Choosing the right flight instructor is crucial when learning to fly. But it can be difficult to find a flight instructor who is a good fit for you. In this guide, we will show what to look for in a flight instructor and how to find out if you found the right one.
First of all, you'll need to decide whether you want to join a flying club or flight school. Both have their positive and negative aspects, and depending on your location, you'll have one or both options. Flight schools are usually located on bigger airports, while flying clubs can mostly be found on smaller local airfields.
The first step is to find your local flying club or flight school and go there to ask for information. If you're going to a flight school, you will probably be assigned an instructor if no-one has recommended a CFI (Certified Flight Instructor) to you.
To assess whether a flight instructor will be a good fit for you, there are a number of questions you should ask him/her.
What about your schedule and general availability?
Having an instructor whose schedule fits yours is a big must. Let's say your work schedule is 8-5, Monday through Friday. You found a CFI you absolutely love, but his schedule only allows him to fly between 8 and 5 from Monday through Friday. Well, suddenly he's not a viable option anymore.
That was an obviously exaggerated scheduling example, but even on a smaller scale, let's say you can only fly on evenings and weekends, and he is able to fly maybe two evenings and Saturday mornings. That's a lot better, and maybe that schedule will work just fine for both of you. But you have to take into consideration all of the days that things will come up. The days you have to work late, or the weather is bad, or he has to take care of the kids, or you have family in town unexpectedly. When you have a very small window of scheduling opportunity, any changes suddenly become much bigger. That's when you have a couple of scheduling conflicts and suddenly realize you haven't taken a lesson in a month.
What is your training philosophy?
What is your billing policy? What is your cancellation policy?
You want to find someone who works well with your personality. Someone you will be more than happy to spend 40+ hours with confined in a space half the size of the inside of a Honda Civic.
After the first couple of flights, you and your CFI will start to get a feel for how the training is going. Ask yourself if you feel the CFI is: too laid back, too stern, genuinely concerned about your learning, or distracted. Hey, it's your money! If it doesn't feel right have a discussion with your instructor, or request another CFI.
Whatever you decide to do and whoever you decide to fly with, whether it be a freelance CFI or a full-on flight school, the most important things are that the person you choose is safe, you feel comfortable with them, and you get along with them. Each person is going to click with a different kind of person. Don't just take a friend's word for it. Just because he likes his CFI doesn't necessarily mean that the two of you will click on the same level.
Take the time to find that person. Remember, you are going to be spending hours and hours with this person and paying them thousands of your hard earned dollars. It is worth it to spend a little extra time on the front end to find that right CFI for you.
Have any questions about flight instructors and picking the right one? Let us know below!
Thanks to Keith Magrady for helping with this guide! Last update on February 5, 2017.