Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Bargaining to buy some skills

Flight experience and skill just don't always correlate. I think a lot of pilots don't understand that. I guess a lot of nonpilots would too.

Today explains perfectly why flight instructors don't earn much money. ( I will save the argument for deserving more money, with some future story). I had a relatively busy day scheduled, and was looking forward to it. Then my first flight cancelled, through no fault of the student. This afternoon, Mr. Complication showed up right on time. We spent a little time talking, and got out to the plane. I introduced turns around a point, we did a little more slow flight, some procedures for when you are lost, and then headed back to work on rectangular courses in the traffic pattern.

He's learning at a reasonable pace, though it would go faster if he didn't always have something else on the agenda- some building he needs to check out for a work project, or something along those lines. I'm all for making practical use of the flying, whenever possible. If there is an airport a student really wants to visit, or some way to fly somewhere so he can meet a friend for lunch, I'm glad to work that into the whole deal, and even get paid for my extra time just by getting a free lunch.

The problem Mr. C. is having though, is that he wants to barrel right through it all as fast as humanly possible, but can't see why we have to spend time working on more basic concepts first. There is a reason to practice the basics first. A 200-mile cross-country flight is pointless if you have just barely managed straight and level flight. So I started explaining all the things that he has to learn before we even think about working on that phase of it. He seems disappointed, but if I don't, then a month from now he will wonder why he has used up the 40 hours of flight time he bought, and still hasn't soloed.

I ended the flight a little early, recognizing that as much as he wants to plow right through, he isn't ready to handle the next step. More flying today would benefit only my paycheck. As much as I would like a better paycheck, I can't allow him to continue thinking that getting the hours will automatically turn him into a pilot.

Addendum to the headset situation: The man sure hates to accept a fixed price for anything. So a note to the bargaining minds- things cost money, and not everything is marked up dramatically. The headset he wants to buy is a used one that a friend of a friend is trying to sell. So I'm just doing him a favor. I quoted the lowest possible price, but he wanted to cut that way down. If I sell it lower, I actually lose money. Please believe me when I say that. Many transactions do not allow for haggling.

Now, I get to sit and wait, for my last student of the day. Joe and I will be finishing his night requirements. That means I have to wait idly for the next 3 1/2 hours before we can fly. At the end of the day, I will have been here 15 hours, and earn about 2.5 hours of income for it. Unless a storm rolls in, and cancels tonight's flight.

And that is often the life of a flight instructor. Spend all day earning a few hours worth of income. Still, it is better than any "real" job I ever had before.

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