Weaker Moments as a Flight Instructor

You’re fired!!

Those words have never been said to me but in a roundabout way, I’ve said them. Not to an employee either. To a student.

Not my strongest moment.

We’ve all had our frustrating students. The ones that won’t study. The ones that show up late (so habitually that you can show up late and actually appear to have been on time!). The ones that just don’t seem to get it – not flying, not ever.

5 years after I was handed that temporary certificate – that license to teach someone else – and I still feel like I’m the student.

I sat there in that debriefing room staring at my frustrated student. With all his wrinkles, gray hairs, and past military experience and here he was looking to me – a 25 year old instructor “whippersnapper” – for wisdom, for advice, for knowledge, for feedback. I didn’t have any more to give. He was frustrated, I was frustrated.

12Our relationship had begun roughly a year earlier. I took him over after he was dissatisfied with a previous instructor. After nearly 70 hours he finally soloed and promptly headed off to Florida for the winter.

He was back now, only with him he now had a Sport Pilot License. All we had to do was check him out in the airplane. For the life of me though, I could not get him to land the plane safely – consistently. He had his random one or two good ones, and as soon as I thought “he’s good to go”, he pulled something out of nowhere.

Overshooting the runway. Undershooting the runway. Side-loading. Flaring high. Flaring late. Not flaring. Blasting down final at 90 knots. Blasting down final at 90 knots 500 feet too high. If there was something we didn’t do it was making it to the moon.

The key here is that it wasn’t his fault. Hence my frustration. He felt it was his fault. Hence his frustration. I felt like I had exhausted all possibilities, so finally, I told him to finish up with another instructor.

I hate not seeing things through. I’ve had students I’ve sent to another instructor for a couple lessons to iron out some un-ironable kinks, but never completely dumped a student.

Moral of the story? There’s still so much for ME to learn. There’s still so much for YOU to learn. Should I have fired him? Maybe, maybe not. But it was all I could do, with what was available to me, to help him progress at the time.

THERE IS ALWAYS SOMETHING MORE TO LEARN – AND IT WILL USUALLY, IF NOT ALWAYS BE LEARNED IN OUR WEAKER MOMENTS.

So live up to those moments. Don’t let them fester but don’t forget them either.

But who am I to say it…you probably already knew it! Have you fired a student?Β What was one of your weaker moments and what did you learn from it?

Student – Instructor Relationships: Ones That Soar

One of my students earned their Private Pilot License today, making me so proud! He texted me this evening, it went something like “thank you for all your help, I was well prepared and owe it all to you.” Wow. It’s great to get a thank you and feel appreciated but really as an instructor we are only part of the equation.

To students:

  • Work hard and know that it wasn’t just your teacher that led to your success.
  • Your hard work and dedication is what will ultimately lead to success in your endeavors. No amount of pure instruction will lead to it. Read what you’re asked to read, study what you’re asked to study, and pay attention!
  • If you don’t care, your teacher probably won’t either.
  • Be thankful for a great teacher.

To instructors:

  • Know your shtuff (…and yes I meant shtuff), no person ever knows EVERYTHING.
  • Provide the tools for your students. Go the “extra mile”, I say go two. Or ten. Or one-hundred. Make your job a labor of endurance: just when it looks like you’re reaching the finish line, push a little harder.
  • Give your students all you can, they won’t care if you don’t.
  • Be grateful for a good student.

I will be the first to admit I am nowhere near perfect. Heck I probably don’t even pass as average (if that could be measured) and I think many instructors often lose sight of the real picture: We are students. I’m not the one who always thinks myself a student. I have to have those nudges that push me along or remind me who I really am so my pride can take a step back. This leads to my last (little) blurb: Please thank one another – it really does feel good! It’s always refreshing as an instructor to receive a thank you, and it helps us “keep at it”. It feels great as a student to know that your instructor appreciates the time and work you put into accomplishing something, anything! Plus, it inspired this post!

So let your relationship soar! πŸ™‚

Do you have any stories of a great student or instructor? What made the difference? I’d love to update the two lists above to help others and I’d love to hear it because it helps me improve too!

To our studies,

Up in the Air

Farewell to Miami

I’ve been crazy busy the last few weeks (who isn’t?). Some changes are happening. I moved to Miami barely a year ago and I’m moving yet again. While I’m happy to be leaving Miami (Florida just isn’t for me), there is some sadness to it…take a look and see why! πŸ™‚

I’ve enjoyed my time here and it has been a great experience, but it is time to move on!

Be back soon,

Up in the Air

(I recently discovered Instagram and now have a gallery open to purchase any photos you might like, including some from this post: instacanv.as/cskarp – all support is appreciated!)

Natural Character – Trinity Center Airport (O86)

A short time ago I wrote about flying into Quincy Airport, and flying into the middle of a fly-in (see Love of the Mountains). That same day my friend and I continued on to several airports. First we stopped at Lake Almanor – Rogers Airport (O05…That’s O-zero-five), walked in…talked to some friendly people at the local…uh…flight club (it was small), then decided to continue on. It was a beautiful flight in, but nowhere to really go whilst on foot – at least not that we were told. I have a couple of photos but couldn’t find them while writing this, so I’ll have to wait on them and post them when I do. On the other hand, I have several photos from our next stop, Trinity Center Airport (O86).

We flew in over the lake so we could be at a good altitude getting to the airport. We could have circled and dropped down over the top, but the view in was much better this way (after all who likes seeing the same thing, over and over again?…don’t answer that!).

It was a beautiful flight and a beautiful airport to go into. Remember how I said there was nothing in walking distance of the last airport? Well…such was the case here too, in all honesty, but we did make it into the VERY small town and managed to grab a bite from a local hole-in-the-wall…don’t remember the name, which is good I guess because the food was eh…people were nice though! I suppose we weren’t there for the food any way. HIGHLY recommended to fly into (or at least by this area, the local mountains are called the “Trinity Alps“).

The airport is right on the water, with a river running by the north side of the airport, and amazing views all around. I’ve never flown into a prettier place…and can’t wait until I do because that means it’ll be spectacular! πŸ™‚

To many memories,

Up in the Air

The Aircam

The Aircam was originally designed for National Geographic – to fly low and slow (and have an extra engine for safety!), while at the same time providing easy visibility to the outside. A few years ago I had the opportunity to fly one. Very fun, probably the most fun I’ve had in an airplane!

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I was able to catch some video too! Do you ever wish you could go back to that moment in time and just experience it again? I do!

(Make sure your speakers are down, the wind is a little loud!)

Cheers!

Up in the Air

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Mount Rushmore

After departing from my fuel stop in Rapid City, SD (KRAP) I asked for the “Mount Rushmore Tour” from ATC, they were very helpful and gave me headings to help me find it! Don’t ever be afraid to ask for help from Air Traffic Control, in this case it was for a fun reason, but the help can just as easily be used to save your life!

Mount Rushmore – April 17, 2008

Cheers,

Up in the Air