In this guest post, Kyle Garrett, founder of Aviation Schools Online shares his tips on choosing a great flight school.
There comes a time in every person’s life in which they must make tough decisions for the betterment of their career. A pilot’s life is no different. Flight school, regardless if Part 61 or 141, is a timely and expensive investment. Whether a pilot is looking to forge forth with a career in aviation or simply for private piloting, ensuring you are matched up with the optimal flight school is crucial. This doesn’t mean there is only one school that is right for each pilot, there could be several. What this means is to use your best judgment and to match up your own skills and aspirations with a school that offers comparative opportunities. Here are some tips for finding the right flight school. One option is to find a flight school through AviationSchoolsOnline.com or by exploring the home website of the flight school itself.
Know your goals. Are you wanting to fly for fun or is this a career choice to support your family? Do you want to be a private or commercial pilot? Civilian or military? Helicopter or airplane? These are only some of the options available to you, and if you haven’t considered questions already you should certainly do so now.
Missions of the flight academy? What are the school’s advertised mission, its goals for students, and the potentiality of career placement following graduation? If a flight school is more catered to people looking for recreational flying and you are looking into landing a job at Southwest, it probably isn’t the greatest option to attend school there.
Talk to actual students. Some things only current trainees will know. Things you may want to consider are life in the area outside school (the town, things to do for fun, etc.), what instructors are like (both inside and outside the classroom), the quality of facilities, the expected student workload, and things of this nature.
Visit the schools you are seriously considering. Set up a visit with the admissions officer and ask as many questions as you can. Understand that he/she is trying to sell you on the school, as that is their job. The more questions you can ask outside the general admission questions, the more you will be able to peer through the admission officer’s marketing pitch. Some great questions include what is the instructor-student ratio, is your training progress continually evaluated, and what are the specifics involving flying lessons.
When you visit the campus, you should have a good idea of how it “feels” after all is said and done. After you’ve visited with instructors, students, etc. what does your gut feeling say about the school? Does it seem like a place you would enjoy attending flight school? If so you may have found the right one. If not, keep looking.
Take a notepad with you. It may sound pretentious to take notes prior to even getting into class, but it is virtually impossible to remember and sort out specific flight school information if you’re trying to do so all by plain memory. From my own experience, I tried to jot down at least ¾ of a page of information for each flight school I visited. This way you can have all your notes and facts in one place, so you can easily flip back and forth between potential schools.
Pilot licensing is expensive. There really isn’t two ways about it. You’re going to be shelling out a cargo bay of cash in order to become a pilot, so the greatest way to maximize both your education and your personal finances is to review these tips and select the right flight school based not only on facts and numbers, but also the people currently involved (instructors, students, etc.), the academy’s philosophy and goals, and your own personal gut-check after visiting. Follow some of these tips and you will easily be able to matchup with a flight school that best suits your skills and career goals.
Kyle Garrett is the founder of Aviation Schools Online, has over 20 years of experience in the marketing and vocational school industry, and is an experienced instrument-rated private pilot.