Real Answers from Real Pilots

Intro flight questions

(Richard Burbridge) #1

Good morning guys,
I have a quick question regarding the intro flight time. My question is not so much about the flight itself, but what information I should mine while there.
Do you have any suggestions for questions I should ask the instructor? Maybe about the instructor culture at a particular campus, flight hours as a CFI, etc. Is there anything I should not ask?
I have a small list, but I also want to ensure I take as much advantage of the time as possible.



Check out this link, it will have all the questions you should ask.


(Tory) #3


I wouldn’t overthink it. The main goal of an intro flight is have fun and
to experience what it’s like to fly a small plane. They also help you
decide if it’s something you think you can see yourself doing as a career.

If you’re planning on doing your intro flight at an ATP location, then I
would suggest browsing through this forum and the ATP website. This forum
has some good threads written by students under Student Experiences. The
ATP website has a ton of info on their FAQ page.

Some more questions are sure to present themselves to you as you do more



I’m with Tory on this one. The Intro flight should be more about the “experience” than the nuts and bolts of the school, course etc. It’s really to get a taste of where you might be spending a considerable amount of time training.


(Richard Burbridge) #5


I will be doing the flight at ATP. I have gone through the forum and gleaned TONS of information. I have decided that ATP is the route I will take, and am looking at late summer 2018 to get started.

I have seen or heard many students who talk a lot about their instructors, or having an idea of what to expect, and are surprised. Some by the pace, usually faster than expected, some by the “lack” of fully teaching a concept, both of which I can mitigate mentally. MOST of what I have seen is complaints that instructors seem in it for themselves. This is not absolute, but these contributors have said to “interview the instructors”. My question is more along those lines. While I do have practical questions about the program to ask, I am not too sure how to “interview the instructor”. And yes Tory, maybe am over thinking it!

Did any of you have any culture issues, or personality issues in your time at ATP? Does management mitigate the “highschool” atmosphere, if there is one? I am too old to be playing silly kid games. The projected professionalism of ATP is a drawing factor for me, and I would hate to walk in the door day one and be surprised that it was all advertising,know what I mean?

Anyway, thanks for any input!!


(Tory) #6


I see where you’re coming from now. Unfortunately, a selfish instructor
makes in through from time to time. Even if you did interview the
instructors, you don’t get a say in who you get assigned to, initially.
After you have begun the program and you aren’t “jelling” with your
instructor, speak up. There has been a case where a student actually
reached out to us on the forum about his distaste for their instructor and
our lead mentor, Chris, was able to get management involved. The student
was reassigned a new instructor and was much happier.

After meeting some of the instructors, I would bet that you could get a
sense of which ones were in it for the right reasons by observing how they
interact with their students or by how they answer your questions.




Keep in mind that if you’re not starting till the end of the summer, there’s a good chance the instructors you meet now might not be there then. As for the “culture” issue I actually did but it worked out fine. When I first enrolled I was assigned “Tony” as my instructor. I had a bunch of questions and a few days before starting and I was given his number. I called him at approx. 11am and woke him up. I was livid! I called up ATP and said “who the heck did you assign me to?!?! I just called this guy at 11am and he was still sleeping!?! I just paid you guys a ton of money and you assigned me some peckerhead who’s still in bed at 11?”. They calmed me down and suggested I give him a chance and if I wasn’t happy to let them know. Well it turned out Tony was recovering from a bout with the flu and was actually a fine young man. It was actually a good thing it happened because it showed me a) ATP had my back and if I wasn’t happy would switch instructors and b) gave Tony the opportunity to see who I was, where I was coming from and what I expected from him.

I also want to say something about instructors being “out for themselves”. I hear this comment from time to time and it always makes me smile. If you peruse this forum you will see hundreds and hundreds of posts from wannabe pilots who ALL want to know are THEY really guaranteed an instructor job? How fast THEY can build THEIR time, how many students will THEY have, can THEY work weekends so THEY can get more students and get out faster etc. Then it’s these same people who want to know why THEY aren’t getting all the attention and that THEY deserve instructors who aren’t just their to build time. The fact is I defy you to find an instructor at ATP or ANY OTHER FLIGHT SCHOOL IN THE COUNTRY (who’s under the age of 65) who isn’t there just to build time. It’s the nature of what we do. The key is to try and remember what it was like when you were starting out. The reality is not everyone does and on occasion there’s a peckerhead who just phones it in. If you get assigned that instructor let someone know AND make sure you’re not that pilot when your time comes. Hopefully there are more people who have a little character and take pride in what they do even if it just the means to an end. Unfortunately guaranteeing a job can be a double edged sword. Just know if you get “that guy” (or girl) you’re not stuck.


(Richard Burbridge) #8

Thanks guys. Some good feedback!

I do understand that nearly everyone is there to build time, as is my intent as well. My expectation on myself and others in a professional environment is, while that may the end goal, that everyone does their best in the present position they are assigned. I don’t think that is too much to ask, but it seems to be like asking to pet a unicorn anymore. There are a whole lot of “entitled” individuals out there. My hope is ATP has found a way to reconcile professionalism and entitled instructors, which it sounds like they have done to best of their ability.

Again, I appreciate the feedback. You guys are on top of it, which is hugely refreshing!!



A wise man once told me that “you are not here to build time for the airlines. You are here to provide the best instruction possible and if you do that, you will be at an airline before you know it.”

(Richard Burbridge) #10

I like that!!


I think you will find that most of the instructors are like that, it is the bad ones that get complained about on the internet. As you go through the program, always remember that you are the customer, but the company cannot fix issues if you do not let them know about it. Never be afraid to speak up directly to admin or even come to us.

That being said, we love getting positive comments too and I am always sure to pass them on to the appropriate people.

(Robert Stratford) #12

I trust that most instructors with ATP are capable and good to work with, and there are only a handful that would necessitate management involvement and/or an instructor switch. Any idea how often that sort of thing happens, or if there is any opportunity generally to choose your instructor as you go? I understand that ATP has to balance schedules and workloads to try to make sure that students are fairly evenly distributed amongst instructors, etc., but from reading the forums and talking to some it seems that there are definitely instructors that work more than others, so it seems there is at least some opportunity for market forces to come into play.

If there is some degree of flexibility to switch instructors, then along the lines of your wise man, Chris, I would think that a good instructor’s interests would usually be aligned with his or her students, since the ones that take the time to teach and care about the students would tend to attract more students and time building opportunity in turn.



Obviously there are some instructors that do a better job than others. That said there are many other factors that go into and often it’s a matter of style or personalities. ATP also doesn’t just want to guarantee an instructor a job but the opportunity to be successful and build time. What I’m saying is if the word is out that there’s one particularly “popular” (because that sometimes gets confused with talented) and everyone starts requesting that one, they wouldn’t be able to handle the volume nor would new ones have the chance to prove themselves. ATP randomly assigns instructors and that’s the way they’ve been doing it for decades. Their system works and there’s no need to change it.



Instructors are assigned to the students based on the needs of the organization and student load. There is really not an opportunity to chose instructors, however you can certainly raise the issue if you get an instructor that you do not mesh with or you think is not doing their job correctly.

My understanding is that management very rarely had to get involved with the CFIs as the instructors want their students to do well so that they can continue to do well.


(Robert Stratford) #15

Completely understand the point about the need to balance student load, and why that has to be the underlying basis. What about if instructor and student have a different idea about wanting to work weekends? Sounds like pairing is completely random and it would be difficult to attempt to pair student and instructor in the first place based on any other factors.

(Tory) #16

Having the weekends off is not guaranteed, it’s a reward for those who can
stay on track. The weekends are built into the program to provide an
opportunity to recharge and/or make up for lost time due to weather, sick
days, aircraft maintenance, etc.

If a student wants to get ahead, great. That’s encouraged, but the
instructor still needs an opportunity to reboot if they need to. If so,
they may elect not to work on the weekend or perhaps compromise and agree
to work one of the days, but not the other.

If students are falling behind and the instructor is not utilizing the
weekends to stay caught up, middle management will step in and have a
conversation with that instructor.


(Robert Stratford) #17

Makes sense. Thanks all for the responses!

(CJ) #18

Well said!

(Robert K) #19

Are you required to stay with one instructor? If you wanted to fly through your weekends could you moonlight with another instructor?



It is usually best to stay with one instructor. I think you will find that most instructors want to work through the weekends anyways, so it should be much of an issue.