Finding a Flight School
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One of the important steps in your aviation training is the choice of flying
school. It takes time and lot of energy in finding the right school. Here, we
will help you in your endeavor by guiding you through what to look for in a
Step 1: Determine your aviation goals: Do you want to fly
for fun, or are you seeking a flying career? Will your flying be local, or do
you want to use general aviation aircraft to travel? Do you want to own an airplane
or will you rent?
Step 2: Identify the type of school that will best serve to achieve
First, lets talk about various types of flying schools:
1. Part 61 schools refer to the parts of the Federal Aviation
Regulations (FARs) under which they operate. Part 61 schools require less structure
and accountability as well as minimum time requirement is 40 hrs for PPL. It
is well suited for students who have flexible time and availability requirements
and are learning flying part-time.
2. Part 141 flying schools require lot of structure and accountability.
Part 141 schools are periodically audited by the FAA and must have detailed,
FAA-approved course outlines and meet student pilot performance rates. Minimum
time requirement for PPL is 35 hrs. This is more suited for students interested
in making a long term career in aviation. It is also a cheaper alternative than
Accredited flight schools.
3. Aviation colleges (Nationally accredited pilot training
institutions): These schools must meet rigid standards of accountability for
virtually every area of operation and must apply to an accrediting agency recognized
by the U.S. Department of Education. This is best suited for pilots planning
a professional piloting career. These colleges have much better aviation resources
available and students passing out of them have higher chances of getting a
job compared to other schools.
Step 3: Make a list of schools
Once you have given some thought to what you want, assemble a list of possibilities
and request all available literature from each school. You can find list of
all flying schools and their contact information on PilotOutlook.com. We have
provided a lot of information on each school to make your search easier. However,
if you don't find any information on a partiular school, please let us know.
You can also add more information on flying schools to help fellow aviation
Do not base your decision on the literature alone!!! Do not be misled by glossy
pamphlets and catchy sales pitches. Look for informative substance. This can
be found in photocopied sheets as well as full-color brochures. While reviewing
the material, take notes for verification during the school visit.
Some things to look for are:
- The school's philosophy, goals and objectives. Do they match or come close
- Is there housing, financial aid and additional training available such
as aerobatics or multi-engine training to broaden your experience?
- How long has the school been in business?
- What are the credentials of the operators?
- How many students have graduated and how many do they have right now?
- What is the classroom facility like?
- What kinds of aircraft are used for training?
- What kinds of services are available at the airport (control tower, flight
service station, etc.)?
Step 4: Visit the school in person
If you do nothing else in your search - VISIT THE SCHOOL!! Your first contact
will likely be a line instructor or the chief flight instructor. Listen closely
and ask questions about everything. Do not be shy. If you do not understand
something, ask! During your tour, ensure that no area is left unvisited, from
administrative offices to the maintenance area. Some questions to ask are as
- How does the CFI supervise flight training in the school?
- How many students does each instructor have?
- Will you have a principal instructor or will your bookings dictate who
you fly with?
- How is the training scheduled (1.5 versus a 2 hour booking)?
- How are cancellations due to weather or maintenance dealt with?
- Is there a no show policy?
- How are student training records kept and by whom?
- Is groundschool run continuously or on an as required basis?
- How does the school's insurance cover you as a student from both personal
protection and personal liability perspectives?
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