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Finding a Flight School

 

Click here to Browse Flying Club Directory


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 flying school:

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 those goals


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 enthusiasts.

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:

  1. The school's philosophy, goals and objectives. Do they match or come close to yours?
  2. Is there housing, financial aid and additional training available such as aerobatics or multi-engine training to broaden your experience?
  3. How long has the school been in business?
  4. What are the credentials of the operators?
  5. How many students have graduated and how many do they have right now?
  6. What is the classroom facility like?
  7. What kinds of aircraft are used for training?
  8. 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 follows:

  1. How does the CFI supervise flight training in the school?
  2. How many students does each instructor have?
  3. Will you have a principal instructor or will your bookings dictate who you fly with?
  4. How is the training scheduled (1.5 versus a 2 hour booking)?
  5. How are cancellations due to weather or maintenance dealt with?
  6. Is there a no show policy?
  7. How are student training records kept and by whom?
  8. Is groundschool run continuously or on an as required basis?
  9. How does the school's insurance cover you as a student from both personal protection and personal liability perspectives?

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