Choosing a Flight Instructor

Nerdwing

New Member
Hello to all. Long time lurker, first time poster.

Anyway, I am looking for an instructor for the private license. I've a coupla' "intro" rides with different instructors and still haven't found one that really clicked, so I'd like to solicit your thoughts/opinions on what you would look for in an instructor if you could do the private all over again (e.g. flight time, career goals, etc..

The two instructors I've flown with each had their pros and cons. One was very thorough, calculating all the speeds, did weight and balance, went over the charts and airspace restrictions for our area, used the checklist for everything. I liked him, but when it came to flying the airplane (i.e. moving the yoke and pedals), he just didn't seem to communicate what needed to be done to achieve the desired effect.

The other was late, (I hope) did the checklists from memory, didn't go over much in the way of bookwork (to be fair, he didn't have as much time to), but also was more experienced, more fun to be around, and managed a very smooth landing in a breezy cross wind. Also, I found his tips on how to fly the airplane easily understandable (e.g. how to judge height above the ground on landing).

I can probably keep doing intro flights until I find someone who really clicks (the FBO's lose money on them,right
),
but that seems like kind of a chore.
 

xdashdriver

Well-Known Member
Well, to state the obvious, a combination of those two guys would work well. The first guy sounds like a good pilot, but crappy teacher. The second guy sounds like a good communicator but cuts corners and is liable to teach you bad habits.

FYI, when flying a C172, I go from memory, but NEVER when teaching. It is imperative that an instructor instills good airmanship skills to students.

As for the instructor's actual flying skills....they're actually less important. Sure it's nice to see how to do a perfect maneuver, but it's more important that the instructor can communicate effectively how to perform the maneuver.

As for being late, there may have been an excellent reason for it, but it does show a lack of professionalism.

Of course there's no such thing as a perfect instructor. I'd see if you could find a guy that is thorough and a good communicator. Generally if he has both of those traits, he'll probably show up on time and provide you with the highest standard of training.

Ray
 

BoDEAN

New Member
Always use the checklist, and make sure students are constantly using it, and not doing it from memory
 

DE727UPS

Well-Known Member
I'd go with the second guy. In the real world, I don't do a W and B or figure my speeds for small aircraft...for small aircraft there are no speeds to figure, the speeds just are what they are. Checklists are great but I often use a flow in my 152, which I feel is just as safe, given my experience level. Do I force the student to use my checklist....heck yeah. But do I always use it...nope. Also, I know the airspace in my area and don't need to pull out the chart much.

It was an intro flight, too, so the expectations of your CFI might have been more along the lines of you having fun and enjoying the experience rather than a normal flight lesson.

I fly in the Seattle area a lot. What schools are you looking at?
 

Nerdwing

New Member
No checklists? Not on the job, right?




Probably going to be a school at Boeing Field. It's kind of expensive around there, but it's just closer to where I work (and I kind of like the diversity of the flying environment, it seems like you'd get used to flying near all kinds of planes and air spaces ). After a procrastinating about this during summer of perfect weather, I get to do this during the fickle fall/winter.

When it come to finding an instructor I guess I'm a little bit anal, since ultimately safety is at stake (not just mine, but, for example, the traffic flying just overhead into seatac). Since most instructors are time-builders, I've heard that you wanted someone in the middle of their teaching career--not too green, and not so experienced that they're burned out on teaching and only want to move on. Of course I'm not against giving a low-time instructor a chance, if they're good. Really, if I could find someone who's a hybrid of the two guys I've flown with, that would be perfect. Maybe I should do the PPL with 2 (or more) instructors to gain different perspectives.
 

DE727UPS

Well-Known Member
You're concerned about safety and you want to learn to fly at BFI...hehe. I fly the brown 727 into BFI about 10 times a month...always entertaining.

BFI is a crazy place to learn how to fly. You have the mix of jets and light aircraft. The close parallel runways. The class B airspace. The close proximity to RNT and SEA. And the weather. But when you finally take your checkride after spending 10K at Galvins or Wings Aloft...I'm not kidding, either. You'll be one HELL of a pilot....
 

Nerdwing

New Member
yeah, your not kidding about the $10k part, although I'm going to shoot for $7k and just see how it goes. I haven't decided which place to train at--probably galvin or wings aloft. There is also aeroflight, which was dissed by the other two as the low end alternative--nothing against them myself, but when I visited they didn't have anyone there who could show me anything. I kind of like that galvin has (generally) newer equipment, but I still think finding the right instructor is more important. Anyone else out there have experience with a boeing field fbo?
 

DE727UPS

Well-Known Member
Personally, I'd go with Wings if you can compare apples to apples with equipment and prices. If Galvins has something Wings doesn't have....then that's a different deal. I'd go with Wings cause they do a lot of social stuff and have a club atmosphere. Basically, I think both schools are way over priced and cater to the rich Microsoft types. Aeroflight is more of a dumpy place but used to be cheaper. They do have a 135 operaton that their CFI's can move into. I have a few friends that got their CFI's there, worked there as CFI's, got on with the 135 cargo bit, and moved on to Horizon. If your not career minded...then that's all pointless. There used to be a flying club called "The Aviatior's" that operated out of various places...they had the best rates and used free lance CFI's but they may be no more. You could ask around. There used to be a real nice 172 run by an experienced instructor at the north end. The name of the business was Seattle IFR club. He got kicked off the airport because he wouldn't put up with pointless rules promoted by the clueless and anti general aviation airport manager. He sold his plane and moved to Spokane and vowed to never do it again but...alas....can't keep out of it. That was me.

You might check into Proflight at Renton, or any other schools there. Renton, in a lot of ways, would be a better airport to train at. Slower pace, simpler airspace, and you could still hop over to BFI when you feel up to it.

The two cheapest places around are Crest Airpark in Kent and Monroe airport. If you want slick, newer, planes or don't want to drive...then forget it.
 

DE727UPS

Well-Known Member
Yeah...Alternate Air...they were formed after the Aviatiors went away. Nice to see Alternate Air is still around. Not sure if they have an office or just work out of North parking. Honestly, if you can find a good CFI there and if their older 150's are safely maintained, it would be a much better value that Wings or Galvins. Of course, most guys would take one look at an older 150 and walk away being happy to pay $150 an hour dual for a newer 172 at Galvins...to each his own. But in my humble 8000 hour opinion...that would be a big mistake....
 

Nerdwing

New Member
Thanks...that is a lot cheaper than the other's--but do they have free coffee?
. Maybe I'll check into them as well (the 150 is a little cramped, I've heard). I wouldn't know enough to tell if the airplane is in good flying condition, though (unless it was something really obvious).
 

DE727UPS

Well-Known Member
They probably don't have free coffee if they don't even have an office....

150's are cramped but many more people have learned to fly over the years in the 150/152 series than the 172. The cost difference is significant but for some, the 150 just isn't an option. I own a 152 and am 5'10"/160. It's a pain in the butt getting in but once you are in and settled it's not a problem...at least I don't think so.

Alternate Air may also have some high time instructors who free lance. Your typical flight school, such as Wings or Galvins, will tend to hire someone who has come up through their system reguardless of experience. Free lancer's are sometimes highly experience pilot's who instruct part time for fun or as a second job....if you search for the right guy you might find a free lancer that will teach circles around anyone at the other places. Normal flight schools don't allow free lancer's.

You get what you pay for with aircraft rentals. If you want a spiffy late model 172...then be prepared to spend $120/hr at BFI. If you can live with an older, dirty, safe, basic, Cessna 150...then you could probably fly twice as much for the same money...it's your choice.
 

montanapilot

Well-Known Member
i wouldnt worry about at 150/152 being too uncomfortable i'm 5'8" 180 and fit into it just fine. plus you cant argue with the cost compared to a 172. while you are just working on your private it wouldn't matter if you trained in a 150/152. you are lucky to be able to train at BFI. i took an intro there about 9 months ago and was very impressed that place is incredibly busy everything from 747's - 150's sharing the same field. makes me almost wish i was back in Seattle to do my training. (except for the $$$ part)
 

Mavmb

Well-Known Member
I wouldn't be too hard on a CFI that didn't do weight and balance and everything on the first intro flight. A lot of flight schools will actually discourage book work on the first flight. The intro flight is just meant to be a fun ride to get you hooked. You wouldn't want a potential customer that wants to fly as a hobby to think he has to do an hour of performance data and weight and balance just to fly in the pattern or out in the practice area for an hour.
 
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