-By Justin Landis
So you want to pursue a career in aviation and it has led you to searching the internet for answers, answers to questions such as how do I choose the flight school or aviation program that is right for me? Airplanes, Helicopters, UASs, Airport Management? From experience, I can tell you that making a decision on what aviation program to attend can be challenging and it took me a few tries before I got it right. So after a decade spent developing my career in aviation, here are my thoughts, and a checklist, on how you can choose the right training program for your needs. When you’ve developed your own checklist, go to www.aviationschoolsonline.com to find your flight schools!
Your Checklist to Choosing the Right School for You
- Set Goals
- Find a Mentor
- Know What You Are Getting Into
- Part 61 or Part 141
- Make a List of a Few Schools, Visit Each
- Take an Into Flight
- Shortlist Your Favorite Programs, Learn About Them
- Set Your Plan For Training
Do some self-reflections and determine what your goals are for your career in aviation. This may sound like a canned answer and intuitive first step, but you’d be surprised how many people move forward in life without any rhyme or reason. Having your goals set for and by yourself helps you maintain the determination and discipline needed to accept and conquer the challenges that wait ahead. Trust me, there will be challenges, just keep your focus on the goals you’ve set and they will help you push through to the other side and achieve your success.
Find a Mentor
This may be easier said than done, but I believe this is very important in trying to make decisions in life that will ultimately
determine your entire trajectory throughout your future. In this context I would recommend attempting to find someone who has already pursued a path similar to the one you’re considering, ask an A&P mechanic, a current bush pilot, or an air traffic controller how they got to where they are and what advice they may have. Without necessarily regretting it, I may have been better off had I pursued the guidance of a mentor when I joined the Air Force rather than accepting the job I thought sounded the “coolest” to my 17 year-old self. There are always decisions in life that can benefit from being well thought out and the advice and guidance of a mentor will always prove valuable.
Know what you’re getting yourself into
Know what a career like the one you want to pursue in aviation may entail. Hopefully a mentor can help you discover the details, but keep in mind that learning how to fly, although fun, requires studying and knowing the material in depth. I’ve seen and heard of many students that have put on a pair of aviators, shown up to their lessons with the excitement that comes with jumping in the cockpit but failed to commit to opening the books and thus couldn’t pass their check rides and move forward. Be aware and be ready to be the best student you can be.
Part 61 or Part 141
Know the difference between a Part 61 and Part 141 flight school and determine which is a better fit for you and your goals. There is plenty of information online to fully explain the differences between a Part 61 and Part 141 flight school, but to summarize, a Part 141 program will include a more structured approach with syllabi and FAA record keeping while a Part 61 will allow for some flexibility in your flight training.
Make a list of a few schools and visit each
Most schools, especially the ones represented here on AviationSchoolsOnline.com would be more than happy to host you for a tour to check out their program. You should have the chance to talk to students and flight instructors to get a feel for the program and get specific and valuable input from those who’ve already experienced the program you’re considering. A tour also gives you a chance to see the facilities of the organization, the fleet of aircraft the company is running, and any extra training aides such as flight training devices (FTDs), simulators, weather and flight planning equipment and whatever else you may desire or require.
Take an Intro flight
Be sure to take and introduction flight. Whether you’ve grown up in the cockpit with a family member or have never actually been in a single engine general aviation aircraft, it’s in your best interest to go up for an introduction flight with a school you’re considering. It can expose you to the exact environment you will be spending the next few hundred hours of your training in and help you in your decision making process. It may also expose you to whether or not you have the constitution needed to be a pilot, don’t be discouraged if you get queasy the first time, but realize whether its just your body adjusting or if you truly do not enjoy the experience as much as you had hoped (although highly unlikely).
Short list your favorite programs and Learn about them
Do your research and set a plan. Learn everything you can about the programs you want to select by doing your own research beyond the student services representative. It’s always prudent to research companies you want to work for and programs you want to train at. Be sure not to get side tracked by one disgruntled person who may have failed out and has a bone to pick on an arbitrary forum, but do aggregated research to ensure the program has a positive reputation within the industry and community and will be an asset to you as you move forward in your career.
Set Your Plan for Training
Finally, set a plan for what you want out of your training, what certificates you want to pursue, what companies you may want to apply to and use this information to assist you in your final decision.
We’ve all wondered at some point, where should I go, how much will it cost, how long will it take, when we’re up against a decision such as this. Fortunately, you’re not the first nor will you be the last to make a decision on what program to attend. Making a decision such as this will always be a challenge, but hopefully following these steps, the resources found within AviationSchoolsOnline.com and your ingenuity and determination will be an asset to you in your pursuit of a decision and a career in aviation.
Good Luck and Happy Flying!
Tags: airline, airplane, Aviation Schools Online, aviationschoolsonline.com, best flight school, choose, choosing, flight, flight school, helicopter, how to choose a flight school, pilot, UAS, UAV, uavs, unmanned aerial systems