Choosing a Flight School

The most important first step in your pilot career is quality flight lessons.
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Who doesn’t love flying? It’s quite the awarding adventure, not to mention it’s every kid’s dream. However, very few of those kids actually take the decision to enroll in a flight school so they can become pilots. If that dream stayed with you to adulthood and you still want to fly, then I suggest you keep on reading this article, which will help you choose the perfect pilot school for you.

Choosing a good flight school might not seem very complicated at first, however, if you don’t have contacts with people that have aviation experience, the task might be quite challenging. There are a lot of pilot schools out there but it is very important to pick the one that will suit your needs perfectly. The most important thing is not to make any rash decisions. Everything connected with flying, starting from the school is based on well-thought ideas and patience. Without these things, you are bound to make decisions that will yield negative consequences, which will, in turn, ruin your flight school experience.

Finding a Flight School

When you start your search for the perfect flight school, it is very important to decide beforehand what exactly you want to accomplish through aviation. Why do you want to fly? What are your long-term goals and what is your ultimate goal in aviation? These questions have to be answered before you enroll in a flight school.

This varies for every person. You could become a professional pilot and fly a general aviation aircraft for travel. It could be just a hobby and you can fly locally. You could own a plane or just rent a plane. It is very important to decide these things before picking a flight school because different schools are oriented for different things. The idea is to go to the school that will help you reach your long-term flying goals.

Flight School Cost

Learning how to fly will not be cheap, which is quite normal. Most flight students try to save money and reduce the cost of flying wherever possible. But, there is much more to flight costs than initially meets the eye.

The biggest part of flight school costs are the aircraft rental rates. On top of that, there is insurance, fuel, taxes, instructor fees and many other things. There is no flight school that tries to rip off students but there are some hidden fees that you need to know about.

To find out what will the real cost be you need to ask some of these questions:

1. How much will the aircraft rental cost? With fuel and/or dry?

2. How much are the instructor fees? Do they vary from one instructor to another?

3. Are there taxes and processing fees?

4. Are there some other hidden fees?

5. How much will I spend on books and learning materials?

This is why most flight school advertisements have different costs. Some of them tell you how much the full cost will be, broken up into categories. On the other hand, some schools will just advertise the rental rate while not mentioning any of the other fees.

When you ask “how much does flight school cost?” The answer is not very simple. There are many variables and there is also one more thing that needs to be considered. When most flight schools quote you a price for an entire training course, a course that will get you a private pilot license, the price is based on the minimum number of flight hours, required by the FAA. However, most courses will surpass the minimum amount of hours during training so the cost will be higher. The best thing to do is ask the school to give you a price for the average number of hours that it took students in the past to complete the said course with an instructor.

Financing your flight school training will not be an easy task, since most schools will require full or at least partial payment before the training even starts. To help out, flight schools give out some offers to their potential students. Some of them offer financing and loans. Others give out special prices if you pay for a certain amount of flight time in advance, which results in some substantial savings.

There are schools who give guarantees for their training. They guarantee that you are going to earn your flight certificate for the price that you pay them, no matter how long it would take you to do it. These kinds of schools usually have a set number of flight hours intended to get you to the end of the course. If you don’t reach your goal within those hours, they will still train you but you will have to pay for the extra hours.

Also, find out whether the instructor fees are in the price package or they are extra. The instructors do pre and post-flight briefings and they are charged extra. So you need to find out whether that is included in the flight school price package or not. These briefings are crucial for your training and you have to take them, so make sure you know how much they will cost you.

In flight school “time is money”, just turning on the engine of the plane costs money, so before you make a decision where you will enroll, make sure you do a full research in order to get the best training for your money.

Course Structure

The course structure is something you must consider when picking a flight school. Some of them work under FAR Part 61 regulations while others work under Part 141. You will get a private pilot license at the end of your training regardless of what kind of school you pick, however, the training methods will be much different.

The Part 61 program is less structured and it allows the instructor to change and adapt the training methods and lessons based on your progress or based on his wishes. This program is the most common one and it’s used by most flight schools, especially the smaller ones. The method is preferred by the majority because it’s more flexible for the instructors, as well as the students.

The Part 141 program, on the other hand, is much more rigid because it follows strict regulations and a syllabus that must be approved by the FAA way ahead of time. If you enroll in a school that follows the Part 141 program you should expect intense, face-paced training and instructors that will be much more professional and strict.

It doesn’t matter which program you choose because either will give you a piloting license at the end of the course. However, make sure that you choose a school that has instructors that follow a certain syllabus. You will have a much better flight school experience if your instructor follows specific lesson plans, stage checks and has a way of monitoring your progress as you go through the training.

Choosing a Flight Instructor

Picking the right flight instructor is as important as picking the perfect flight school. Once you get your license you will be flying a plane, which means that whatever the instructor tells you, could save your life. Make sure you ask the instructor all the questions you have. Things like what’s the average flight time? What is the pass/fail ratio? How long is flight school? Also, make sure you ask the other students what they think about their instructors.

The instructor you choose needs to be at least a certificated flight instructor (CFI). You need to meet FAA requirements so getting trained by a non-rated instructor is not a good idea.

There is one good way which can help you with your decision while also helping you get acquainted with your instructor. You can do this by getting an introductory flying lesson. During this lesson, you can find out the personality of the instructor and the way he does training. If he fits your personality then that’s the person to go with.

Final Decision

After you research on everything that was mentioned above, it’s time to make the decision. The flight school you pick should depend on what kind of flight training quality you want to receive, how much money you are willing to spend and how much time you could spare for this activity.

Getting a flying license doesn’t mean you have finished your education when it comes to flight. All good pilots learn and improve throughout their whole life.

The final decision will, however, depend on your personal preferences. Things like how close the school is to your home, is it relaxed or strict, will it be possible for you to cover all the costs and many other personal things. Make sure that you pick a flight school that will have a personality similar to yours. To ensure that you have a positive experience and get your private flying license as fast as possible, make sure you pick the flight school that will fit your needs and expectations.