Watching the Gates


Watching The Gates ~Guest Blogger Aaron Dabney

The following post is a combination blog and video blog post. The text post written by Aaron is the catalyst and inspiration to a video discussion NAFI Board Members Aaron Dabney and Brian Schiff had on the subject. Comment below, your thoughts. Do you agree with them?

Some people don’t need to be pilots.

That’s not a bad thing.  As much as the writer in me really despises the phrase…it just is what it is.

As instructors it’s our job to separate the wheat from the chaff far more than it is the examiner’s.  And some of us need to do it better.

You see your student for the entirety of their training. Or at least for the required checkride prep portion if you inherited them from somebody else. You know their study skills, their habits, their strengths, their weaknesses. You know whether or not you see “pilot in command” coming from them.  In short, you’re in the best possible position to know and assess their body of work.

The examiner gets one snapshot.  If the sub-par Hail Mary you put up for grabs in the end zone has an okay enough day to skate by standards by the skin of his teeth, guess what? The examiner (although she may well suspect) can’t prove that this was one of 2 out of the last 8 flights that this guy has performed within standards.  Today he was okay enough, and now you’re sharing the national airspace system with him.

I don’t know about you, but sharing the sky with (or potentially being on the aft side of a locked flight deck door behind) “the world’s okayest pilot” makes my skin crawl. Think I’m being hyperbolical?  Go read up again on Colgan 3407.

My personal standard when I sign an applicant off is, “would I put my wife on that airplane with him and walk away unworried about his decisions & skillset?” A real gut check, but somebody’s wife/husband/son/daughter is going to be asked to place that level of trust on him.

We’re the true gatekeepers.  Let’s make sure we’re not just waving ‘em all through.

Fly smart.



Aaron Dabney NAFI BODAaron Dabney, NAFI MCFI
NAFI Board-member
Owner of Waco Flight Training
NAFI #27887





Captain Brian Schiff
NAFI Board of Director
NAFI #8752

(Photo taken and provide by Brian Schiff)



Blogs are intended for educational purposes only and do not replace independent, professional judgment. Statements of fact and opinions expressed are those of the author individually and, unless expressly stated to the contrary, are not the opinions or position of the National Association of Flight Instructors. NAFI does not endorse or approve, and assumes no responsibility for, the content, accuracy or completeness of the information presented. Readers should note content may appear in various media, including print, email, enews without further notice.
Share this post:

Comments on "Watching the Gates"

Comments 0-5 of 2

John Niehaus - Monday, March 04, 2024

Thanks for reading our blog and for watching James! We appreciate your membership!

James Baker - Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Great video - Thank you James Baker Member # 224223

Please login to comment