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Higgins, Jim

Instructor Name: Higgins, Jim

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General Information
 Base Airport   All
 Teaches At   PAO, SQL
 Accepts New Students   Yes
 Payment Types Accepted   Cash/Check or Venmo/Zelle, etc.
  (530) 307-9776
 Hourly Rate   $150
 Ratings Held   See Below
 AC Instructs In   See Below

 About the Instructor
Ratings held:
Airline Transport Pilot, CFI/MEI

AC Instructs in:
C162, C172, C172SP, C172SPG1000, C172RG, C182, C182G1000, PA28-181, PA28R-201T

Why are you a Certified Flight Instructor?

Quite simply it makes me happy. Everyday I get to relive the excitement, joy, and satisfaction that I loved about learning to fly 30 years ago. Also, it is amazing to see my students progress and learn - I take great pride in their accomplishments. I know that all sounds trite, but it's really true! Of all the crazy different jobs I've had, none have made me happier.

How long have you been instructing?
started instructing as an ATP training other company pilots in air carrier operations in 2002. Then after I left the airlines, I became a general aviation CFI to extend my teaching to primary flight training.

Do you tend to favor PAO or SQL, and how might it affect a student's ability to schedule time?
My position working for the club (see below) requires me to be at PAO at least a few days a week. However, I started my WVFC teaching career at SQL and will always have a soft spot for that great airport.

How would you describe your availability in general?
In general, not great unfortunately. I started at WVFC as a full time flight instructor and that's how I still think of myself. But last year I took the role of Director of Flight Operations and Safety (Chief Flight Instructor) for the club and it has severely curtailed my time available to take a roster of full time students. I try to keep mostly just weekday business hours and most of that time is spent working for all the WVFC members and CFI's. I also do some corporate/charter flights every now and then. As a result, I can usually only instruct one full time student, in addition to occasional aircraft checkouts, BFRs, currency flights, phase checks, etc. So if you see openings on my schedule, feel free to hop on. 

What method of ground school do you prefer and how does it relate to your syllabus?
Since we all learn in different ways I like to customize a program for each student. In general, I believe the vast majority of the ground knowledge required can be learned through guided self-study. I like to use technology as a teaching tool and have a series of tablet/phone apps that I've found both effective and efficient.

What is your favorite aircraft to instruct in?
Cessna 172SP - either G1000 or round gauges.

What are your aircraft recommendations for a new student?
172 with round gauges. In the beginning, the glass cockpit can distract you from the primary goal of aircraft control. Once you've learned to control the aircraft and make it do what you want, then switching over to the G1000 is fine and even encouraged.

What percentage of your students pass their checkride on the first try?
In general very high, and for the past 2 years: 100% including demanding professionals, high school students, and several students who come to me after checkride failures elsewhere.

Additional Comments:
WVFC is a great place to learn the art of flying, in large part due to the fantastic group of instructors we have. We are all a bit more "seasoned" than the stereotypical CFI looking to build hours and move on to greener pastures. In my case, I've already checked out the other pastures - and frankly, I didn't find them very green. After paying my corporate dues as a Chicago MBA, BCG consultant, and KPCB startup slave I finally made good on my childhood dream to become an airline pilot. And of course backwards from most folks, I became a CFI after flying my fill of charter and airliners. I did that because flight instructing is what I love to do (see above answer to why I'm a CFI).

For students just starting out, I recommend you meet with several CFI's and get to know them a little over lunch or something outside the cockpit. Choose someone you respect and would enjoy spending a fair amount of time with. Flying can be very serious when necessary, but in general it is a tremendous amount of fun. And I feel strongly that learning to fly should be just as much fun! Obviously there's a lot of hard work involved, but life's too short not to enjoy the process and have fun along the way. Also, you might consider speaking with some current and/or former students to learn more about the quality of the experience from the client's perspective.

Outside of flying, I'm passionate about outdoor recreation of all kinds, but especially the mountain and water varieties since I moved here from Lake Tahoe (with significant mountain flight experience). I also can talk a good game when it comes to music and HiFi systems. I was a drummer in rock bands for many years and still love all kinds of live music. Currently, I live in Redwood City with my wife and the best dog in the world :)