Boots Wins NAFI Excellence in Writing Award

The CFI with the one-name moniker has written many articles about the art and practice of flying and the responsibilities of flight instructors.

Boots told NAFI,’The most important thing I have learned as a CFI is how little I knew before I started instructing.’ [Courtesy: NAFI]

The National Association of Flight Instructors has named Boots the winner of the Greg J. Laslo Excellence in Writing Award. If you aren’t familiar with his work in NAFI’s Mentor magazine, Boots is not a nickname, it’s his full name. “It’s the only name on my driver’s license, FAA certificates, and passport,” Boots wrote in his Mentor bio. 

Boots, who also contributes to FLYING, told NAFI, “The most important thing I have learned as a CFI is how little I knew before I started instructing.”

Boots was born and raised in Hollywood—which he says offers enough of an explanation for his singular name. He’s been a private pilot since 1968 and has gone on to earn his commercial pilot certificate, with instrument and multiengine ratings, which was followed by obtaining his initial CFI, followed by instrument and multiengine instructor ratings. Boots also has been an A&P/IA technician for about 25 years. Most of his flight time has been out of California’s Van Nuys Airport (KVNY), but he’s also flown in many other regions of the world, including Central America, Africa, and Europe.

In addition to airplanes, Boots raced motorcycles as an AMA professional road racer and has built several companies. At the Reno National Championship Air Races, Boots was a member of the Rare Bear racing team. 

Boots authored an article in the January/February 2021 issue of Mentor magazine titled, ‘It’s Tough to Teach New CFIs.’

Despite accumulating all this knowledge and experience, Boots—still an active CFI--has never flown or worked on airplanes for a living. 

Instead—from his current home in Knoxville, Tennessee—he shares his expertise through the written word, crafting articles for Mentor magazine on topics such as flight maneuvers, the teaching process, and the responsibilities of flight instructors. 

“Boots is an incredibly prolific writer who has a passion for sharing his stories, experiences, and expertise with fellow flight instructors,” said Beth Stanton, NAFI director of publications and editor in a news release. “NAFI members have greatly benefited  from his engagement and dedication to sharing his tribal knowledge with the NAFI community.”

In his work Boots displays a no-nonsense and straightforward writing style. Last year in a Mentor article titled, “It’s Tough To Teach New CFIs,” Boots wrote: “What is learned first is retained best. If an instructor teaches incorrect information and does not immediately correct their own errors to the student, the student will retain the wrong knowledge learned first, even if shown the correct information at a later date. The quickest and easiest way for an instructor to understand this is to always admit your own mistakes, immediately. Explain to the student that it was your mistake and immediately either correct the mistake or, at the very least, explain that you don’t know and will look it up and explain it later. Never try to fake an answer or an explanation! That will always violate the rule of primacy.”

Summing it up, Boots wrote: “You truly do have to become a mentor rather than just an instructor when teaching initial CFIs.”

Thom is a former senior editor for FLYING. Previously, his freelance reporting appeared in aviation industry magazines. Thom also spent three decades as a TV and digital journalist at CNN’s bureaus in Washington and Atlanta, eventually specializing in aviation. He has reported from air shows in Oshkosh, Farnborough and Paris. Follow Thom on Twitter @thompatterson.

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