Value of Experience & Fun in Instruction

Obviously, there is a flurry of interest in supporting some of the best and most experienced flight instructors for COPA members. See click here posting and Luke Lysen and John Fiscus thread on The Flight Acacdemy.

In the spirit of Marty’s suggestion to “Show them how much you appreciate them. Treat then like professionals” let me broaden the discussion a bit.

Can you share some of your really enjoyable flight instruction experiences? And what made them so great?

Fortunately, I’ve had 4 great flight instructors that all combined excellent instruction with finding the fun in flying:

  • David Nwango, National Air College, San Diego, primary private pilot instruction
  • Bill Graham, CFI & COPA member, San Diego, SR20 introductory lunch flight
  • Matt McDaniel, Cirrus, Duluth, SR22 factory training
  • Kevin Henderson, Wings Aloft, Seattle, SR22 14-day instrument course

One thing that was common about all of these CFIs was their love of instructing. They were professionals, with lots of experience with a wide variety of students and situations. And they were willing to adapt to me!

Matt McDaniel had the biggest challenge because I took delivery of the SR22 the same week as I got my Private Pilot Certificate. With only 65 hours total time getting a high-performance endorsement in Duluth winter weather and awestruck by the capabilities of the SR22, I must have been a handful!

We escaped Duluth and midwest winter thunderstorms by flying to New Orleans then across Texas to San Diego. All the way, we combined real-life flying challenges with training procedures. The emergency descent going from 10,500 to 3,000 in 1:04 was probably the most amazing flying that I’ve ever done!

Wanting an extra day to familiarize myself to the congested Los Angeles airspace, we took a VFR day trip to Camarillo. Matt spotted several warbirds on the field and admitted that as a kid he had memorized every plane that the US flew during WWII. He was just like a kid climbing into a C-46 being restored when we got a tour by the crew chief. And the night flight back over LA with the dazzling lights was a huge amount of fun! As a former airline pilot based mainly on the east coast, Matt’s eyes were popping out as we flew over so many planes lined up for 4 parallel approaches into LAX!

Since then, I’ve learned even more by sharing my flying adventures with Matt, especially since I had more time to fly after being laid-off. He has been a great sounding board, especially debating the best way to get my instrument rating.

Thanks, Matt. Good luck on your new ventures.

And hope others will share their fun instruction experiences.