CFI Credibility

My name is Megan and I am in the midst of trying to get my private’s license. My question has to deal with CFI’s and their success rates. What types of success rates constitute a good and a bad CFI? The reason I ask this is because my current CFI has just stated that he has only had 3 out of his 15 students pass their checkride on the first attempt. How concerned should I be about this statement?


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I’ve never been in your position, at least not yet, but my gut reaction to a statement like that is not a good one. Just from a statistical point of view, what are the chances that he’s had 4 out of every 5 students that weren’t able to learn well enough?

It seems much more likely to me that that CFI is approving people for check rides before they’re really ready, and to me that sounds like his judgement and evaluation skills aren’t where I’d want them to be for my instructor.

Personally, I’d find a different CFI. I just would not trust that instructor to know when I would be ready.

As I’ve been looking at schools and ways to train, that is actually one of the questions I have asked. Any replies like 3/15, or eve 5/10, instantly made me want to look elsewhere.


P.S. I really don’t expect it, but I’ve gotta ask - I know a Megan Brady, and I doubt it’s you (probability again), but … is it? The connection would be Tim Brady, if so. Like I said, I know it’s very unlikely.

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Thanks for the response! I’m having the hesitation to continue forward and the only reason I’m still working with this CFI is because he’s the only individual who knows how to fly a tail wheel at the airport I’m getting lessons at. My other question would be, should I just move forward and forget the tail wheel time or should I stick out a few more lessons and then find another instructor when I’m ready to move on?? I’ve been told by a few other CFI’s that tail wheel time will only help me in the long run.

P.S. I’m not sure I know a Tim Brady haha I’m actually from Nebraska so I don’t know if that helps you narrow down anymore Megan Bradys hahaha


The exact nuances of your inquiry are beyond my scope of knowledge and experience, so I hope someone more informed chimes in. I’d suggest you think about what your goals are, and decide based on how the goal and the current path would play out. Why is it you are specifically interested in doing with your PPL? Will learning on a tailwheel at this time prepare you for that goal?

If your goal is to work toward and become a commercial airline pilot, I haven’t read anything by any of the mentors of this forum (all working commercial pilots, and thus WAY more qualified than I am, so listen to anything they might say with far greater attention!) suggesting that learning in a tailwheel is of any particular benefit over any other plane. I expect they would say, however, that having a busted checkride along the way is a tangible negative. One busted checkride won’t ground career aspirations, but if you have a choice between either a 20% success rate CFI and an 80% success rate (or better) CFI, go for the 80%!

Now, if you only intend to fly for fun, family, or whatever, and maybe you’ve got a tailwheel plane someone will let you use, it might behoove you to stick it out. However, I would strongly suggest being extra diligent in your studies, and learn everything backward and forward. It might even be worth it to find a tailwheel CFI at some other not-forever-far-away airport that you could do a few hours with, maybe even a mock check ride, to help prepare you. (Remember, I’m just spitballing - this is how my mind would approach the topic.) While a busted checkride won’t ground you, it’s probably still not the most pleasant thing to have on your record.

What brings you to the ATP Flight School forum (while not the name of it, that is who created & runs it)? It’s a great place - the mentors have plenty of good advice, if one searches for it and pokes around, and they’ll always answer directly and clearly, so far as I’ve seen. I found the forum while trying to decide if I was too old to make a career change (I’m not, found my answer!), and have read a LOT of things that have been helping me along my path so far!

For me, I have no specific need to learn a tailwheel. In your place, I’d find someone else on a different aircraft, because I’d want to get my PPL with as good an instructor as I could find/afford and not bust. It sounds like you already have doubts that this guy is the right way for you, but only you can really make that decision, based on your chosen path.


P.S. That does help - the Megan I know is in AZ or TX, I forget which, and is married to the aforementioned Tim. But hey, crazy things happen sometimes. I spent some time in Brazil, and after I’d been back home for 6 years I ran into a woman I’d met during my time in Brazil, when she was 14. I had also run into her older brother during the very first month back in the USA (where he already was when I was in Brazil), at a friend’s wedding reception. So I never discount the possibility of random connections anymore!


I would be rather concerned about that statement, very concerned. It sounds like your CFI is sending people too early for the checkrides or just simply not making sure they are prepared enough. I would ask for a change in instructors.


There is zero point in getting tail wheel time. The Airlines parked the DC 3s a long time ago, so there is no need to have any of that sort of time.


You have a few things going on here. Not sure how you got into this whole tailwheel thing (if it was your idea or that’s just what your instructor does) or who told you it’ll “help” you in the long run but my big question is why? If your goal is to fly bush planes in Alaska then by all means get your TW endorsement but personally I think you’re going backwards. There’s a reason why 100% of the training aircraft on the planet have tricycle gear. A million years ago someone figured out that tri gear handles significantly better than a TW does (you simply cannot loop a trike, well you can but you have to try really hard). Once you’re in the air it’s all the same but the ground issues require a new pilot to virtually master ground control as part of their PPL training. What I’m saying is you’re spending a tremendous amount of time, energy and money working on an aspect of flying that again unless your goal is banner towing or being a bush pilot you don’t need. Now is there value there? Of course there is. I have my TW (got it to fly banners years ago) and yes it made me much more aware of the wind and definitely improved my skills BUT I got it (like most people do) AFTER I did all my other training. It’s literally as if your parents decided to teach you to ride a bike by starting you on a unicycle. Would you eventually have much better balance? Sure but it’s a lot harder and would take you a lot longer vs learning on a trike, than a bi than a uni. Make sense?

As for your instructor that pass rate is terrible but I’m not going to beat him up too bad. The PPL checkride is the checkride but your guy is sending his students in with one hand tied behind their backs by doing it in a dragger. I’d go across the field. Get in a 152/172 or a Cherokee, finish your PPL and then if you want to go back then do that. Give it some thought.