How to Select a Flight School
If you desire to become a pilot, the information presented here will help you make an informed decision in terms of selecting the right flight school.For many, flying an airplane fulfills one of mankind''s archetypal dreams. Here you will find the information you need to help fulfill that dream. The information presented here will help you make an informed decision in terms of selecting the right flight school. This article is written for the potential pilot who has virtually no understanding in terms of the process needed to become an aviator in the United States.
In selecting a flight school, you will or have already learned that there are two types of instruction offered at flight schools. To become a pilot in the United States, you learn under either FAR Part 141 or FAR Part 61 flight regulations. FAR, which stands for Federal Aviation Regulations, are a very large set of rules and regulations provided by the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration).
Over time, as you become a pilot, you will become very familiar with many of the rules which are laid out in the FARs. But in terms of our discussion, FAR Part 141 means the flight school provides a more formal way of learning for the student. Learning is more structured under FAR Part 141. FAR Part 61 means flight schools provide a less structured form of learning.
What this means is that the hours required for the various certifications are less for those who learn at FAR Part 141 schools. For example, a Private Pilot Certificate may be achieved in 35 hours of flight time under Part 141, rather than 40 hours under Part 61. But in reality, this really doesn''t mean much, because the national average for number of hours needed to obtain the Private Pilot License is 60 to 75 hours. Also, a Commercial Pilot Certificate may be achieved in 190 hours of flight time under Part 141, rather than 250 hours under Part 61.
So does this mean you should select a FAR Part 141 flight school in order to gain the necessary certifications. No, not necessarily. You should select a flight school based on the type of learning you prefer. Many students do much better in a less formal type of learning environment. After your training, regardless of what type of flight school you attended, your certifications are the same. A Private Pilot License, Instrument Rating, Commercial Pilot License, CFI, and other certifications, can all be obtained from either a FAR Part 141 or a FAR Part 61 flight school.
As a matter of fact, your FAA flight examiner does not care what type of school you attended. His or her concern is solely about whether or not you can fly an airplane. The examiner also wants to make sure you have the necessary knowledge to back up your flying skill. So, select either a FAR Part 141 or FAR 61 flight school based on the style of learning you prefer.
After you have decided on the type of flight school, the next step is to ask yourself the question, why do I want to become a pilot? Your answer to this question will also help you decide on the type of flight school you choose. Here we are not talking about FAR Part 141, or FAR Part 61. If you decide that you want to become a professional pilot, then you want to find a flight school which can help you achieve this goal.
The reason for this is because almost all pilots who want to fly as a professional, need to build flight time, and the only real economical way to build hours is to fly as an instructor. This means you should find a flight school which will allow you to gain your Certified Flight Instructor rating, and preferably that same flight school also takes on their own graduates as flight instructors to work at their flight school. But it is not just building hours that are important. It is building the right type of hours.
For example, if you desire to become a crop dusting pilot, you are in a much better position to gain a crop dusting job if you build hours in conventional gear (tail wheel) airplanes. Also, if you want to become a professional pilot, you want to have a diversity of flying experiences in different types of aircraft. So for the crop duster, he or she should have a diversity of flying experiences which includes both conventional gear and tri-gear, but with most of the flight hours in conventional gear aircraft.
To take this a step further, if most of your flying hours are in conventional gear aircraft, you also want to have diversity of flying in terms of conventional gear aircraft as well. Again, assuming you want to fly as a crop duster. This means fly just about every type of tail wheel airplane you can get your hands on, after appropriate check out with an instructor off course.
The point is, the greater the number of different flying experiences you have, the better. Even if you do not desire to become a professional pilot, and you decide to fly for recreation only, you still want to develop a diversity of flying experiences. This will increase your level of safety. So what does this mean in terms of flight school selection. This means you should select a flight school which provides a large selection of different types of airplanes that you can later get checked out in. Select a flight school that provides both tri gear and conventional gear aircraft.
Also, select a flight school that provides an aerobatic course. And take that course after you become a certified Private Pilot. You need to be able to instinctively recover from unusual flight attitudes, in case the situation ever arises during your flying in the future. This is true for all pilots, regardless of whether you want to become a professional pilot or a pilot who flies solely for recreation. If they do not have a aerobatic course, at least as a bare minimum, learn actual spin recovery from an instructor who is proficient in the technique.
Finally, when selecting a flight school, choose one where they have an instructor you feel comfortable with. This means choose an instructor which you feel is compatible with your style of learning. And since you will be shoulder to shoulder with your instructor while flying, it also helps to make sure your personality is compatible with the personality of the instructor. Finding the right instructor is probably the most important component in terms of learning how to fly.
So to conclude, when selecting a flight school, choose either a FAR Part 141 or FAR Part 61 flight school based on the style of learning you prefer. Determine why you want to become a pilot. If you desire to become a professional pilot, select a school which can help you obtain a CFI position. Also, select a flight school which has a diverse fleet of aircraft. Finally, in order to increase your level of safety, make sure the flight school offers an aerobatic course. If you follow these steps, you will find that learning to fly an airplane can be one of the most enjoyable learning experiences that you can have in your life time. And yes, you can fulfill that archetypal dream.
Thomas Sullivan, the author of this article, is a web publisher and developer. He resides within the Boston, MA area. He is a Private Pilot, and webmaster for Pilot Portal USA - Flight Schools, and More and Pilot Jobs - A Current Listing