Life as a Senior Flight Instructor
-- Part 2 --

by M.Zafer
(Durban)

- As person in charge of our aircraft fleet, it is purely an administrative position where I make sure that all aircraft operated by our company have all the correct paper work in order.

This involves aircraft certificates of registration and release to service, radio station licence, weight and balance, flight folio, Pilot Operating Handbooks, Insurance cover, Lease agreements and so on.

It is basically a way of parenting our aircraft. As most of these certificates expire on different dates, it becomes a pilot’s nightmare sometimes- and if you know one thing about pilots, they do not like paper work, yet it has to be done.

As you can see I seem to be pretty busy during office hours, which are 24/7. We fly when our students are available, which could be on new years day, your birthday or anniversary for that matter. I am sure you get the point. A close eye on hour and duty periods insures that we stay human, especially during the holiday periods.


Flight instruction exposes you to a different level of inter-human relationships, and I am not talking about the mile high club here for the well read of you, but today you have an engineer as a student, tomorrow you have a doctor, then one day you have an eighteen year old, the next you have a 50 year old who always dreamt about learning to fly.

You meet and work with different people on a daily basis.

When you have the privilege of doing advanced training you get the opportunity to meet and interact with leaders of the industry like Designated Examiners who are accomplished well known pilots who have thousands of hours, bags of experience and uniforms full of stories!

This is your opportunity to shine through your students - through your work. Examiners like all great pilots, love flying; they love sharing their experiences when they see hunger for knowledge and willingness to improve. Most of them will take you under their wing, mentor you and guide you. Now this is one privilege of being an instructor, being around such aviation heavy weights.

Flight instructors form the backbone of the aviation industry, yet they are not paid enough to help them conduct their job properly and this is due to the simple reason that the market is saturated with flight instructors.

What makes you as an instructor different or irreplaceable is how well you conduct your work, how your students speak about you, how knowledgeable you are and how much passion you have for aviation and for your job. 100 instructors could graduate every year, yet only a few of them can proudly say they kept their jobs for more than a year!

I say this because I want you to understand that once you make up your mind to become an instructor, understand that you are not doing it for how much financial reward you are getting out of it, because to be honest, you might be spending a lot buying books and manuals, even a month’s salary might disappear on a new rating or an upgrade. You are doing this for something that money can not buy, you are doing this to make you a better pilot, and for some of us, an aviator.


Flight instruction is an interesting, satisfying and rewarding career with plenty of room for improvement. Some take up instruction as a stepping stone to build flying hours and experience towards flying bigger aircraft. Others might have fallen in love with flying instruction and simply have a passion for teaching something they love, because they want to share it with others.

Every flying instructor has his or her version of the story, but you will generally find the words passion and flying repeated a lot in their story.

One thing I have to caution you about though; if you do not have passion for flying and teaching others the art and science of flying then forget about it. Just because you are Ace of the Aces and known for your stick and rudder abilities doesn’t mean you can teach - a lot of great pilots make lousy instructors (yet it is rarely the other way round).

If you chose to instruct because you couldn’t secure any other aviation job, then this should be your biggest red warning light. I am not sorry to tell you that you are not going to enjoy flight instruction, I am not sorry to tell you that you are not going to be a good flight instructor and I already feel sorry for your students.

Our job is to make someone’s dream come true. Students trust you with their time, money, passion and dreams and if you mess that up, you only have yourself to blame. The old saying goes; a student can only be as good as their teacher- what we should aim for is for our students to be better than us.

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