October 19

Roger Throwing CFIs Under the Bus…

CFI Technique

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If you are a Roger Sharp fan I apologize in advance for my lack of love for his most recent rant about “stupid CFIs”. (Please click this link and watch a while…) His negative attitude toward all CFIs has progressed from crappy to corrosive over the years and finally reached a tipping point for me. He is an angry, broken man and now shamelessly advises “avoid employing any CFI” – they’re all useless! His solution (of course) is Redbird GIFT – a self-guided Redbird software package and that will (presumably all by itself) teach you to be a safe pilot. Roger’s solution is obviously directed toward flight school owners and selling them Redbird products. But totally trashing all CFIs and trying to remove them from the educational equation – technology will save us yet again – is not the answer. Creating and supporting high-quality aviation educators is the necessary answer to our aviation future.

Clearly, Redbird failed miserably with their San Marcos flight operations. Their school died years ago and their Skyport FBO closed last month “without making a dime in eight years.” The bitterness of these failures has obviously left its mark on Redbird and Roger. But unfortunately, his pompous, all-knowing attitude is too typical of other burned-out, arrogant DPEs I have met – and why do they hate us?

The fact that these comments are the keynote at the national Redbird Migration is more than scary and self-serving. Roger (and presumably his fan base of followers) has given up on any hope of helping or improving aviation education (and CFIs). In his opinion all young CFIs – “Marty McFruit-Fly” – are condemned as “know it alls” and unable to listen and learn (from old angry DPEs like Roger). His only answer is a prepackaged, online teaching program for all pilots – one size fits all…really? Do we really think this pre-programmed catalog of steep turns, ground reference maneuvers and landing advice (in a Redbird of course) is going to make all our future safe pilots? I don’t.

We all can become frustrated with our current 250 hour CFIs, but many of these people are trying hard and committed to learning to be better educators. I know from my recent experience with our SAFE CFI-PRO™, that there are many amazing, committed professionals out there doing a great job educating future pilots. Roger’s whining is not the answer. Good examiners working closely with new CFIs to build their skills and enable excellence is the future of the flight training industry. Not every new CFI is the lost cause that Roger depicts. It might be hard to remember, but we were all a bit clueless when we started out as CFIs and good mentors and a helping hand make the essential difference.

Though Redbird GIFT may be wonderful and valuable (I confess I have not sampled the glory of this package), at most it is a standardized exposure to the maneuvers in the ACS and cannot teach the context, meaning, and judgment necessary to be safe.  GIFT can only “teach to the test” and a Redbird is still very different from a real airplane. Even if you master a bobbing box run by software, at some point our potential pilot will have to learn to fly “the real thing.” Adapting to the real airplane with the stress and responsibility is a necessary transition for every pilot in command that requires a high-quality aviation educator.

I stand with the CFIs here and re-emphasize SAFE’s mission of building proficiency and enabling excellence in aviation education. Roger’s whining doesn’t help.  Fly safe out there (and often) watch for our next CFI SAFE CFI-PRO™ workshop is June 10/11th at Sporty’s Academy in Ohio.


SAFE CFI-PRO™ workshop  is open to every aviation educator at every level (even if you are working on your CFI?)

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About the author 

David St. George (Lifetime Member)

David St. George learned to fly at Flanders Valley Airport in 1970. Proving that everyone is eventually trainable, he became an FAA Gold Seal Flight Instructor for airplanes (single and multi, instrument, and glider) and serves the Rochester FSDO as an FAA Designated Pilot Examiner. In this capacity, he gives flight tests at any level from sport pilot to ATP and CFI. For 20 years David was East Hill Flying Club's 141 Chief Instructor and manager. David holds multi and single engine ATP pilot certificates, with pilot ratings for glider and seaplane. He recently earned his ninth renewal as a Master Instructor and owns an Aeronca Champ so he can build hours for that airline job! He is now flying charter: http://learnturbine.com

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