NAFI, the National Association of Flight Instructors, administers the Master Instructor Program. This program, which is recognized by the FAA, has the goal of acknowledging outstanding instructors in the field of aviation. It is based on a rigorous process of continuing development and education of the individual and sets professional standards to which all instructors can aspire. The designation of Master Instructor must be renewed every two years, and the FAA recognizes it as a renewal of the flight instructor certificate. Worldwide there are fewer than 500 Master Instructors. Minnesota now boasts a total of just nine Master Instructors.

Applicants for the Master Instructor designation must demonstrate continuing work and development in four areas - Educator, Service, Media, and Participant. Much more on these categories is listed below.

NAFI rates applications for the Master designation in terms of CEUs, which stands for Continuing Education Units. I will simply refer to them as credits. A minimum of 32 credits is required to obtain the Master designation. A credit is roughly equal to 15 hours of work, so if you spent 60 hours training a student for a rating, that would be the equivalent of 4 credits. 16 of the 32 credits must be in the Educator category and they must be in at least two different activities. The remaining categories must have a minimum of 2 credits each in a minimum of two different activities. All activity must be thoroughly documented, and the final package of paperwork weighs about five pounds!

  • Educator - actively working as a flight instructor. Examples include but are not limited to:
    • Teaching safety seminars
    • FAA new WINGS program endorsements
    • Flight instruction for practical test sign-off
    • Insurance checkouts
    • Teaching ground schools
    • Flight reviews, IPCs, high-performance, tailwheel, and complex endorsements
  • Service - pro bono work performed for the good of the aviation community. Examples include but are not limited to:
    • CAP, Young Eagles
    • Mentoring new CFIs
    • Board of Directors of aviation-related organization
    • Pro bono position of leadership or responsibility
    • FAAST (FAA Safety Team) participation
    • Chairmanship or secretary of aviation-related organization
  • Media - Creation of aviation-related material. Examples include but are not limited to:
    • Publication of articles in newspaper or aviation related journals or newsletters
    • Publication of aviation related books
    • Creation of syllabi for aviation training
    • Aviation related photography
    • Creation of Power Point presentation
    • Creation of brochures, guidebooks or manuals
    • Creation of aviation websites
  • Participant - the continuing education of the applicant. Examples include but are not limited to:
    • FAA WINGS or safety seminars (approximately 5 seminars = 1 credit)
    • Attending an FIRC
    • Continued training
    • Attending a ground school for a certificate or new rating
    • Construction of homebuilt aircraft
    • Initial or renewal of DPE
    • Aircraft ownership

If you are interested in pursuing a Master Instructor designation, the time to start on it is now. Everything must be documented. So when you endorse a student for a checkride, make a copy of the 8710 form (front and back) and make a copy of the DPE's endorsement in the student's logbook, showing the completion of the checkride. Or if not able to do that, make a copy of the student's new certificate. Figure out how many hours you spent, flight and ground, training the student and fill out an activity completion form (from NAFI). The category is Educator. File your paperwork in your new MCFI folder. Also do this for other training and endorsements.

In a similar manner document your activities in the other categories. Board meetings can be used to document serving on a Board of Directors. Pro bono service in positions of responsibility can be documented with confirming letters. Copies of training materials, brochures, syllabi, published articles, and URLs of websites can also be used for the Media category. Copies of seminar attendance, logbook entries for long trips, aircraft registration, new ratings, IPCs, flight reviews can be used for the Participant category.

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