We spoke to FTA instructor Iain McInnes about his love of teaching and his new qualification to train the next generation of flight instructors.
What do you like about teaching people to fly?
I am drawn to teaching. I enjoy imparting knowledge whether it’s about teaching someone to ride a bike, learn something new – anything.
As someone who was a student pilot once, I can draw upon my own experiences when teaching others to overcome their fears and realize their potential. My first solo flight was the hardest thing I have ever done, my self-confidence was at its lowest ebb and I just couldn’t seem to get it right; finally, I flew solo and the feeling of achieving that was unbelievable.
There is a feeling of ‘goal completion’ and incredible pride as I support each student through the various stages of learning. It’s the same feeling every time a student passes – especially successful first time passes.
I’m never frightened when flying with students, I've come a long way since that first solo flight. It’s great teaching people that really want to learn. I get real satisfaction from observing students as they progress to their goals.
I know how they feel when they take that first solo flight, I watch on from the ground knowing it will be their most thrilling and cherished one they will ever fly.
What’s it like to work at FTA?
I love working at FTA, the atmosphere is dynamic and constantly changing - the perfect environment for someone who’s self-reliance and autonomy balances with team playing abilities.
Students and I always have time to evaluate lessons and go through the key learning points and opportunities for growth and improvement. I like being able to do that with students – taking that time, it really helps them to achieve their aims. We’ve heard students say that in other places they’re treated as more of a commodity, with less time to go through each experience.
How do you feel about teaching others to teach?
I am hard on myself when it comes to my own performance. I will continually put myself in the position of the student and strive to provide the highest quality instruction possible.
I like the feeling of command, but it’s not as simple as that. I’ve taught many people throughout my life and enjoy imparting the knowledge I have amassed, but teaching is a skill and, to teach properly, one needs to listen and respond to the student.
I love it when students really take what I have to say “on board” and perform to the utmost of their ability, it’s also nice when I hear positive things about my teaching – it gives me a great deal of satisfaction.
Why do you love flying?
I get an absolute thrill leaving the ground. I think it stems from when my dad would take me travelling with him. He always ensured I maximised the experience and I was able to do things like go into the cockpit to see the crew. Airports became an integral part of my life and happy memories.
I subsequently developed a love of all things transport related. I was driving a tractor on the farm at age 11 and had a full bike and driving licence at 17. I love to be in the driving seat.
Quick fire question and answers…
What is your first memory in an airplane?
My dad taking me to see the cockpit of the airliner we were travelling on - after obtaining permission from the Captain as one could 40 + years ago!
What was your most challenging part of becoming a pilot?
Going solo in the 1940’s J3 Piper Cub I learned to fly in.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Believe in yourself.
How long have you been flying for?
25 plus years.
What is your favourite aircraft?
Pilatus Porter (although I have never flown one).
What is your favourite flying career moment?
Achieving the JAA (now EASA) “frozen” ATPL.
What do you enjoy most about being an instructor with FTA?
The mixture of teamwork and autonomy the role entails.
What is your best piece of advice for aspiring pilots?
What qualities shine through with your best students?
I can’t really say I have any “best” students (they all are), but I think the best quality in any student is adherence to operational standards in normal conditions coupled with the ability to adjust to non-standard situations with clear common sense and concise methodology.
What part of the course process gives you the most satisfaction – a new batch of cadets starting or seeing them graduate at the end?
Seeing them graduate at the end.
Who is your top inspirational pilot and why?
Group Captain Sir Douglas Robert Steuart Bader - he lost his legs and still went on to become an RAF WW2 legend.
What has been your favourite aircraft to fly?