Annoying Things Flight Instructors Do

Pilots on Reddit were asked what their biggest pet peeves were about their flight instructors. Over 50 comments were posted, and responses varied from serious to hilarious. Below is a compilation of the most common complaints that students have about their flight instructors, as discussed on Reddit.

Excessive Cell Phone Use

Pilot Cell Phone Use

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Excessive cell phone use ranked among the top pet peeves students have about their flight instructors. An instructor shouldn't be playing Angry Birds during a flight or texting friends and family while their student is trying to figure out how to enter Class B airspace. It's rude and unprofessional, not to mention a safety risk.

Quitting in the Middle of a Course

It's a fact that many instructors use flight instruction to build hours to become airline pilots, and they move on the first chance they get. Students: If this is a problem for you, try to start with a career flight instructor instead of one that's just one step away from an airline job. 

Smoking or Eating Garlic Before Flying

If you've been flying for any length of time, there's a good chance you've had to share a cockpit with someone who didn't smell very good. A common pet peeve of student pilots involves flying with an instructor that smells like fresh cigarette smoke or onions.

Gum Smacking...Into the Mic

When an instructor chews gum loudly into the headset microphone, it's super annoying for students. Luckily, this is an easy fix for instructors: Just reposition your mic so that it's out of the way when you aren't actively using it. As a bonus, this will also ensure your student doesn't hear you muttering under your breath.  

Not Fessing Up to Mistakes

Flight training students are expected to mess up, so they're quick to take the blame for mistakes made in the aircraft. An instructor that doesn't take responsibility for their own errors sets a bad example and will quickly lose credibility with a student. 

Pretending to Know Everything

Nobody likes a know-it-all, and student pilots usually see through a flight instructor that pretends like they know everything. It seems like common sense, but a flight instructor should never pretend to know something or answer a question from a student that he or she isn't one hundred percent certain about.  


Okay, so charging for ground instruction seems to be a controversial topic.  From the instructor's standpoint, time spent briefing and debriefing before and after flights is billable time. Time spent talking about vacations and football is not.

Regardless of how the instructor chooses to bill the student, the process should be clear from the beginning. Both the instructor and student should make an effort to keep the briefs and debriefs on topic and, well, brief. 

Talking Too Much

Students are annoyed by instructors that don't stop talking. It's one thing to provide constant feedback, but it's another thing to constantly talk a student through each detailed step of a maneuver they already know how to do. While it's okay to make small talk, chatting for hours on end about your family problems during a cross-country flight is sure to annoy your students. 

Not Talking Enough

If too much talking is bad, not talking at all is even worse. Students need feedback. Similarly, when an instructor says nothing more than "good job," the student loses confidence in their evaluating authority. If an instructor stops providing feedback as soon as the minimum standards are met, beware.

A good instructor will challenge their students to go above and beyond the minimum requirements and will continue to coach and offer constructive criticism even to the student pilot that excels. 

Being Overprotective

We learn from mistakes, so the overprotective instructor doesn't do a student any favors. The flight student that is never allowed to make any mistakes is almost guaranteed to make mistakes on a solo flight.

If an instructor really wants to get a good idea of what mistakes you make and how well (or not well) you recover from them, they'll need to let you screw up a few times - all within the margins of safety, of course. 

Riding the Controls

Every new instructor is guilty of stepping on the controls too much. It's common for students to become frustrated by their instructor overriding their control inputs or constantly having their hands on the yoke. Once your skills improve and the instructor gets comfortable with your actions, they should back off the controls. 

Not Letting the Student Fly the Airplane

Just like riding the controls is annoying, taking over the controls entirely is, too. While maintaining control of the airplane is common for the instructor during the first few flights, the student should be controlling the aircraft as much as possible from the start.

If after the first few flights, your instructor is still the only one ever flying the airplane, it might be time to find a new instructor!