Principal Air - Flight Training / Charter in Canada

Principal Air - Flight Training / Charter in Canada, Learn to Fly


Unit D 30460 Liberator Ave. (Just past the Main Terminal)
Abbotsford International Airport
V2T 6H5
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 Becoming a Flight Instructor


"Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire."

- William Butler Yeats –


For many young, aspiring pilots, becoming a flight instructor is an excellent way to break into the aviation industry. At the bottom of the commercial aviation food chain, competition for jobs is brisk and a young person wanting to break in must develop experience and knowledge beyond that acquired during basic training. Employers seek candidates who are serious about a career in aviation and have the initiative to dig in and acquire the skills, knowledge and experience necessary to become a valuable employee.


Earning a flight instructor rating is one way to successfully get a foot in the door of commercial aviation, gain valuable experience and build the pilot-in-command hours to qualify for a responsible position in the world of flying.


While earning a flight instructor rating is one excellent way to gain entry to the world of aviation, it is not a path for every aspiring pilot. Each person thinking of becoming a flight instructor should spend some serious time exploring, considering and thinking about the project before signing up. The real question is not whether earning a flight instructor rating is a good way into aviation; the questions is whether earning a flight instructor rating is the right path for you.


It’s one of those good news/bad news stories. First, the bad news:


There are several reasons to discard the idea of becoming a flight instructor and it is a good idea to review some of them, take them under serious consideration, before jumping in with both feet. An artist friend of mine used to be a teacher at the Emily Carr School of Art in Vancouver. He taught painting classes. One of the things he used to say to new students was, “If you have any options [to becoming an artist], take them.” Perhaps this is not bad advice for aspiring pilots considering becoming flight instructors.


Earning a flight instructor rating is not an easy project. It’s a lot of work. It’s expensive. It takes a good deal of time, effort and focus and, once you have earned the rating, there is no guarantee of a job. If you do find a job teaching flying, you can plan on long hours, low pay and a learning curve that goes on and on, getting steeper as you go. The challenges just keep on coming.


There will certainly be days when a job bagging groceries at Super-Value starts to seem like a good option. Flight instruction is not for everyone.


Some employers are not keen on hiring pilots with an instructional background. While a person with instructional experience may have acquired considerable PIC time, he or she will have spent relatively little time actually handling the controls of an aircraft or in making decisions about flying in difficult and varying situations. Typically, flight instruction takes place in familiar areas and good weather conditions.


Now, for the good news:


On the other side of the coin, earning a flight instructor rating will provide you with an excellent opportunity to really begin the process of acquiring a deep understanding of the underlying principles of flight. It will provide an opportunity to develop skills for working with a variety of different people with different learning styles and expectations and it will provide a work environment where “by the book”, disciplined flying is a regular and everyday event.


Please note the word opportunity. As my brother likes to say, “Education is largely self-inflicted.” As a student, once again, it is up to you to make use of the opportunity to learn and develop.


Ideally, a flight instructor will begin his or her aviation career working in a monitored and mentored environment. Good flying practices and good decision making will be emphasized and acted on for each and every flight. Planning skills will be well developed and accurate evaluative practices and record keeping will be a normal part of all flight activities. The developing instructor will learn to focus on achieving excellence in performance and clarity of understanding that can be used to assist others learning to be safe and competent pilots.


You will learn to make decisions and act on your evaluations. There are few more interesting moments than those experienced by an instructor sending his or her student for a first solo, a first solo cross country or a flight test.


Many employers actually prefer to interview candidates with an instructional background. A good record as an instructor demonstrates a potential employee has developed a solid basic understanding of the principles of flight, a willingness to accept responsibility and a willingness to work within a disciplined and focused aviation environment. 


Looking through the recent aviation job ads indicates the number of instructional jobs is increasing. For a number of years following the 9/11 event, aviation stagnated and jobs in the industry were few and far between. Now, however, the aviation industry appears to be expanding and baby boomers are reaching retirement age at a rapid rate. Many employers are increasingly looking to the pool of experienced flight instructors to fill vacancies they are facing. This bodes well for people thinking of earning a flight instructor rating as a way into the field of aviation.


If you are considering the flight instructor route, take some time and make the effort to explore. Do you enjoy working with people? Do you have some comfort level in helping others? Are you willing and able to work within a focused and disciplined learning environment and committed to improving your skills, understanding, and patience? Are you able and willing to put your own quirks and needs aside sufficiently to work positively with those brought to you by your students?


Flight instruction is not for everyone. It’s too hard to do as a punishment or as something to “just get through” on your way to a “better” situation. To become a good flight instructor, you have to enjoy the process of teaching and learning for what it is and understand that the skills and understanding you gain are a priceless benefit.               


If you’re up for it, earning a flight instructor rating may be a path worth exploring.