There are a lot of flight schools to choose from, whether you are hoping to turn your aviation training into a career, or you simply want to learn to fly your own aircraft. One of the most important decisions you will make is which training program is right for you. Choosing the right program includes examining several different factors.
1: Flight School Size
Flight schools can take many different forms, from small programs at a local airport to larger aviation training organizations (ATO) that prepare pilots for commercial airline careers, and many that fall somewhere in between. There is no right or wrong size, but the type you choose may depend on what you plan to do with your training. For those who are interested in a career as a pilot, finding a school that has the right equipment and instructors to prepare you for flying larger commercial jets is important. If your goal is to be a recreational pilot, you might look for a school that has modern aircraft with a quality maintenance program to support your needs.
Another factor to consider is the flight school’s location. Most small regional airports have some type of flight training available, and some have multiple programs. These programs are ideal for someone interested in learning to fly light aircraft for recreation or as a personal hobby, because you can complete a program that is near where you live slowly over time. Those looking for a career as a pilot may need to consider a more robust program, which could require moving somewhere that offers it.
You can also look for a local program that has a larger partner network, for example, FLT Academy in Woods Cross, Utah partners with SkyWest to train future pilots without the need to move out of state.
3: Certificates and Trainings Offered
The type of training you need will also factor into the ATO you select. Those who wish to fly for personal reasons can get a certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration from a local flight training program. If you are interested in flying regionally in larger aircraft, you will need additional training and certifications beyond your private pilot license. Those who would like to fly commercial or cargo jets will need appropriate training for those aircraft. If possible, try to connect with pilots who are in a job you would like to have in the future. Ask them about their own experiences and training to gain insight into the path that will work best to achieve your goals.
4: Learning Environment
Flight schools range from basic programs to robust programs, and the type of school that works best will be different for everyone. Some may prefer an environment with a lot of instructors and classmates. Others may want a program with only a few students and instructors that offers more one-on-one opportunities to learn.
Before you make your final decision, take some time to visit the local flight schools, interview the Chief Flight Instructor, take a look at the aircraft and other equipment (such as flight simulators) they have available, and look at the level of support they have for their students. If you’re considering flight school in Utah, come check out FLT Academy and learn more about how we are preparing future pilots for careers in aviation.