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Ground school instructor

Posted: Mon May 07, 2012 8:47 pm
I have very recently passed the sport pilot checkride and am interested in hearing from CFI's to get imput.

I am starting the path of "license to learn". I am interested in studying for ground school instructor with the possibility to even go after my sport CFI. I may never take on a student, but want to know everything I can so that I am the safest, most competent pilot I can be. A student of aviation.

What books, online resources do you recommend. I take every FAA course available and the same with AOPA.

Any guidance would be greatly appreciated.


Posted: Mon May 14, 2012 9:10 pm
by FrankR

You sound like you are in exactly the same place I am in. Recently passed my checkride, and had so much fun learning that I want to keep on going.

I'm not a rich man. I'll probably never own a plane. The bank account needs a little reovery after getting my ticket.

I need 150 hours to get a CFI. That's going to take a while.

Ground Instructor? Can I make money doing it?

I can just keep learning ffor the fun.

It seems Gleim has a pretty good program. The FOI and the GI books are pretty cheap. Are each of the tests $150? Going to have to get tower clearance for that.

I'd like to work up a program that doesn't just focus on the Knowledge test but works with the student on preparing for the X-C and getting ready for the oral.

Full service. How do you make money? How do you market and not upset existing CFI's and flight schools?

Posted: Tue May 15, 2012 11:05 pm
I would be doing it strictly for the knowledge. I may or may not move on to get my CFI. I take this very seriously and my safety and the safety of my passanger is priority #1 I have become a true student of aviation and safety and if that ever stop that's when I need to turn in my wings. Knowledge is power and know one can take that from you



Posted: Wed May 16, 2012 11:20 am
by drseti
FrankR wrote:Ground Instructor? Can I make money doing it?

Can you make money doing anything in aviation? I doubt it. There has to be some other incentive. The typical business plan for anything aviation-related is to decide up front how much money you're planning to lose, and then quit when you achieve that goal. :(

Posted: Wed May 16, 2012 11:27 am
by drseti
FrankR wrote:It seems Gleim has a pretty good program. The FOI and the GI books are pretty cheap.

I like the Gleim material, and it works well for self-motivated students. (Not necessarily the best for those who need more hand-holding.) And, the price is quite reasonable.

Are each of the tests $150?

The testing centers operate as independent contractors, which means that, whether you chose LaserGrade or CATS, the FAA lets them charge anything they wish. You should probably call around. All the authorized testing centers are listed at:

Posted: Wed May 16, 2012 8:31 pm
Thanks for the thoughts Paul, I would agree. Profit???? Not in aviation

Posted: Thu May 17, 2012 10:44 am
by FrankR
Thank you for disabusing me of the notion of making any money in aviation.

My question stands adjusted then: Are there opportunities to help other student pilots on their journey? And how do I go about seeking these opportunities to help without stepping on the toes of existing CFI's and flight schools?

Posted: Thu May 17, 2012 11:10 am
by drseti
Frank, you come to work parttime for a flight school like mine, where it's all about community, teaching, and shared passion, not money.

Posted: Thu May 17, 2012 4:05 pm
Frank no abuse was intended.

Posted: Thu May 17, 2012 11:28 pm
by FrankR

Absolutely none was taken. You are spot on, young man.

Dare I say, you are a hale fellow, well met.

Posted: Fri May 18, 2012 9:27 pm
Thanks frank check you PM box !! I'll be planning my flight of passage th KFFA later in the year, I'll let you know and maybe we could meet up.

Posted: Tue Jun 05, 2012 11:40 pm
by restlinbaum
drseti wrote:Frank, you come to work parttime for a flight school like mine, where it's all about community, teaching, and shared passion, not money.

Paul you are spot on, I am a part time CFI and really enjoy helping those who want to learn to fly, while learning more about avation every day.

Posted: Wed Jun 06, 2012 5:32 am
by patmike
so what your all saying is my instructor gets none of the $70 an hour i'm paying?

Posted: Wed Jun 06, 2012 8:37 am
by jnmeade
I like the FAA handbooks. They're good, exhaustive and free.
Read some of the Pelican's Perch writings on AvWeb.
The book, "Stick And Rudder".
As you read, keep in mind that over time we've learned more. Some concepts have been corrected or we've found better ways to say things. Look at various approaches and be leery of taking anything as absolute gospel.
One example of that is the lean of peak discussion. Too many parts of aviation are like religion - ideas get locked in concrete and never challenged, and people won't admit they are wrong.

Posted: Wed Jun 06, 2012 11:08 am
by drseti
patmike wrote:so what your all saying is my instructor gets none of the $70 an hour i'm paying?

Your question raises a couple of points, PatMike. First off, $70/hr instructor's fee seems unusually high. The industry standard is $30 to $50 an hour. But, it might not be unreasonable, depending upon what constitutes billable hours.

An effective lesson involves spending about as much time together on the ground as you do in the air. At my flight school, for example, a lesson is scheduled for a 3 hour block of time. The instructor gives about an hour of individualized ground instruction before the flight, the flying part lasts about 1.3, and then there's a roughly 0.7 hour debrief. That lesson costs a flat $100 (plus Hobbs time for the airplane, of course). So, my instructors are effectively charging $33/hour, for all time they spend with you. If your $70 is for an hour of flight time only, and your instructor gives you proper preflight briefings and postflight debriefs, he or she may actually be teaching for two hours, and the effective rate becomes $35/hour, which is a pretty typical rate.

Now, how much of that rate the CFI actually gets depends largely upon the flight school's business model. I keep 10% of the instructor's fee for overhead; the independent contractor gets the rest. Some flight schools may retain as much as 50% of the fee. That may sound unfair to the instructor, but different schools have different expectations and support personnel. The schools that have the highest overhead probably have salaried employees to handle scheduling, curriculum development, lesson plan preparation, and maintaining of student records. They tend to attract young CFIs who are interested in flying, not the business end of the business. They may be trying to build hours for a future airline job, so they're trading off pay against free flight time. The flight schools with the lowest instructor overhead tend to hire older, professional educators. They expect their instructors to handle all those administrative tasks, don't have as many support personnel (if any), and thus their instructors are entitled to a much larger slice of the pie.

Without knowing your flight school's business model, I can't say where they fit on this continuum -- but you can see that the instructor pay issue involves more than meets the eye.

If you'd like to see an example of how my flight school handles all this, feel free to take a look at Chapter 6 of my Policy Manual, at