With a big selection of flight schools available country wide, how does an aspiring pilot choose a flight school? There are several factors that one has to consider: Are you going to take Part 61 or Part 141 training? How many instructors are available at the flight school? What type of aircraft does the flight school have? These and many other questions have to be answered before one enrolls for flight lessons.
A big part of the choice is determined by cost. How much do you have available for the training? How many flight schools do you have in your area? Do you have money for accommodation if the flight schools are not located close to you? Remember that you want the most for your money.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has two types of flight training regulations: Part 61 and Part 141. Both have set out minimum regulations in the Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR) that the student pilot must complete before getting tested and issued with a pilot license. Part 61 offers a more relaxed and informal type of training that is ideal for part time students, while Part 141 is more structured and in tune for those pursuing an aviation career.
Choosing between Part 61 and Part 141 can be a bit tricky, but choosing a good flight instructor can be even trickier. How do you avoid being stuck with a non-compatible instructor? Most flight schools arrange for an intro flight at a subsidized rate before one enrolls. Meet up with several instructors before the intro flight to check their level of experience. This will be your chance to interview and see if the instructor is a good fit. Also talk to students who are currently taking lessons at the school. This will give you a feel for the type of training environment.
Check to see what type of aircraft that they have? Some are cheaper per hour but the cockpit might be a tad bit small for “bigger bodied” students. Most schools use Cessna and Piper single engine aircraft for initial training. You can request to see the training calendar to see aircraft availability and to also check if it fits with your schedule.
Repeat this for several different flight schools. I would recommend a minimum of three schools. Once you complete this process, choose the best fit for you. Remember to factor in accommodation, transport, and meals. Make sure that the training pace is adjacent to your pocket. The faster you complete the training the cheaper it will be for you.