Roger Throwing CFIs Under the Bus…

If you are a Roger Sharp fan I apologize in advance for my lack of love for his most recent rant about “stupid CFIs” at Migration.(Please click this link and watch a while…) His negative attitude toward all CFIs has progressed over the years from crappy to corrosive and my tolerance for his sarcasm reached a tipping point on this one.  And the only solution offered (at this Redbird gathering) is, of course, GIFT – the clever, self-guided software training that will (presumably all by itself) teach you to be a safe pilot (I don’t think even Redbird would back that claim). Totally trashing CFIs and trying to remove them from the educational equation – technology will save us yet again – is not the answer. Creating and supporting high-quality aviation educators is the necessary answer to our aviation future. Encouraging DPE/CFI dialogue (not diatribe) would be an even bigger step in the right direction.

Clearly, the Redbird experience in San Marcos with flight training has been painful. Their flight school closed a few years ago, and their Skyport FBO closed last month “without making a dime in eight years.” The bitterness of these failures has obviously left its mark on Redbird and Roger. But that is no reason to go to war on CFIs. As DPEs there is already too much hate directed at our profession. A much more productive course would be fostering more CFI/DPE collaboration and teamwork.

Though Redbird GIFT may be wonderful and valuable (I confess I have not sampled the glory of this package), at most it is a standardized exposure to the maneuvers in the ACS and cannot teach the context, meaning, and judgment necessary to be safe.  GIFT can only “teach to the test” and a Redbird is still very different from a real airplane. Even if you master a bobbing box run by software, at some point our potential pilot will have to learn to fly “the real thing.” Adapting to the real airplane with the stress and responsibility is a necessary transition for every pilot in command that requires a high-quality aviation educator.

I know from my recent experience with our SAFE CFI-PRO™, that there are many amazing, committed professionals out there doing a great job educating future pilots. Good examiners working closely with new CFIs to build their skills and enable excellence is the future of the flight training industry. Not every new CFI is the lost cause that Roger depicts. It might be hard to remember, but we were all a bit clueless when we started out as CFIs and good mentors and a helping hand make the essential difference.

I stand with the CFIs here and re-emphasize SAFE’s mission of building proficiency and enabling excellence in aviation education. Roger’s whining doesn’t help.  Fly safe out there (and often) register for our next CFI SAFE CFI-PRO™ workshop  June 10/11th at Sporty’s Academy in Ohio.


SAFE CFI-PRO™ workshop  is open to every aviation educator at every level (even if you are working on your CFI?)

Join SAFE to support our safety mission of generating aviation excellence in teaching and flying. Our amazing member benefits pay back your contribution (1/3 off your ForeFlight subscription)! Our FREE SAFE Toolkit App puts required pilot endorsements and experience requirements right on your smartphone and facilitate CFI+DPE teamwork. Our CFI insurance was developed by SAFE specifically for CFIs (and is the best value in the business).

Author: David St. George

SAFE Director, Master CFI, 141Chief Instructor, FAA DPE, ATP (ME/SE) Currently flying 135 charter (again)

3 thoughts on “Roger Throwing CFIs Under the Bus…”

  1. I couldn’t believe the arogance of the man. Using himself as a benchmark when he was a FAIP (First assignment IP) coming out of the USAF pilot training and admitting that he was useless for 500 hours. This means he was either bottom or very close to bottom of the class. As a civilian he wouldn’t even had got a job as a CFI let alone hold it for long. His remarks that he was useless as an IP for an extremely long time means he was probably shitting his pants trying to pass each stan-eval trip. I stopped watching, I’d seen and heard enough.
    I bet many CFI’s are running rings around this joker even without all the support, training and facilities that he had as a FAIP in the USAF. I would advise all students to steer clear of this guy. He’s pure poison.

  2. I only saw part of the presentation mentioned. I guess I missed the really good parts, and I’ll have to go back and watch the rest. But tuning in late to the live stream, my multitasking soon stopped as I gave full attention to what was being said. I recognized the voice, but it took a while for me to really hear the message. Eventually I picked up the thread – CFI’s are bad and GIFT is good, was the gist. As my brain sleepily emerged from the other tasks occupying grey-cell bandwidth moments before, my annoyance turned to sadness.

    I thought about the lofty goals of the original Redbird Skyport “Laboratory”. How Redbird was going to learn something about the use of these genuinely nifty little simulation devices, through their use in primary flight training. Indeed the FAA had granted an experimental part 141 certificate to the school, enabling the use of the sims for previously required flight time. This subsidy from the FAA was really a gift from the public, whom the agency serves. And Redbird promised to share what it learned, so we could all benefit through better and more efficient flight training, safer pilots, and increased safety for the flying public.

    Then, even better, the annual Migration events were organized and promoted; a flight training industry group-think open to all with passion for teaching others to fly. I attended one of the early events, enjoyed the festive atmosphere and learned a thing or two from the big name presenters.

    So what happened? Why did the Skyport flight school close after a few years? When I walked through the Skyport Building with Roger as it was being constructed, I was awed by the creative design of the building, the furniture, and the proposed training paradigm, all of which were products if his depth and intelligence. My thought at the time was; – Wow, you could build copies of this anywhere in the world – a reproducible model, perhaps of the future of flight training.

    Unfortunately the Redbird Skyport “experiment” didn’t last, I guess you could say it failed in the place where business rubber meets the road, the marketplace. I never saw any of the data, so generously promised to the flight training community, except that perhaps the doors closing at Skyport IS the data.

    Nevertheless, Migration continues annually, and this year apparently the message is – Flight instructors suck, buy our products instead. Perhaps the flaw in the science behind the Skyport experiment has finally been revealed; there never was any science, just marketing. And now that is all that is left, and from my point of view, not very effective marketing at that. Makes me think of this; new parents suck at parenting, so maybe we should have our babies raised by machines…..I wonder if I can get a patent?

    1. Good analogy with parenting…education is similarly a hands-on, very personal, learning experiment and every flight you learn more. As a DPE I work very hard not to succumb to the cynicism Roger seems to channel in this presentation. (It is easy to fall into that pit of despair) There are (fortunately) some really great CFIs and amazing applicants.

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