A Student's Eye View Of Flight Training

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Nobody asked Ted Seastrom what the aviation industry should do about the declining pilot population, but he's telling them anyway. Seastrom, a 220-hour Cessna 172 pilot, has written an ebook (available at Amazon) entitled Learning to Fly an Airplane. But unlike the countless books that have been written on the topic, Seastrom said his aim is to mentally prepare prospective pilots for what they are about to undertake, something he says the industry doesn't do very well. In a podcast interview, Seastrom says it's not surprising that almost three quarters of students don't make it to certification given the strange and challenging world into which they are suddenly immersed. He said the industry needs to stop soft selling being a pilot as something "anyone can do" and instead realistically explain to students what they're in for.

Seastrom, a technical writer with an IT background, also says instructors and students are often serious mismatches. He said many of the most promising candidates for success in pilot training, those with a lifelong dream of flying who start after achieving success in other fields, are disappointed with being paired with young pilots whose primary goal in becoming instructors is to build hours to qualify for airline or other jobs. But he said it's hard to fault the young instructors when the system is designed to propagate that antiquated system, something highlighted by the FAA's recent proposal to boost the minimum hours required for airline jobs to 1,500. Seastrom said he knows about various industry efforts to fix issues with flight training but he was concerned that students and freshly minted pilots weren't being heard. He has been in contact with AOPA and the Society of Aviation Flight Educators (SAFE) about their promotional campaigns.