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What Makes A Good Instructor?

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Hi everybody,


Contributing editor Kevin Nelson is collecting material for a future Rotor Roundtable column on flight instructing and on what makes a good (or bad) helicopter flight instructor. (I'm sure we've all flown with both types!) Of course, in one form or another, this subject comes up on the forums periodically, but it would be handy to collect some fresh insights in a new thread. Care to weigh in?


I'll get the ball rolling by observing that one trait I really appreciate in good flight instructors is their ability to keep their cool. This seems to be independent of how hard or easy they are on their students — it just means that their students don't also have to deal with them losing their tempers. I can't really think of a time when losing your temper in the cockpit is a good thing (but hey, maybe you can!).


All observations welcome. Have a great weekend!





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Communication is key in developing a good working relationship with anybody, especially in the cockpit environment. Under stress and pressure, being able to effectively communicate can make the difference of good or bad experience for all players.


Just my opinion

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Experience is important for me. Not just enough experience training to safely do all emergencies to the ground but also real world industry experience.


Like others have said communication.


Attitude. I don't mean they have to be some *** kisser putting a positive spin on everything either. Confidence in what they are doing to make you perform the way you need to. Some of the best instructors I've had made me feel about as big as the bottom button on the cyclic when I mess up and it just made me try harder. That also doesn't mean to just be an #### either though becuase I've seen that strategy as well and it is counter productive.

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I think that everyone has hit the nail on the head...experience, communication skills and attitude pretty much sum it up. An instructor in the states who has 200 hours may have the best attitude and communication but is he / she really able to relate the training to operational experiences? Probably not.



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Lets see what makes a "bad", instructor. :rolleyes:


Impatience, ego, lack of knowledge, lack of compassion, showing anger and frustration, poor communication skills, not adjusting to the year 2009 (I mean living in the dinosaur era), using the, "I know how this industry works" attitude, lack of fun.......ummm, need I continue?


A student/instructor relationship is one not to be taken lightly........impressions made by the instuctor (and school), should "always" be positive.


Chemistry, or lack of it.........is one thing that is unpredictable.


If the school is big enough, and has a variety of instructors............"that", can be an advantage for the student to change to another instructor, if there is tension or unhappiness between the two.


The one thing two keep in mind, the "student" is also the "customer". ;)

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Some very good points made helilog56 and L3. I agree with most of what has been said. The things mentioned all come down to "a genuine concern for student success".


There should never be a tense atmosphere; calm and relaxed makes for a much better learning environment and when an emergency happens a calm pilot is much more likely to achieve success.


A good instructor needs the ability to break down individual exercises to the small points, giving a student small challenges and goals that are attainable. This allows the student to walk away feeling they have achieved something.


An instructor should never make a student feel like they have to impress the BOSS, more like the "student and instructor are working together to achieve a common goal". That goal is to bring out the best the student has.


Understanding that all people learn at a different pace and have a different style, being able to adapt the way you teach to them, they are the customer, it should never be all about the great instructor, always about the student.


I never begin a debrief with the negatives, always emphasize the positives. A good example would be learning to land from the hover, if we land hard but stayed over the target, then they did a great job with cyclic and pedals but we need to work some more on fine collective control. I really focus on what they did right, as I want them to keep doing that.


But mostly there is a big difference between an instructor and a teacher. The student must understand what they are trying to achieve, all the small parts that make up the whole. We have all had instruction from some old dinasore who says “ok, watch what I do, now do that”! Then belittles the student because the didn't do it as nicely.That not going to help anyone. I would hope the instructor can do it better then the student, or they should switch seats!


You can mold they way someone thinks but not change who they are, so you must find a way to help them learn "their" way.

You have to be able to read people, and you have to get satisfaction in helping others achieve their goals.


So often in my career I have received instruction from a pilot who can not explain why, I have heard “that's just the way it is” so many times, and leave a training session feeling stupid. That’s not a teacher.


There are some who have a natural ability to teach, I think it comes from an inherent desire to help others, and gaining satisfaction from seeing others achieve success, so, someone who doesn't believe the world revolves around them!






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