Frustrations of a CFI

Discussion in 'Pilot Training' started by drgwentzel, Dec 11, 2017.

  1. unsafervguy

    unsafervguy Cleared for Takeoff

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    In aviation, those that strive for a participation award are called statistics.
     
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  2. murphey

    murphey Final Approach

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    sounds like my CS courses.
     
  3. danhagan

    danhagan Cleared for Takeoff

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    "Love" was a poor choice of words. When typing that, I had a clear image of my CFII stepping into the FBO, chewing the fat with everyone at the counter for 20 minutes, providing ZERO brief other than "see you next week", but adding 30-45 minutes for ground - this despite the plane already being pre-flighted prior to arrival and he just jumping in and saying "good morning - lets go" (yes, I stopped using him). I also see a HUGE differential in flight review fees, but never complain ... I asked for a service and I pay for that service. But for all of those whining, "What is to come of GA?", these are the type things that could be smoothed out a bit.

    "QUOTE="mscard88, post: 2419612, member: 26582"]It's ironic people think a CFI is milking a student charging for ground. I'm sure there are some that do but vast majority don't.[/QUOTE]

    Should be simple to tell if a student prepped. If they didn't and you have a 15:15 pre and post flight time (or worse), I'd expect to pay for not being ready. OTOH, getting treated as I outlined above (CFII) is another matter.
     
  4. murphey

    murphey Final Approach

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    Like I said, it's not just teaching aviation. These days, it's any topic. 29 students started my CS 2 class (2nd semester for CS majors). 12 quit by the end of the 2nd week. 2 don't come to class, don't do the homework, don't take the exams. 15 took the final this morning, but half of those will likely fail.
     
  5. dmspilot

    dmspilot En-Route

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    So you think it's gotten worse? When did it seem to start to change?
     
  6. dmspilot

    dmspilot En-Route

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    You also seem to be saying it's gotten worse as well. When did that start?
     
  7. Salty

    Salty En-Route

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    None of my instructors charged me for ground school. But I had already passed the written and knew as much as at least one of them did it seemed. (I found out later I was his first student to pass their checkride). But he didn't even charge me for oral exam prep.
     
  8. mscard88

    mscard88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Should be simple to tell if a student prepped. If they didn't and you have a 15:15 pre and post flight time (or worse), I'd expect to pay for not being ready. OTOH, getting treated as I outlined above (CFII) is another matter.[/QUOTE]

    Usually I wouldn't even charge for pre- & -post flight ground time, rather I didn't when I was doing a lot of instructing. Sitting down with a student for say an hour helping with XC planning, yes, I'll charge for that. I get what you're referring to, and agree. If it's not one on one with the student, away from distractions, and away from a lot of interference and BS going on, one shouldn't be charging a student IMO.
     
  9. paflyer

    paflyer Final Approach

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    24% completion rate is pretty grim.
     
  10. murphey

    murphey Final Approach

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    welcome to computer science, data structures & alorithms at the university.

    Think that's bad? Across the board, at all universities across the country (other than MIT and Caltech) only 10% of those who enter as CS majors graduate with CS degrees. This semester we had 9 sections of CS1. This coming semester, only 3 sections of CS2.

    Have you considered majoring in Art History?
     
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  11. hindsight2020

    hindsight2020 En-Route

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    Though things are getting more and more Hamburger Helper by the day, we're still largely devoid of the motivation problem in USAF UPT. Being academically unprepared for a sortie is a quick way for a zero-time hook, which means more CT sortie for me! :D

    Ah yes... the gatekeeper, grade-deflation antics of technical degree programs.
    I dealt with plenty of that while at Georgia Tech. Turns out, the pretty girl still gets the husband willing to pay for her and her MRS degree, and nobody cares where or in what you got the degree in as long as you make money.

    That currency is only valuable to the little fiefdom of university department staff who partakes in that irrelevant haze. I have no dog in the Art History major fight, but jabbing at liberal arts' lack of quantitative rigor is just misplaced, if not presumptuous. I'm glad I left the bubble of academia behind for professional flying.
     
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  12. SoCal RV Flyer

    SoCal RV Flyer Pattern Altitude

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    Cheeseburger macaroni variety, please! nomnomnomnom. :D
     
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  13. paflyer

    paflyer Final Approach

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    Actually, I did the BSCS.

    Then, grad degree in EE.

    Postgrad, CS halflife is 10 years if you're lucky and picked the right area of concentration. Coding is probably the easiest "profession" to globalize and automate. It used to be a lucrative living, but now you're competing with Bangalore, within and without.
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2017
  14. paflyer

    paflyer Final Approach

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    Lasagna- my fav.
     
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  15. TCABM

    TCABM Line Up and Wait

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    @RussR is closest to my philosophy. My AF career spent 17 years instructing, most of those 2600 hours in a passive role except for the prebrief and the debrief.

    In the outside world, I have considered CFI work as s ‘destination’. I work in technology commercialization today.

    What I’ve learned from my current career is that what most of us know about adult learning is based on science that is at least 50 years old.

    Modern high performance learning does not resemble how most, of not all aviation learning occurs.

    This makes me believe aviation learning, as a field is ripe for innovation. Take the attributes of the most effective learning development organizations and adapt them to aviation learning and we may make flying training more productive.

    The AF (see other thread) may be on to something. If we can make learning more effective through improved techniques, we have an opportunity to improve the process and make it better for new students.
     
  16. twinjet

    twinjet Filing Flight Plan

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    I was an especially poor (read: lazy) college student. ****ed away a few thousand at a degree I didn't belong in. Few years pass and I'm no longer eligible for federal aid. Transitioned to another program but couldn't finish due to my pocket having emptied itself and my current situation.

    I'm now in the position to change everything. Having selected what I want to do—getting my CPL—I am prepared. I know an insane amount of money and time will go into this. All out of pocket until I can finance, I won't be able to screw around. Got a wife and five-month old. If I **** around and drive my family into $80k+ of debt over another unfinished program, it will ruin everything for us.

    That being said — I cannot imagine why someone would choose something as complex, fascinating and potentially dangerous as flying and not give it their all. Piloting is a huge commitment and there is no room for those giving anything less than their best.

    Thanks, Gene, for your post. It is something that I will cement in my mentality as I pursue my dream career.
     
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2017
  17. RobertSubnet

    RobertSubnet Pre-takeoff checklist

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    A habit I started early on in my training was to get to the airport so that I was cranking over the engine at the start of our block time. In order to do that I had to figure out how much time I needed to preflight, calculate aircraft performance, check weather, etc. If all of that took an hour then I was walking into my flight school no later than an hour before the lesson start time.

    If your students are not doing that maybe it would help if you explained the above to them. Lesson "start" time is engine start time not the time you walk in and ask "is anybody else hungry?"

    Good luck!
     
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  18. Rory

    Rory Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Just want to say, as someone who has the money to take the more relaxed student view that some others have discussed here, and indeed defended, that Gene’s attitude toward teaching, and expectations of his students, is what I expect in an instructor.

    In my professional life, I value people who say what they think and push back. They make me, and indeed themselves, look good. I expect the same of a flight instructor.
     
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2018
  19. Vance Breese

    Vance Breese Line Up and Wait

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    I just started a client who is a fixed wing CFI.

    He had me send him the POH for my aircraft and all my preflight and coaching cards. I sent him a picture of the panel and read the gyroplane portion of the Rotorcraft Flying Handbook. He laminated everything and put it on his kneeboard.

    He had never flown a gyroplane and after a couple of hours of dual he was probably ready for me to sign him off for his Sport Pilot, Rotorcraft-Gyroplane proficiency check. He wants a couple of hours more to shine up his skills. Ten hours for the endorsement.

    I love clients that are motivated and put the work in.

    I just don’t seem to get the ones that won’t do their homework and lack motivation. I feel fortunate.
     
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  20. edo2000

    edo2000 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I don't really think the written should be a pre-req for instruction. Not to minimize the FAA written exam, but I learned to fly at 17 in a Citabria I co-owned with my brother. I did all of the flight prep(had about 70 total hours) and was ready for the PPL checkride before taking a King "teach the test" seminar and getting a 90% on the exam.

    Later, for my IR, Commercial, CFI and CFII exams, I self-studied and had them done well before they were needed.

    I flight instructed part-time for a while in the 80's and 90's. Never charged for pre and post flight briefings, but it wasn't my day job. If I did it again now, I think I would have to charge for instruction time in the air or on the ground.

    I also taught computer science and automation topics at University. Did it for 18 years, but went back to the private sector in 2010. I did notice in the last 8-10 years that I taught, that it was more and more difficult to get the students to read the material and to battle with the exercises prior to attending class. I remember a quote from one of my brighter students (who was brilliant and actually did pretty well in the program) --- "I really don't read textbooks, except to try to skim for references or examples, it takes too much time". "Do you have this material in video or animated form...?". I tried to explain that the textbook was a condensed version of everything he needed to know, with very little "extra or wasted" information. He said he "sort of" understood that, but it was just boring and painful to try to assimilate it that way.....

    I think it is even worse now, that online learning is a larger percentage of courses every year. It is even easier for students to disengage. On the other hand, when I see some of the visualizations and animations that are routinely used to teach advanced topics now, I can't argue their effectiveness. I wish some of this would have been part of my courses when I was learning data structures, differential equations, etc. It's a new world.
     
  21. Timbeck2

    Timbeck2 Final Approach

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    I agree and then I disagree with that statement but its all about the context in which the statistic is used. When I started my very first ATC class, there were 25 of us. When we got through all six blocks of training over 4 months, 6 of us were still there sitting for the final FAA exam. What happened to the other 19? Well most of them were washed back to repeat a block or two of training and more than a few of them washed out completely. Just like pilots, not everyone is cut out to be a controller. The 6 of us that graduated on time went on to become good controllers, good instructors and finally good supervisors and/or chief controllers and ATC managers.

    Fast forward to present day. The ATC school house in Biloxi, Mississippi has adopted a "no child left behind" in which they pass everyone. Although they may get washed back, nobody gets washed out. I know this because over the years, I have worked with several former instructors who have told me that they aren't allowed to wash anyone out. The school house provides us with 3 level apprentice controllers. It is up to their assignment base (us) to train them to become 5 level journeyman controllers and 7 level supervisors. What we get now are kids that think they are just going to be handed an ATC certification or 5 level, regardless of how long it takes to obtain it. We end up taking 3 times as long to train someone as it took in my day. And we have lowered our standards to accommodate getting these kids rated. More often than not, we will train someone up to the last block and then they decide they don't want to do it anymore. We have a 90% washout rate when this should have been identified back at the school. This is a waste of everyone's time and the government's money.

    As a result of our high washout rate, fingers are pointed at our training program. If we can't train them, it must be us... right? Our base has received several visits from the powers that be to "fix" our methods and procedures. None of these visits ever proved that we were the problem while nothing was done to identify the root problem which is the kids we get today aren't the same as those of years gone by and more importantly, nobody is pointing a finger at the school. It is very frustrating to have to work in that environment. I'm giving it a couple more years and them I'm retiring...again.
     
  22. steingar

    steingar Taxi to Parking

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    One of the problems in the higher education biz is that our pool of students has changed dramatically from when we were all wee tykes. Back in the day, when the Earth was still cooling and all that, you went to school because you wanted to or were expected to. If you didn't want to there were plenty of good jobs. If you went to college and actually got the degree you could probably score a good job, even if your degree was in something useless and easy. I think the idea was that even the most facile degree had some degree of rigor in it, which wasn't in any way wrong. Anyhow, the folks who went to college were mostly the upper 20%, and the folks who might not have been as academically gifted but could get in on athletic scholarships. You were expected to do whatever the prof told you whether you liked it or not. The only information outside the classroom was the textbook or whatever you could dig up from the library.

    Fast forward a few decades, the good jobs you can get with a high school diploma are largely gone. Way more students are going to college, and more of them are less prepared for the endeavor. There are way more conduits of information, many of them wrong.

    That said, folks not doing their homework for flight instruction is nuts. if you flunk a class you get a bad grade. If you screw up in the airplane you can die.
     
  23. denverpilot

    denverpilot Taxi to Parking

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    Can you back this up with a solid academic reference? I see plenty of tradesman jobs standing unfilled and signs up begging for people.

    Granted, we’re a (ridiculous) growth area, and aren’t exactly small town rural America here in the Metro blob of the Front Range, but there’s jobs. Housing may be a problem though.

    Also a lot of these trade jobs won’t be working for some giant manufacturers at a plant. If mas manufacturing jobs is what you’re focusing in on, no question those are largely gone. Globalization did that.

    But I am curious about which “good jobs” disappeared other than those from a solidly researched academic point of view.

    Big waves in all that data, too. I remember the 80s scared that Japan would take over the manufacturing world. That’s not exactly worked out that way. It was mostly emotion driven (pun intended) as lazy Detroit got its ass kicked by Japanese automakers at the time. And rightly so. Now Toyota builds ‘em in Kentucky.

    You can’t find a good electrician around here for a small job. They’re all subbed to the house builders, busy, and making plenty of money. The tiny three person HVAC company I hired to replace my furnace a few years ago has a fleet of ten trucks, all the people to operate at that size, and radio ads, three years later, and always hunting for more qualified HVAC people.
     
  24. steingar

    steingar Taxi to Parking

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    Academic, not so much. But manufacturing activity, which was the backbone of US labor, has been in decline for some time. We are still the number one manufacturer in the world, but lots of stuff is now made elsewhere. Moreover, automation has replaced lots and lots of jobs. I suspect this is the big driver in getting folks into college.

    I agree that the trades are important, but they also require their degree of training. You can't just be an electrician with a high school diploma, for an example.
     
  25. CJ Rader

    CJ Rader Pre-takeoff checklist

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    This country could learn much from Germany, which is one of the world leaders in vocational education and cranks out some of the best engineers in the world. They offer excellent earn-as-you-learn opportunities and as a result managed to keep youth unemployment significantly lower than the rest of Europe during the height of the recession.
     
  26. Ronbonjovi

    Ronbonjovi Pre-takeoff checklist

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    As a public school teacher I echo everything in this thread as far as lack of motivation and students expecting everything to be handed to them. To be quite honest though, it is incredibly hard to fail a grade. You pretty much have to stop breathing to not pass. Schools are more concerned about losing funding to lower graduation/passing rates then actually making sure students gain the knowledge they are supposed to.

    Sorry rant off. On an aviation note though I do not understand why people waste money and do not study before a lesson. I am paying my hard earned money to be there and am dang sure going to make the best of it. I guess if money is no issue to a student I can somewhat understand it. I plan on pursuing the rest of my ratings and would love to be a CFI one day. The main reason being you would have motivated students and I would enjoy the curriculum vs what I do now. But some of the CFI stories here sound similar to some stories I have of my 7th grade students.
     
  27. CJ Rader

    CJ Rader Pre-takeoff checklist

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    You teach 7th graders? OMG, do they give you combat pay for that?

    Jokes aside, I have nothing but respect for school teachers. I'm 43 and I still remember my favorite and.... not so favorite teachers from school. I had a history teacher in High School who was so fantastic that I took a class from him two years in a row (20th Century History one year, Western Civ the next). Even back when I was in class in the early 90s, there were those who came there to learn and those who couldn't care less.. Those who couldn't care less?... Well, it showed in their grades. I could tell it frustrated the teacher on some level, but he knew who the good students were and those who wanted to learn, and he geared his classes toward them. The others? That was on them. And when they bombed a test, he let them know it was on them.

    Like you, I can't comprehend why someone would pay good money for flying lessons and not do the book work.. But, on the other hand, the mercenary in me says, if they keep taking lessons but never gain the knowledge to pass the exams? Take their money and move on. :D
     
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  28. James331

    James331 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I'm not teaching kids, I've actually fired one as a CFI, I plan my flight according to the students progress, I also don't assign homework, just the king videos and I'll ask how's it comming and if you're slacking I'll tell you you're slacking, doesn't change any thing for me minus I make more money if you screw around, that said I won't solo or recommend a student who isn't ready.
     
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  29. denverpilot

    denverpilot Taxi to Parking

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    Sounds pretty squishy to base the opinion on. Automation also creates different jobs and manufacturing losses weren’t the majority of all “blue collar” work.

    The “big driver” may very well be more related to the ease of receiving loans in dollar amounts that mathematically turn the students into slaves for at least ten years. Even consumer credit tends to not be offered beyond about a 3-4 year payback number. The education loan market essentially has no cap on what can be loaned.

    See: ERAU and loans exceeding $150,000 for a job that pays $30,000 at entry-level. Just as a partially joking but also deadly serious warning inside Aviation.
     
  30. jesse

    jesse Administrator Management Council Member

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    lol. seriously. If I am doing a X hour cross country with a student you're damn right that the student is going to pay me for my time from the moment we start talking about the flight at the FBO to the moment we are back at the FBO and I've completed their logbook.

    During this cross country it is quite likely that I will walk into the bathroom and take a ****. I'll probably take a phone call too. Why? Because I have a whole additional job and it's reasonable to expect someone to be able to pause for a few minutes for personal issues after spending hours with you. If you told me that I did something wrong because I used a restroom (safety issue) and made a phone call during the few minutes you were preoccupied I assure you that you wouldn't have to worry about firing me because I wouldn't be flying with you again. Depending on the tone you took with me there is a very strong chance that you're going to have to find a new way home if we are operating my airplane. If we are operating your airplane and you are student well you're going to need to find another instructor to get your airplane home. Good luck - it's a small community and none of them would be interested after your antics. A quick phone call and I'll have another airplane picking me up in a flash. I don't fly with *******s.

    I tell students from the beginning that I am not their employee nor am I their gym trainer or golf instructor. If they want to learn to fly they need to think of me as a partner in the process and treat me as such. I do not need to fly with the person - therefore if there is not appropriate mutual respect I simply will not.

    Let me ask you this. If you are an hourly emplyoee at a typical business. Would you expect the owner to not pay you for the couple minutes you used the restroom? How about if your wife called you with an emergency that took you 90 seconds to resolve over the phone. I suppose the employer shouldn't pay that time either.

    This **** works both ways and I'd recommend you open your eyes a little more in the future. I can assure you that every student I have ever had has called me when I am at work. I'll take a few minutes to answer their question. I don't bill them for those few minutes. And I certainly don't call up my HR department and tell them to subtract 5 minutes from my paycheck.

    Whatever. The good news is that 99% of the people I've interacted with out there are more reasonable than you and have never raised issue over the situation you described which is common in flight training. I've fired one student for not respecting me. His plan severely backfired - the other local instructors declined to provide instruction after asking me why I stopped. That was the end of his learning to fly.

    Oh. I also use my cell phone on every single flight. It runs my music and gives me maps and weather. I also use it to take notes on the student so that I can give a good debrief afterwords. A student will definitely see me tapping on it from time to time. I've given over a thousand hours of instruction with music playing in my headset and I don't intend on changing that. I've never had a person in that time complain or raise issue.
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2018
  31. James331

    James331 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I agree minus the phone part.

    If you're expecting your wife to have an emergency you probably shouldn't be CFIing at that time, and for the most part if you're probably going to get a phone call, minus living in a war zone or working EMS, it's probably not a real emergency and probably can go to voice mail.

    Even being full union, if I took a call infront of a upper manager that was for side work, or just started chit chatting with some friend, it wouldn't be good.
     
  32. denverpilot

    denverpilot Taxi to Parking

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    @jesse you mean I can’t get that five minutes back over Kansas somewhere late at night? LOL.

    Hell, I was just glad it was your work calling and not mine! LOL. :) :) :)
     
  33. Harold Rutila

    Harold Rutila Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Agreed with the whole post, and especially this part.
     
  34. jesse

    jesse Administrator Management Council Member

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    Every situation is different. In my case I am paid a fair deal of money to be available 24x7x365. My students are fully aware of this and know I could be interrupted. Without that money I would not be instructing in the first place. Two days ago I was in a meeting with our CEO and took a phone call from a student. I did not attempt to cover up what the call was - nor was it an issue.

    Hell my CEO has offered to hire me a personal assistant, paid by my employer, to help me run the flight school, simply because he knows I'm overloaded and knows assisting with that will give him more value. I did not take him up on that offer..but it's just an example of how we all have different rules of engagement with this stuff. Being understanding goes a long ways. People are willing to put up with some inconveniences if you provide the value they need. Even better if it's incredibly difficult to find someone with your skillset.

    In addition - most of the students I've delt with have similar situations. They must always be available too - either because they run their own businesses or because they have a unique career. It's not uncommon for a student of mine to have to pause and bust out a 5 or 10 minute phone call. I don't take it personally - that's just life - and that phone call is what enables him to pay for the flight training.

    lol. forgot about that.
     
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  35. James331

    James331 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    If you're making all that clear, fair enough
     
  36. TommyG

    TommyG Cleared for Takeoff

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    You hit it with this one. Some students, as well as members of this forum feel as if the CFI is a subservient employee to jump when they say jump. A CFI is paid to teach a someone to get a license. Teach someone how not to die in a hobby or potential career where one mistake can end up deadly. If a student tells me I am not instructing to a level they can understand or pushing them too hard or too little, that is something that can always be adjusted. We all know everyone learns at a different level and those issues can and need to be addressed. If a student isn’t putting in the time or effort to study, push themselves or take the lessons seriously. Well they can’t be ****ed I am billing them for more time having to explain simple things they didn’t study. But if a student feels I am to be thier trainer and feel as if I am a waiter at IHOP, that’s too bad. Go find another CFI. They pay me, they pay me for my service and skills. If they want to feel that I should feel lucky they pay me, they can eff off.
     
  37. Paulie

    Paulie Line Up and Wait

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    I was in a aviation law class I took for fun. Most of the students were taking it for a aviation degree because they thought if they had that the navy would give them a F-14 just like in Top Gun. Attrition rate was 90%. I had fun because I enjoyed arguing with the instructor, a aviation lawyer that was teaching the class for fun. Got a perfect grade.
     
  38. jrollf

    jrollf Pre-Flight

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    The other issue is trades pay a lot less now than they did 20 or 30 years ago. For instance my dad was a heavy-duty welder mechanic, he passed away in the early 1980s. Talking to family members that are doing the same job today and in the same union he was in they only make a few dollars more an hour more than he did in late 70s and early 80s then you account for inflation and they're making a lot less in real world money.

    Just ask a skilled carpenter that builds houses for a living how much he gets paid, you'll quickly wonder how they can afford to have a place to live let alone eat. 30 years ago these jobs could easily support a family and afford hobbies such as boating, off road toys, etc, and that was as a single income family.

    Sent from my SM-T320 using Tapatalk
     
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  39. denverpilot

    denverpilot Taxi to Parking

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    Wage stagnation is common across the board on all jobs below CxO as a percentage of gross profits. It’s not really limited to skilled or unskilled labor. Yes, the switch to two incomes was just a way to slide that lower.

    Household-wise, I don’t know that any of my blue collar family really had it any easier in the 70s, 80’s, or 90’s. Money was tight, and nobody had a boat. If they had off-road toys they were cast off old trucks that they worked on themselves to lift them or whatever.
     
  40. Paulie

    Paulie Line Up and Wait

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    Got that right. My dad was CAB then FAA and supported a stay at home wife and four kids.