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6 Tips for a CFI’s First Flight With New Students

6 Tips for a CFI’s First Flight With New Students

For the new flight student, the first flight can be an overwhelming experience.

Many students that come into your office may have never been in a small aircraft before. Even fewer have undertaken an exhaustive training program like pilot training.

What can a flight instructor do or say to put students at ease and help them get the most out of their experience? Here are a few tips to help you with any new student.

Take Time to Get to Know One Another

The business of flying an aircraft is a serious one. It’s even more serious when you consider how limited your time with students is and how much material you have to teach them.

But instructors and students have a close relationship, and that has to start somewhere. The most successful flight instructors are the ones that are liked on some level by their students. Contrary to the beliefs of some, flight instruction is a job that involves many “soft skills.”

This isn’t any different than many other professions. Even among airline pilots, crews usually spend a few minutes getting to know one another before getting to work.

Why spare the time?

Because you’re going to work together in close quarters for a while, and it makes sense to know who you’re working with.

For flight instructors, it’s essential to get to know a little about your students’ motivations.

Why are they taking lessons, and what is their history with aviation?

Keep an open mind and try to get to know them. Try to see things from their point of view, as a new person in a new place. What can you say that will make them feel that they can be successful here?

Perhaps most critically, the key is to understand how important it is to listen.

Tips for flight instructorsYou’ll learn a lot about the person you’re going to be teaching if you take the time to listen to them. Knowing your student better allows you to find points of common reference and understanding.

Establish an “Open Door, Safe Space” Policy

You want your students to feel comfortable coming to you with their aviation-related questions.

Never put down students or make them feel like you don’t have time for their questions.

It’s one thing to say, “There’s no such thing as a stupid question,” but it’s a more challenging thing to live by this philosophy.

It can often help to find some common ground with your students. Relating your experiences as a new flight student can be an excellent place to start.

Calibrate Their Expectations

Maybe the most productive thing a flight instructor can do on their first meeting with a new student is to set realistic expectations.

Incoming students do not know what to expect. Primary students don’t know what flight training is like at all. Advanced students won’t know what you’re like, or what the new school is like.

Set expectations in the macro and micro.

  • Ensure your student knows when and where they should be for flight lessons, and what to expect if the weather is bad for a flight.
  • Lay out the school’s no-show or cancellation policies.
  • And finally, make sure they understand how much they’ll be expected to prepare for each flight lesson.

It also helps to lay out what their flight training will look like overall. How many hours will it take them, and how much will it all cost? Try to answer the questions that they might not want to bring up right off the bat.

Cost to get a sport pilot licenseSome new flight students have done quite a lot of research about flying before they land in your office.

It’s important to gauge where they’ve gotten their information and how accurate it is. There’s a lot of crazy stuff on the internet, and as the paid professional, it lands on you to fix any bizarre ideas they might have come across.

Beware of Hidden Fears (and Airsickness)

Some students will come right out and tell you what scares them or makes them anxious.

Other students will not. But every student you fly with has something that they aren’t keen on, just like you had when you started flying.

Maybe it’s stalls, or maybe it’s talking on the radio. Or maybe it’s the fact that they get airsick every time they leave the ground.

As the flight instructor, pressing for the information isn’t the best tactic. If the student comes out and says something, talk it through and give them the facts. If they don’t talk about it, you’ll have to gauge their reactions to figure out what’s going on.

This is all part of setting realistic expectations and making sure that they’re comfortable telling you anything that’s bothering them.

Airsickness is the perfect example.

It’s an embarrassing situation for the student, who claims to want to be a pilot, to become airsick. It’s up to their instructor to put them at ease and to make them understand that many pilots experience airsickness in the beginning.

It’s also up to their instructor to help them mitigate its effects and help them overcome it. Furthermore, it’s up to their instructor to minimize any uneasiness or embarrassment they feel about it.

Be Supportive

Flight instructors have a role to play in the lives of their flight students.

They not only teach them how to fly a plane, but they also teach them how to be pilots. Instructors are mentors and role models.

It’s up to instructors to make sure their students fly safely, and many of the habits learned in early training will stick with them for years. Some will last a lifetime.

But instructors are also coaches. You have to show them how to study and what to study. Give them tips for success, like the things that helped you get through your training.

On their first lesson, spend time going over all of the resources available to them.

Walk them through the school’s syllabus and flight lessons, as well as all of their textbooks and supplies.

Then show them any websites you think might help them. Are there any student groups at your school? Is there any tutoring available? Make sure they’re aware of all the opportunities available to them at the school.

Remember the Law of Primacy

On the first flight, a new student’s attention is being diverted everywhere.

Since they aren’t used to the environment, they don’t know what to focus on. The result is an overwhelming, tiring experience. Remember how tired you felt after your first flight lessons?

Very little of what you say on day one will be remembered, so keep it short and sweet.

But above all, remember how hard it is to untrain bad habits. In your flight instructor academy, you learned about the Law of Primacy.

It states that things learned first make the most powerful impressions. From day one, make sure your students are steeped in safety culture.

Use the checklist every time, do a thorough pre-flight, and follow your company OpSecs to the letter. In other words, make a good impression.

Conclusion

Flight instructors are many things–they’re teachers, coaches, role models, and mentors. Sometimes, they’re good friends too.

It doesn’t always happen, but keeping your relationship professional and friendly keeps your student at ease and keeps them excited about coming to the airport to fly.

It also fosters an environment where they’re comfortable speaking up more often, which is vital in the student-centered learning process.

The first flight should be viewed as an opportunity for the flight instructor and student to connect. Remember, they aren’t you.

They’ve got an entirely different background, and to work with them, you’ll need to find a little common ground to build from.

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Flight Instructor Supplies Every CFI Should Have

Flight Instructor Supplies Every CFI Should Have

As a job, flight instruction straddles a fuzzy zone between professional pilot and professor.

You need to have a flight bag full of goodies to do your job correctly. Some of that stuff you will have been carrying around since day one of your pilot training, while other things are new tools you need to teach.

Here’s a look at some of the supplies you might want to consider purchasing for your CFI training, which you’ll use every day while teaching students.

You can find a lot of flight instructor supplies lying around your flight school or FBO. Some flight schools have built up a collection of old instruments, classroom aides, and various props that instructors can grab when they need them.

Other times, you’ll be working on your own in an empty hanger. In those cases, you’ll need to think ahead and figure out what you need when.

flight instructors and students talking at the airportAn Organization and Note System

If there’s one constant in flight instruction, it’s the need to take copious notes. You’ll take notes in the plane, on the ground, before and after the flight, and during ground lessons.

The key to your success will depend on how organized you can keep those notes. Of all of the instructor tools you can have, a clean and tidy note system is the one that will pay for itself first.

Tablets like the Apple iPad offer fantastic versatility for flight instructors. There are hundreds of apps you can browse that will help you teach, both on the ground and in the air.

Notability is a great app that can help you organize your notes into binders for each student. Notes can consist of handwriting, typed text, photos, or video.

You can even make PDF templates to make all of your notes match the same format or your school’s lesson plans.

Most pilots already know about Foreflight and the wonderful tools it has for pilots. Foreflight has some great options for instructors, too, including route recording and having any chart at your fingertips. Since many of your students will want to use it, it helps to be knowledgeable about this app yourself.

Also, give some consideration to the power of your tablet and how it can help organize the rest of your flying life. Look for apps that educators use in the classroom.

Explain Everything is a great one. It allows you to create multimedia slideshows that can be projected and presented. During the presentation, you can quickly annotate, draw, and point to things.

There’s another great app that shows a wind tunnel simulator. You can put in different shapes and airfoils, and you can change the angle of attack right on the screen.

One of the handiest accessories you can have for your tablet is a high-quality stylus. Even though many tablets don’t come with them, they are available as an accessory.

With the iPad, most are now compatible with the Apple Pencil, but you can still find many generic styluses online for older units.

Some people don’t like taking notes or record-keeping on a tablet, which is fine too. But it’s still just as essential to have a dedicated note-taking and organization system.

Demonstration Props

As a CFI teaching students, you’re going to spend your time trying to convey some pretty abstract and complicated subjects. In the process, it helps to have something physical to point at and talk about.

For every lesson plan that you can think of, try to find something you could have on hand to relate it to.

Gyroscopes are a great example. It’s one thing to read about rigidity in space and gyroscopic precession in the book, but it’s an entirely different thing to feel it in your hands or see it before your eyes. How can you make that happen?

Pick up an antique-style toy gyroscope top. You pull the string, and with the top spinning on a book, you can easily show rigidity in space. Tap the side with a pencil, and precession comes to life.

Another excellent prop for the gyroscope discussion is a custom-built bicycle wheel. This one doesn’t fit in your flight bag easily. With a handle mounted on the hub that the student can hold, you can make enough force to surprise them when gyroscopic precession hits in a place they might not be looking.

Any airplane parts you can get your hands on, be it from real planes or model ones, are helpful.

You can use a small propeller from an RC model plane to talk about P-factor and washout. A small model plane with control surfaces helps show stability, the directions of motion, and types of controls.

Books

You might already have a collection of aviation books, but it is convenient to have your references and sources close at hand. And while all of these publications are available on your tablet, having paper copies in the classroom is handy for finding things quickly while discussing with your students.

The most important books to have around are the FAR/AIM, the FAA handbooks, and your aircraft’s POH/AFM.

Old Paper Charts

On that same note, it’s handy to have a collection of old charts around. On the one hand, many students are no longer buying physical charts and relying solely on their tablets.

Their instructor’s paper charts might be the only time they get to hold paper examples, which is a shame.

You can learn a lot about a chart just by studying the publication in its entirety. When was the last time you looked at a chart and perused the legend?

The new digital equivalents are outstanding, but for beginners, they sometimes don’t make a lot of sense and can seem ad hoc in their structure.

Primary instructors should keep a drawer full of old sectionals, especially ones from other parts of the country with features their students don’t see in the local area.

Flatland students will especially enjoy looking at sectionals from mountainous areas. Don’t forget to have a TAC and a WAC for reference, too.

Instrument instructors will need even more options. Like the VFR sectionals and chart supplements, instrument charts are best learned initially from the paper examples. Students learn on either Jeppsen or government charts, and as the CFII, you should have a set of both to teach the differences between the two systems.

Classroom Supplies

Some flight instructors use shared classrooms, while others use their own space all the time. Their preparation will largely depend on the overall organization of their flight school.

If space is shared, you should assume that what you need to teach will not be there when you need it. Bring your own supplies. The biggest thing missing nearly every flight lesson–functional dry erase markers.

If you teach from a tablet, you might want to make sure you have access to a compatible projector in your classroom.

A poster of the cockpit of your training plane is handy for chair-flying activities. If you can find one that matches exactly, you’ll increase your student’s positive learning between the classroom and the cockpit.

Instrument Training Tools

Never count on your students to have their own supplies, either.

It doesn’t matter how many times you tell them; the time will eventually come when even the best-prepared student has forgotten something.

For the CFII, it’s usually their instrument hood or goggles. Keep a spare set in your flight bag to save the lesson.

It’s also up to the instructor to have some form of instrument covers. There are simple suction-cupped rubber covers for steam gauges or cling-film covers for electronic displays.

Airplane Supplies

There’s an entire list of things that you may find handy to have when operating an aircraft as a flight instructor.

You’re teaching your student how to be a self-sufficient pilot, but at the same time, you’re operating as the school’s representative and as the veteran pilot onboard.

Some schools may keep their planes stocked with these items, but other places may put the responsibility onto the pilots.

Here are just a few items that you might want to keep in your flight bag or at least in your office.

  • Windscreen cleaner cloth and water in a spray bottle
  • Tire gauge
  • Manual fuel gauge
  • Fuel testing jar
  • Spare batteries for your headset
  • A backup battery for your tablet
  • A nice multitool with flat and Phillips-head screwdrivers

Instructor Go-Kit

Finally, think about the personal things you’d like to have handy after a long day on the job.

Think through some what-if scenarios. What if, at the apex of a long cross country, the plane breaks down at a distant airport?

It’s not out of the realm of possibility, and it might be a day or two until a mechanic can get to it. Should you pack a full overnight bag when you go on long trips?

That might be overkill, but if you’ve got a track record for this sort of diversion, no one will fault you for it.

Some in-between level of preparedness is likely sufficient. Throw a travel-sized toothpaste and toothbrush in your bag, along with some emergency snacks and a big water bottle.

It also can’t hurt to have sanitizer wipes and even a first aid kit if you fly in planes that don’t already have those supplies onboard.

And all flight instructors will benefit from a pack of gum or breath mints, even if you only have them to subtly offer your students.

What are your top recommended flight instructor supplies?

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5 Ways to Help Flight Training Students Get Past Learning Plateaus

5 Ways to Help Flight Training Students Get Past Learning Plateaus

 

Flight instructors know that learning plateaus are a natural part of learning a new skill. It’s happened to all of us at one point during our training.

You’re progressing fine, until one day you just can’t get it. Maybe it’s nailing the flare for landing, or maybe it’s reading a specific type of performance chart (I’m looking at you, crosswind component chart).

Whatever it is, everyone else seems to get it except for you. It’s a terrible feeling, and you aren’t sure what to do about it when it’s happening.

A good flight instructor should have a few tools in their flight bag for dealing with inevitable learning blocks. With the right techniques, you can guide your students through these rough patches and start making positive progress again in no time.

All students will have the occasional hangup every once in a while, but it’s seldom a cause for concern.

Set Realistic Expectations

The best way to prevent learning blocks is to set your students up for a positive training experience early on in their flying careers.

If you train younger, career-path students, they are far more likely to worry about their progress and compare themselves to their peers than adult learners.

But no matter the age of your student, they will have a learning plateau at one point or another.

When you first meet with your students, plan a conversation about the phases of flight training and what they can expect. Point out that they will likely experience a plateau at some point and that it’s a natural part of the learning process.

Your goal is to set realistic expectations and reduce their anxiety before they ever even have any.

flight instructor checking the plane

An equally important point of this conversation is to convey that everyone learns these skills differently and that it’s perfectly normal for some to progress faster than others.

It may sound a small thing to the instructor, but what you’re doing is laying a foundation for a positive culture among your students. And, in case there was any doubt, your students are comparing notes and talking about their flying when you’re not around.

Accept the Challenge

The first thing to do when you see your student plateau is to tackle the thing head-on.

Start by ensuring that your student has a positive attitude about it; you do not want them giving up too quickly or getting discouraged early on. Break the task, maneuver, or ground lesson into smaller, more attainable goals.

Remember the building blocks you learned in the fundamentals of instruction? Start putting them to good use.

Make sure they’ve mastered all the skills leading up to this point, and break the problem-making task into as many baby steps as you can. The great thing about smaller goals is that they can help you transition a level plateau into a slow and steady ascent.

Try Something Completely Different

So you’ve tried explaining it every way you know how, you’ve taken the controls and demonstrated the task, but it’s still not clicking.

Try turning the table and make your student play flight instructor. Have them do more talking, and see if you can find in the gaps their understanding.

If none of this is working, starting asking senior instructors if they’ve ever had this same problem. You’d be amazed at how one innocuous little tip can completely change the entire scenario.

If nothing in your toolbox is working, it’s time to step back.

Your student can’t keep going up and doing the same thing over and over again and expect a different result. It’s time to take a break, so skip the lesson and come back to it later.

Let them excel at something different to rebuild their enthusiasm and confidence.

You can even just take a flight for fun. If you’ve got a pre-solo student who just can’t get their landing consistent, trying taking them on a cross country for a hamburger.

Or just have them take a mini-vacation with a week off from flying.

Have Them Fly with Another Instructor

Flying with a different instructor is a fantastic way for your students to learn something new. Don’t let your ego get in the way here.

It says nothing about your skills as an instructor; no instructor has ever been able to teach every student everything.

flight instructor and student doing preflight check

Sometimes instructor changes are simply for personality reasons, and sometimes their just because you need a little advice on how to handle an individual student’s training.

It might help not to let on that the change is due to the learning plateau—but do brief the other instructor on the situation. Then tell your student that they’ll have to fly with whatshisface on the next flight due to a scheduling conflict.

You don’t want them worried about their performance or stressing about the change. You just want them to have a positive flight with another instructor.

Invite Them to Backseat

Another thing you can do is have them backseat with a more advanced student. If that student is working on the same task, that might be good or bad.

The purpose of back seating is to just get your blocked student out of their headspace for an hour or two. It’s not just to say, “See, this guy can do it!”

Let them observe another student learning something.

Probably the best scenario is if that other student is having trouble with some other task. Show them that other pilots have these same problems and that with perseverance and hard work, they will get over them.

What other tips do you have for flight instructors to help their students through learning plateaus?

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How to Stay Organized as a Flight Instructor

How to Stay Organized as a Flight Instructor

 

One of the most challenging parts of being a CFI is also one of the things that flight instructor training doesn’t prepare you for—dealing with the constant flow of students.

It’s incredible how quickly a full flight schedule can make you feel like you’re falling behind. The more flying you do, the more recordkeeping and notes you’ll have to take.

The only way to keep your head above water is to develop a system that works for you, one that you’ll stick with.

6 Tips for CFI Organization

 

Lesson Plans for the Real-World

Lesson plans are discussed at length in CFI training, but real-world lesson plan use is different than what is usually taught. Nearly every flight school has a curriculum set up, so all the flight instructor has to do is follow it. FAR Part 141 flight schools have these curriculums approved, but even FAR Part 61 schools use some sort of syllabus, be it from Jeppesen, Cessna, or their own creation.

So you don’t have to come up with the elements of the lesson plan, but you do have to follow it. The closer you follow it, the easier your job becomes.

To keep you on track, you should have a print out of the lesson plan with you at all times when you’re with your student. You can check off tasks as you complete them and keep notes about how well the student performed.

Take Notes…Lots of Notes

The printed lesson plan page is an excellent place to take general notes, too. The more notes you take during a flight, the better.

If you’re going to move right on to your next flight student as this student leaves the building, you’re going to need to remember this flight or ground lesson later.

If you teach six or seven students in one day, that becomes increasingly difficult.

Sometimes, you might not see the student again for a month or more. The only solution is to take notes as things happen.

Notes from each meeting with a student are essential on many levels. On the one hand, reviewing your notes helps you remember what happened the next time you meet with that student.

Your notes also help brief other instructors should your student fly with someone else. If your student is up for a progress check, the chief or assistant chief can review the student’s progress through your notes and find areas they might want to know more about.

Your instructor notes provide a more complete picture of the student’s learning than the lesson plan and standard grading scheme allow.

Taking notes during the flight often makes students nervous. If you have to jot down notes, it’s probably not good, right? Their minds immediately begin to wonder what they’ve done and what the heck are you writing.

flight instructors and students talking at the airportYou can attempt to stop this from the get-go by telling every student that you have a terrible memory and need to write everything down.

Point out that you write down as many good things as bad, which is a good habit to have anyway. Once they get used to seeing you write notes, they’ll tune it out.

Taking notes in the air requires a little practice.

A kneeboard is good, but you often don’t want your student to read the notes before getting back on the ground.

Printing your lesson plans on a half-page printout and folding it over like a greeting card enables you to make notes on the lesson plan as needed and on the blank side for general notes, too.

Whatever you do needs to be quickly accessible in a crowded cockpit when under pressure, so keep it organized and tidy. Using shorthand or other abbreviations is a great idea.

Tidy Recordkeeping

These notes won’t do you any good if you don’t have a tidy system of recordkeeping.

Many instructors inherit the system that their school uses. But many schools only keep the bare legal minimum and leave lesson notes and instructor briefings up to the CFIs.

In that case, you’ll need to ask around and see what the other instructors do.

It gives you the flexibility to create your own awesome system, but it also means you have to do all the work of creating your own awesome system.

Leverage New Technologies

The tablets that many of us use in the cockpit have a plethora of apps that can help us take notes and keep organized.

One of the best apps is called Notability. It’s a simple note-taking app that allows you to handwrite notes and organize them into folders. Handwriting with a stylus is much faster than typing, making it more useful in the air.

You can also draw, add photos or video, and use it to annotate PDF files. If your school’s lesson plans are in PDF format, you can load them into Notability and mark them up as needed.

You can then type them out later, or at least clean up the illegible parts.

Tablets are great ways to stay organized for many other reasons, though.

You can download many FAA handbooks and publications to the tablet, freeing up your flight bag and reducing the time it takes you to find bits of info. ASA makes a great, searchable FAR/AIM app.

You can also use the voice recorder or video camera apps to record notes or student interactions, with their permission, of course.

Record them doing a maneuver in flight, and then replay and talk about it during the debrief.

flight instructor reaching into airplaneTablets lend themselves to the cockpit exceptionally well. Popular flight apps, like Foreflight, give you approach charts, sectionals, and planning tools.

But the productivity apps that are useful in the classroom can also be applied in the cockpit by CFIs.

Plan for the Paperwork

Paperwork is not the glamorous part of being a CFI, but it is one of the most critical parts.

Most pilots have an open disdain for paperwork. It’s the closest thing to a real-job that they have to do, after all. And CFIs have even more of it than most pilots do.

The unfortunate truth is that most CFIs don’t dedicate enough time to doing the paperwork.

At the end of the day, you’ve got a mountain of notes you need to go over, and you need to organize each student’s records. But you’re also exhausted and ready to head home.

Most flight schedules don’t afford the time to allow a CFI to make their notes during the day since the next student is often ready and waiting by the time you’re done with a lesson.

So what’s the solution? A lot of it depends on your school’s scheduling policy. You can always maximize any gaps in your schedule from bad weather or no-shows by doing paperwork.

But you can also build in extra time throughout the day, just 30 minutes here and there, to make sure you don’t fall behind on paperwork.

Perfect Your System

Over time, you’ll pick up on exactly how much you need to do and when.

It’s essential to look at your recordkeeping as a whole system, one which gets completed due to planning and strategy.

If every student has a matching record jacket, and every flight has a form-based lesson plan with a notes section, it’s a lot easier to keep doing the same thing for every flight.

The key to making this work is to ensure that you keep the FAA, the school, your students, and yourself happy. The school and the FAA are worried about the legal minimums—lesson plans completed and organized, various vital records kept safe.

But you and the student should be interested in their learning progress and ensuring that you’re prepared for their next lesson by remembering precisely what they need to work on.

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How to Be a Good Flight Instructor – 6 Helpful Tips

How to Be a Good Flight Instructor – 6 Helpful Tips

There’s a secret among flight instructors that you might not know. This job is hard. Learning how to be a good flight instructor is incredibly challenging. Most pilots know that flight instruction is often seen as a stepping stone along a pilot’s “typical” career path.

Some instructors begin teaching when the ink has barely dried on their commercial certificates, so how hard could the job be?

The reality soaks in quickly.

Flight instruction is about so much more than the simple mastery of flight skills and book knowledge.

Along with everything you learned in your CFI training, the job is about being a mentor, a role model, and even sometimes a caring friend. The job is one of the most intense teaching jobs on the planet. Wondering how to be a good flight instructor?

Here’s a look at six “soft skills” that will help.

 

Be a Professional

Professionalism is a multifaceted quality that every pilot needs to have, but flight instructors need more than their share.

Why?

Flight instruction is a difficult job—you have to be one part pilot, one part instructor, one part mentor, with a dash of customer service maestro and a sprinkle of knowledgeable geek.

The resulting cocktail is as complex as it is interesting—you’ve got a lot going on, both in the cockpit and in the classroom.

 

flight instructor teaching student while flying

The FAA covers professionalism and how to be a good flight instructor in the Aviation Instructor’s Handbook.

They list things like keep a clean-cut appearance and following the regulations. But it’s also the small things that make a professional flight instructor stand out.

For example, keeping your knowledge and skills current or saying, “I’ll have to look that up,” when you aren’t certain of an answer.

The most valuable thing that flight instructors do is provide a role model to their students.

A good flight instructor is a good pilot, not only because they possess descent flying skills, but because they endeavor to learn more and be better than they currently are. Aviation is a journey for everyone who pursues it, and the sooner your students learn that, the better off they’ll be.

 

Be a Stickler for Procedures

It also pays to be a creature of professional habits. For example, do you preflight an airplane before each and every flight?

As a flight instructor, are you on the ramp watching your student do their preflight every time?

These are things that your students notice, even though they aren’t explicitly part of the lesson plan.

Are they learning that this is something they’re going to be doing every day for the rest of their careers, or do they see it as a menial task that should be delegated to the newest guy?

The little habits you pick up from your flight instructor are endless, and they are often of critical importance. Are you flying with an advanced student who seems never to pick up the checklist? They probably learned that bad habit from a previous flight instructor.

 

Flight instructor in jet

Perhaps the most poignant example can be seen when flying a Cessna or other high-wing. Do you lift the wing to check the blindspot before every turn without even thinking about it? If you do, it’s because you picked up that habit from a good flight instructor.

But here’s the rub—what if, as you went through training, you picked up some bad habits or incorrect facts from your flight instructors?

Everyone has. At this point in your career, it’s essential to research things thoroughly and figure out the right way so that you don’t make the same mistakes with your students.

 

Care About Your Students’ Futures

There is no doubt that many instructors use the job as a stepping stone to go onto something “bigger.”

Airlines love hiring flight instructors. For one thing, by the time you’ve got a few hundred hours of dual given under your belt, you know your stuff pretty well.

But to be a good flight instructor, you’ve got to look at the job as more than a stepping stone on the path to your own success.

Flight instructors must possess a strong personal commitment to their students. Yes, you want them to succeed and to get their license or rating. But more than that, instructors need to be invested in their students’ safety and long-term futures—regardless of whether that involves flying on their own privately or as a commercial pilot.

Students must know that their instructor is a highly-trained and ethical individual.

They must know that the only way their going to be endorsed for their solo flights or their check rides is if they’ve earned it by putting in the work. In other words, instructors must be the keepers of strict standards.

So much of aviation is based on a traditional master-and-apprentice relationship.

It starts from day one when the flight instructor is the master. Student pilots learn more from their first flight instructor than they ever will from another. That first impression is so very critical to the safety of the aviation community as a whole.

If a flight instructor switches jobs and joins an airline or charter company, the master-and-apprentice relationship switches again.

Left-seat captains are experienced, senior pilots for a reason. It’s because they are the masters and the co-pilots are the apprentices.

 

Flight instructor in a helicopter

 

Do Less Talking and More Listening

In education circles, one of the latest trends in teaching is called the “flipped classroom.”

The idea has been around for a long time. Even the FAA has tried to implement it with “FITS” standards and scenario-based training. Whatever you call it, the most effective teaching technique has been proven to be one that is student-centered.

Most people are at a disadvantage because few teachers of any subject excel at student-centered teaching. Think back on the teachers you’ve had from high school, college, or aviation.

How many let you lead your learning experience and taught you a lot? You may have never had a single one.

Most of us still remember a medieval teaching model, with a professor scribbling on a board, talking away to a bunch of bored and distracted students.

Flight instruction is doubly problematic because there are many barriers to giving the student complete control of their learning.

Can you let a zero-time pilot land the airplane by themselves and then have them critique themselves later?

Probably not.

Even if you do, it’s a lot more involved than just letting someone screw up a math problem.

In the classroom, student-centered learning means doing more listening and less talking. Flight instructors know better than anyone that the only way to understand something deeply is to teach it to someone else.

So students should be expected to learn the materials on their own, and then come in and explain it to the flight instructor.

The instructor should ask leading questions that evaluate how deeply the student understands the material. The questions should require the student to think a little.

In the plane, student-centered learning is doing more watching and less flying. Beyond an occasional demonstration, a student gets very little from watching the flight instructor fly.

You can teach many maneuvers by ensuring the student understands the fundamentals on the ground, then talking them through it while in the air.

Ideally, the flight instructor never touches the controls.

 

Flight instructor on the ground with their student

 

Keep Calm and Fly On

At one point or another, we’ve all met a flight instructor who couldn’t keep calm.

A shouting flight instructor is the worst kind. Becoming argumentative or confrontational immediately shuts down all learning opportunities. Students walk away confused, with their confidence shattered.

Many stressful situations come up in an airplane’s cockpit, and shouting never made a single one of them any better.

Good flight instructors can keep their calm through pretty much anything. Doing so will help make it all the more poignant when you have to speak up or take the aircraft’s controls.

 

Let the Student Lead

As discussed, a student-centric approach is best in flight training. But realize that this approach goes beyond just learning a maneuver or passing a knowledge exam.

The term “instructor” is perhaps misleading. “Coach” or “mentor” might suit the job better.

Flight instructors not only have to teach their students fundamental flight skills, but they also need to teach them the life-skills of how to be a successful pilot.

 

piper airplane with pilot waving

That means establishing study habits, a safety mindset, and the level of professionalism expected from pilots.

Throughout all this, remember that the student is in charge of their training. No one, including a flight instructor, can make them learn anything.

Only they can decide that something is worth learning and doing. If your student isn’t studying, it is likely because they are either not motivated to do so or don’t know how to do it. Is it a flight instructor’s job to teach a student how to study? Sometimes.

The hardest part of giving the student command of their learning experience is letting them make mistakes.

By nature, pilots want to take charge of a situation when they think they could do better. The hardest thing a flight instructor ever does is sitting on their hands and doing nothing.

Student-centered learning aims to arm the student with enough book knowledge to know how they should perform something and then give them enough freedom to try.

They will make mistakes.

But if they’ve studied enough, they will recognize the mistakes they’ve made before you’ve had time to point it out to them.

That’s the ultimate goal—a student who knows when they’ve messed up and has some ideas about how to do better next time.

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Discover a Delta Air Lines Pilot Salary (And How to get a Job There)

Delta Air Lines is a global commercial airline. Nearly 200 million passengers fly to over 300 destinations in 50 countries. Currently, Delta has over 13,000 pilots. Read on to learn how much you could earn on a Delta Air Lines pilot salary.

 

Where are Delta’s Bases?

 

  • Atlanta, GA – ATL (World’s largest airline hub)
  • Boston, MA – BOS
  • Detroit, MI – DTW
  • Los Angeles, CA – LAX
  • Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN – MSP
  • Queens, NY – JFK
  • Salt Lake City, UT – SLC
  • Seattle, WA – SEA
  • Amsterdam, Netherlands – AMS
  • London-Heathrow, United Kingdom – LHR
  • Paris-Charles de Gaulle, France – CDG
  • Seoul, South Korea – ICN
  • Mexico City, Mexico – MEX
  • Tokyo, Japan – HND

 

What airplanes are in the Delta Air Lines Fleet?

 

  • Airbus A221
  • Airbus A223
  • Airbus A319
  • Airbus A320
  • Airbus A321
  • Airbus A332
  • Airbus A333
  • Airbus A339
  • Airbus A350
  • Boeing 717
  • Boeing 738
  • Boeing 739ER
  • Boeing 752
  • Boeing 753
  • Boeing 757-200 VIP
  • Boeing 763ER
  • Boeing 764ER

 

Delta Air Lines Planes on the ground

 

What are the Hiring Requirements for Delta Pilots?

For Delta Air Lines pilots there are two sets of requirements, or minimum qualifications. There’s the regulatory requirements set by the FAA, TSA, DOT, and even FCC. Then there are the individual airline requirements for the job.

Regulatory Requirements:

 

  • Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) Certificate
  • Current First Class Medical Certificate
  • Radiotelephone Operator’s Permit
  • Secure Identification Display Area (SIDA) Badge eligibility
  • Successful completion of pre-employment drug test
  • Successful completion of Pilot Records Improvement Act (PRIA) evaluation
  • 1500 hours fixed wing flight time

Delta Air Lines Pilot Job Requirements:

 

  • At least 23 years of age
  • Graduate of a four-year degree program from a college or university accredited by a U.S. Dept. of Education recognized accrediting organization
    • Degrees obtained from a non-U.S. institution must be evaluated for equivalency to U.S. degrees by a member organization of the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES)
  • Current passport or other travel documents enabling the bearer to freely exit and re-enter the U.S. (multiple reentry status) and be legally eligible to work in the U.S. (possess proper working documents)
  • Minimum of 1,500 hours of total documented flight time
  • Minimum of 1,000 hours of fixed wing turbine time (airplane and powered lift combined)
  • Minimum of 250 hours PIC or SIC as defined in 14 CFR §61.159(a)(5) in an airplane category
  • Minimum of 50 hours of multi-engine airplane time
  • TSA required fingerprint based Criminal History Records Check and a Delta background check

 

Delta Plane being towed

 

Delta Air Lines Pilot Salary

Delta’s pilots pay will vary heavily based on the plane you fly and the number of hours you fly during each bid period. They have a 74 hour monthly and reserve guarantee. Given this, the salary below is only a rough estimate of annual pay based on available sources.

Delta Air Lines First Officer Pay:

 

  • Year 1: $92,000
  • Year 5: $166,000
  • Year 8: $187,000

Delta Air Lines Captain Pay

 

  • Year 1: $251,000
  • Year 5: $260,000
  • Year 12: $274,000

Discover how much pilots earn for all the major and regional airlines in the USA on our pilot salary guide.

 

How Do I Apply for a Delta Air Lines Pilot Job?

If you meet all of the qualifications listed above you can visit the Air Delta Air Lines website. At the time of writing, Delta doesn’t have any pilot jobs posted but check back often to see when they start hiring pilots again.

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How to Get a Job as an Air Wisconsin Pilot

Air Wisconsin is a U.S regional airline that was originally founded in 1965 as its own company.

Now however, Air Wisconsin operates on behalf of United Airlines and United Express.  Air Wisconsin travels to over 70 cities in North America.  There are currently almost 600 pilots working for Air Wisconsin.

Where are Air Wisconsin Hubs?

  • Dulles, VA – IAD
  • Chicago, IL – ORD
  • Milwaukee, WI – MKE

What airplanes are in the Air Wisconsin Fleet?

  • Bombardier CRJ200

What are the Hiring Requirements for Air Wisconsin Pilots?

For Air Wisconsin pilots there are two sets of requirements, or minimum qualifications. There’s the regulatory requirements set by the FAA, TSA, DOT, and even FCC. Then there are the individual airline requirements for the job.

Regulatory Requirements:

  • Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) Certificate
  • Current First Class Medical Certificate
  • Radiotelephone Operator’s Permit
  • Secure Identification Display Area (SIDA) Badge eligibility
  • Successful completion of pre-employment drug test
  • Successful completion of Pilot Records Improvement Act (PRIA) evaluation
  • 1500 hours fixed wing flight time
Air Wisconsin Aircraft

Air Wisconsin Pilot Job Requirements:

  • FAA commercial pilot’s license with multi-engine and instrument ratings
  • 50 hours of multi-engine fixed-wing flight time (may be reduced to 25)
  • 200 hours cross-country flight time
  • 250 hours fixed-wing PIC
  • 100 hours of cross-country as PIC
  • 100 hours of night flying
  • 75 hours of instrument time (actual or simulated – 50 hours must be in airplanes)
  • 25 hours of night PIC
  • Must be at least 21 years of age and finish ATP written prior to start of New Hire Training
  • Total flight time minimums:
    • 1,500 hours
    • 1,250 hours – with qualifying 2- or 4-year aviation university program with 30 aviation hours
    • 1,000 hours – with qualifying 2- or 4-year aviation university program with 60 aviation hours
    • 750 hours – military flight training graduates

Air Wisconsin Pilot Salary

 Air Wisconsin pilot’s pay will vary based on the number of hours you fly during each bid period. They have a 75 hour monthly and reserve guarantee. Given the factors above, the salary below should only be considered an estimate of annual pay based on available sources.

Air Wisconsin First Officer Pay:

  • Year 1: $37,000
  • Year 5: $49,000
  • Year 8: $53,000

Air Wisconsin Captain Pay

  • Year 1: $71,000
  • Year 5: $81,000
  • Year 12: $100,000

Discover how much pilots earn for all the major and regional airlines in the USA on our pilot salary guide.

How Do I Apply for an Air Wisconsin Pilot Job?

If you meet all of the qualifications listed above you can visit the Air Wisconsin website. At the time of writing, Air Wisconsin doesn’t have any pilot jobs posted but you can sign up for alerts to find out when they start hiring pilots again.

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10 Things You Can Do With a Private Pilot License

All too often, students look at the private pilot license as a stepping stone to other things. But the private is a powerful certificate that grants amazing privileges to its holder. What can you do with a private pilot license? Maybe a better question is, what can’t you do with it!

Every flight instructor reading this is obligated now to point out that there are limitations on the private license, including that you cannot get paid for your flying. But there are lots of exceptions to even that!

What can you do with a private pilot license? Here are ten examples to get you started.

1. Take Family & Friends Flying

Once you’ve gotten your license, one of the most fun things you can do is share flying with the people who are closest to you. They’ve all heard how much you love flying and how much you’ve learned from your flying lessons. So show them what it’s all about!

Private pilots are allowed to carry passengers, just not for hire. Interestingly enough, private pilots can split the costs of a flight with friends and family.

That means if you have a group who wants to fly with you, they can help you pay for it all. The FAA uses the term “pro-rata share;” you must pay for your part of the flight.

If you have one other person, then you can divide the costs in half. If there are four of you, you must pay for a quarter. Costs can include rental fees, fuel, and whatever other costs are associated with the actual flight.

Many pilots learn to fly in two-seat aircraft, limiting the number of passengers you can carry with you. But there’s no limit on the type of plane a private pilot can fly as long as they meet the ratings on your license.

If you are rated to fly single-engine land airplanes, you can fly any of them, so long as they are less than 12,500 pounds and not turbine powered.

If you’ve never flown a four or six-seater, the first step is to find one for rent. Upgrading to a four-seat Cessna or Piper is easy, and they fly very similar to the smaller varieties. Before you can rent it, the FBO will require a check-out with their instructor to familiarize you with the plane. It’s not a test or anything–it’s just a quick and easy flight lesson.

Six-seaters are usually high-performance airplanes, which will require more training. Likewise, “complex planes,” with flaps, adjustable propellers, and retractable landing gear, will require additional training.

Plane on the ramp at night

2. Fly at Night

Your training included a few hours of night flight, and you’re allowed to fly anytime you like.

Night flights are a lot of fun since they provide a beautiful view of the world from above, especially over cities. Airports are neat at night, too.

3. Check Out a Fly-In or Aviation Festival

Oshkosh, Wisconsin, and Lakeland, Florida, host the first and second-largest fly-ins in the world, respectively. EAA Airventure in Oshkosh is a colossal aviation festival.

Hundreds of airplanes converge on the town every year in late July. Sun-n-Fun is its southern cousin, and nearly as big. It takes place in Lakeland, near Orlando, every April.

Both events are part fly-in, part industry trade show, and part airshow.

You’ll see planes from all different areas of aviation and meet pilots from all over the world. There are seminars to learn new skills and plenty of pilot toys to check out.

Flying into these events takes a little planning. There are always special traffic procedures to handle the astonishing amount of aircraft that converge on these airports.

At Lakeland, for example, they divide up both the main runway and its parallel taxiway into thirds, creating six separate landing areas and touchdown points. It can be intense, but with a little planning, it’s worth the trouble.

There are also many regional aviation meet-ups and fly-ins all over the country. Find the local place to fly-in for weekend breakfasts or barbecues.

Another option is an aerobatic competition, which is also a lot of fun if you can find them in your area.

4. Learn a New Skill

One thing that keeps aviation interesting is that there’s always something new to learn.

The private license is just the first step you take. You might buy a Cessna and fly for fun for the rest of your aviation career, but that doesn’t stop you from trying new things and expanding your skills.

A few of the things you can try out are aerobatics, flying a taildragger, or mountain flying. These are all skills that your license allows you to do, but they generally aren’t covered in your training.

All you have to do is find a flight instructor who is an expert and get a few hours of dual instructor. Taildraggers; high-performance planes with more than 200-horsepower; and complex planes with flaps, retractable landing gear, and constant-speed propellers require an instructor endorsement.

And, of course, many pilots love honing their skills enough to pursue other ratings. The instrument rating takes your flying to the next level by teaching you how to fly like the professionals.

It’s a lot of fun, and it’s a big challenge, but your flying skills will improve ten-fold.

5. Take a Business Trip

Your certificate allows for you to fly in the furtherance of business. That means that if you travel for work, you can rent or buy a plane to do that traveling in.

Just like your business can reimburse you for fuel and automobile operating expenses, so too can they reimburse you for plane expenses.

If you travel by car for work, flying can make a lot of sense. It saves you time compared to driving, and it can get you to nearly anywhere you need to go.

Use your private pilot license to take a business trip

Look at all of the general aviation airports that serve the communities in which you work. Many FBOs have courtesy cars or access to rental cars.

6. Fly for a Charity

You’re allowed to donate your time to charity flying with a private certificate.

Examples of the most popular charities involve providing flights to people who need distant medical care or helping move rescue pets to their forever homes.

There are also environmental charities conducting survey flights or taking scientists aloft, or taking passengers who have always dreamed of flying on trips.

Flying Magazine has compiled a great list of many aviation charities. The choice of charities varies depending on your region of the country.

7. Take Your Date Night to New Heights

Want to impress a special someone? Try a romantic flight! It can be a simple trip around the pattern if they’re nervous or as involved as a weekend trip to the mountains or beach.

The $100 Hamburger trip for a romantic dinner after a cross country is a date never to be forgotten, and it doesn’t have to be a hamburger.

8. Fly Internationally

There aren’t any substantial limits on traveling with your private license; you can fly all over the world.

If you’re on a trip and you’d like to go flying, it may be as simple as heading to the nearest GA airport and going up with an instructor.

Depending on the country and their requirements, you may even be able to rent a plane and go up alone.

If you want to stick closer to home, check out some closer borders you can legally cross. Canada, Mexico, and The Bahamas all make outstanding aviation destinations. Flying internationally requires a little bit of studying to make sure you understand your destination’s rules and regulations.

With a private pilot license you can fly on your own plane internationally

There are always little differences to brush up on. If you’re renting a plane, an instructor will help you with a check-out flight. If you’re on your own, call AOPA or the country in question’s aviation department.

Of course, once you put home behind you, you might not want to stop anytime soon. How about South America, the Caribbean, or maybe Europe? Many pilots dream of flying around the world in a general aviation airplane. What an adventure!

There are plenty of blogs and stories to check out from pilots who have done it. Joining the “Earthrounder” club is truly a bucket list dream.

9. Go Traveling and Sightseeing

You don’t have to leave home to see some cool stuff. The United States has one of the most varied landscapes of any nation.

From sea to shining sea, America is made for flying. An aerial tour of the country is a great way to see a lot and to see it in a way that many people would only ever dream of.

Private pilots can fly nearly anywhere. For most of the country, VFR flying requires no notice and no approvals. Just hop in your plane and go!

Remember, if you are a flat-lander traveling to the mountains, it’s a good idea to look into getting a mountain check-out flight from a knowledgeable certified flight instructor.

Even if you don’t want to go far, there are many places to see from the air closer to home.

10. Share Your Passion for Aviation With Others

You already know that you can take folks flying, but there are other ways to share your passion.

The FAA Ground Instructor certificate is a great way to get into mentoring and teaching. The certificate requires nothing more than a few written exams.

After a little bit of studying and passing those tests, you get your license and teach ground school classes. It’s an easy first step towards becoming a flight instructor, and it puts you ahead of the game if you ever wanted to get your commercial.

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How to Get a Job as a UPS Pilot

UPS is a U.S Cargo airline that was founded in 1988, in Louisville, KY.  Currently, UPS has close to 3,000 pilots working for them.

In 2019, UPS made $61 billion in revenue delivering close to 5.5 billion packages.  UPS delivers about 22 million packages per day to over 200 countries.

Where are UPS Hubs?

  • Anchorage, AK – ANC
  • Miami, FL – MIA
  • San Bernardino, CA – ONT
  • Columbia, SC – CAE
  • Chicago-Rockford, IL – RFD
  • Dallas-Fort Worth, TX – DFW
  • Philadelphia, PA – PHL
  • Hong Kong, China – HKG
  • Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – KUL
  • Shanghai-Pudong, China – PVG
  • Shenzhen, China – SZX
  • Cologne Bonn, Germany – CGN
  • East Midlands, England – EMA
  • Hamilton, Canada – YHM

What airplanes are in the UPS Fleet?

  • Airbus A300-F4
  • Boeing 747-100
  • Boeing 747-200
  • Boeing 747-400
  • Boeing 747-800
  • Boeing 747-SR
  • Boeing 757-200
  • Boeing 767-300
  • McDonnell MD-11

What are the Hiring Requirements for UPS Pilots?

For UPS pilots there are two sets of requirements, or minimum qualifications. There are the regulatory requirements set by the FAA, TSA, DOT, and even FCC. Then there are the individual airline requirements for the job.

Regulatory Requirements:

  • Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) Certificate
  • Current First Class Medical Certificate
  • Radiotelephone Operator’s Permit
  • Secure Identification Display Area (SIDA) Badge eligibility
  • Successful completion of pre-employment drug test
  • Successful completion of Pilot Records Improvement Act (PRIA) evaluation
  • 1500 hours fixed wing flight time

UPS Pilot Job Requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited college or university
  • Recent and type of experience will be considered; for example, preference given to candidates with demonstrated flight experience in transport category aircraft within the last 12 months from date of application.
  • Minimum of 1,000 hours Pilot in Command (PIC) hours in fixed-wing jet and/or fixed-wing multi-engine turboprop per 14 CFR 1.1 (UPS will allow military candidates to add a plus (.3) per sortie factor to flight time.)

UPS Pilots Salary

Just like the passenger airlines, UPS pilot’s pay will vary based on the plane you fly and the number of hours you fly during each bid period. They have a 81 hour monthly and reserve guarantee. Given the factors above, the salary below should only be considered an estimate of annual pay based on available sources.

UPS First Officer Pay:

  • Year 1: $50,000
  • Year 5: $200,000
  • Year 9: $235,000

UPS Captain Pay

  • Year 1: $50,000
  • Year 5: $312,000
  • Year 15: $329,000

Discover how much pilots make for all the major and regional airlines in the USA on our pilot salary guide.

How Do I Apply for a UPS Pilot Job?

If you meet all of the qualifications listed above you can visit the UPS jobs website. At the time of writing, UPS doesn’t have any pilot jobs posted but you can sign up for alerts to find out when they start hiring again.

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How to Get a Job as a PSA Airlines Pilot

Envoy Air is a U.S Regional airline founded in 1984 as American Eagle. It was a collection of regional airlines that carried the American Eagle brand name.

In 2014 the company changed its name to Envoy Air. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of American Airlines Group. Envoy travels to over 150 cities in North America.  Envoy currently has over 2,500 pilots working for them and 185 airplanes.

Where are PSA Airlines Hubs?

  • Charlotte, NC – CLT
  • Dayton, OH – DAY
  • Arlington, VA – DCA
  • Philadelphia, PA – PHL
  • Knoxville, TN – TYS
  • Norfolk, VA – ORF

What airplanes are in the PSA Airlines Fleet?

  • Bombardier CRJ200
  • Bombardier CRJ700
  • Bombardier CRJ900
PSA Airlines pilot salary

What are the Hiring Requirements for PSA Airlines Pilots?

For PSA Airlines pilots there are two sets of requirements, or minimum qualifications to start your career. There’s the regulatory requirements set by the FAA, TSA, DOT, and even FCC. Then there are the individual airline requirements for the job.

Regulatory Requirements:

  • Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) Certificate
  • Current First Class Medical Certificate
  • Radiotelephone Operator’s Permit
  • Secure Identification Display Area (SIDA) Badge eligibility
  • Successful completion of pre-employment drug test
  • Successful completion of Pilot Records Improvement Act (PRIA) evaluation
  • 1500 hours fixed wing flight time

American Airlines Pilot Job Requirements:

  • FAA commercial pilot’s license with multi-engine and instrument ratings
  • 50 hours of multi-engine fixed-wing flight time (may be reduced to 25)
  • 200 hours cross-country flight time
  • 250 hours fixed-wing PIC
  • 100 hours of cross-country as PIC
  • 100 hours of night flying
  • 75 hours of instrument time (actual or simulated – 50 hours must be in airplanes)
  • 25 hours of night PIC
  • Must be at least 21 years of age and finish ATP written prior to start of New Hire Training
  • Total flight time minimums:
    • 1,500 hours
    • 1,250 hours – with qualifying 2- or 4-year aviation university program with 30 aviation hours
    • 1,000 hours – with qualifying 2- or 4-year aviation university program with 60 aviation hours
    • 750 hours – military flight training graduates
American Eagle Aircraft operated by Envoy

PSA Airlines Pilots Salary

PSA Airlines pilot’s pay will vary based on the plane you fly and the number of hours you fly during each bid period. They have a 75 hour monthly and reserve guarantee. Given the factors above, the salary below should only be considered an estimate of annual pay based on available sources.

PSA Airlines First Officer Pay:

  • Year 1: $35,100
  • Year 5: $36,000
  • Year 9: $36,000

PSA Airlines Captain Pay

  • Year 1: $58,500
  • Year 5: $67,500
  • Year 15: $81,900

See more pilot salaries by airline.

How Do I Apply for an PSA Airlines Pilot Job?

If you meet all of the qualifications listed above you can visit the PSA Airlines jobs website and create a profile. After creating a profile, find which open position in which you’d like to apply. As you continue to fly be sure to update your profile regularly to improve your chances of being selected for an interview.

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