US Pilot Training in a Pandemic

by Colin Brown on Aug 14 2020

Hi Everyone! My name is Colin and I am an instructor at L3Harris in Sanford, FL. I started here as a flight instructor in November 2019 teaching private, instrument, and commercial single courses. I am fortunate to teach a diverse group of students from across the United States and countries such as China or Saudi Arabia.

I was lucky to have been born into a family of pilots. My father worked for Braniff and my mother for Flying Tigers (remember those airlines? Good because neither do I, but they were awesome with big orange planes). My sister is currently a captain at Republic Airways. It’s because of them I knew what it takes to be a successful airline pilot; the studying, the training, the commitment to the craft. For me, it took a bit longer to catch the flying bug, as I worked in education for a number of years before adding flying to my list of careers. One of the great things about flying is the flexible and varied schedule, and that I still get to work in education! As an instructor, I get to combine two of my passions together; I often use what I learned from my previous experiences as a teacher and apply that in my flight instructing. 

 As a flight instructor you learn to be patient, creative, and flexible with your job and your students. Bringing the energy is something I love doing because it makes the training fun for my students and they give it their all. Due to the ongoing pandemic we have all learned to be more creative and more flexible with how we can deliver our education. For one, there is a lot more online training, including most of our one-on-one ground sessions with students. We now have more online resources to use for teaching, and we can continue to offer an interactive training environment to enhance learning. However, flying remains one of the best parts of being an instructor (obviously). We’re lucky to have the opportunity to continue, as the aim remains teaching students to be safe pilots while they learn to love to fly.

During these times safety of flight is the not the only thing on my mind. Staying healthy is just another component to life that we are weaving into our daily routine. Since we are still open and have instructors and students working together, we have gone above and beyond the Federal and State guidelines to manage the safety of staff and students. Every student, instructor, and visitor to our school is required to pass through a temperature checkpoint at the front door and to answer a health assessment. Social distancing is still one of the best ways to avoid infection, as is wearing a mask. As such, we require everyone to wear a mask while at school, and to practice social distancing. It’s important to remember that everyone plays a part in keeping everyone safe and healthy.

There are signs of the airline industry recovering. Passenger traffic is increasing, and countries are slowly opening borders back up. A full recovery is still a bit away, but in the meantime, I’m very happy to be flying Cessna’s and Archer’s with my students. I have hope for what lies ahead for us pilots and those of us who love flying.

- Colin Brown