Here’s a question asked by a fellow pilot a while back that, I don’t believe, made it into my Since You Asked column in AOPA Flight Training magazine. Some questions and answers are a bit more fun than educational and aren’t quite ready for prime time.
A fellow pilot named Rick asked the following question: As a CFI I’m curious about the most difficult/strange/wild student you’ve ever had. Care to share?
My response follows.
I’ll gladly answer your question because I think it’s instructional and something of which all CFIs should be aware.
I experienced one of my most unusual students more than 30 years ago, as a young CFI. He was a middle aged private pilot who hadn’t flown in 20 years and needed a flight review. He was also a doctor who always showed up fatigued, with his eyeballs glazed over, and he mumbled a lot to himself. This didn’t bother me, because he acted just like I did after a full day of flight instructing. It was only later I found out that he was on drugs, which explains why he offered to medicate me during our first lesson (I thought he was kidding. He wasn’t). I respectfully declined the offer, then mentioned that if he flew properly I might not need medication.
On the first lesson, he nearly taxied into a parked gas truck. The worst part is that he had to go out of his way to get close to the truck. He claimed he didn’t see it. On the second day, he landed with brakes on. I had to stab at his thick barrel-like legs with my pointy little arms just to get his feet off the pedals. A few days later, a senior CFI at the airport pulled me aside and told me the truth about this fellow. He apparently had worn out four flight instructors in his recurrency attempt, totaling over 35 hours of dual in the process. When each CFI caught on to his game, they’d furlough him. The doc would simply get a new logbook and try for a fresh start. Yes, this type of thing happens. I, too, was really upset and promptly furloughed the doc. He suggested I might not be so upset if I were medicated. No thanks, doc.
The moral here is to trust your gut. If it quacks like a doc, it probably is one. I knew something was wrong with this fellow but chose to ignore my instincts. I try never to make that mistake again.