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Choosing a Flight Training Program

The world of aviation is wide and offers opportunities for anyone interested in taking to the skies, regardless of their mission, path or destination. But often, the most intimidating part of taking flight is getting started. In searching some of the most widely known and respected organizations and publications, here are some resources for you to consider in making your decision to start your journey of flight.

 

THE DESTINATION

 

First, let’s discuss where aviation can take you. Your adventures in the sky are fully customizable but the most common avenues for those taking the left seat fall under career, business and leisure. King Schools dives deeper into these avenues identifying options for pilots and how aviation can make each destination more enjoyable and successful. 

 

CAREER

BUSINESS

LEISURE

Commercial Airlines

Meeting New Clients

Explore New Places

Government

Attending Conferences

Set Your Own Schedule

Military

Corporate Meetings

Experience Adventure

Law Enforcement & Medical

Tax Deductible Expenses

Visit Friends and Family

Corporate

Set Your Own Schedule

Family Vacations

Agriculture

Avoid Airport Delays

Shorten Trips

Air Taxi

Access More Destinations

Unmatched Sight-Seeing

Determining where you’d like to end with your journey to the skies doesn’t necessarily change which flight training program you enter, but it is good to keep in mind as you plan. Explaining your goals to your flight instructor will help put you on the right path from the beginning and will help you determine which type of certification you’re aiming to achieve through your training.

 

PILOT TYPES

 

While the destinations and opportunities are endless, there are two basic pathways to becoming a pilot, specifically in the United States. The easiest way to select which pathway you want to take is to determine your mission. Establishing what type of aircraft you want to fly and who you’d like to be able to take with you can help you determine which pilot type certification to start. This decision can also be impacted by your destination goals. The Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) identifies some of the common pathways and has step-by-step guides and additional details for accomplishing each path.

 

PRIVATE PILOT

ULTRALIGHT PILOT

40+ Hours Training

No Legal Minimum Training

Requires Medical Exam

No Exam Required

No Speed/Weight/Size Limits

Speed/Weight/Size Limits

No Passenger Limit

0 Passengers Allowed

 

The EAA has additional details on limitations for each pilot’s license. Rest assured, you can always adjust your training as your mission grows. Adding additional training and testing is never a poor decision, even if you’re content with your license. The best pilots say they never stop learning.

 

INVESTMENT

 

Achieving your goals and putting your mind to exploring a new journey is an investment within itself, but we’d be remiss to ignore the fact that this kind of training does come with a financial investment. However, the numbers vary based on many factors. The pilot in training, the flight instructor, the location and the type of aircraft all influence the cost of achieving these goals.

 

If you live in an area that’s far from a flight training program, your transportation costs would be higher than someone who lives right next door. While there are requirements on how many training hours each pilot’s license requires, it takes some individuals longer to master the skills and for the flight instructor to feel confident in their abilities. As you go along in the program, you will learn a lot on the ground but there is a considerable amount of time spent in the air. Depending on which aircraft you use to do that training, your hourly fee will vary from another pilot’s. These are all factors to consider as you start looking at pricing.

 

It also depends on who you ask about the investment. For instance, King Schools averages an investment of anywhere from $8,000 to $15,000, whereas a blog post from The Pilot Institute gives a range of to $75 to $200 for a student pilot to get started through $30,000 for a commercial pilot. Consider that some pilots attend degree programs while others attend flight schools.

 

CONSIDERATIONS

 

Once you determine your destination goals, which pilot’s license you prefer to explore and what is workable with your budget, you should dig a little deeper into the flight school options that come before you. The Cessna Pilot Center network has this Pilot Center Locator that you can use to search flight schools based on your location or their name to help you create a list to explore. The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) lists important considerations to help you find the best fit for your journey.

 

CONSIDERATION

EXPLANATION

Your Schedule

How does your availability align with the school and/or instructor?

Learning Style

Do you prefer online learning or a physical classroom with an instructor?

Curriculum/Record Keeping/Flight Procedures

What will you be learning and how does the process work?

Credentials

What qualifications do the instructors have to teach this content?

Safety Record

What is the safety record of the school and are you comfortable with the results?

Aircraft in Fleet

Does the school have the aircraft you want to train in and how available are they?

Aids

Does the school include simulators, classrooms, or other aids you prefer?

School History

How long has the school been in business and what is its reputation?

Insurance Coverage

Who is covered and what does that coverage entail?

Feedback

What do graduates of the program say about their experience?

Feeling

Does the school feel like the right fit and how does it compare to your comfort with others?

 

INSTRUCTOR

Once you’ve landed on one or more of your top schools, it’s time to determine who will be in the right seat beside you. While finding the right school is important, putting just as much emphasis on the right instructor is vital. The EAA compiled a list of questions to ask yourself regarding potential instructors.

 

QUESTIONS REGARDING POTENTIAL INSTRUCTORS

How enthusiastic are they about training?

How much training experience do they have?

Are you compatible with them?

What is their specific cost? (Instructors often differ slightly in cost)

Do your schedules line up?

 

We hope this guide helps you get started on your dreams of taking to the skies. There is never a bad time to start on this journey if it’s something you truly want and are willing to work to achieve. Don’t hesitate to ask as many questions as you feel are necessary when selecting a flight training school. It will likely make a lasting impression and provide memories for years and flights to come.

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