There is a lot to it, and Instructors are the sports most important asset, but they’re still humans. The loudest mouths are more likely to be the worst choices.
What Makes a Good Instructor?
The single most important attribute of a good instructor is the ability to teach! Some are exceptional, most are average, a few are pretty poor. It’s true that a motivated student will learn from just about anyone, but it will be whole lot more fun, safer and faster with good teacher.
Any instructor must be skilled enough as a pilot to demonstrate techniques and recognize students’ challenges. But they do not need to be competition, soaring, or acro pilots unless you want to learn those skills. In fact, such pilots are sometimes worse—being so removed from a neophyte’s needs that they’re less effective than an average but less cocky instructor. Only when you aspire to learn aerobatics or soaring or competition must you seek instructors capable in those areas. This is true for paramotoring just like it’s true in other areas of aviation.
Effective teaching is a skill unto its own and not everyone has it. They don’t have to be the “ace of the base” but they do need to be effective communicators.
Certification does not make an instructor good. It does, however, show that the instructor has demonstrated minimum skills, knowledge, and ability. It shows that he cares enough to seek out training to learn more about training, and that he has availed himself to best practices. An instructor that pooh-pooh’s these things is exposing his own lacking: certification has clear benefits.
It is recognition by their peers and acknowledges that the instructor has met minimum standards.
If certified by a paramotor organization, it means they have access to materials developed a by broad range of experienced instructors. That’s minimizes inadequate or, at worse, wrong information. No organization requires their instructors to use the materials so you must ask for them, especially the USPPA syllabus. This document has been produced with the help of our sports most experienced and recognized instructors. Make sure your USPPA instructor uses it! It’s more work because its more thorough.
Helps insure the prospective instructor has gotten training on the unique tasks of teaching powered paragliding. There are many nuances and a few dark corners. The orgs Instructor Clinics are intended to help improve instructional safety.
For the certification to be meaningful and it must be specific to powered paragliding. Be leery if the certification significantly lumps PPC and PPG together—there is a vast difference! That’s why I believe in the USPPA program so wholeheartedly. It has been vetted to be specific and applicable. USHPA instructors have a thorough program for free flight but it is up to the instructor to get motor expertise because that is not included. There are very significant motor piloting issues that must be understood to safely teach powered paragliding. So if you select a USHPA instructor, find out if they have significant motor experience. Those who do are frequently good,thorough instructors.