A Difference In Instructors

A friend and fellow flight instructor had a bit of bad luck recently when two of his students crashed within a month of one another. One of the pilots recently passed his private pilot checkride; the other one was flying under a supervised solo when his accident occurred. My friend was deeply troubled by the events, and wondered aloud if he had neglected to teach these pilots something which resulted in the accidents. He also was having serious misgivings about his ability to effectively teach.

What does it say about an instructor who’s students crash? Is he a bad instructor?

Not necessarily. There are many reasons for accidents and even the best instructors and his best students have them. The difference is in what the instructor takes away from this experience. It seems there are two types of instructor in this kind of situation: One screams and yells and rants about the student, as in, “What the @Not necessarily. There are many reasons for accidents and even the best instructors and his best students have them. The difference is in what the instructor takes away from this experience. It seems there are two types of instructor in this kind of situation: One screams and yells and rants about the student, as in, “What the @Not necessarily. There are many reasons for accidents and even the best instructors and his best students have them. The difference is in what the instructor takes away from this experience. It seems there are two types of instructor in this kind of situation: One screams and yells and rants about the student, as in, “What the @Not necessarily. There are many reasons for accidents and even the best instructors and his best students have them. The difference is in what the instructor takes away from this experience. It seems there are two types of instructor in this kind of situation: One screams and yells and rants about the student, as in, “What the @$&&## hell was this dumbass thinking? I can’t believe he tore up a perfectly good aircraft like that!”

The other type of instructor begins quietly with a question: “What could I have done to prevent this tragedy?” Thus begins a healthy introspective process, where the instructor takes the opportunity to learn something about himself — and in so doing, becomes a better instructor. Teaching people to fly is a uniquely HUMAN process.

My friend was beating himself up when we talked, the day after the second student crashed. When he asked if I had any advice to help him through this difficult period right after an accident, I told him that I felt that he was doing exactly what good instructors do when they are confronted with such difficult challenges: they look within for that all-important learning edge. They ask questions. They honestly work to learn the lessons from the often embarrassing, heart-rending experiences — and then pass those lessons on to their next student.

There really is a difference in flight instructors. And that difference makes all the difference in the type of pilot you will turn out to be. Choose carefully.

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