Choosing a Helicopter Flying Instructor: Flight Training

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Which instructor is right for you? Image by Neil Harrison

Once you have decided where you are going to get your helicopter private pilot’s licence or PPL(H), you need to decide which instructor(s) to learn from.

Don’t go to a school which just gives you whoever happens to be free, as occasionally happens – make sure that you’re allowed to choose your flight instructor.

The relationship between you and your instructor is important. After all, you will be spending a lot of time in a rather cramped cockpit with him or her, and trying to learn a difficult skill, so you do need to get on well together.

One Flying Instructor or Several?

At many flight schools, you will have your own instructor and do the whole course with this one person.

This has many advantages in terms of continuity and the person getting to know you. However, it does also mean you only receive one particular type of teaching, and that you will need to be sure the instructor you get is a good one. If you learn from several people, this is less important, although more than two or three flying styles can cause confusion for the student. Many people believe that one instructor is best, so how do you pick the right one?

Best Flight Instructor: Experienced Teacher or Enthusiastic Newbie?

Should you learn from someone who has been teaching for years, or a newer instructor? There are advantages to both. The experienced instructor will have taught a lot of people to fly; he or she will have refined their skills and is likely to have encountered every problem yhou may have. On the other hand, he may be getting somewhat jaded by now. The newer instructor is likely to be full of enthusiasm, and willing to help you out no matter what. But of course he or she will have less teaching experience.

In a cramped cockpit, personality issues are important, image by Neil Harrison, www.nericha.com

Learning to Fly: The Importance of Personality

Everyone gets on with different types of people, and this is the case when it comes to flying. Some students prefer the more spontaneous kind of instructor; others like one who sticks rigidly to the written order of the course; some people get on with enthusiastic types of instructors, while others prefer quieter people.

Don’t ignore this aspect of things. It is very important to get on with your instructor, or you will find it hard to learn, and personality clashes in the cockpit can be disastrous! So do pick someone who appeals to you on a personal level.

Flight School: How Can You Find the Right Instructor?

You may have to be proactive here. Make sure the flying school will allow you to choose your instructor, and to change if necessary. Try to meet some of the instructors, and maybe fly with more than one at the start if possible. Then, decide with whom you would like to do the overall course.

On the other hand, if you liked the instructor with whom you had your trial lesson, follow your instincts and carry on flying with him or her. It’s your decision and your flying course. And you can always change at a later date if you want to.

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