Russell Bowerman - Flight Instructor

Bay Area Flying Club

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

From as early as I can remember I’ve been interested in flight, visiting aviation museums, taking sightseeing flights, and staying up to date on all the newest fighter jets and airliners. I never thought it would be my job, but when I began my professional career I naturally gravitated towards aviation and got a job at SFO. Being around airplanes all day was pretty exciting and when I finally decided to try and fly myself, I knew it would be the career for me.

I received my private pilot rating in Hayward, finished the rest of my ratings in Livermore in 2018, and have been teaching in the Bay Area since then. I enjoy talking and learning about all things aviation, from weather theory to aircraft construction, automation and avionics to regulations. That said, I really enjoy meeting new people and learning about their diverse backgrounds in the process of flight training. From seeing a new pilot solo to flying IFR to Los Angeles in a multiengine, helping others progress in their training has been the highlight of my young aviation career. I encourage anyone who has ever had a dream of flying to come try it out with us!

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.