By Dr. Anna Serbinenko, Class 1 Instructor Aeroplane and Class 1 Aerobatics, written 14 Nov 2013
Or better to say, "how to pass that class 1 instructor flight test". On the first place, i am writing this not because i have been there for decades and I know it all. To the contrary, i just got my class 1. And while it's fresh, just sharing it here.
On the first place, there's close to zero guidance material on how to become a class 1 instructor. Let's assume you passed that (really easy) written test. Now the flight test guide is your only hope for some information, and it's ... useless! Well, what do you expect from a 12 page document covering 10 different flight tests? (airplane classes 1-4, heli classes 1-4 and acro classes 1-2). There are no books out there, and after all, i now understand why: anyone getting the class 1 rating quickly gets busy with training the class 4's. And has zero interest in training class 1 type competition. You might luck out (like i did) to have a good experienced class 1 in retirement mode coaching me through a couple of session. You might be lucky with your TC inspector if he'd give you some guidance (keep in mind, in this case he or she would not do your flight test as well). Other than that, you are on your own. So even if you've never failed a flight test before in your life (which was my case), plan on not even getting to fly on your first attempt. Your $200 for flight test is pretty much a fee to find out what's expected of you there.
In all fairness, this flight test does not quite correspond to what I imagined it should be. In other words, on my opinion, IT IS DONE WRONG (pretty courageous statement for a fresh class 1). But let's think about it. If the main and new thing for your upgrade from 2 to 1 is to start teaching instructors, would it not make sense that you play exactly this role on the flight test, while the examiner is playing your candidate, giving you the PGI's while you are tearing his 10 hours of homework apart? Far from it! Here is what i faced:
  • Thorough review of regulations, pre-requisites
  • Showing my "Game Plan" for teaching new instructors, i.e. course outline, lesson plans
  • Presentations on the first 50 pages of the Flight Instructor Guide (Teaching Techniques)
  • And then - business as usual, known to you as of your class 4 ride - "teach me, my dear, a PGI on a straight and level flight"
Well, ya, flight test guide expects "perfection" from you - heck knows what it is! - and the inspector will try to dig deep in your knowledge at the end of the presentation: be it the components of the coefficient of lift, explaining the asymmetric thrust or the couples of forces. A few tips on how to minimize the number of your failed flight tests before you pass:
  1. Review your PGI's. Your class 4 notes you used on 3 to 2 upgrade are not good enough anymore. Prepare presentations by lesson plan, not by exercise. And then go through the notes with fine comb (took me almost a full week), to make sure that each element of an exercise, as described in the FIG, is taught somewhere.
  2. Go through the Flight Training Manual and the Advanced Pilot Manual, making sure you understand and can teach any formula and diagram in those books.
  3. Go beyond the 1-2 exercises per lesson plan (e.g. slow flight in LP5). I was asked to teach the lesson plan 22 WITHOUT the precautionary landing! wow! As a class 4, I used to consider precautionary being THE lesson plan. Turned out, there are slow flight, stalls and spins out of practical causes in this lesson as well - you get super creative once you only have 5 minutes to salvage your two-month-waited flight test!
  4. Make sure, from now on, that your flying is as perfect as it can get. We sometimes forget, that as instructors we log tons of hours, but we are actually only pilots-in-COMMAND, not pilots-in-CONTROL! We always want to give those landings to students - they need practice! We tend to forget that we need practice too, and students can often use some really good demonstration. I thought that after 1500 hours i should have no trouble landing a 172. You know what they can fail a class 1 candidate on? A normal landing of a C172!!! Remember - you have to show perfection!
Well, there's much more to add, but i think it's a good start to give some ideas. Need more? i don't mind sharing, just drop me an email Either way - good luck with your upgrade!