This question comes from Mike:
I am a 60 year old comercial pilot with instrument rating with over 1200 hours. I have been a teacher and I have been working on my CFI for a year. My instructor keeps putting off my check ride for one reason or another. At what point do you fire your instructor and get another? I am fed up with the delays and the constant, “We just need to do a little bit more.” What would you advise? A finish up school or another instructor?
My first flight instructor was a Frenchman named Fredrick. Fredrick and I, let’s just say, did not see eye to eye. Believe it or not, he did not solo me because he thought I was talking to the school administration about the fact that he was dating a student (I wasn’t). I fired him and soloed within a day.
When I first started as a flight instructor, I had a older student who thought that I was being too picky, spoke too fast and that I talked down to him. He fired me. It was the first time I had been cut by a student and I had to work hard not to take it personally but as Sonny & Tom Hagen in Godfather says, “It’s business, not personal.”
Mike, you are working on your CFI and as a CFI there are going to be times when you don’t get along with a student. It is going to happen. I don’t care how nice you are, or how great your people skills are, it is a fact of life that not everybody can get along with everyone all of the time. How you deal with this challenge is very important. Let’s not forget something here: flight instruction is a business and the flight student is the customer. Flight instructors have to work to keep the client / customer satisfied even when things aren’t going as planned and as a client, you should demand that you are satisfied with your training that you are spending a lot of money on.
So how do you fire your instructor?
Talk to him. You said that he knows how you feel but maybe it is time to just say, “This isn’t working for me, could you recommend someone else?” A professional flight instructor will realize where you are coming from and do his best to keep you happy, even if it means, losing a student. If he isn’t so accommodating, then talk to his boss whether that is a chief instructor or flight school owner. This is one advantage of a FAR part 141 flight school being that you move to another instructor pretty easily. If you don’t have that luxury than just ask around the airport for a recommended CFI.
This isn’t easy. You obviously spent a lot of time together and are probably friends on some level. Try and use this as a learning experience and make the best of it and let me know what happens and always…