywhere in the world. In addition, the Mentor at Sporty’s comes with detailed satellite imagery within 150 miles of the Sporty’s/Clermont County Airport (I69). This visual enhancement allows for realistic, scenario-based training, meaningful VFR cross-country flying, and even ground-reference maneuvers. Continue reading

Make your own great instructors

The thrill of explaining what makes an airplane fly, what the flight controls do, and going over a thorough preflight while your new student eagerly awaits their chance behind the controls is an honor. That excitement you feel from that forty-forth touchdown, when your student actually pulled the airplane into the proper flare with the nose aligned with the centerline, is hard to explain. The ecstatic energy you feel when your student, after his first solo, shuts down the airplane, opens the door, has a huge smile on his red face, and says, “That was awesome!” These are just the beginning of the fulfillment that comes with being a flight instructor.

Airline, corporate, and military pilots were all taught by someone. That someone that changed their lives forever was a flight instructor. The FAA knows the importance of a flight instructor. A person who wants to become a flight instructor has to pass two written exams and many go directly to the Flight Standards District Office for the practical checkride. These examiners at the FSDO aren’t playing around either. They expect the examinee to be a meteorologist, mechanic, physicist, psychologist, and teaching professional.

Left to right: Greenville-based instructor William Bowen, Spartanburg-based instructor Adam Lockamy, Director of Operations Michele Rash, Chief Flight Instructor Cyndy Hollman, and Shane Martin, operations and future CFI

As more people realize the importance of quality flight instruction, there is a growing demand for professional flight instructors. In the past some people may have thought, “I’m just a flight instructor.” But now really good flight instructors are sought out and paid top dollar for their contribution to aviation.

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