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).


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Author: David St. George

SAFE Director, Master CFI (12X), FAA DPE, ATP (ME/SE) Currently jet charter captain.

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