Flying an airplane is an amazing experience. Soaring high above the earth will leave you with a new perspective on things. The ability to fly also opens up a lot of doors both personally and professionally, adding new opportunities for travel, adventure, and perhaps even a new career. Ready to get started? The first step is to figure out which flight school is right for you.
It’ll help to have an idea of what your ultimate goal is when looking for a flight school. Do you want to be a commercial pilot? Do you want to fly as a leisure activity? Will you want to be a full-time student or are you looking to take classes as they fit into your schedule? As you answer each of these questions you’ll be able to narrow down your list of local instructors based on what each offers.
Next you’ll need to decide which type of school is right for you. The two types are called Part 141 and Part 61 schools, named for the federal regulations under which they operate. They each have different structures and requirements under the FAA. Students who want a flexible flying schedule may want to consider Part 61 schools. If you plan to be a professional pilot, you’ll also want to make sure the instructional facility you use is accredited with the U.S. Department of Education.
Now you’re ready to start narrowing down your options. Look into the curriculum and requirements for each of the schools you’re considering. It’s always a good idea to take a tour of any flight school you’re considering. Talk to current students to see what they think of the program and how any potential problems they’ve had have been handled. Consider reading online reviews for another perspective. Look into insurance requirements, instructor-to-student ratios, cost, and financial aid options. Ask the instructors any questions you have, particularly about their experience and their pass/fail rate. You may want to ask for an introductory flying lesson so you can get a feel for the instructor’s teaching style. You may also want to see if any classes are being offered by community colleges or independent ground schools in your area.
The next step is to make sure you can afford the programs you’re considering because flying isn’t cheap. Most programs will charge about the same amount, so if one stands out with a very low cost compared to the rest, proceed with caution. Some schools offer their own financing or can provide you with loan information. Ask about the refund policy should you choose not to complete the program.
Now you should have a good idea of which flight school is the best option for you, and you’re well on your way to becoming a pilot. Now buckle up and enjoy the ride!