Become a Powered Parachute
Certified Flight Instructor (CFI)

Straightening Out Parachute Lines at the Greenville Airport

The Sport Needs More Flight Instructors!

A sport pilot license allows you to fly for fun and to take people flying with you. For many, that is all they really want.

However, if you want to be able to train others for fun or profit, you do need to become a flight instructor in order for your student's time to count towards a rating. This article will tell you the steps you need to become a CFI.

If You Are Already an FAA CFI for Aircraft Other Than Powered Parachutes:

If you are already a CFI and want to get the privilege (That's what the FAA calls it and I agree!) to train in powered parachutes, you first need to learn how to fly powered parachutes. That means getting the necessary training and getting endorsed for the Sport Pilot privilege to fly Powered Parachutes. If you haven't yet done that, you can learn more about that process here.

The process for becoming a CFI is similar to becoming earning your sport pilot rating if you already are a CFI for some other aircraft. You will need to visit an existing Sport Pilot Powered Parachute CFI, get trained up to standards, and then visit another Sport Pilot Powered Parachute CFI to get your proficiency check for powered parachutes. A proficiency check is almost identical to a full DPE/SPIE check ride, but can be accomplished by a CFI.

Of course if you work things right, you can get both your Powered Parachute Sport Pilot and CFI privileges at nearly the same time and save a little time and money.

If You Are Somebody Getting Started From Scratch:

If you are getting started flying now or are at the point where you want to become a CFI, remember that the very first step is to get the privilege for the type of aircraft you want to instruct in. That means becoming a Sport Pilot for Powered Parachutes (or earning the endorsement if you are already a pilot). If you haven't done that yet, pay special attention to the instruction you received since your plan is to be an instructor yourself one day. While going through the process, you will be in a great position to learn what works and what doesn't work from a student's point of view. As you work towards your own instructor rating, those observations should make you a better instructor.

Once you have your pilot license and want to take that next step to CFI, here are the things you need to do:

Step 1. Know what the FAA wants.

The FAA is interested in making sure that anyone wanting to become an instructor has three things. Those are:

  1. Flying knowledge.
  2. Flying experience.
  3. Proficiency in flying an aircraft.

The good news is that flying is a powered parachute is far simpler than flying most anything else in the world. The FAA requirements to become a CFI for powered parachutes reflect that. Those wanting to become licensed in other aircraft have to spend more time gaining flying experience and have to do more to demonstrate proficiency in their respective aircraft than you will as a powered parachute CFI applicant. However, the standards are much higher than someone simply wanting to learn to fly for themselves. After all, you need to know more than your students!

Step 2. Gain the necessary knowledge.

You will need to complete two knowledge tests in order to become a Sport Pilot CFI. They are:

  1. Flight Instructor Sport Powered Parachute
  2. Fundamentals of Instruction

Both of the tests are taken by computer at testing centers. Neither test is simple and both require a significant amount of study and preparation.

There are a couple of ways to get the knowledge needed to pass those tests. If you are the home study kind of guy or gal, ASA offers a couple of great products to prepare you for the knowledge tests. What you are looking for is either the Certified Flight Instructor Test Prep Book or the Certified Flight Instructor Test Prepware for your computer.

Another way to get training is to attend a CFI sport pilot ground school. The advantages to a ground school are many. First, a ground school prepares you for more than just the knowledge test. It also provides you with the necessary knowledge need to pass the practical test that you will also need to complete.

You will be responsible for all the knowledge that someone applying for a sport pilot license should know, with the addition of things that instructors should know. The information can be found in print through some retailers or you can print the publications off from the FAA's web site.

Aviation Instructor's Handbook
AC 61-65E
Certification: Pilots and Flight and Ground Instructors
Sport Pilot Practical Test Standards for Weight Shift Control, Powered Parachute & Flight Instructor

Step 3. Get your flying experience and prepare for your check ride.

In order to become a sport pilot (assuming you don't already hold an FAA rating already) you will have to gain a certain amount of aeronautical experience working with a flight instructor. In the Federal Aviation Regulations, §61.411(g), the FAA requires that in order for you to be able to apply for a sport pilot license in powered parachutes you must:

  • Log at least 100 hours of flight time as a pilot
    • Including at least 75 hours of flight time as the Pilot in Command in a powered aircraft.
    • Including at least 50 hours of flight time in a powered parachute.
    • Including at least 15 hours of cross-country time
    • Including at least 5 hours of cross-country time in a powered parachute.
    • Including at least 15 hours of flight time as pilot in command in a powered parachute this is a light-sport aircraft.
  • Receive a logbook endorsement from the authorized instructor who provided you with flight training on the areas of operation specified in §61.409 that apply to the category and class of aircraft privileges you seek. This endorsement certifies you meet the applicable aeronautical knowledge and experience requirements and are prepared for the practical test. Those areas from §61.409 are:
    • Technical subject areas.
    • Preflight preparation.
    • Preflight lesson on a maneuver to be performed in flight.
    • Preflight procedures.
    • Airport operations.
    • Takeoffs (or launches), landings, and go-arounds.
    • Fundamentals of flight.
    • Performance maneuvers.
    • Ground reference maneuvers.
    • Emergency operations.
    • Post-flight procedures.

Step 4. Take your check ride and get your instructor certificate.

Your instructor should know when you are ready to take your check ride. When you are, he will make the proper endorsements in your log book and help you fill out your FAA Form 8710-11. At that point you will be ready and able to take your practical test and get your license for sport pilot. For more information on preparing for and passing your flight test, visit Preparing for a Powered Parachute Practical Exam. The procedures for a Pilot and CFI exam are very similar. The big difference is that there is a higher standard asked of CFI for the same kind of knowledge. Also, there is the extra CFI check ride material that has to be completed. Expect a CFI check ride to take twice as long as a normal Sport Pilot check ride.