How to Choose a Perfect Flight School
If you decided that learning how to pilot an aircraft is for you, the next step is finding and selecting a great flight school. It’s not as easy as it might sound. Here are things you should consider when picking out a school:
1. Decide on your goals
Before you do anything else, you should sit down and decide what do you really want to accomplish and what your long-time goals are. You don’t have to go into the specifics just yet, simply decide if you want to become a professional pilot or will it be your hobby. This will help you decide, because every school has a different focus – some are more profession-oriented than others. Some schools have partnership programs with regional airlines, so choose them if you want to become a commercial pilot.
2. What is your budget
Flight costs vary significantly and depend on location, student quantity, the type of plane, and many other reasons. Some schools can help you with financial assistance programs and loans. Once you know your budget, you can then look into affordable to you schools in your area.
3. How much time do you have
Some schools have a syllabus and various theory requirements, in addition to flight hours, so make sure you know how much time you can devote to it. If becoming a pilot is really important to you, you will have to change your schedule to fit the school in and possibly make it a priority. The more you delay the flight hours, the more cost you will acquire. It is very important to fly frequently, especially at the beginning, to get muscle memory and continue to improve.
4. Part 61 or Part 141?
Part 61 and Part 141 are types of schools that differ significantly. Part 61 is usually more flexible and allows you to do your training on an “as needed” basis. You will be able to choose your schedule and manage your time and training yourself. On the other side of the spectrum, Part 141 will follow the FAA approved courses and you will have to comply.
141 offer a lot more structure. This might be good and bad. Some personalities do a lot better with a stricter routine, while others enjoy more flexibility. It’s completely up to you, your personality, and available time.
5. Aircraft type
There are some reasons why it matters what aircraft you will learn to fly. Older round-dial planes are less expensive than newer glass-cockpit cousins. Some new pilots like training in the glass-cockpit because it gives them better situational awareness. If you want to train with instruments, consider the newer type, it is also a good skill to have, if you want to pursue flying as your career.
Older does not mean less safe, so do some research about the maintenance department and records.
6. Good location
You should determine how far you are willing to drive to learn the craft. There are local schools, university programs, and training academies that might be e bit further. You might even consider moving for a good school. Prices often depend on location too. Inside the city training is usually more expensive than outside the city. Another problem you might encounter in urban areas is the busy airspace. You might want to go out to have the friendly skies all for yourself. Talk to local pilots to find out about the specifics of your local airspace.
7. Read reviews and talk to other pilots
It is always good to find people who have already went through the program to find how good or bad it is. Employees might be biased, but other pilots should be able to tell you some pros and some cons. You will never find a school that will be rated perfect by absolutely everybody, but you will know more truth after a few conversations and reviews.
8. Tour the school and go on a flight
When you have a short list of schools, it’s time for a personal visit to all of them. Call the school and schedule a meeting with a potential instructor and discover flight. This visit will be able to tell you a lot about the environment, staff, prices, policies, and satisfaction of other pilots.
9. Good fit
You should be sure that the school is a good fit for you. If something feels odd, it probably is, so don’t waste your time.
You should meet a few instructors, don’t just go with the first one you talk to. Schedule a few meetings with different CFIs and talk about your goals and how should you start training. The best practice is to talk to three different instructors three different times. Each instructor has individual style that might or might not work for you.
When you meet an instructor that is excited and knowledgeable, sign up with him. It is very important to have a full trust and a great working relationship with your instructor. This will make your entire experience better. Always make it worth your money!
12. Set goals
You should start your training with big goals in mind. Set yourself and your instructor on the timeline and stick with it. It’s important to stay on track. Keep the end goal in mind and you won’t be tempted to procrastinate and waste money.
13. Start training
Once you have found the school and the instructor that work for you, don’t wait a day longer. Work hard, show up for lessons prepared, and follow the steps to stay within your budget and timeline.