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How To Pick A Flight School - Five Things You Need To Know
By Kyle Garrett
One of the first things you do to learn to fly can also be one of the most difficult--pick a flight school. In some areas you may have to drive an hour to find an airport and in others, you can't throw a stone without hitting a flight school. In either case, you're asking yourself which school to attend. Maybe you don't even know where the nearest schools are. Whatever your position, here are few things to know when choosing a flight school.
Know what your flight training goals are
Before you get too invested in your search, take some time to consider your flight training goals. Knowing what you aim to achieve can really help when you are looking for flight schools. Feel free to get as specific as you can. Start big and work to specifics. For example, are you planning to make a career or simply fly for fun? If you're seeking a career, you might want to look at schools with more integrated programs. Maybe your goal is to fly for a specific airline. In that case you may want to see if there are specific schools that have hiring agreements or guaranteed interviews with that airline. A little interview with yourself regarding your goals can go a long way in helping you pick a good flight school.
Know what you can afford
While you're at it, think about how much you can afford to devote to your training. Not only money, but time and effort as well. Maybe you work full time and you can only train on weekends or you've got $15,000 saved specifically for flight training? Whatever the case, knowing how much money, time, and effort you can afford to devote to training in the beginning can save you a lot of strife later.
Know approximately how much each flight school's training costs
Once you know where you stand, you can start looking at where flight schools stand. There are several ways a school might quote you a price, for example some charge a flat rate per course or many charge per hour. Regardless of method, get a good idea of what it is going to cost to get the flight training you want at any school you're interested in. This way you can make sure the school matches your goals and budget. It does no good to attend the best flight school in the world if you've only got enough money for half the course.
Know how many instructors are available
Once you've nailed down the costs, you'll want to look at the day-to-day practicalities like instructor availability. This boils down to the number of instructors, the number of hours they are available, and how many people you are competing with. Ideally you want to find a school with enough instructors that you don't have a hard time scheduling lessons or asking questions. If there are five other students, this might mean one instructor, but if there are 500 other students, ten instructors might not be enough.
Know what training aircraft are available
Similarly, you need to look at the kind of training aircraft that are "on the line" and what their availability is. There are really two major things to consider: what you want to fly and how often the schools aircraft are out. If you're looking to learn in a specific kind of aircraft, like a taildragger or seaplane for example, you need to locate schools that offer that kind of aircraft. Once you've done that, you need to know how many aircraft are available and how often they are out. You may find a school that offers exactly what you want to fly, but if they only have two planes and 60 students, you're going to have trouble scheduling lessons.
On the surface, choosing a flight school can seem difficult, but with a little consideration of your goals, you can really start to narrow down the field. Still, even though choosing the right flight school is important, don't be so afraid to make a mistake you can't choose; you don't have to finish at the same school you start.