How to Find a Good Flight School
You want to go to flight school, but there are so many choices out there. Like any other type of school, flight schools vary in terms of quality and price. If becoming a professional pilot is your goal, you need a method to figure out which school is right for you. You want a schedule you can live with and competent instructors. Here's how to get everything you want:
Figure Out What Type of School You Want To Attend
The first step is to figure out what you want to do. Do you want to be a private pilot or a commercial one? If you want to haul people around, and get paid for doing it, you need a commercial license. If you want to be a scaled-down version of your favorite celebrity, and just fly for fun, you won't need to put in the same amount of flight time and you can get away with attending less expensive schools and a private pilot certificate.
Flight schools come in two categories, Part 61 and Part 141, which refer to the parts of the federal aviation regulations (FARs) under which they operate. Part 61 schools offer scheduling flexibility when compared to Part 141. However, Part 61 schools require you to take more flight hours to get your licenses. For example, for a private license, you'll need a minimum of 40 hours of flight time in a Part 61 school. For a Part 141 school, you need just 35. Most people take 60 to 75 hours before they pass their exam and checkride, but it becomes more important when you're going for a commercial license.
Part 61 schools require 250 hours while Part 141 require only 190. There are also nationally accredited training institutions you can attend. You'll earn a degree, which can be important if you want financial aid - these schools must apply to an accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. As such, you'll find it easier to find financial aid and scholarships if you go to these types of schools.
Figure Out How You're Going To Pay For It
There are many grants and scholarships for flight schools, though some of them only pay for a portion of your education and flight time. With an accredited school, you can qualify for federal aid, and school loans as if you were attending any other type of college or university.
A few examples of scholarships include:
- The Aero Club of New England
- The Aircraft Electronics Association Educational Foundation
- The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association
- The Ninety-Nines (99s), Inc.
- The Astronaut Scholarship Foundation
- The Alan H Conklin Business Aviation Management Scholarship
- The Lawrence Ginocchio Aviation Scholarship
- The William M. Fanning Maintenance Scholarship
- UAA Janice K. Barden Aviation Scholarship
Find Out What The School Is Like
The best way to do this is to take a trip to the school. Talk to your flight instructor. Find out what the school's philosophy is about. How many students per instructor are there? Engage other students if you can. Find out from people already attending what it's like, how flexible scheduling is, what teaching style the instructors use and so on.
Take a Discovery Flight
A discovery flight lets you actually fly before you commit to a school. You'll meet your instructor, get a tour of the facility, get some basic ground training, learn about basic principles of aerodynamics of flight, and talk about what the flight will involve when you go up. You'll go over basic safety instructions and do a pre-flight inspection of the aircraft.
When you're up in the air, you will actually fly the aircraft with the assistance of your instructor. This will give you a real feeling for what it's like to fly. You will learn how to maintain level flight, turn, climb, and descend.
Examine The Costs and Admission Requirements
Don't forget to ask about the costs to attend and the basic requirements. You will need to be at least 17 years old for a private license and 18 for a commercial one. You must also be able to read and speak English. Costs vary between $10,000 and $30,000. A lot of this depends on the quality of the school, its instructors, and the type of license you want for your end goal.
Ian James is a certificated pilot. He enjoys blogging about subjects related to his profession for a number of websites. Click the complete flight training solutions link for more information.