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Fostering Flight Instructor Growth: Nurturing Mentorship Programs and Innovative Training Solutions

February 2024

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Creating a Mentor Culture in Any Flight School

In case you aren’t aware, most new CFIs don’t know about or aren’t affiliated with a mentoring program to help them with students.  In almost every trade or professional environment, there is a period of time when the newly credentialed person works with some supervision.  This helps smooth out the rough spots and keeps customers and everyone happier and safer.  We don’t have this sort of program for new CFIs, but it is sorely needed.

Mentoring programs don’t catch on with younger CFIs because there is no WIFM (What’s in it for me?)  I already have my certificate, and the FAA says I’m good.  That answer is also true of new medical school graduates who have been conferred the title of Medical Doctor but aren’t allowed to practice yet.  They will spend another two years under the supervision of other physicians, and in the end, they will gain beneficial information about their craft.  I’m not saying we need a two-year residency program, but we really need something.

It’s rare that an individual newly minted CFI seeks out or is really interested in being in a mentoring program.  Maybe they think they will be considered less than because they are in such a program.  Ultimately, the main driver of getting a mentoring program going is the flight school in which they will work.  I will share a great piece of advice from Greg Brown, a super CFI, who wrote the book, “The Savy Flight Instructor - Second Edition.”

He says there is a simple solution to this problem, and it’s not even called a mentoring program, but it achieves the same thing.  What is it you ask?  Well, Greg says that flight schools should have a weekly meeting where CFI’s report on their student’s progress and any issues they are having with them, the school, or whatever.  This sparks conversation among the CFIs and gives a one-stop place to get advice and share ideas.  Having a few Senior CFIs is a great way to have a mentoring program under the name of “Weekly Meeting.”  This seems far more approachable than saying you need a mentor.  

I was talking to David at SAFE a few months ago, and his take was similar to mine.  He said most people who get on the mentoring programs offered now may not need them.  They usually have some experience already and are looking to hone their teaching.  The youngest CFIs typically aren’t interested; these are the CFIs that need such a program the most.  I’ve said the way to get the younger CFIs into a program is through flight school management.  Convince the school that it will help with issues before they become issues and make a better product, and you could get them to insist on it.  But, now that I have heard Greg’s solution, I bow to his way and totally think the idea will work.

Thanks, Greg!

CFI SmartStidy Pro - A complete way to Study for the CFi in Beta

CFI Bootcamp is preparing to release another revolutionary product for the Flight Instructor training market.  I’t called CFI SmartStudy Pro.  It is a training system that answers the question, “What do I need to study, and how do I keep it all in my head?”  It’s the second most common question we get at CFI Bootcamp.  The first is, “What will I be asked about the FOI?”

To address the what and how do I study question, we looked at all of the tasks in Area of Operations I-IV in the Flight Instructor Airplane Single Engine Practical Test Standards.  There are 26.  We then made a three-step process.

  1. We made 10 - 30 minute or so audio files giving a comprehensive overview of each task.  26 audio files total around 6 hours of listening.  For example, you can do it in your car on the way to a lesson.

  2. We created a Companion PDF for each task with images from FAA handbooks, summaries, and reprints for viewing after the audio presentation.

  3. We then tied everything to our CFI PTS Laser Focus Guide (included in the course), which directs you to the resources from FAA handbooks, FARs, ACs, and so on, and we tell you what to read.  We also wrote some notes about many of the elements in most tasks.

There’s another thing we did, which I think is phenomenal.  We showed you the order to study the tasks.  We have you study the things you may know already first, then do the CFI-centric tasks last, so you continuously have to keep acronyms and abstract content in your head for months at a time, all to forget it a month later.

We are putting the product into 5 beta testers’ hands the first week of March and will collect any issues and fix them before release.  We would like to have the final version ready in late March. 

Redbird Migration is March 5-6 in Houston, TX

Redbird Migration, a flight training conference sponsored by Redbird Flight Simulator Company, will be at the Lone Star Aviation Museum in Houston from March 5 to 6.  The AOPA Flight School/Instructor Excellence Awards will also be revealed during the dinner on March 6th.

I expect to hear from some FAA people regarding the current status of the ACSs, MOSAIC, and 141 rules and changes.  I will share those in next month’s newsletter.

I am also scheduled to speak at a break-out session on March 6th.  It’s a debate about Analog vs Electronic Flight Planning Tools.  I am prepared to be pelted with Tomatoes, but I also intend to win.  

Updates from Migration can be found at redbird migration 2024

CFI Round Table - Power Hour Lesson 172 - One for the books..

February 24th marked our 172nd power hour lesson and what a lesson it was...  We were able to have the pleasure of having 4 great CFIs join us on a panel discussion revolving around students study independently from a Flight Instructor’s perspective.

The Panel consisted of Dorothy Schick, Rex Shoell, Greg Brown, David St. George and Mike Shiflett. The Panel shared their experiences and challenges as flight instructors, emphasizing the importance of teaching tailored to each unique individual, utilizing open-ended questions, backseat instruction, and allowing students to make (and correct) their own mistakes. Greg and David emphasized the need to empower every learner, building PIC authority into each future pilot. They highlighted the CFI Mentor Program and the need for new instructors to access this mentorship to grow their professionalism. Greg suggested that Flight Schools have weekly CFI meetings to discuss each instructor’s students and any challenges the instructors might have with them. This enables mentoring and sharing allowing CFIs to solve bigger strategic issues, ideally with some Senior CFI mentorship. The Panel also discussed the challenges common to all flight lessons, the importance of managing initial student fears, and the need to teach basic aerodynamic principles. Towards the end, the conversation shifted towards encouraging a participant’s potential as a flight instructor and strategies for improving teaching skills in aviation.

Interseted in reading, and or watching the entire CFI Round Table - Panel Discussion?

Click Here.

CFI ProTips

  1. When teaching a lesson, have a full version, 5 minute and 1 minute version.  It helps you tailor your lesson to a given situation and gives you tools to take a big lesson and get to the essence for pilots who already know certain aspects of the lesson.

  2. When creating a PowerPoint deck, have one message per slide and no more than 6 objects on any slide.  Sentences are to be avoided.  Just a point to prompt you; the rest goes in the speaker notes.  Students will read the slide and not hear you if it isn’t super short.

  3. Make sure to get the student out of the Psychomotor domain when trying to do a particular maneuver.  They will be task-saturated and not be able to process what you are

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