Well folks, here is what has transpired since my last post:
My CFI and I talked and despite my request to have more control of the plane she explained that in a few more lessons we would be introducing the elements we talked about (taking off, using the radio, and taxiing) but landings would not be introduced until somewhere between lesson 6-10. We are currently STILL on lesson 3.
So I fired her.
She was unbelievably cool about it. She completely understood and even gave me the names and contact info for some other CFIs she thought would match my learning style better. She recalled having an instructor she didn’t mesh well with during her private and took no hard feelings from my decision.
I began making calls to these other CFIs. I also made a call to the admissions office to see if they could give me some more contacts, specifically asking for CFIs that were go-to folks for information and were known for taking on struggling students.
Instead of help from the admissions office, I have received a stream of random phone calls from people saying “hi, my name is _____ and I’m your new CFI.” I interviewed the first one and found he was new, I would be his first student, and he had the confidence of a turtle on a fence post. In more polite words I told him like hell he would be my new CFI but thanks for the call.
Meanwhile I interviewed one of the CFIs my previous instructor recommended and was very impressed. He offered to let me sit in on an IFR lesson with one of his students and I loved his laid back flying-should-be-fun attitude. It was an international student that struggled with English more than aviation and the CFI never lost his temper, never seemed annoyed and kept everything on track the whole lesson. He also gave me contact info for another student of his as a reference. After a glowing recommendation from this student (that had coincidentally also started out with the first CFI I had just fired) he was clearly the front-runner. He had a history of taking on struggling students and an average of soloing them somewhere between 20-30 hours.
I called admissions to ask for the procedure to switch to this other CFI. When I gave his name you could hear a clear switch in demeanor. Instead of getting information I was being interrogated. Did he approach me? How did we find each other?I sat in on a flight with him?! Preposterous!!!! By the end of it I was certain I had somehow gotten him in trouble. I was told I needed to meet with the chief flight instructor about all of this and that I probably wouldn’t get him as my new flight instructor because his schedule was full.
What just happened?!
This morning I was awoken by a call from an assistant chief instructor who had gotten my info from admissions and had a great instructor he wanted to recommend for….wait for it…these were his exact words…”problem students.”
I’m a problem student?! That’s the label I’ve gotten myself for trying to be an educated and proactive consumer? Without mentioning any names, I said I had already selected a CFI and I wasn’t sure why I was getting the run-around from admissions. The fellow on the phone had already been briefed, knew exactly who I had asked for and said his schedule was full and as a flight school they want to make sure all of their CFIs are getting a good load of students.
I explained to him this CFI that I wanted had already discussed availability with me and we are both wide open 9-11am most days. To placate him I agreed to call this other “problem student” instructor but I would be interviewing him, sitting in on a flight lesson and requiring a student recommendation before making a decision.
He said that would be fine, apologized for all of the trouble, and asked me to call him back after I spoke with the “problem student” instructor.
I have left a message with the newly recommended instructor and am waiting to hear back.
Now I am split 50/50. If this “problem student” instructor is good and I am happy with him, I’ll just go with him. It would make things easier. But the other half of me is furious. I’m already labeled a problem so why not get what I want? I’ve done all of the leg work and it’s not my problem a flight school wants to be sure all of their bad instructors have as many students as their good instructors.
Thanks to all of the fantastic pilots that have commented on my blog and helped steer me in the right direction. I’ll keep you guys posted, and would love to hear what you make of all this.
Below are pictures I took from the IFR flight I sat in on….my first IFR flight in a cockpit ever!