Become a Flight Instructor (At Any Age!)

Aviation needs more dedicated educators, especially mid-life professionals with a personal passion for teaching. Mid-life professionals with some history in aviation, are a perfect fit for GA flight instruction (and the transition to CFI is quicker and easier than most people think). People in this demographic group are usually financially stable and have already acquired the essential “people/life skills” to become effective educators. Some years of experience and diverse flying experience are great backgrounds to share with future students. Mid-life CFIs most often stay in GA and become Master Instructors and DPEs since they are not building hours toward a corporate or an airline piloting career. “FAA CFIs of the Year” are often in this group too, since they are also experienced “corporate climbers.”

FAA statistics reveal that 2/3 of flight instructors have taught for less than a year and frequently have very little broad aviation knowledge. Many were trained entirely in the limited “hot-house environment” of a flight academy acquiring the minimum number of hours to move on and acquire ratings. When I ran a flight school, I regularly hired young CFIs from academy programs who did not know how to tie down a plane and had never even fueled one; pretty “green!” Though most of these “hour-builders” do a great job teaching and bring great energy into their daily flying, this continual industry flow-through has a damaging effect on our GA flying community. There is often little senior pilot supervision and mentoring in local clubs and flight training operations. Young CFIs disappear at a regular rate into their professional careers. If you are an experienced pilot, financially stable and committed to the GA aviation community, please consider acquiring your CFI certificate. (MCFI Greg Brown wrote a great article in a similar vein here) If you are a CFI already, mentor your experienced aviator friends along the path to aviation educator.

SAFE members are the “movers and shakers of the aviation education community” – Former FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt 

SAFE CFI-PRO™ was created to enable and encourage new and potential CFIs to grow their CFI professionalism. This program provides resources and mentoring, stand-up seminars and on-site training for flight schools and college aviation programs. SAFE has a  long history of mentoring CFIs (Recently reinvigorated with modern online technology). Though getting the CFI certificate is easier than most people think, becoming a really effective aviation educator is a lifetime pursuit (I am a 12X Master Instructor and still learning every day). If you are in this group of hopeful new mid-life CFIs, join our online CFI-PRO community. If you are already well-experienced and want to help mentor, sign up here as a mentor (we need more). SAFE is all about sharing and growing educator professionalism. Fly safely out there (and often)!


Thanks to everyone that was able to attend #OSH21 and visit our SAFE booth – or attend our amazing “SAFE Gathering!” What a wonderful experience after a year of quarantine. Tune-up your flying chops and join SAFE for more resources and savings. Our SAFE Toolkit app is free and brings ideas and tools to your daily flying: “Mastery not Minimums!”

About the author

David St. George

David St. George is an FAA DPE (Sport to Multi ATP) and a Part 135 charter pilot flying the Pilatus PC-12 in the NYC area. He recently renewed his Master Instructor for the tenth time and is a Charter member of SAFE. Formerly a 141 Chief Instructor for over 25 years, with a Gold Seal CFI. David started flying at 16 and has logged over 15,000 hours. He owns a 1946 7AC Aeronca Champ and wrote the SAFE Toolkit app.


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