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CFI Round Table | Top 10 Things I Learned from being a CFI


Mike Shiflett will host Feb 24’s Power Hour and will have Five other CFIs, some well-known in the aviation training industry.

Dorothy Schick - Oregon-based CFI. A Part 61  Fight school owner for more than 26 years, a member of the Board of Directors of Society of Aviation and Flight Educators (SAFE) and a Co-founder of the  FaceBook CFI Study Group.  This group has over four Thousand members and hosts a weekly Zoom meeting every Tuesday from 4 pm to 6 pm Pacific Time. The CFI Study Group started primarily to help tutor commercial pilots studying to become CFIs, in less than three years it has quickly become a leading “learning platform” for all levels of flight and ground instructors.

Rex Shoell - Ogden, Utah based CFI in both gliders and airplanes.  He is a co-founder and co-administers the CFI Study Group on Facebook.  He is EAA Chapter 58 president, VMC coordinator and Young Eagles Flight coordinator.  He is also the lead representative for the SLC-FSDO FAASTeam and WingsPro.  Rex is working on his CFII.

Greg Brown - Arizona-based CFI.  Greg is the author of The Savvy Flight Instructor and The Turbine Pilot’s Flight Manual, among others.  What I particularly like about Greg is that, with his vast experience, he offers up some of the best critiques and gives solid methods to improve.  Greg is usually on the CFI Study Group Zoom meetings on Tuesday.

David St. George - Upstate NY based CFI and DPE.  David St. George.  David took his first flying lesson in 1970. Flying for over 50 years, he began instructing full-time in 1992. A 26-year Master Instructor, David is the Executive Director of SAFE (The Society of Aviation and Flight Educators). He has logged >21K hours of flight time with >16K hours of flight instruction given (chief instructor of a 141 school with a college program for > 20 years). He is currently a charter pilot flying a Citation M2 single-pilot jet.

Mike Shiflett - Florida-based CFI and former FAA and UK CAA DPE.  Mike runs CFI Bootcamp and teaches most of the academic courses there.  Mike regularly gives presentations at events like Sun-n-Fun, EAA Airventure, Redbird Migration, etc.  Mike also hosts the “Power Hour,” an every Saturday live show from 12 pm - 1 pm Eastern time.  With over 172 shows done, the venue gets guest speakers like Gary GPS Reeves, AOPA’s Legal Services Division, Hobie Tomlison, SAFE, and more.  Spread the word.  Here is a registration page link to share with anyone you think would benefit.  Power Hour Link


Have Time to Beta Test a New Product from CFI Bootcamp?

We are looking for a few beta testers for CFI Bootcamp’s newest product, “CFI SmartStudy Pro.”  This is a complete system to study every ground area of operation in the Flight Instructor Airplane Single Engine Practical Test.  It works in three parts:

  1. There is a 10-30 minute audio presentation for all 26 tasks that just require you to listen.

  2. Each task has a companion PDF that can be reviewed after the audio.  It includes summaries, short descriptions, images, flow charts, AC reprints, and more.

  3. The CFI PTS Laser Focus guide, follows the PTS element by element, tells you where the resources are, gives you reading assignments, and completes the study session.

  • If you take this on, you must complete all of the audio and be able to record any errors you find by listing the error and the time it occurred in the timeline.  So you’ll need something like Quicktime player to be able to see the timeline.  The entire audio content is a little over 6 hours.

We only have room for 5 beta testers; each selected person will receive a copy of the final product.  Email, and we’ll let you know if you are chosen.


Summarization of Entire Lesson Quick Recap

The meeting revolved around helping students study independently from a Flight Instructor’s perspective. CFI.  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.

CFI SmartStudy Pro: Tailored Flight Instruction

Mike led a discussion about completing a project aimed at helping students study independently for the CFI. He highlighted the common struggles faced by students and introduced a study tool called the CFI SmartStudy Pro. The project is not yet ready, but Mike has finished recording the audio for 26 lessons. 

The Panel also shared their experiences and challenges as flight instructors, emphasizing the importance of tailored teaching, open-ended questions and allowing students to make mistakes. The meeting also touched on the pricing and value of flight instruction. Mike and David discussed the importance of high-quality flight instruction and the need for mentorship in the industry.

CFI SmartStudy Pro, Las Vegas Class, and Creative Flight Instruction

Mike introduced the Panel to a new study system, the CFI SmartStudy Pro, aimed at aiding students in their studies for the CFI. CFI Bootcamp is also seeking five beta testers for the system and plans to release it in the future. Mike also mentioned that their Las Vegas class is filling up and encouraged potential attendees to consider using VA benefits. 

Greg introduced his book, The Savvy Flight Instructor (Edition 2) e-book, emphasizing its usefulness for new flight instructors. Dorothy and Rex discussed the benefits of joining their Facebook Group - CFI Study Group site for people learning to be flight instructors. 

Dorothy brought up the topic of the limited experience found in new instructors, stressing the importance of seeking out long cross-country flights to build confidence and experience. She suggested that instructors should pursue flights far more than the required “more than 50 miles” to build experience. Greg, Mike, and David discussed the importance of understanding the limits of the initial CFI temporary certificate, as a “license to learn,” and the importance of seeking mentorship and growth for all new CFIs. They also highlighted the challenges of implementing these ideas in accelerated Academy environments. Lastly, Dorothy stressed the importance of making sure customers understand before they start that they will need to dedicate sufficient time to learning to become a pilot.

Flight Lessons Challenges and Teaching Strategies

The Panel discussed the challenges faced in flight lessons, particularly the short duration and the difficulty of crosswind landings. Rex shared his approach of dividing tasks into smaller, manageable parts, while David suggested the 'center line slow flight' technique to help students master landing skills. Greg emphasized the importance of distinguishing between facts and gut feelings when making go/no-go decisions. The Panel underscored the need to help students manage their fears during flight lessons, with Mike highlighting the importance of quality instruction and experience. Wendell, a budding CFI applicant, asked David for more advice on teaching maneuvers. The Panel then opened the floor for questions.

David’s Blog Post on Maneuvering and Control

David and Wendell discussed the importance of teaching maneuvering and control in aviation. They emphasized that new pilots often fail to learn basic aerodynamic principles due to their busy schedules. They discussed the critical role of understanding and incorporating basic aerodynamic principles into aircraft control. The Panel also highlighted the importance of following checklists, such as using the parking brake when indicated on a list. They also stressed the need for incremental, trust-building exercises to help learners overcome their fear. The conversation also touched upon the concept of pitch controlling the turn and the importance of breaking driving habits that regularly have a negative affect on initial aircraft control. SAFE is an educational not-for-profit. 

We invite all pilots to join but focus on new CFIs. (Get 1/3 of ForeFlight)

Here is the "Missing Manual" of everything the FAA did not tell you.

"Here is the secret to becoming an effective educator!"  SAFE CFI-PRO™ 

Encouraging Someone Who is 70 to Become a Flight Instructor

There was a discussion about encouraging a participant who is 70 to become a flight instructor, with Mike and Wendell expressing interest in having her in their classroom due to her experience. Another individual shared his experiences of becoming a CFI at 70, emphasizing the value of experience, teaching, and encouraging others to “go for it.” 

There was also a discussion about impending changes to the Sport pilot rules, including increasing the weight to allow traditional training airplanes to be flown and the potential advantages of becoming Sport CFI when the rules change. 

Dorothy suggested gaining additional experience and skills to make a more confident pilot.  These included doing longer cross-country training flights and doing more than just the minimum.  There were also conversations about offering optional lessons to build more confidence and experience if a person’s budget allows. There was also a concern expressed by a 400-hour pilot who doesn’t have decades of experience and thought they might not be a good flight instructor.  Greg pointed out that most of us got a lot of what we know from our first 400 hours or so, and she shouldn’t worry about entering the aviation community as a flight instructor despite not having lifelong experience in aviation.

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