Best Schools for Flying Lessons
If you are thinking about learning to fly, keep in mind that flight schools, as most businesses these days, want your business.Many flight schools recommended for purposes of this article have recently closed their doors. What do you look for when seeking out a flight school? What should it cost?
Here are recommendations gleaned from several pilots and flight schools:
1.The true cost of flight training should be based upon your needs. "When you enter our offices and tell us you want to learn to fly, we are going to ask 'Why?'," says Zeke Valtz, owner of Horizon Aviation Inc. in Boston, Massachusetts and Warwick, Rhode Island. "Are you seeking a career with the airline industry? Do you want to fly your own plane, or for business? We will tailor our flight training to your needs.. You will be trained by instructors who are fully engaged in your success. Consider that many flight instructors are in the air with you to build their flight time. We are here for our student, and our FAA check ride pass rate is one of the highest in the industry: 90% pass rate!" The FAA check ride is considered one of the most important factors in the development of high quality U.S. pilots.
2. How often you plan to take flight lessons will factor into the costs of lessons. "It all starts with the private pilot's license. Do you want to have your license in a year? Take a lesson each week. If you want the license in six months, bump it up to two classes per week. If you are really eager, take three lessons and week and your target date will be four months from now," says Gail Erwin, a private pilot in California. Usually, the more often you take classes, the lower the costs of flight training. You may spend $6,000 taking lessons over a year and $5,000 if you take the same lessons over six months.
3. The kind of aircraft you use during training may also influence how much you pay. If your training occurs in a two-seat aircraft vs. a 6-seat twin engine craft, your costs will be lower. Where you take training may also affect how much you pay. For example, a flight school in Puerto Rico quoted a cost of $3,000 to obtain the Private Pilot's License. This is a certificate, not an actual license. In speaking with other flight schools along the eastern seaboard, most costs average somewhere north of $4,000. It may be worth paying more for higher quality instructors and equipment than seeking out the lowest bidder for your business. Some schools, e.g. Flight World, Inc. in San Juan, PR say costs run anywhere from $4,000-$10,000 to obtain your license.
There are many different factors to consider when signing up for flight lessons. If your instructor is training you on older aircraft vs. new, your costs may be lower. Erwin remarks "So many of the new pilots I talk to have purchased flight training from someone else, and they're not well-prepared or they're unhappy with the results. Get the right instructor for you. If you live in a city, flight lessons are going to cost more. If you are in a more rural area, since it may take less time to get up in the air, your lessons will provide you with more actual time in the air."
Vaitz says "There are more than 18 different ways we can structure flight lessons. As a flight school that has doubled in size during the last few years, within a stringent security environment, we are doing something right--we are focused completely on your needs."
This perspective, according to Richmond Flight Center (a recommended flight school that recently went out of business) is why schools like Horizon Aviation are successful. "We consistently improve instructions and our syllabus materials. We are constantly pushing to improve. If you have special issues, e.g. color-blindness, we go the extra mile to make sure you get the right training the first time."
For new students in Florida, Air Orlando www.flyairorlando.com iis recommended by several people interviewed as "highly professional" and "getting the job done while focusing on students' needs." Flight World, Inc. in San Juan, PR, similarly received great reviews from Caribbean pilots.