Flight Instructors

Written by Robert Mac
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Flight instructors are required to have just as much training as commercial pilots. In fact, flight instructors must have either a commercial pilot certificate or an ATP (Airline Transport Pilot) certificate. Plus, they must be proficient with instrument navigation and must be competent in passing the practical test for ground and flight training. Finally, they must have logged at least 15 hours as PIC (Pilot In Command).

Flight Instructors Keep Their Eyes on the Sky . . . and Their Feet on the Ground

Being a flight instructor is having the best of both worlds--or the worst. It all depends on how you look at it. On the one hand, they have plenty of piloting experience; the FAA will make sure they meet the minimum requirements. But they also have to be proficient on the ground, teaching others about the sensation (and the many technicalities) of flying.

Flight instructors have two levels of certification, just as pilots have differing levels. CFI is a Certified Flight Instructor. They teach non-instrumentation lessons to private pilots; they are only required to fly by Visual Flight Rules, or VFR. The next level of pilot instruction teaches navigation by instruments; a CFII (Certified Flight Instructor for Instruments) is required to teach at that level.

There is actually another level of flight instructor: Master CFI. This is a very prestigious honor; less than 400 of the nation's 81,000 CFIs have received it. Some flight schools, such as the American School of Aviation, have a Master CFI leading their flight instruction program--all of whom are on their way to getting their own Master CFI designations.

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