Friday Foibles: Get Thee To A CFI

  • E-Mail this Article
  • View Printable Article
  • Text size:

    • A
    • A
    • A

You’d think a flight instructor would limit stupidity. You’d be wrong, as many accidents involved CFIs reacting too slowly to student silliness.

Then there’s the Kentucky instructor whose student wouldn’t do anything dumb, so he intervened, setting the Cessna 172’s fuel selector to OFF within, he thought, gliding distance of the runway. Only the instructor was surprised the 172 didn’t reach the airport, and the CFI couldn’t restart the engine before crashing in a field. Not surprisingly, the CFI didn’t make instructor of the year for his realistic training technique.

Consider the Florida CFI in a Piper Arrow who was monitoring (key word) a CFI candidate performing a power-off approach to landing—a really hard landing as it turned out. KA-FWOMPH! 

Stunned but undeterred, the future CFI and monitoring CFI took off, tried to raise the gear but couldn’t and lowered it again. They then performed yet another power-off approach and called it quits but were unable to open the door. Help arrived to extricate the monitoring CFI and future CFI, who then marveled at the extensive wing damage.

In the post-accident interview, the monitoring CFI said that during flight the future CFI was the “full manipulator of the controls” and to emphasize his lack of complicity, added, “I did not do anything.” He didn’t get instructor of the year either.

If an accident occurs and no one reports it, is it an accident? Apparently not in these cases beginning first in Florida where a rental Cessna 172 flew 91 hours on 77 training flights with, it’s assumed, 77 preflight inspections without anyone noticing the buckled firewall. Damage was only discovered when a mechanic actually looked at more than the oil dipstick during a 100-hour inspection. 

And in Alaska, an air-taxi Cessna 206’s nosewheel hit hard in a bounced landing on a tidal beach. That hardly merits a shrug in Alaska, and perhaps it’s common to take off again, as the pilot did, and did not mention the event to the mechanic who later spotted the substantial firewall damage.

Got a foible you'd like to share? Send it, anonymously or not, to

Comments (3)

Dealing with the FAA when you mess up, just follow advise from counsel or the AOPA. As far as maintenance is concerned, nothing makes a mechanic or a director of maintenance more mad than a pilot who claims ignorance or flat out denies a mistake that results in a broken airplane. I have found in my 20+ years in pt 135 ops, jump flying, and flight instruction that it is much less painfull for the pilot to just fess up to the issue that broke the airplane rather than cover it up. It makes it much easier for everyone involved.

Posted by: matthew wagner | December 22, 2017 10:50 AM    Report this comment

Merry Christmas to all of my fellow denizens of the Avweb Insider. Keep your eyes peeled for fast-moving traffic with one very bright red light. He'll be doing several billion stop-and-goes.


Posted by: Tom Yarsley | December 24, 2017 6:33 AM    Report this comment

Merry Christmas to all. Deo Gratias!

Posted by: Rafael Sierra | December 24, 2017 11:09 AM    Report this comment

Add your comments

Log In

You must be logged in to comment

Forgot password?


Enter your information below to begin your FREE registration