Throwing in the towel

Finally, a place for sport pilot instructors and/or wannabees to talk about instructing.

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Throwing in the towel

Postby mhaleem » Mon Jul 23, 2012 11:38 am

Well I've exhausted myself attempting to do the light sport cfi rating with the hopes of a flight school giving me an opportunity to instruct. Though I hate it, I will go forth and get the commercial and cfi. One thing I've learned in this process is that there are a lot of closed minds out there, and breaking the old mindset of doing things the same ole way continues to be prevalent. It's on to commercial training starting friday. Take care everyone.
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Postby Jim Stewart » Mon Jul 23, 2012 3:34 pm

As someone working on his Sport CFI rating, I'd be interested in the issues you've run into. BTW, I gave up on my Sport Pilot rating out of frustration and got my PP certificate.
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Sport CFI opportunities

Postby mhaleem » Mon Jul 23, 2012 4:23 pm

Here in my area there are two schools that have light sport aircraft, one has an allegro and the other a remos. When I notified them of my intention to become a sport cfi, both stated they would be more than willing to do the training (take the money), but there is no desire to hire a sport cfi. I would like to create my own flight instructing opportunity and purchase a LSA aircraft to offer options to those who love flying for the sheer love of it, but my savings are in need of a little more meat before talks of a purchase can begin.
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Postby designrs » Mon Jul 23, 2012 11:49 pm

If you are looking for a "job" as a sport pilot CFI you need to find a flight school that has a busy dedicated sport pilot program. Busy schools are usually on the lookout for more CFI's.

Second option is to bring a sport pilot program to an existing school. Some schools will be "old school - anti LSA" but there are surely other schools that are truly interested in offering a sport pilot program but are either unsure about how to go about it, or are not willing to put out the capital to invest. You would have to bring them experience in both training and maintenance and possibly an aircraft.

Third option is to start your own school.

The second of third option would be much smoother if you worked for a busy LSA flight school first.

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Postby Helen » Tue Jul 31, 2012 8:09 am

There are A LOT of employment opportunities for a CFI-S but that being said, you need to be willing to think outside the box. Walking into a traditional flight school and asking for a job isn't going to do it. You need to look towards self employment and niche markets such as PPCs, trikes, gyros, and E/AB transition training. There's a lot of unfulfilled demand in those areas.
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Re: Sport CFI opportunities

Postby drseti » Tue Jul 31, 2012 8:35 am

mhaleem wrote: both stated they would be more than willing to do the training (take the money),

Unfortunately, that's what flight schools have to do in order to stay viable as businesses. If one includes hangar, fuel, insurance, maintenance, inspections, repairs, and amortization of investment, the burdened operating cost of an LSA in flight school operation is usually slightly more than what they rent for. So, the school has to charge for instruction -- that's the only place a profit margin is possible.

I've had any number of people walk in saying they wanted to work for me, when what they really wanted was free flight instruction for themselves. After one (free) demo flight, they are generally never heard from again. So, I can understand why these schools would expect you to pay for any flight time and training.

As for whether they'd hire you or not, you're now trying to sell potential. You need to be able to demonstrate salesmanship; show them that you will be bringing in lots of new students. Something to set yourself apart from the many others who just want to fly for the sake of flying.

You might also need to be willing to relocate. What you're seeking may not be available in your backyard.

Good luck to you.
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Postby nbjeeptj » Tue Jul 31, 2012 7:15 pm

I think Columbia SC would be a place to get a sport program going. I had a big problem finding a CFI that was willing to do instruction in a LSA. I did find one, however he had never had a sport pilot so it was a learning curve for him. A lot of people I have talked to about it have said that the sport license would fit them perfect, they would only fly for pleasure any way so why spend the extra time and cash to get a PPL. All it would take around here is a good marketing guy and some cash and I think you could have something.

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Postby Jack Tyler » Wed Aug 01, 2012 9:47 am

I've mentioned this story before but perhaps it bears repeating. In a stagnant training market (the Tampa Bay area of Florida) and after foreign student training all but disappeared there, a good friend and CFII began teaching PPL ground school courses. He taught it through the local high school extension program, which meant registration, facilities and some amount of advertising was done for him on behalf of this course. For his part, he only put a small one-week ad in the local paper plus posted flyers in the various FBO's. Time after time, his class filled up because a) the cost was very low, b) it was a sensible entry point for would-be flight students and the curious, and c) he could point out that preparing for and taking the written early-on eliminates one of the later hurdles that can interrupt the final prep for one's check ride.

Now...while he earned a bit of money (a portion of the registration fee) for doing this, that wasn't his primary motivation. Aside from truly enjoying meeting new folks who have an interest in aviation and the pleasure of teaching (both were motivators for him), his primary monetary motivation was that it created a pipeline of new PPL students for him. If 20 were in the class and only 2 decided to continue on with flight training, who were they going to choose for an instructor? Someone they already had started with and whom they had come to know, or someone they didn't know anything about? Two classes a year, if it meant 4 new students, was ~200 flight training hours in that year from just those 2 classes, of which he would instruct in a portion. Also important, this is how he built a local reputation as a flight instructor as, over time, the word got around as it typically does. No airport office, no expensive advertising, drawing on a local population of ~750,000 (Pinellas County) and when you add in follow-on IR training, annual flight reviews, Grumman-specific transition training (he owned an AA-5) and other such incremental training, he had developed a business model that was inexpensive and productive. It didn't happen quickly and he didn't capitalize on it fully since he was not trying to earn a middle class wage. (He also charged about 2/3 of what an instructor hour cost at one of the local FBO's)

A flight school's biggest commercial burden, as I see it, isn't the state of GA or the expense of flying...altho' both of those are burdensome indeed. It's the formula approach that they work from. There are other models that can work if only the flight school owner is an innovative, business savvy entrepreneur first and an effective CFI who loves aviation second. The only flight school in my area which is succeeding well right now is doing a booming business, and it's the only one that's invented a new & unique formula. The evidence is as plain as day - you only have to walk into the office of this flight school to begin seeing what you don't see elsewhere. But the other local schools are clueless and don't see it. Quite a fascinating case study, actually.
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Re: Throwing in the towel

Postby CTLSi » Tue Sep 03, 2013 3:33 pm

Last edited by CTLSi on Mon Dec 01, 2014 11:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Throwing in the towel

Postby FlyingForFun » Tue Sep 03, 2013 3:58 pm

Last edited by FlyingForFun on Tue Sep 17, 2013 11:48 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Throwing in the towel

Postby Merlinspop » Wed Sep 04, 2013 11:20 am

CTLSi wrote:If you are gonna try to be an instructor, forget just getting a sport pilot rating for's a disservice to student to train others unless you are a full CFI. Many students may want to train for the sport license first, than later add hours to get the private pilot license. Sport pilot instructors not also a full CFI cannot offer those students hours toward their PPL.

It is only a disservice if the CFI-S is unclear or dishonest regarding the limitations of receiving instruction from him or her. Solo time would count. Cross country time could potentially count. Only the "instructor's butt in the right seat" time wouldn't count, but I dare say that a well-trained SP would be able to breeze through the required instruction in the minimum time if they decided to move on to PPL.

Moving from the realm of "what is" to "what Bruce thinks should be"... I think the PTS for the PPL should be amended. There should be a "from scratch" and "upgrade from SP" (and possibly an "upgrade from Recreational Pilot" - but how many of them are there, and are they still making RP's). Training already given to achieve the SP should count, no matter who gave the training, and the "upgrade" part of the PTS should have to be given by a commercial pilot with a CFI. This raises a question that I never looked into because I don't aspire to be an ATP, but can a 'regular' CFI with a commercial train a candidate for the ATP?
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Re: Throwing in the towel

Postby drseti » Wed Sep 04, 2013 11:33 am

Bruce, as I understand it, the restrictions on what a CFI can train someone for are limited to category, class, and rating. For example, only a CFII can sign someone off for an instrument rating, and only a CFIG can train glider plots. Beyond that, a Subpart H CFI can train a candidate for Sport, Rec, Private, Commercial, or ATP, as long as it's in the apprriate categoey and class of aircraft.
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