Pilot And CFI: Two Different Skill Sets

If you are an FAA CFI you carry two pieces of plastic in your pocket. One is your pilot certificate which at some level allows you to pilot airplanes. The other certificate says you are an aviation educator. Many people do not understand that the demands and skills of each of these different certificates are unique and sometimes contradictory.

Pilots are a unique breed; 1% of the population that have achieved the unique skills enabling safe flight. With this, self-selected or acquired is the “pilot personality.” The Airline Pilots Association lists 24 unique characteristics of pilots that causes disdain and laughter when shared in a group.

Physically and mentally healthy ⊗ Reality-based ⊗ Self-sufficient ⊗ Difficulty trusting anyone to do a job as well as themselves # Suspicious # Intelligent but not intellectual # They like “toys” # Good at taking things apart and putting them back together # Concrete, practical, linear thinkers rather than abstract, philosophical, or theoretical. # More analytical than emotional # Reality-oriented # Goal-oriented # Short term goal orientation and not long-term goal-driven # Bimodal (black/white, on/off, good/bad, safe/unsafe) # Tend to modify environment instead of their behavior # Hunger for excitement # Competitive # Do not handle failure well # Low tolerance for personal imperfection # Long memories of perceived injustices # Draw conclusions about people at a glance rather than relying on long and emotion-laden conversation # Avoid introspection # Have difficulty revealing, expressing, or even recognizing feelings # When experiencing unwanted feelings, a tendency to mask them with humor or anger.

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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