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Things To Look For In A Flight School  
User currently offlineAAden From United States of America, joined Jan 2006, 835 posts, RR: 0
Posted (8 years 3 months 3 weeks 4 days ago) and read 6954 times:

Hi guys
I know this has probably been discussed before, but I did a search and it turned up nothing.
well anyways I'm going to be touring a couple flight schools here shortly, and I was wondering what are somethings that I should be keeping an eye out for? Are there any signs that will tell me to stay away or if they are legitimate?

thanx in advance for all your help

13 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineVirginFlyer From New Zealand, joined Sep 2000, 4575 posts, RR: 41
Reply 1, posted (8 years 3 months 3 weeks 3 days 21 hours ago) and read 6920 times:

Ok, I'll try and run you through a few things. I am not familiar with the system in the USA, so I can't offer you that sort of specific information. In no particular order of importance:

- Make sure the school has the proper paperwork, licences, Air Operators Certificates etc. If they don't, then obviously go elsewhere.

- Choose carefully. Wherever you are going, you will be making a large financial investment to gain a professional qualification. Being the cheapest school on the block doesn't make it the best - in many cases it is the opposite. You should go to the best school you can afford. In my opinion, saving a couple of thousand dollars on a qualification that costs tens of thousands of dollars is not worth going to an inferior school.

- Avoid any school which is asking for the entire course fee up front. This *can* be a sign that the school is in financial trouble. If the school goes bankrupt, you could be left as an unsecured creditor, and lose all the money you have paid.

- Check what you are being quoted in costs. Are they all inclusive? Is it a fixed course cost, or based on the amount of flying? Are you being given a quote, or just an estimate. Does the quote/estimate include landing fees, airways charges, fuel differentials, insurance charges etc? Make sure you know what the overall costs are going to be, so you don't get any nasty surprises when the first bill arrives.

- Take time to speak to the staff and students. Get a feel of the school, and the standards they expect. If it is offered, take a trial flight. You should be able to get a good impression of the level of professionalism.

- Find out how many of the school's students have moved on into employment in the industry. If their students are sought after, then that is a good sign. If few of their students are being employed, then it isn't such a good sign.

- Don't necessarily be swung by high tech gizmos and new planes. While they are certainly nice to have, and if a school has enough money to invest in them, it must be doing something right, all the glass cockpits in the world won't make up for poor quality instruction. The quality of instruction should be your primary concern. If they have quality instruction, and all the mod cons, then good, but if they have quality instruction in slightly older aircraft, that isn't a bad thing either.

- Some people say that a smaller school is better because you have a more intimate experience. My personal view is that bigger is better. If a school is large, then clearly it is doing something right. If the school has a larger number of instructors and aircraft, then theoretically you will have less trouble being scheduled in for lessons (although even a school with a lot of staff and aircraft can be under-equipped...). A larger school will also offer your a greater diversity of experience to draw on from the staff. Like I say though, there is no hard and fast view on this - it really is just a personal opinion thing.

- If a school owns its aircraft rather than leases them, this can be a sign of greater stability, both financially and operationally. I have friends who have been left in the lurch because the aircraft they fly have been taken back by the lessor, leaving the school without the aircraft type they did their training on. It's probably not a big deal - I wouldn't make a decision based just on this - but if you're trying to compare two otherwise identical schools, it is something to consider.

- If a school runs a charter operation in conjunction with the school, this will expose you to commercial operations other than flight training. I don't know how many schools run charter operations in the USA, but a fair number do here in Australia.

I hope these are helpful. Like I said, some are just my personal opinion, but I hope it least gives you some food for thought...

V/F



"So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth." - Bahá'u'lláh
User currently offlineCO7e7 From United States of America, joined Dec 2004, 2849 posts, RR: 2
Reply 2, posted (8 years 3 months 3 weeks 3 days 20 hours ago) and read 6902 times:

Quoting VirginFlyer (Reply 1):

Execellent reply!
Thanks... i'm also thinking about flight school and your reply is very helpful.

Thanks again.

-Zaki


User currently offlineMir From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 21730 posts, RR: 55
Reply 3, posted (8 years 3 months 3 weeks 3 days 19 hours ago) and read 6877 times:

Quoting VirginFlyer (Reply 1):
I don't know how many schools run charter operations in the USA, but a fair number do here in Australia.

I don´t know of any schools that do chartering in the US, but many FBOs will have their own charter services. The FBO I did some training at has a Lear 60 that they use for charters - they also deal with a lot of CitationShares aircraft. The airport itself is a prime GA reliever airport for the New York area, so one got used to busy airspace pretty quickly - something that I think is valuable if you´re going to be flying for a living, or if you´re going to be doing a lot of flying in SoCal, Florida, the Northeast, etc. You want to be confident working in that airspace, and the sooner you get used to it the better.

-Mir



7 billion, one nation, imagination...it's a beautiful day
User currently offlineFrancoflier From France, joined Oct 2001, 3790 posts, RR: 11
Reply 4, posted (8 years 3 months 3 weeks 3 days 13 hours ago) and read 6827 times:

I think it is important to underline what VirginFlyer said earlier about talking to students, present or fromer. They usually have the best opinion and advice.


Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit posting...
User currently offlineFlyf15 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 5, posted (8 years 3 months 3 weeks 3 days 12 hours ago) and read 6800 times:

It looks like you're in the Denver area. I instructed there for 3 years and am pretty familiar with most of the schools there.

Let me know which airports you're interested in and I'll give you some recommendations. Depend on where you live, you've got your choice of Centennial, Jeffco, Front Range, Erie, Boulder, Longmont, Ft. Collins / Loveland, Platte Valley, Greeley... and if you're down south, Meadow Lake and COS in Colorado Springs.


User currently offlineAAden From United States of America, joined Jan 2006, 835 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (8 years 3 months 3 weeks 3 days 11 hours ago) and read 6775 times:

Quoting Flyf15 (Reply 5):
It looks like you're in the Denver area. I instructed there for 3 years and am pretty familiar with most of the schools there.

Let me know which airports you're interested in and I'll give you some recommendations. Depend on where you live, you've got your choice of Centennial, Jeffco, Front Range, Erie, Boulder, Longmont, Ft. Collins / Loveland, Platte Valley, Greeley... and if you're down south, Meadow Lake and COS in Colorado Springs.

I'm not really sure were to look around the Denver area. any suggestions?


User currently offlineFlyf15 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 7, posted (8 years 3 months 3 weeks 3 days 10 hours ago) and read 6752 times:

Quoting AAden (Reply 6):
I'm not really sure were to look around the Denver area. any suggestions?

Which part of Denver do you live in?


User currently offlineAAden From United States of America, joined Jan 2006, 835 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (8 years 3 months 3 weeks 3 days 7 hours ago) and read 6718 times:

golden colorado south of jeffco.

User currently offlineCaboclo From United States of America, joined Nov 2004, 203 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (8 years 3 months 3 weeks 2 days 19 hours ago) and read 6667 times:

The ideal flight training combination is an old, retired professional pilot, and an old, ragwing taildragger. My pet peeve with the industry is that instructing is typically a pilot's first job, when he barely knows more than you do. Find some old guy who's actually done it in real life, and also has a bunch of time as instructor, and you'll learn a lot more than from you will from a kid who just got his ticket yesterday. Also, the old taildraggers are more difficult to fly than the (relatively) modern airplanes; if you can fly that, you can fly anything. That's based on my personal experience; I did all my initial training in Cherokees, which are very stable, and have all the bad habits engineered out of them. Therefore, I was always afraid of stalls, all the way through my commercial rating. It wasn't till I did spin training in an old Citabria that I was able to see and understand adverse yaw, and learned to use the rudder, and finally started learning to fly.


Freight dogs have more fun
User currently offlineB6JFKH81 From United States of America, joined Mar 2006, 2897 posts, RR: 7
Reply 10, posted (8 years 3 months 3 weeks 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 6629 times:

As a former dispatcher and MX planner for a flight school, I can give you the following advice:
-Ensure the school has all licenses and certificates
-Get a real good idea of the instructors. You should feel comfortable with your instructor
-Cheaper isn't always better
-What flight conditions will you be getting? If you are looking to work your way up the latter in the aviation industry, make sure that you are not always flying where it is sunny and 72 degrees every day or fly to airports where your biggest runway incursion problem is tumble weed. Make sure that training happens in both non-congested training areas (learning the basics) but that you also get into and out of airspace that is busier (encountering other and diversified traffic) and you work the radio better.
-HAVE FUN!!!!!



"If you do not learn from history, you are doomed to repeat it"
User currently offlineAAden From United States of America, joined Jan 2006, 835 posts, RR: 0
Reply 11, posted (8 years 3 months 3 weeks 2 days 10 hours ago) and read 6613 times:

Quoting Francoflier (Reply 4):
think it is important to underline what VirginFlyer said earlier about talking to students, present or fromer. They usually have the best opinion and advice.

don't they just pay those guys to give a good report?


User currently offlineVirginFlyer From New Zealand, joined Sep 2000, 4575 posts, RR: 41
Reply 12, posted (8 years 3 months 3 weeks 2 days 5 hours ago) and read 6580 times:

Quoting AAden (Reply 11):
don't they just pay those guys to give a good report?

Not at all. If they are employed by the company, then yes, be aware that they may be trying to sell you something. Otherwise, there is no reason why you wouldn't get a worthwhile opinion from present or past students, especially if you compare what different people are saying about different places.

V/F



"So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth." - Bahá'u'lláh
User currently offlineCrjflyer35 From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 668 posts, RR: 2
Reply 13, posted (8 years 3 months 3 weeks 1 day 22 hours ago) and read 6550 times:

Great thread, I too am looking at schools, somewhere in the Phoenix area. Of course, the only drawback being the lack of IFR weather in AZ. (Excluding monsoon season)


Ok, wait for the RJ to pass, cleared to push tail south Mike, and you're cleared to spin #2 in the push.
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