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How to save money on your CFI:

Updated: Sep 12, 2021

This highly classified information will only work for the most diligent and hardworking students ONLY! If you are working on your private, instrument, or commercial licenses... keep reading and implement this CFI plan.


Each pilots license or rating has minimum requirements. For example you need at least 40 hours in an airplane to earn your private pilots license. You need a certain amount of hours of experience to get your instrument rating and commercial license as well. However, there is no hour requirements to become a CFI. You simply have to have the knowledge and skills to fly right seat, explain what you’re doing and why while you fly, and be able to explain everything in the ACS to a student.

Since this is all knowledge and skills based, you are actually 100% responsible for mastering these skills and subjects, and therefore this can take as long or short of a time as you wish and will cost as much or as little as you make it.

Step one: start on your CFI binder

Start working on your CFI binder. OK, I know that if you are a private or instrument student this sounds crazy because you won't need one for a couple months. Hear me out.


Your CFI binder is a grouping of all of your future lesson plans as a CFI. This will help you teach students different subjects, keep you on track, and make sure the student gets all the relevant information.

First, let’s address the fact that you can buy a pre-made CFI binder online. Plenty of people do this, but there are significantly more advantages to writing your own than buying one on the Internet.



Your lesson plans are designed to help you as an instructor, so you need to make sure that the lesson plans make perfect sense to you and that you can easily apply them. What better way than to write your own in your own words? Furthermore explaining each subject will give you incredible notes that help you memorize the subjects because you are constantly reviewing the material.


You are taking notes anyway, correct? Instead of taking notes on an old scratch paper on your kneeboard, take notes in a word document that will be used to create your CFI binder. Create a Googledoc or open an any other editing word document and list all of the subjects in the ACS.

Then, if you are learning or reviewing a slow flight (for example)… Just take notes under the slow flight section. Writing your own notes and rereading them is going to help you retain the information. Not only are you preparing for your CFI, but you’re also memorizing and learning how to explain slow flight.


If you are learning emergency procedures, just write your notes in the Googledoc. As you learn and review each subject, you can add screenshots to your Googledoc from YouTube videos and textbooks and write down explanations while it’s still fresh in your mind.

Not only will the save you work later because CFI binder is already complete or mostly complete, but you will know the material like it is the back of your hand. Knowing the material front and back is absolutely necessary to pass your check ride because he will be teaching a check ride examiner for hours.


This will save you money later on because you won't be paying an instructor to review material they have already gone over with you. You'll already have beautiful notes and a great understanding of most subjects.

So now that you are putting together your CFI binder every day, you are naturally cutting your study time in half by being over-prepared. This way, you will have all of the knowledge required down pat. The next step is to be able to fly right seat and explain what you’re doing while you’re doing it.


Step two: Right seat while you’re timebuilding

As a flight instructor, you will be sitting in the right seat while your student is in the left seat. Landings might feel a little bit different and the instruments will be at a slightly different angle than you’re used to. It’s important to get used to these differences, and be able to articulate what you’re doing in the aircraft as if you are teaching a student during flight.

This article is about how to get your CFI for less money and time, but we all know that getting your commercial license can be expensive because you need 250 hours.

Why not spend some of those hours learning how to fly right seat? This way when you are done with your commercial check ride, you already have the basics down for flying in the right seat.


If you need to timebuild to earn the minimum 250 hours for commercial, anticipate spending 15 hours learning commercial maneuvers. If you need 60 + hours, that means you have 45+ to simply timebuild. Use some or all of that time practicing for your CFI. Fly right seat while you timebuild and take through every procedure or maneuver outloud while you do it.


By the time you pass your commercial checkride, you will be almost or completely fully prepared for your practical exam.



All in all, the dollar and time investment you're spending on the many licenses required can pay you back... $33 times over.



More information on your commercial, CFI, or CFII? Give us a quick call 850-778-FLY1.