Flight Instructors' Organization Paid For Itself
by Aero-News Senior Correspondent Kevin R.C. "Hognose"
I'm about to join the
ranks of FAA-licensed instructors -- and I had a question about
international students, something we get a few of at my airfield.
So I stopped into the National Association of Flight Instructors
tent. I didn't get my question answered, but did get signed up for
Some years ago, NAFI, then an independent organization, was on
the ropes, when it was absorbed into EAA. EAA has kept the
organization alive, and it provides some benefits:
- Discounts on training materials and books (that caught my
- Insurance for CFIs
- A lobbying voice for instructors' interests (perhaps more
important inside EAA, with its larger membership, where it can sway
the organization as a whole to lobby Congress when necessary)
- The NAFI Master Instructor program (see the website for more
info; this differs from the FAA Gold Seal program in that it must
be renewed by continuing educational activity).
- The NAFI magazine, Mentor (but based on the current issue, it's
not bad but AOPA's Flight Training is better and certainly has more
content). There's also an electronic version for members (e-Mentor,
- Flying magazine -- just what you need if you ever wonder how
some airplane compares to the SUVs the mag increasingly "tests".
(Maybe we should do a comparison test between one of my school's
152s and my old Ford Ranger... same rate of climb on a hot day...
but I digress).
- The Flight Instructor Hall of Fame. (Can a theme restaurant be
If you signed up at Airventure, two vendors had freebies for
you. ASA was offering a private pilot test book and Gleim a
(transferable) free online Private course, a $100 value, which will
be fulfilled by email. I'll be giving it away to a new student at
our school. ASA was out of the private course books at their booth
(I did this on the last day of the show), but they offered me a
better deal in lieu of shipping the book -- I got an interesting
book on weather in its place.
Of course, I bought more stuff from the vendors, which is
probably why they are so generous with NAFI. ASA usually gives 20%
off, Gleim "special flight instructor rates," and other
participating vendors include Falcon Insurance Agency, CheckMate
Aviation, Pilot Finance, Sportsplanes.com, Hamilton Flight Training
Systems, LimpWindsock.com (I didn't name it, I'm just reporting
here), AND Galvin Flying Services.
The NAFI tent seen at major fly-ins, also provides a place for
instructors to hang out and share techniques, and at Oshkosh they
had a bin of donated instructional materials free for the taking --
including technique books by such well-known scribes as Dick
Collins (so, the book was copyrighted in 1980... it's still full of
good tips) and training aids like E6Bs and protractors.
One unique "gimme" they had was a button that says, "I'm a
Flight Instructor. Ask Me About Learning to Fly." What a great way
to find prospects!
If you're not interested in teaching aviation, NAFI is probably
not for you. And it's probably not for every flight and ground
It's not for Aero-News's John Ballantyne, for instance. John
viewed me, I think, as incredibly green, from his perspective of
many hours and many students trained. John teaches in conventional
airplanes as a CFI and in trikes as a glider-trike CFI, USUA BFI
and now as a Sport Pilot CFI and DE. He has let his NAFI membership
lapse; there seems to be less in it for people at his end of
(One side note on the current Mentor magazine. I laughed to see
an article on Technically Advanced Aircraft training in a Cirrus
illustrated with a Cirrus, all right: a VK-30 homebuilt. That's the
big, brawny, tail-driven pusher kit that the company withdrew from
the market when Alan and Dale Klapmeier reevaluated their approach
to flying and safety. The training, of course, took place in a
certified Cirrus SR-22, and the panel of the SR-22 is illustrated
correctly. Hey, everybody makes a mistake now and then).
But I thought that the NAFI discounts with training-materials
publishers Gleim and ASA alone would repay the somewhat stiff $39
annual fee. I expect to use the discounts a good bit. Ballantyne
understood that argument -- after all, he uses his AARP discount
everywhere he goes.
For the time being, I can only look on with envy while he does
that. For me, NAFI was the best bargain at Airventure.