HOW TO CHO0SE A FLIGHT SCHOOL
Learning to fly can be one of life's most rewarding adventures. The freedom of moving in three dimensions is not only fun but can lead to interesting career and travel opportunities. To take advantage of aviation's rewards, you must make sure you get good, solid information you'll need to be a safe and confident pilot. One of the most important steps in that process is finding the right flight school.
TYPES OF SCHOOLS
Schools are designated by the F.A.A as either Part 141 or Part 61. Part 141 schools follow a prescribed curriculum and are subject to more stringent regulatory review than 61 schools. Because of that, you need only 35 flight hours to get a license at Part141 school, versus 40 hours at a Part 61 school. Those extra hours for Part 61 does not make much of a difference since many pilots are looking a career in aviation requiring flight experience at the end of the training. An advantage to learning at a part 61 school is that an instructor has the flexibility to alter the duration and content of coursework to meet individual needs. Many Part 141 schools also train students under Part 61 rules.
TAKE A LOOK & ASK QUESTIONS
Don't base your decision on literature, pictures or in a nice website alone, visit the school!
Your first contact will likely be an admissions officer or the chief flight instructor. Listen closely and ask questions about everything. Don't be shy. During your tour, ensure that no area is left unvisited, from administrative offices to the maintenance area. Interview the school's chief flight instructor or his or her assistant. One of the most difficult to determine, is the quality of the training provided by the school. When you visit the school, you should not only to the flight school management but also flight instructors and most importantly, the students. Any school that will not allow you to "mingle" with the students should be regarded with suspicion. Be sure that you are able to meet not only a few hand-picked students but are able to talk to otherones not introduced by the school. The internet can also be a useful tool for finding information. Though a few complaints about any one school might be expected even from a good school, multiple complaints should be examined closely. Use Google and Facebook in your advantage, ask for referrals.
THE TRAINING AIRPLANE
The training airplane is where you practice in the air what you've learned on the ground. High or low wing , it doesn't make much of difference. What it is important, is how well the airplane is equipped and maintained. Take a look at the "squawk sheets" of various training aircraft, which detail maintenance issues and how quickly they were resolved. Sophisticated and glass cockpit aircraft can be great and fun to fly but they will cost you. Analog well maintain aircraft are the best option for initial flight training. Remember you are learning to fly, you do not need fancy or advance avionics for this purpose. You will get the same license either you fly a glass cockpit airplane or a traditional analog trainer, the only difference will be the cost.
Learning to fly requires that you obtain the ability to manipulate the controls of the airplane and make it perform certain maneuvers. However, the other aspect of learning to fly besides flying the airplane is the academic knowledge required to understand how, where, and when to fly safely.
Ground school takes three basic forms:
1. An instructor teaching a scheduled one-one personalized class.
2. A self-paced, home-study program using video or audio tapes and/or a computer-based program.
3. Traditional group classroom type ground school.
Which is better depends on you. Perhaps the best option is a combination of the first two options.
YOUR FLIGHT INSTRUCTOR
A good flight instructor is important because your life will depend on what he or she teaches you. Don't hesitate to ask questions about the training and experience of the flight instructors, talk to some of the other students at the school.
A good way to get acquainted with your instructor is to take an introductory lesson (not just a demonstration ride). During your lesson, assess your instructor's attitude. Only you can determine what personality best fits yours, but you want an instructor who expects perfection, who will work with you until it's achieved, and who cares about you as a person as well as a student.
Compared with most of your current activities, learning to fly might look expensive. But remember, you're investing in your education, in skills that will open new worlds and opportunities.
When comparing costs, make sure you're comparing "apples with apples." Some schools base their prices on the FAA minimum-time requirements, such as 40 hours for a private certificate. Others base their prices on a more realistic figure that's the average of what their students accomplish. Some include books and supplies, ground school, flight testing, and FAA written examination fees. Others don't. In other words, read the fine print, and ensure you're making a comparison of equals!
Flight schools in the USA (and many elsewhere in the world) go out of business. Many of those pilot schools that do close will not be able or willing to refund any student funds already place on the account. One sign of lack of strength is the possible demand of the school to pay all or most of the fees upfront. Sometimes this comes with a promise of a discount for paying the complete cost of training in advance. Though in some cases this offer may be genuine, in other cases might no be the case.
A good rule to follow is to never pay all of the fees in advance. Unless the flight school is in distress, they should be willing to allow a student to pay as the training progresses. Pay as you go, protect your investment.