Some light sport aircraft flight schools may have one or several instructors to choose from. Depending on where you live, you may have to travel to find a suitable school for you. Assess your own learning style and find an instructor with a compatible teaching style. It is best to interview different flight instructors initially during your first few lessons. This is the best time to determine which flight instructor teaching style better meets your needs of who you enjoy being with, learn the most, and want to come back for the next lesson. It is the instructors job to adapt to your needs and provide the best experience for you. This can just be your feeling. Use this questionnaire to guide you during your interview process.
Certified Flight Instructor Interview Questionnaire
Are you a FAA Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) or are you an Ultralight Flight Instructor?
As of January 31, 2007 the Ultralight instructor program ended and all dual training for Ultralights and Light-Sport Aircraft must be provided in a Light-Sport Aircraft by a FAA Certified Flight Instructor (CFI). So, the appropriate answer is, “I am a FAA Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) and this training is also applicable to Ultralights.
Do you have a training program specifically for sport pilots?
The appropriate answer is “Yes.” If the CFI is un-enthusiastic or un-informed about the sport pilot certification, you’ll know right away. If the CFI tries to talk you out of becoming a sport pilot, this is not a good start either. Some reasons the CFI may resist instructing you for a Sport Pilot license:
- They are following a career path to become a commercial pilot and instructing just to get the hours and have you pay for them.
- The CFI may suggest you go for a Private Pilot license rather than a Sport Pilot license because they are un-familiar with the Sport Pilot license process.
- The CFI feels they will make more money if you go for the Private Pilot license rather than a Sport Pilot license.
- The CFI doesn’t have a Light-Sport Aircraft (LSA) to instruct in.
Can I see your student pilot training program?
The appropriate answer is “Yes.” FAA certified flight instructors (CFI’s) are required to have a training syllabus for an efficient and effective system. Most good instructors will be happy to show you their training program and explain how you will proceed from first flights to FAA certified Sport Pilot. You should be able to get a copy of the instructor’s training syllabus. This is the core document or cookbook for training.
Do you have a Light-Sport Aircraft (LSA) available for training?
The appropriate answer is “Yes.” Even though a Sport Pilot can receive training in a standard category aircraft (not a qualified LSA), it would be best for you to learn to fly in a LSA because they are much different aircraft which you will be able to solo without a FAA Medical. You’ll get experience in the aircraft you’ll take your checkride in and also what you will fly as a Sport Pilot.
Can you provide references from some of your previous students?
The appropriate answer is “Yes.” Good instructors will be happy to provide references. Students are proud to be used as a reference and you will learn quite a bit during your conversation with the student/references.
How much experience do you have training Sport Pilot students?
Although the Sport Pilot program is new, the CFI should have some experience training sport pilots. Schools that have historically trained Private Pilots and beginning Sport Pilot training are fine, as long as all of the other questions in this questionnaire are answered suitably.
Do you use “Scenario Based Training” in your training program?
The appropriate answer is “Yes.” The FAA and insurance companies have found that a significant number of accidents happen after a pilot receives their pilot certificate and is out on their own in real world hazards.Some typical hazards are:
- Pilot mental/physical condition.
- Aircraft condition or maintenance issues and situations.
- Pilot in command environment such as weather, passenger, airport, etc, or
- External pressures such as arrival deadlines, racing the bad weather conditions, rental time constraints, etc.
Scenario Based Training (SBT) addresses these potential hazards and how to deal with them utilizing Aeronautical Decision Making (ADM), risk management, and situational awareness to minimize the risks by determine the best course of action for a given set of circumstances. Schools are adopting SBT to develop well-rounded pilots. In some instances, insurance companies are requiring schools to show that they have incorporated SBT safety practices into their program.
What aircraft will I solo in?
If your instructor will not allow you to solo in the Light Sport Aircraft you’re receiving training in, what aircraft will you solo in? Often, once you are signed off for solo, you are ready to purchase your own aircraft, and will solo in it. Otherwise, you will need to make arrangements for an aircraft that meets the requirements to solo for Sport Pilot.
What are the safety and training systems in the Light Sport Aircraft?
Look for, or, ask about safety items that may include: helmets and eye protection for open cockpits; a pilot/passenger restraint system; parachute; transponder; strobe lights; and/or radio/intercom.
Is the Light Sport Aircraft protected from the weather when its not being flown?
Continuous exposure to the elements leads to the rapid deterioration of composite and fabric aircraft unless it is hangared or properly covered and protected from the weather. Metal airplanes are more tolerant to weather and being tied down outside if properly secured.
Is required and preventative maintenance performed on the Light Sport Aircraft? Can I see the maintenance records?
A safe light-sport aircraft is one that is properly maintained. This involves routine inspection and replacement of worn components. Maintenance logbooks must be available to any qualified pilot who wants to fly the aircraft. A good pilot, instructor, or aircraft mechanic should know where the logbooks are and be proud to show you the basic annual and 100 hours condition inspections. Additionally, routine maintenance is of little value if the pilot/CFI/mechanic cannot remember when he or she last changed the spark plugs or replaced the fuel lines! Maintenance records help to ensure that proper maintenance has been performed in a timely manner.
Use the Sport Pilot Locator to find a certified flight instructor near you.