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How to Choose the Best Flight School for YOU!

The Best Steps For Choosing Your Flight School For those of us who have been down the path of learning to fly, one of the hardest decisions to make regarding your flight training, is choosing a flight school that fits your training needs, personality, time limitations and financial budget.

Here's what you need to know...…..

1) Decide On Your Pilot Goals

Before you do anything else, you need to ask yourself what your long-term goals in aviation are?

Each flight school will be aiming to attract a specific type of demographic, some more profession-oriented than others. If you're looking to become an airline pilot for instance, you would look to a flight school that can provide you with connections and experience in the professional aviation sector, if you are more interested in flying as a hobby, then look for schools that provide expertise in that area.

2) Determine How Much You Can Afford To Spend

Like anything in life, you need to set yourself a realistic budget based on how much you can afford to spend on your flight training, not just in money but in time as well! The costs can vary significantly and many things can influence this, like: school location, number of students, aircraft types, number of aircraft available for training, maintenance costs (do they have their own certified maintenance in house), the number of instructors for availability, etc etc.

Some schools have financial assistance and loan programs on offer, but there are often many hidden costs involved so be vary careful if you are considering this type of financing. Often it is much better and more cost effective to work your finances with your own banking institution.

3) How Much Will it Cost and How long Will it Take?

Some flight schools have a company set syllabus and requirements for ground school, others have flexible syllabus training programs. All schools must meet the CASA minimum manual of standards for their training programs, any additional over and above the CASA minimum depends on the school and how they run their training programs.

As a rule of thumb, the quoted minimum number of hours required to gain a pilots licence will always be based on training full time, if you plan to train part time then you should expect that you will need additional flights and training to meet the standard expected by CASA.

If becoming a pilot is something you really want to do, you'll need to make flight training a priority. Delaying flight training due to extenuating circumstances is an excellent way to greatly increase your costs. If you don't fly on a somewhat regular basis, especially at the beginning, you'll never gain adequate muscle memory and have to re-fly regular lessons, hitting your back pocket a little harder.

4) Does Aircraft Type Matter?

It doesn't matter to everyone, but there are some reasons you might want to consider what kind of aircraft you'll be training in.

Older round-dial aircraft are often less expensive to fly than their more modern glass-cockpit counterparts, and many believe that learning to fly in the older dial aircraft gives you better navigational skills than learning to fly in a glass cockpit where everything is automated for you.

Some pilots prefer instrument training in glass cockpit aircraft for increased situational awareness, but again, this is a personal preference. Furthermore, if you want to fly professionally, it's a good idea to have experience with glass cockpits and GPS systems at some point during your training.

Remember that the aircraft age doesn't always correlate with safety... Just because an aircraft looks 'new and shiny' and has all the avionic bells and whistles, doesn't mean that it has been better maintained than its more senior counterparts. You will need to do a little digging to find out more about the maintenance department and records of individual schools.

5) Find A Good Location - It Doesn't Always Have To Be Nearby

Location!! Location!! Location!!!

This is very important as it often determines price ranges for training.

Like anything in major cities, flight training is usually more expensive than outside the city areas, so regional areas are often much more affordable to learn to fly as the schools carry less overheads.

Also don't forget to consider the airspace that you will be flying in, as an example, in a busy airport like Bankstown, you will have more time spent waiting for clearances and navigating the controlled airspace than you would in a regional area with no controlled airspace.

Spending more time and money navigating controlled airspace and clearances than actually training isn't a good way to keep training affordable.

Determine a limit for how far away you'd like the school to be.

There could be fantastic schools, university programs, and training academies that might be farther away. It doesn't have to be nearby, especially if you're flexible enough to move temporarily while training!

6) Do Your Research By Reading Reviews And Talking To Other Pilots

One of the best ways to analyze the quality of a training program is by talking to people who have been through the school, ask around and speak to other pilots. Most airports will have aeroclubs or local businesses, why not introduce yourself and have a chat with local people. Remember most feedback is never perfect, but that's ok. There's no such thing as a perfect flight school!

7) Tour The School And Go On A Discovery Flight

You've narrowed the list down and it's time for your first visit. Call the school and schedule a trial introductory flight (TIF) with an instructor.

Keep your eyes and ears open during your visit to get a good feel for the environment, staff, safety policies, and satisfaction of other students. Be sure to find out what in-house examinations can be undertaken and what theory courses or options are available too you, as these are often additional to the actual flight training in many cases.

8) Set Goals From The Very First Lesson

Put yourself and your instructor on a timeline. Create a great training plan to ensure you stay on track! Having goals and deadlines will help to keep you focused on your endeavours. Not setting goals poses serious risks to your success. Knowing the end goal will keep you motivated, so all that time and expense is well worth it!

9) Remember if your not happy Change!

You start your flight training and things just don't meet your expectations, perhaps the aircraft are never available or worse, double booked, the instructors are uncontactable, the pricing was not what was quoted (it is often underquoted and unrealistic) Basically your Just Not Happy.... well change schools! It is easy to do, remember YOU are the paying customer. Too many times paying students are treated poorly when it comes to customer service, this is never acceptable in any other industry, so do not put up with it. You are paying good money to learn to fly, and as any other customer or consumer, you are entitled to the best value for your dollar.

10) Start Training!

That's it. You finally found the school that works for you. Start training and keep working hard. Show up to lessons prepared and help to make your training as affordable as possible, but most of all have fun and enjoy the experience! HAPPY FLYING!

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