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The 6 Hardest Parts Of Becoming a CFI


Becoming a flight instructor is one of the most challenging and rewarding things you can do. Here are a few things you should know before you get started...

1) Showing Your Student, Without Doing It All Yourself

One of the most challenging parts about becoming an instructor is finding a way to explain a maneuver step-by-step.

As an experienced pilot, it's easy to forget how you developed stick-and-rudder skills. With new students, make sure you're using exterior visual cues, and not over-focusing on cockpit instrumentation.

Where should your student's hands and feet be during the maneuver? Where should their eyes be? Helping your student understand those basics will get you through the explanation of just about any maneuver.


2) Letting Students Make Mistakes

Unless safety of flight is at risk, allowing your students to make mistakes is important for them to learn. Fight the urge to correct a student's error before they have the chance to fix it.

Defensive positioning is important, but don't make it too obvious. If you want your students to maintain self-confidence, show them that you have confidence in them.


3) Writing (And Maintaining) Your Own Standards

How will you decide when your student is ready to fly solo? Are you going to use ACS standards? Maybe not, because if they flew to ACS standards, they'd be ready for their checkride.

FAR 61.87d lists out the required training and maneuvers prior to flying solo, but it doesn't list out any specific standards. That's up to you as the instructor.

Create your own set of objective guidelines that you'll use to determine when your student is ready to fly solo.

Do you want your student to land with the runway centerline consistently between the main wheels? Add details like that to your standards.


4) Writing Your Own Lesson Plans

Purchasing lesson plans online is easy and seems like a great option at first, but you'll learn a lot more if you write your own.

If you have copies of outlines from a friend, use them as a guide to create your own. Don't forget to reference the ACS or PTS to make sure you've covered all of the required teaching elements.

5) The Time Commitment

CFI training improves your aviation skills and knowledge. At the same time, you learn how to transfer your skills and knowledge to your student.

Physically, becoming a CFI is a move from the left to right seat. Mentally, it's a transition from being a good pilot to being a good teacher.

To be a great CFI, you need to learn the skill (and patience) of teaching, which takes time and commitment.


6) Keeping It Fun

You and your student are in the airplane for one reason: you both love to fly.

It can be easy to forget, especially when your student is struggling to overcome a learning plateau.

It's your job as an instructor to mix a little fun into your lessons. Try new destinations, different scenarios, and even a lunch stop to make a positive impact in your student's experience and excitement about flying.


Reaching the instructional level of aviation knowledge is no easy task. But with the right preparation and motivation, becoming a CFI is one of the most rewarding things you'll ever do as a pilot.

Want to be a pilot? Start your aviation career with ThrustFlight. Learn more and get started here.

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