Calling a capable instructor and threatening him was the last straw.
Kurt Fister (aka Kurt Pfister) needs to be exposed for his horrifically inadequate
"instruction," misrepresentation, and dishonest bully tactics.
most obvious indication of his willingness to toss reality aside is a video he posted calling certified instructors, "Scammers"--a
claim that is patently ridiculous. It would be like calling PADI or NAUI
instructors scammers. These are people who have demonstrated skills and
knowledge PLUS, in order to rate students, they must use a thorough
training syllabus. Secondly, the organization, USPPA, at least until
2019, actually offers (or did)
students up to $100 incentive for completing their rating. Clearly USPPA
is not in it for the money.
Far more telling are the stories. And
there are many in spite of how he berates and threatens anyone who
exposes his methods. I've had avoided posting
this, knowing there would be drama and threats (there have been), but after hearing about the video and hearing yet another
story, by a well respected instructor in the sport, it's time to share.
My strong recommendation is to avoid
training with Kurt Fister. Even if you do get airborne, it is
anything but real training. I've heard more horror stories about poor
training with this "instructor" than anyone else by a long shot, several
involving intimidation after failed efforts, including those with
injury. Another bothersome thread: they won't go public because of
Real training takes time. It's hard, it's sometimes tedious, and
different students learn at different rates. A good instructor knows
this and will take the time needed. You will almost certainly *NOT* get
that time from Kurt Fister.
First off, it's most certainly not free since you are required to pay
for Kurt Fister's transportation, food and lodging. He usually gets the
student to buy gear. As of 2015 he was selling the single worst
inflating paramotor wing I've ever encountered (Power Atlas). I
hope you've not already been duped into buying one of those, especially
if you're foot launching. The problem is that the amount of "A" pull
required to inflate it in no wind curls the leading edge making it far
more difficult to foot launch in calm air.
Real training is hard and there is risk,
with a conscientious instructor. In fact, it is probably the riskiest phase of a
student's progress (not to be confused by specific accident causes). Kurt's methodology, which frequently involves almost no actual training
with the wing, is particularly risky because it flies the student solo well before they are prepared to handle themselves in the air.
Several "students" have reported almost no kiting before they were
assisted into the air. That would be like a SCUBA instructor sending his
diving student into a deep dive with no pool experience.
Kurt does not do tandem or towing, either. These are not necessary
but are very helpful. And if you DON'T do either one, then
must become moderately adept at kiting (or taxiing if on a cart) before
Of those who have done "training" with Kurt and
succeeded, many have told how they succeeded in spite of it.
He lies enthusiastically, and is very convincing, using bully tactics
where he can get away with it. Don't fall
He is all about selling gear and getting free travel. If you don't buy gear from him, expect even less.
Don't Skimp on TRAINING,
it's your LIFE!
Training is the absolute worst place to skimp in this pursuit. Find an
instructor that will take you through the full USPPA program to a
rating or at least go through the entire syllabus with or without
actually getting the rating. Also, there are a number of schools that will rent you gear for
training. That's even better because now they're interested only in your
success, and the more successful you are, the more likely you are to buy
gear -- a win win.
So what are the lies?
1. He makes the preposterous claim of being "the preeminent PPG flight
instructor in the country". Rest assured that is the opposite of
reality. In fact, students that come out of his "training" are suspect,
being barely beyond self trained. They can succeed -- I know and respect
several of them -- but they learned essentially on their own by THEIR OWN ACCOUNT!
I've observed for years that no instructor leaves a wider wake of
ill-prepared students than Kurt. These observations have come from talking with
students and the instructors at various schools that I have visited
whether USPPA certified or not. I kept quiet until I saw, first hand,
his willingness to disregard someone's site (Beach Blast) for his own
2. He has made the claim that I profit from USPPA -- utterly
false. In fact, I put practices in place that are quite the
opposite. Writing, for example. Authors for the magazine are entitled to
payment. When we started doing that I implemented a policy that says
officers would be excluded from the payment. At the time I was the only
one (still do over 50% of the writing). I have never taken a dime of
payment nor do I need to. I have turned down probably $2000 worth of
otherwise eligible payments for columns and photos. Kudos, by the way,
to Jeff Hamann who also donates his author's fee back to the org.
3. At the last Beach Blast he says he didn't fly low over people at the
beach. What he didn't know was that I was airborne and saw him doing it
quite clearly. I was just beyond the surf and he was obviously
over the people. This was the first time I wrote publicly about his
behavior after which he deluged me with phone calls and text messages, first
threatening a lawsuit then just being annoying.
4. He tells people I "elected" myself as the first president of
USPPA. Another blatant lie. Alan Chuculate was the first President. I replaced him by action of
the officers after Alan Resigned due to differences in vision (he wanted
a more strict ratings program with a PPG 4). Nobody has contested any
office until recently and indeed new officers were
5. Kurt says that I continue to make money from USPPA. Again, I don't
make a dime. None of the officers do. In fact, we have only has one paid
position and it's to a contractor (the New Mojos Gear) employing a very,
capable girl, Kristin who, ironically, happens to be the daughter-in-law
of Kurt's supplier Chris Bowles.
6. Kurt claims that I use USPPA to market my materials. Go to
USPPA.org and see. None of my products are sold or promoted in either
the magazine or the website. Nothing more than an announcement is made
when new products come out. I
have no financial stake in Risk & Reward, having given all the rights to Lite
Touch Films--another effort to avoid any possible appearance of
7. Kurt tells people (he had it up on a video) that I work 1 day a
week because I get money from USPPA. This is laughable given that (a) I don't
make ANY money from USPPA, (b) even if I did it sure wouldn't be worth
giving up flying a 737! and c) I KNOW what I work and, as
AMAZING as my schedule is, it's unfortunately far more than one day a
week. At roughly 80 "trips" per month my pay is nearly a matter of
I'm not terribly bright financially in many
ways, though, since I spend copious amounts of time on Airhead
creations stuff and give away some amount of 737 flying most months to
pursue it. By
time, FootFlyer nets me around $10 per hour. It's a passion. The
airspace video is a good example of spending WAY too much time on a
project that will likely be the least commercially appealing.
So think about it, if he's willing to lie so blatantly, and with so much
conviction, about subjects that are so easily verifiable, how far can he be trusted in anything else? I'm
passionate about presenting good information. That's why I took on the
publishing business. It's why I'm willing to engage a $10/hr endeavor. I
won't just print another 4400 books, for example, I'll do another
edition--spending hundreds of hours in the process. This is a labor of
love. And seeing people like this duping unsuspecting newbies is too
much not to say anything.
Of course the moment he sees this he'll go berserk. So be it.
Part of his intimidation includes calling instructors or those who
have recommended against training with Kurt and pretending to be an
interested customer. Then he goes nuts on them, being insulting and
verbally abusive. Supporting Kurt Fister in any way is supporting this
paradigm of business and has no place in our sport or any other human
2014-Apr-12 Since exposing his inadequate training in this article, I
have received over 60 texts with everything from remarks about my
personal life to an "offer" to come to my house. Of course I knew this
would happen but it has never been my style to avoid doing the right
People need to be aware.
You be the judge.
I've felt this way for some time but always viewed Kurt as merely
bad for the individual while Dell Schanze was bad for the sport. But
after talking with two prominent instructors about Kurt's training and
intimidation I was motivated to act.
It's your life, don't treat it cheaply.
Avoid Kurt Fister (Phister) and Flight Junkies.
But Wait, There's
Today, another 4 of pages of texts, another "offer" to get together
and, as if harassing me wasn't enough, he called a good friend of
mine. Now he's wanting to do a "demonstration" of his instructing which
is comical in its irrelevance.
This is complete nonsense. Of COURSE he'd be more thorough if he's
And it utterly misses the mark on why his "training" is so inadequate:
leave "students" with no more than 5 flights and those have
been assisted. Then he goes
abusing real instructors or anybody who points this out. And bullying
those who point it out. Several have told me of their horrific
experiences but would rather not do it publicly. Of course I can
There's a video by a former "student" that the owner won't show
because he doesn't want to deal with what I'm dealing with right now. He
offered for me to put it up but I'm trying to get the Airspace video
done. My goal is that people be warned about inadequate training. That's
another reason why I encourage new entrants in the sport to go to an
instructor willing to use the entire USPPA program through a rating.
He discredits USPPA instructors because there are accidents. Learning
is a very dangerous part of a pilot's career but your BEST ODDS are to
choose someone who embraces a thorough, methodical approach. USPPA at
least is trying to set standards. He would no more report an accident
than he would follow an organization's syllabus. And the accident
database is open to him.
It's just a travesty and the fact that he is
willing to spew this stuff with so much volume is detestable. The
constant bullying, too -- calling those who speak honestly about him
incessantly -- is one of a number of horrific behaviors. All the
attempts at personal attacks and lies -- it's impressive in its lack of
They're not conversations about anything, they're threats. "I
know of accidents that haven't been reported by your instructors" he
says. WELL REPORT THEM!!!! The incident database is open TO
I've written about accidents by Kurt's students and have
NEVER ONCE mentioned who the instructor was--a courtesy I extend to
anyone. Accident writeups are about learning. I will still honor that.
One of his many and lengthy texts accused me of hiding accidents--that I
don't write about them. A fire, a drowning, wires, etc.
But of course *I
DO* write about them! In gory detail. I've written about every single one of them that I
know about including the recent drowning!
This is what I mean about
his willingness to make stuff up out of whole cloth. It's truly amazing.
Don't skimp on training! Find an instructor willing to take you through
a full program, including ground good ground handling skills and