Teaching “Accomplished Professionals”

The Dunning-Kruger Effect is often misunderstood to apply exclusively to low intelligence; “too dumb to know you are dumb.” But Dunning-Kruger applies across the spectrum of human intelligence and actually describes a lack of self-awareness or metacognition that blinds individuals at every level to their real abilities. Very simply, we are unaware of our incompetence – you don’t know what you don’t know!

In essence, we argue that the skills that engender competence in a particular domain are often the very same skills necessary to evaluate competence in that domain—one’s own or anyone else’s. Because of this, incompetent individuals lack what cognitive psychologists variously term metacognition. Continue reading “Teaching “Accomplished Professionals””

Passionate Pilots; Become a CFI!

The flight training industry needs more professional instructors who stay and grow in the industry,teaching beyond the minimum standards. If you are already a CFI, access this link for motivating articles and growth opportunitites. If you know a long-time pilot who would be a great CFI, inspire and mentor them; forward this article. Let's build CFI professionals.

There is a lopsided and damaging demographic trend in “new CFI certificates.” Most newly-certificated CFIs are young people – brand new to aviation – and adult life. Statistics reveal that most new CFIs teach for less than a year, building hours and moving on. Though they become the backbone of the professional pilot cadre, this “hour building” does not help the flight training business much. In our aviation industry, there is a continuous cycle of “beginners teaching pilots.” This is a continuous cycle – 2/3rds of active flight instructors have taught for less than a yearI certainly do not mean to disparage young CFIs – my best CFIs were in this group –  but our industry desperately needs educators teaching/growing for more than a year.

Experienced aviators, with financial security and a passion for aviation, are the perfect candidates to step up and become CFIs. Largely driven by passion and not dollars, these people can offset their “flying habit” with some tax advantages while enjoying the satisfaction of building new, safer pilots – paying aviation back. “People skills” and commitment are the primary “secret sauce” to successful education and customer satisfaction. Some of the best educators in our industry are “accidental CFIs” who finally became aviation educators later in life after being long-time pilots. If you are worried about liability, SAFE developed the best CFI insurance in the business just for this reason; go get some – both Master CFI and FAA WINGS get you a discount!

I have personally only put 30 or so people through their initial CFI. But the “lifetime aviators” are usually easier to develop into CFIs than brand new pilots. This is largely because all the aviation knowledge and experience acquired in life – especially “people skills” – really pay you back here. Being successful as a CFI is really about teaching people aviation *NOT* advanced aerodynamics and molecules of air.  You do not have to be a super pilot, just a compassionate coach.


Have you heard scary stories about the terrible initial CFI pass rate? FAA statistics reveal initial CFI pass rate is statistically almost the same as private pilot; ~75%! And, pilots with experience in aviation start with a disproportionate advantage: all the skill and knowledge from years of flying. I have hired academy CFIs that have never fueled a plane, never flown in an actual cloud and do not know how to tie down a plane. Yet they have a fresh FAA CFI certificate (usually a “double I” too) and are certificated by the government to teach people to fly; you can do better! (BTW; none of these skills are required in the testing process)

The first step on this path is to take a simple knowledge test and acquire your ground instructor certificate (remarkably, you do not even need to be a pilot to become a ground instructor!) Then you can start officially helping at your local school or club and actively build your teaching chops while preparing for the flight portion. Years in aviation really count here. Work on the commercial if you do not yet have that and simultaneously practice your maneuvers from the right seat (double benefit). If you are a passionate aviator, you are flying anyway and you will find this exciting and motivating. As you proceed you will no doubt discover the secret motivation of teaching flying; you learn something every day. Great CFIs are lifetime pilots and “lifetime learners” – passionate pilots make the best CFIs. SAFE also has an affiliation with CFIbootcamp. Mike and his crew are passionate and professional at rapidly assembling the skill and knowledge to pass your initial CFI.

So if you are a passionate aviator, start working on your CFI today. Join this mailing list.  Motivating articles and educational assistance will help you on your journey. SAFE CFI-PRO™ is designed specifically for this process of building professional CFIs. A new course is finally in the works for this fall; we need more committed, passionate, lifetime CFIs. Fly safely out there (and often).

  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 facilitates CFI+DPE teamwork. Our CFI insurance was developed by SAFE specifically for CFIs (and is the best value in the business).

SAFE Dinner is ON; Celebrate Aviation’s Return!

Wonderful news; our SAFE dinner at Oshkosh (AirVenture) is a “GO!!” and we have a HUGE room (so let’s fill it up!) With a late start (and the COVID “who knows? factor” all organizations are struggling with) we were all ready to cancel. With 1500 more members than two years ago (a great “problem”) we needed more space in a hurry! Fortunately, “The Atrium” is available and the SAFE dinner is ON. Please join us for a fun dinner and share your “COVID Karoke” stories of surviving and thriving despite lock down. Also, share your plans for future growth- we encourage your business cards and your fliers (and will have tables for these). Let’s network! Tickets only $20 until July 4th (early bird) then $25.

This event is at the same address on 20th Ave but up front this year in “the Atrium.” Designed this year to “meet and mingle” with food and drinks to facilitate “strategic partnerships” (and fun!) We will have some flying excitement too (we could not resist with this large enclosed space). Ticketing is electronic and your $25 gets you sliced New York Sandwiches on assorted buns. Also; bacon-wrapped chestnuts, shrimp cocktail, chicken teriyaki kababs, crab-stuffed mushrooms, and fruit kabobs. Admission includes two (beer/wine) drinks. We will need proof of age.

Details will be updated continuously on the SAFE App and SAFE Website as we adjust and optimize this event (“enable notifications” on the App for important news). As always, thanks to our wonderful sponsors and  the aviation “movers and shakers” that always make this an amazing event not to be missed! If you are at AIrventure “selling” we will have tables for your brochures (and let us know if you are willing to sponsor for high visibility appreciation!) Fly SAFE out there (and often)!

Please “follow” our SAFE blog to receive notification of new articles and also write us a comment if you see a problem (or to contribute an article). Download our (FREE) SAFE app for resources and news (OSH!!)

Please Join SAFE and support our mission of building aviation excellence through superior education. Our amazing member benefits alone make this commitment worthwhile (the 1/3 off ForeFlight more than pays your member dues).

FAA Policy Reversal on CFI!

SAFE has historically worked closely with the FAA on promoting safety and improving flight training (e.g. developing the new ACS). With all this close collaboration as CFIs, DPEs and FAAST team Lead Reps you start to think you know what is going on, how the program runs. The historic FAA policy on flight instruction very clearly defines it as “educator” stated by David P Byrne (September 18, 1995), then Assistant Chief Counsel Regulations Division:

“The FAA has determined that the compensation a certificated flight instructor receives for flight instruction is not compensation for piloting the aircraft but is rather compensation for the instruction.”

Now without changing any regulations (which would require extensive public notification and public comment of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking), the FAA has launched a whole new interpretation that defines flight instruction to include “carrying persons or property for compensation or hire.” This dramatically affects all CFIs (and is contrary to their current written policy). A June 4th letter from the FAA, signed by Ali Bahrami Associate Administrator for Aviation Safety says:

Although a person may hold the appropriate privileges “to act as a required crewmember” or “conduct flight training” under part 61, the regulations in part 91 may restrict the exercise of those privileges in a particular category of aircraft under certain conditions, such as operations conducted for compensation or hire.

The decisiveness of this FAA reversal is clear in the recent FAA Letter which also states the new policy is in conflict with their published 8900.1 – the FAA day-to-day guidance on how to conduct business in aviation:

The guidance for inspectors on flight training in an experimental aircraft in FAA Order 8900.1 is not consistent with the plain language of § 91.319. FAA Order 8900.1, Vol. 3, Chpt 11, sec. 1, para. 3-292. Where a regulation and guidance conflict, the regulation controls.

So even the 8900.1 will need to be rewritten to support this new interpretation. Don’t panic yet, and remember these are restrictions specifically target 61.315 and 61.319, and 61.325 (Limited, Experimental, and Primary).  The FAA bases its new interpretation on the Warbird Adventures Case and also the Gregory Morris Legal Interpretation from 2014.

These current changes mostly affect pilots of experimental aircraft (for now). Going forward (if this stands) pilots in experimental, limited and primary aircraft will need a Letter of Deviation Authority (LODA) if they want flight instruction in their plane (currently only required for a CFI teaching in their own experimental and not an easy process).

Unfortunately, this also starts the legal ball rolling for all kinds of negative downstream effects concerning liability and medical requirements for CFIs. SAFE joined a consortium of united aviation “alphabets” that objected strongly to this recent policy change in a recent letter to the FAA. This new FAA interpretation is contrary to safety and certainly not what we need to encourage senior CFIs to continue in the industry already starved for experienced CFIs. SAFE has written directly to the FAA in protest and we encourage every concerned aviation citizen to copy our letter and send it here immediately (quick cut and paste). Stand by for FAA official policy (and watch our new section on the webpage). Fly safely (and often)!

Please see last week’s blog if you missed it: CFIs as “Media Influencers!” It is vital to direct your student’s media intake toward positive online programs.

Please “follow” our SAFE blog to receive notification of new articles and also write us a comment if you see a problem (or to contribute an article). Download our (FREE) SAFE app for resources and news (OSH!!)

Please Join SAFE and support our mission of building aviation excellence through superior education. Our amazing member benefits alone make this commitment worthwhile (the 1/3 off ForeFlight more than pays your member dues).

YouTube Heroes? CFIs are “Influencers!”

We all have seen the amazing variety of “aviation exemplars” available on YouTube. This started for me before Google even owned YouTube when a student pilot asked me if he could “fly formation in the C-152” with other student pilots “for practice?” (I am grateful he at least asked first…) This was my first exposure to the compelling influence of online media – and this pilot is now a successful Hawker 800 captain.

Much like parenting, if we control and reinforce the proper environment and “YouTube Heroes,” to the extent we can, we determine (to a large degree) the final pilot outcome. As educators, this is increasingly our responsibility. CFIs are the primary “influencers” for student pilots. It is essential to take an active role in directing students and clients toward professional online examples. The “heroes” they follow will be the pilots they will become.

In other blogs I have pointed out the capricious nature of “online education.” There are many imaginary “super pilots” with all errors edited out. Never a mistake with YouTube “super pilots!” There are also hours of deadly dull webinars with no viewers and little value. It is essential that educators profile and recommend exciting and positive exemplars for students who wish to become professional pilots.

When we look to hire in my organization, almost more important than advanced skills are the attitude, demeanor and integrity of the pilot. If a new hire secretly hates rules and SOPs (a flying cowboy) we really have no use for them in professional aviation. We can improve skills, but attitude is amazingly difficult to mold once past a certain formative stage. Cowboys end up “getting famous” with some dramatic accident at some point in the future.

I would like to compliment our SAFE board member Wayman Alfredo on the positive role model he is presenting to the public in his new position at Daher flying the TBM 940. Presenting consistent checklist discipline and cockpit coordination as an integrated part of flying is essential to safety (and need I mention, passing your FAA evaluations). Good educators promote positive examples like this to all their students. Take a look and add a comment with your impressions; please promote safe aviation on YouTube! Here is a fun flight *AND* a more professional approach to conducting a flight in a high-performance plane. (This recent accident provides a clear example of the hazards of shortcuts.) Pilots modeling professional organization and discipline will become safe and successful pilots.

Another SAFE Board member, Andy Chan operates Right Rudder Aviation, a customer-oriented FBO in Inverness, FL. His team is responsible for bringing the Pipistrel Panthera to the USA. Pipistrel also makes the all-electric Alpha Trainer featured in this recent YouTube. Remember when electric cars were a novelty? Aviation is embracing this technology;

SAFE members, please remember to VOTE today. SAFE elects the Board of Directors from our membership! The election of the new board is open this morning and candidates are here. All full members received an e-mail this morning (logged in) and last year 26% of members voted. We have 1000 more supporters than we did last year! Let’s all fly SAFE out there (and often).

Please “follow” our SAFE blog to receive notification of new articles and also write us a comment if you see a problem (or to contribute an article). Download our (FREE) SAFE app for resources and news (OSH!!)

Please Join SAFE and support our mission of building aviation excellence through superior education. Our amazing member benefits alone make this commitment worthwhile (the 1/3 off ForeFlight more than pays your member dues).

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