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Learn to Fly - Become a Pilot

When choosing a flight school you must consider the quality of training as well as the professionalism exhibited by the school’s management, flight instructors, and its staff. The quality of flight training you receive will play an important role in your future as a pilot. The aeronautical knowledge, flying skills, and flying techniques taught to you from initial to advanced training will be utilized throughout your flying career. Choosing a flight school that meets your flying goals and individual needs is not an easy task and is an important decision to make, especially if you have little or no aviation experience.

In order to ensure that you choose a flight school that meets your flying goals, you must take the time to research and evaluate each flight school that interests you. We have developed five-steps to help you choose a flight school:

1. Determine your aviation goals
2. Collect information about each flight school
3. Make a list of flight schools that interest you
4. Visit the flight schools
5. Make a final decision

1. Determine your flying goals
Before you start any research, you must determine your flying goals. To help you identify your goals, you should ask yourself the following questions:

• Do I want to fly for pleasure, business, or as a career?
• Where do I want to train?
• What type of flight school do I plan to attend?
• Will I train as a full- or part-time student?
• How do I plan to pay for my flight training expenses?
• Will I need financial aid?*

*Note: Don’t base your choice(s) on the cost, since some flight schools offer financial aid (i.e. loans, scholarships, etc.) to eligible students.

After you have answered these questions and others you have thought about, you should identify and select several characteristics of a flight school (from the list below) that are important to you.

Flight school characteristics:
• Quality of Training
• Professionalism
• School Accreditation
• Safety Record
• Type of School (i.e. Public or Private School, college, university, etc.) (link)
• School Certification: Part 61 or 141
• College Credit/Degree Available
• Financial Aid Available
• Housing & Transportation
• Professional Pilot Program
• Career Assistance Available
• Pilot Certificates and Rating Offered & Costs
• Aircraft in Service
• Facilities (i.e. computer labs, libraries, etc.)
• Internship Programs
• Regional Airline Partnerships
• Affiliation with a Nearby Institution
• Other

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2. Collect Information about each flight school.
Now that you have a general idea of what you want from a flight school (according to the characteristics you have chosen), you can start your research. Register and search My AvScholars’ Collegiate and/or Flight School Directories to identify schools located near you or in another state/province. Our directories provide detailed profiles on colleges and flight schools that offer various flight training programs. Each school’s profile includes complete contact information, certificates and ratings offered and their associated costs, available financial aid, training aircrafts, facilities, airline partnerships, and much more. Other methods of researching flight schools are to scan aviation magazines for advertisements, search the Internet, talk to people in the aviation industry, and/or visit a local flight school in your city.

For schools that interest you, you should call and request a current information packet, application (if necessary), training syllabus for each certificate or rating you plan to obtain, and a copy of the school's regulations and flight operations procedures.

If you want to check the school’s safety record and business practices, you can contact the FAA Flight Standards District Office, Better Business Bureau, and the Chamber of Commerce for additional information.

3. Make a list of flight schools that interest you.
After receiving the flight schools’ information packets, you should carefully read through the information, take notes on your likes and dislikes, and write down your questions and comments. Don't base your choices on the information packets alone! Some of the color brochures/catalogs can be misleading. As you read through the packets, you should ask questions about the nature and quality of the school’s training program.

Download our list of Questions to Ask and the Flight School Checklist to help you take notes on the school’s features and services. After reviewing the literature, you should narrow your choices down to four or five schools using the process of elimination based the flight school’s characteristic you selected.

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4. Visit the flight school(s).
It is very important that you visit the flight schools that you have a strong interest in attending. A personal visit allows you to observe, ask questions, and determine if you like the “feel/personality” of the school as well as assessing the features and services offered to their students.

Your visit to each school should include:
A tour of the campus.
If you are interested in attending a college, university, or flight academy, call the admission’s office to inquire about campus tours and possibly speaking with an admission and/or financial aid administrator.
A tour of the flight department.
You should definitely tour the flight department (including the administrative offices to the maintenance area), check out the airplanes, facilities, weather room, simulators, classrooms, etc.
An interview with an Chief Flight Instructor and/or faculty instructors.
During your interview, ask questions about the school’s training programs, maintenance procedures, job placement programs, internships, etc. To help you with your interview, download our list of Questions to Ask during your visit.
An interview with current and former students.
During your visit, ask current students a few questions about their training experiences and whether they would recommend the school to friends and family members interested in becoming a pilot. You should also ask the school for a list of former students and contact them. Download our list of Questions to Ask.
A Discovery/Introductory Flight.
Ask if you could go on a Discovery Flight   with an instructor.


5. Make a final decision.
The flight school you choose to attend ultimately depends on your flying and career goals, the school’s personality, and most importantly the quality of training you expect to receive as a student (customer). If you select a flight school that meets your needs and matches your personality, you will feel comfortable in the training environment and hopefully enjoy your training experiences.

Before you make your final decision, you should reassess your visits and compare all the schools against one another, and then against your flying and career goals. If you completed a Flight School Checklist for each school you visited, it may help you with your final decision.

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What's next?>>
Step 3: Flight Instructor and Student Relationship


Written by: Sedgwick Hines Copyright 2004-2011 AvScholars Publishing, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

 

 

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Learn to Fly: Become a Pilot is your one-stop source to information on flight training, flying lessons, flight schools, and helicopter schools. Learn about the entire flight training process to help you earn your pilot certificates or ratings such as student pilot certificate, commercial pilot certificate, instrument rating, and others.

Copyright © 2003 - 2011 AvScholars Publishing, LLC. All Rights Reserved.