Editor’s note: This instructor profile is part of a series profiling some of the best instructors within the FORCECOM enterprise. Force Readiness Command will be featuring outstanding instructors regularly who go above and beyond to help shape the future of the Coast Guard. Lt. Matthew Hunt is an MH-60 Aircraft Commander and Instructor Pilot. Part of the MH-60 Standardization Division, he instructs transition courses and annual proficiency courses, and conducts standardization visits at various air stations throughout the year. Interview conducted by Lt. Jonathan Parkhurst.
1. What made you decide to become an instructor?
Teaching presents a tremendous opportunity to learn. As a new instructor, you not only learn how to teach, but you also master your craft.
2. What do you find most motivating or rewarding in your role as an instructor?
As an instructor pilot, I am afforded the privilege and opportunity to interact and learn from the finest aircrew members across Coast Guard aviation, and then to share that wealth of knowledge with both new and experienced pilots. When a new pilot learns from your instruction, it is extremely rewarding. However, it also brings with it a heavy burden because you are responsible for perpetuating proper techniques.
3. What are some of the lessons you have learned from your students?
If you approach your students with humility and respect, you will bring out the highest levels of performance. Always be open to new ideas and concepts. Some of those ideas and concepts may be wrong and need correcting, but some may provide valuable insight that you, as an instructor, have not thought of before.
4. Where do you want to go for your next assignment, and how will this tour as an instructor help you in your career?
I would like to return to a duty-standing unit and develop my own understanding of the many facets of Coast Guard aviation, many of which are peculiar to specific air stations.
5. Share a memorable anecdote or “sea story” from your time as an instructor…or, describe the most significant challenge you have overcome as an instructor.
One of the greatest challenges is separating instructing from evaluating. When you instruct someone, you provide them with the skills and knowledge to complete a task. When you evaluate them, you are checking their comprehension and application. In our daily syllabus events, we have to be able to distinguish between the two.
6. Describe some new or innovative methods or equipment you are using in the classroom.
Our teaching venues consist of the traditional classroom with computer-based learning, the aircraft simulator, and the aircraft itself. Once the students demonstrate cursory understanding of the aircraft systems, checklists, and emergencies, they apply it in the aircraft simulator. Once they demonstrate the requisite level of proficiency in the simulator, they start the flight phase of the syllabus. Toward the end of the syllabus, they are introduced to operational concepts, and graduate with the required skills to stand duty. Overall, we use a highly-integrated approach to qualifying newly-winged Coast Guard aviators.
7. How do you ensure that you keep current, teaching students the most up-to-date information and skills they will need?
One of our primary duties as instructors is conducting standardization visits of Coast Guard air stations. During these visits, we gain an exceptional amount of knowledge and insight from the pilots who fly operational missions on a daily basis. What we glean from their experiences, we share with all the aircrew members that visit Aviation Training Center Mobile.
8. Are there specific experiences, skills, or knowledge you have found helpful in this tour as an instructor?
Where I’ve progressed most is in the realm of crew resource management. My time here comes after a total of 10 years of flying, and throughout my experience, I have witnessed both effective and ineffective CRM. Central to effective CRM is the inherent ability and desire of each member to bring out the highest levels of performance of the whole crew. To this end, every crewmember shares the responsibility to speak up if they see a decision that falls outside of the confines of the Coast Guard Air Operations Manual. Overall, I’ve seen a cultural shift in this direction across the MH-60 community. Being exposed to hundreds of fellow aircrew members every year has helped me develop my own skills.
9. What would you say to someone who is considering a tour as an instructor?
It will be an extremely rewarding tour. You will learn more than you can imagine!
10. Who do you think would make a great instructor? What would you say to encourage them to pursue assignment to an instructor billet?
The best instructors are those individuals who aren’t pursuing the Instructor Pilot qualification simply as a means to promotion. Selflessness and putting the needs of your students ahead of your own are what mark a good instructor pilot.