Mark Heidenreich - Flight Instructor

Bay Area Flying Club

Flight Instructor: CFI, CFII
Certificates Held: Commercial Single Engine Land, Instrument Rated

When I was a kid, I lived directly below the approach to LAX in the 50s and was fascinated with the planes flying overhead. I knew right then that my career would be in aviation. I began instructing in 1973 and became a corporate pilot in 1975 and held that position for 25 years.

Teaching Primary, Instrument, and Cirrus students is now how I spend my time in the air. I enjoy teaching a solid basis of fundamental airmanship with primary students and watching instrument students obtain the freedom to fly safely through different weather and environments. I specialize in teaching in the club’s Cirrus SR22, with its advanced technology platform that is creating a safer experience in general aviation.

Being a flight instructor is such a rewarding experience. Getting to work with so many different people and tackling new challenges makes for a great job. If you have a goal you want to achieve in aviation, let’s make that happen.

5 useful questions to ask an instructor:

Why did you become a flight instructor?
Regardless of the answer, the way an instructor talks about why they fly is what is important. Look for someone that is excited by teaching. They should have a genuine interest in giving others the gift of flight.

How long have you been flight instructing?
Some Instructors have thousands of hours under their belts and have been flight instructing for their entire careers. Others have a few hundred and are just beginning. A seasoned instructor will have a lot of experience but may have a set teaching style. A freshly minted instructor has less aircraft time but is able to relate to common learning obstacles, having undergone their own flight training in the not too distant past. There are advantages to both types of instructor.

How do you keep track of your student’s progress?
Using a syllabus is essential so that both student and instructor can track progress and milestones so make sure your instructor uses one. Talk to other students and ask them what kind of reading their doing, what books they’re using and the type of homework they’re getting. There should ALWAYS have some type of “homework” assignment at the end of each lesson.

What is your availability?
Some instructors are part-time and work separate jobs during the week. Others are full-time, but may want to have personal and family time on the weekends. Find an instructor with compatible availability. Flying at least twice a week is the best way to progress quickly through accomplishments with less effort and less overall costs. Choosing an instructor that is able to fly on the same schedule helps to keep flight training on a consistent path.

I’ve heard people talk about “stalling an airplane.” Can you tell me what it means?
This is a classic question. Regardless of knowing what an “aircraft stall” is or not, how an instructor explains this concept will give great insight into how they can explain concepts. Are they patient? Do they use simple terminology that is easy to understand? Do they ask questions to make sure their student understands, or do they over simplify to brush off the question? Find an instructor whose instructing style is a good match.