What I look for in an instructor is someone who genuinely cares about flying, and who truly enjoys passing this knowledge and craft onto others so they can be safe and proficient pilots as well. In addition I look for someone who is very knowledgeable on all aspects of flying, who can answer any questions I have, and/or will take the time to find the answers and show me where I can get more information on the subject in question.
A good instructor is organized, knows what the student needs to work on, and gets the student trained with correct procedures to pass her/his practical test in a timely manner. Finally I need a friendly instructor with a warm personality who makes flying a comfortable experience!
To me, Rob is the model for all of these qualifications. Rob is not someone who needs to build hours at a student's expense, and unfortunately I've had a few that did! Rob loves to fly and he loves to teach flying, and he gets just as excited as the student when they perform a maneuver for the first time.
Rob's approach is organized and professional. He has very high standards yet is always patient, with a great sense of humor and an infectious enthusiasm for flying. Rob insists on following checklists and procedures to the letter. However, he understands the overload a new student experiences, and has the patience to repeat the same instructions again and again until the student can incorporate every step required to meet those standards.
He also has the confidence and experience to allow me to make mistakes and gives me time to correct or learn from those errors unless safety or regulations are about to be compromised. When he does have to temporarily take the controls, he is quick to ease the sense of failure with a brief explanation of how I can improve and a (often humorous) reminder that everyone goes through similar learning experiences. I highly recommend Rob as a flight instructor.
What makes Rob such a quality teacher is that he teaches one how to learn. He had me complete projects that demonstrated my ability to know where to find information to solve various problems. The knowledge required to become a private pilot is vast and intimidating, but Rob helped to break it down individually and then put it back together to demonstrate the functionality of the sum of the parts of the knowedge.
When I would come to a concept that was particularly challenging for me or to my learning style, Rob would always explain it in a different way than he had originally and was patient as I overcame the challenge. I could not imagine taking flight instruction from anyone other than Rob. His knowledge and enthusiasm for flying is something which I hope to someday boast to have.
Rob provides strong theoretical background for the material he's presenting, as well as the practical implications for actual flying. He is also able to cite case studies or his own personal experience to illustrate many of the classroom topics we've talked about. Rob has a remarkable intellect, as well as an obvious love of flying and excellent teaching skills. He brings all of these talents together in his instruction.
Because I am an engineer, and a generally curious person, I have often asked questions during his instruction that skewed off on technical tangents. Rob almost always had a well thought-out answer at hand, or an alternate way of illustrating whatever concept we were discussing to make the answer obvious. In the two cases when he hasn't known the answer to my question right off the cuff, he has researched the answer and gotten back to me at our next session with a detailed explanation. I greatly enjoy learning from Rob.
Learning to fly with Rob is an exhilarating experience. Rob loves to fly and he passes on this enthusiasm to all of his students. Rob also seems to have an encyclopedic knowledge about flying. He knows every system of every plane we fly. He seems to know every airport and landing strip in Northern California. His knowledge of the physics of flying--not just the how but the why--is impressive.
However, the most important aspect of Rob's teaching is his patience. He works with his students both to help them solidify the things they are doing right and to work on the things they are doing wrong until they get it right. If your goal is to get your license as quickly as possible, then Rob isn't the instructor for you. But if you want to become a knowledgable, safe, confident pilot, then I couldn't recommend anyone more highly.
I enjoy flying with Rob. He is very knowledgeable about aviation, and it gives me a lot of confidence that my instructor is not only a great pilot, but can also get into the differential equations to answer questions on aerodynamics! He is meticulous in planning for lessons and pays great attention to detail, but at the same time is comfortable giving enough leeway to his students to make mistakes and learn from them. This makes him very easy to work with.
When I have trouble with a particular maneuver, he diagnoses
the problem quickly, and usually has multiple suggestions on how to correct
it. My schedule doesn't allow me to fly very often, but Rob is patient and is
willing to work at my pace. And most importantly, he is encouraging in his comments,
which is important in an endeavor where significant milestones are few and far
I've been a pilot for over twenty years, and have flown with more instructors than I can keep track of. Each one contributes different insights based on their own experience, and Rob is no exception. However, my experience flying with Rob went well beyond my expectations. He is a thoroughly engaging instructor.
I most recently flew with Rob for my Wings level 5 training, in lieu of a biennial flight review. It was both fun and educational. He seemed to effortlessly come up with interesting maneuvers that I had not done before, which I think added to my knowledge as a pilot. Communication with Rob is excellent. I feel very good about the effectiveness of my Wings training with him, and definitely look forward to flying with him again.
I have known Rob for several years, both as a fellow pilot and as an instructor. He is extremely knowledgeable about all aspects of flying and is very good at being able to apply that knowledge to practical problems, whether by being able fly a difficult maneuver or coming up with better explanations for difficult questions. He is never satisfied with simply knowing the "official" answer to any question. He will research the topic so that he verifies the answer with first principles. After my discussions with Rob, I usually feel like I have a much deeper understanding of a concept than I could get from most books on flying.
Rob is also not satisfied with simply following standard lesson plans. He is always looking for new ways to illustrate and demonstrate different techniques. I recently flew with Rob after having spent several months mostly flying under IFR and I felt that my VFR technique was getting rusty. Rather than simply have me practice the standard maneuvers, Rob first reached across and covered ALL of my flight instruments - something no one has ever done with me before. He then coached me through re-learning to fly (and land) entirely by sight and feel. This gave me a whole new level of confidence - beyond anything I could have achieved by simply practicing as I usually did.
As Rob's student you can be certain that he will find the best way to teach you what you want to know.
I was told before starting flying lessons that I should find an instructor that I liked personally. On this level, Rob is second to none. His sense of humor, intelligence, and love of flying make him an amiable instructor in and out of the aircraft. He is candid and encouraging and, whether teaching something new and exciting or offering critique on old material, always makes the process enjoyable.
As a teacher, Rob is just as impressive. His attention to detail is enviable. It inspires trust in him as your instructor as well as inspires you to attempt to be equally meticulous. There is rarely a moment when you aren't learning something with Rob around. He might be reminding you to look out the window, or grinning widely as he invents new emergencies for you to cope with, but he is always busy teaching. I once quipped that he is like Mr. Miyagi in "The Karate Kid": often teaching you something even when you don't know you are being taught.
With his patience, personality, impeccable knowledge, and superb teaching style, I highly recommend Rob to new students.
Learning to fly has been a life changing experience. Aviation is a complicated subject. Not just in the air but on the ground as well. With all the intricacies of flying having an instructor who doesn't tolerate imperfections can be the difference between a safe pilot and a potentially dangerous one.
Rob French is a fine instructor. His meticulous attention to detail has made a huge impact on my progress toward a private pilot's license and I would gladly refer him to anyone interested in pursuing aviation whether it is a private, instrument, or commercial license.
Rob is a very responsive instructor who will also take time from his personal life to field questions about confusing topics and in the past has even provided me with sound advice regarding other personal interests not even related to flying.
I traveled to California (from Guam) for the summer intent on completing as much flight training as possible. I started with Rob and from day one realized his teaching technique was exactly what I was looking for in an instructor. Within two months I completed the private and immediately started instrument training with Rob. IFR is much more complicated than VFR training and Rob's unique ability to turn the extraordinarily complex material into plain, comprehensible English goes beyond words. In two months I was IFR-rated. Had it not been for Rob I would still be working on it next year. Within a week of completing IFR, Rob had me trained and endorsed to fly complex aircraft. I soon decided to complete commercial training and within 2 weeks Rob had me proficient in all ASEL commercial maneuvers and for the fourth time I passed an FAA exam without fail. Due to the complicated airspace the Bay Area is a great place to be trained and develop the confidence to fly anywhere in the world and Rob is the best person to show you how.
Back on Guam, I went flying with the Chief Pilot of my FBO to get checked out in a nice 172P. I did everything perfectly. I obviously impressed him. He offered me a job almost immediately. When we got back he had this look and I was expecting him to say "you're a really good pilot". Instead, he said "Wow, you had a really good instructor!"
Brendan went on to become a flight instructor and eventually went to work for the airlines flying Dash8-200 turboprops! I'm very proud of him.
[Photo credit: Copyright (c) 2006, Ben Wang, under license to airliners.net. Used by permission.]
I have recently taken up flying and am really enjoying it. Upon getting my license, I decided to continue training so I can become the best pilot possible. To that end, I take an instructor with me as often as possible.
Rob has been tremendously helpful in my learning process. Because heís such an avid pilot, he knows how to teach and is easy to understand. I appreciate his knowledge and capabilities, as well as his dedication to his students.
I was looking around for an instrument instructor and Rob came highly recommended. After the first lesson it was clear that he was perfect for the rating. I wanted someone that was very comfortable with the G1000 in a 182 and Rob fit the bill - he really understands the nuances of the G1000 incredibly well.
Rob's approach includes a heavy emphasis on simulator time for the first 15 or 20 hours. This made a lot of sense as West Valley Flying Club has a very nice G1000 simulator where you can do a lot of training that isn't practical or safe in the plane. This phase was very intense but it paid off big time as I felt very comfortable with instrument flying pretty quickly after transitioning into the airplane. Ultimately, I was able to get my rating right at the minimum number of hours and I attribute this mostly to Rob's very effective teaching style and getting all the basics down on the simulator first.
Rob is a great instructor and I have absolutely no hesitation
in recommending Rob for instrument training.
Learning to fly has been one of the more challenging things I've done in my life, and through it, I was very lucky to have Rob as my guide. Rob is extremely knowledgeable and enthusiastic about all things aviation. He's a very organized and systematic teacher. At the same time, in the midst of all the studying and practicing, he makes sure you remember that flying is fun. But most important, Rob provides an safe and secure enviroment in which you can experiment and make mistakes while you learn new flying skills, and, at the same time, rest assured that Rob will step in before you do anything that is truly unsafe.
Rob has a way of making lessons stick. His good natured ribbing, and deadpan one-liners are guaranteed to stay with you long after your lesson, reminding you gently of the right way to do things. Rob has very high standards and he holds his student to them. By the time Rob is done with you, you should be a competent and safe pilot. The checkride should be relatively straightforward. As a bonus, Rob is relaxed, humorous, and easy to get along with.
I recommend him highly to anyone looking for an instructor.
I'm plan to continue training with Rob myself, and am looking forward to continuing exploring aviation with him.
I will always be grateful to Rob for getting me through my Private, to this day the one thing that I am most proud of. I stopped and started flying so many times and couldnít quite get though my training. I realized that the reason was this feeling that there were just too many holes in the training that I had received from various instructors over the years. I never quite felt that I was ready to take the plunge. Rob was the first instructor that made me feel that I was 100% ready. He checked all the boxes for me. Heís tough, thorough, incredibly smart, has a great sense of humor and feels personally responsible for getting you through. I feel that I am a safe pilot because of the training I received from him. Robís passion for flying and the knowledge that he imparted will stay with me for the rest of my life. Thank you Rob!
Alison was 17 years old when she trained for and received her license. She accomplished the entire training in less than nine weeks of intensive work over a single summer. The following was written by her father.
When my wife and I considered flying lessons for our daughter, Alison, we knew we had to find a very special instructor. Someone we could trust to be diligent, careful, thorough, intelligent, expert, enthusiastic, and able to command the respect of a teenager. Rob was all those things and more. Beyond providing Alison with absolutely first-rate instruction, he kept us well-informed and part of the process. We could not be happier and are delighted to recommend him to others