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Never Stop Learning, Advises Master CFI David St. George

My best advice to anyone involved in aviation at any level is to keep learning and studying: a good pilot is always learning!

Aviation is an amazingly varied and dynamic field that can never be mastered...it offers endless opportunities. Each new pursuit adds depth and understanding to the rest of the "mental toolbox." Also, never consider short cuts in aviation education; always question whether you worked hard enough! I found earning an add-on glider commercial and CFI after 30 years of power flying was an epiphany for me in terms of new possibilities and skills. Not only was it intrinsically rewarding to become proficient in a new field but also the transfer of skills and knowledge was astounding and energizing.

Another great reward in new learning is the value of retaining what the practitioners of Buddhism calls "the beginners mind." This means a mind set free of preconceptions and expectations, judgments, and prejudices. Of course we have carefully trained piloting skills and responses, but in the act of piloting we must remain alert, curious and vigilant. Any tendency toward complacency is deadly. Those who acquire an attitude of superiority will soon be humbled by circumstances no one can master, but the clever and flexible you may cope adequately. The very best pilots I know are happy and fresh, full of self-deprecating humor ...never pompous or arrogant. Learning new material and subjecting yourself to instruction on a regular basis keeps you humble! Great tonic for CFIs too, restoring empathy... the greatest asset to teaching well. The great sculptor of the Pieta and painter of the Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo, said in his 87th year: "Ancora Imparo" "I'm still learning!"

David St. George has been a pilot for over 35 years and a CFI with more than 7,000 hours of dual given. His ratings include ATP multi, Commercial glider and Seaplane, CFI in airplanes, gliders, instrument and twins. He is a Gold Seal CFI and NAFI Master Instructor as well as a FAA Safety Counselor and Pilot Examiner for FSDO #23. He is currently 141 Chief Instructor for East Hill Flying Club in Ithaca, NY.

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