A day-in-the-life of a Buckeye CFI

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Two people sitting in red chairs and looking at a tablet
Noelle Dzurnak instructs student Noah Pattan at the KOSU flight school

Everybody wants a corner office with a view, but what if your office was thousands of feet in the air with a view of, well, everything?! That’s what Noelle Dzurnak gets to experience every day as a Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) at The Ohio State University Airport. 

Flight instructors are employed at flight schools around the country and are tasked with teaching students about the ins and outs of flying a plane. Many CFI’s are working on securing their own flight hours so that they can fly commercially with airlines, while some make a full-time career out of teaching.  

For Dzurnak, she dreams of working for an airline. She has a passion for travel and engineering, so piloting commercially is her one-way ticket to her aspirations. Dzurnak has been with Ohio State for a year now and has already racked up 700 hours of flying time and expects to complete her goal of 1,250 hours in the next year. For now, she is loving her life as a CFI.

“It’s really rewarding when you see your students succeed,” says Dzurnak. “They are so excited and so happy – it makes it all worth it.”

At Ohio State, there is a list of students waiting to fly, so CFI’s are always booked and busy. Ohio State is a Part 141 flight school, which provides a high level of standards and structure to employees. Dzurnak is assigned students and works with them one-on-one both on the ground and in the air. Every student is different, and the lessons are designed and tailored by the university to fit the specific needs of each student; this allows Dzurnak to focus on the student rather than lesson planning. “It’s very structured,” she says. CFI’s at Ohio State always have a consistent schedule with students ready to learn from the best. 

There’s more to being a CFI than just getting your flight hours. Assistant Chief Flight Instructor Luke Prosek dove into the world of opportunities that come with the gig: “You get the opportunity to work on projects that go beyond aeronautical.”

As a CFI, you grow skills in customer service, organization, management, aircraft maintenance – the list goes on. “You get to make actionable decisions to improve flight school systems, work on safety committees, stay engaged with community events and local schools,” says Prosek. 

A main part of the job is the opportunity to give back; to your community, to the program and to your students. Prosek shared these final words of wisdom, “Being a flight instructor is an incredibly rewarding experience. There’s something about that that you just don’t find in a lot of other professions.” 

O-H-I-O pose by four people
Ohio State Flight Education affiliates, left to right, Junn Shimizu, Christian Studt, Noah Pattan and Noelle Dzurnak strike an O-H-I-O pose in the flight school lobby

by Carrie White, professional writing intern

Categories: PersonnelStudents