After deciding that you are interested in attending flight school for your pilot’s license, one of the most important things you will do is determine which program you want to attend and tour the flight school. As you take your tour, here are some important questions to ask.
1: What is your instructor-to-student ratio?
There isn’t a specific requirement that schools must adhere to when it comes to ratios, but the more students a flight instructor is working with, the less time he or she can spend with each student. Getting enough one-on-one time with an instructor is critical to learning how to fly, so you should stick with programs that have no more than a 1:5 instructor-to-student ratio for full-time students, and no more than a 1:10 ratio for part-time students.
2: What progressive evaluations occur, and how often?
Your flight school should provide frequent evaluations to test your progressive knowledge and skills as a pilot. Talk to the school about what evaluations they conduct, and when they occur. Some of the most important benchmarks include:
- First flight
- First crosswind landing
- Training flight with friends or family
- Obtaining a student pilot certificate
- First solo flight
- Mountain flying
- Night flying
- Landing on a new or different runway
- Landing at a Class C airport
- Flying in Class B airspace
- FAA test
- Solo cross-country flight
3: What is your flying lesson schedule?
One of the most important parts of flight school is the ability to get up in the air for hands-on instruction and practice. Being able to easily schedule flying lessons is critical to get through school at the pace that makes the most sense for you. This is especially important if you’re in a part-time program and need to coordinate flying lessons around other things, like a job.
4: How often do you perform maintenance checks on the aircraft, and who does it?
Take a quick visual tour of the aircraft to see if they look well-maintained and ask specifically about the maintenance schedule. The school may have someone who does maintenance in-house or may use a local provider for it (both are fine as long as it’s done well) and should be able to answer all your questions easily and without hesitation.
5: Who keeps your student records?
Proper record-keeping is critical because it’s your proof that you completed specific training requirements. Sloppy records could force you to retake trainings you already passed, which is a hassle and drags out the length of your training.
6: Can I talk to some of your students?
Perhaps the best way to get a sense of a school during the tour is to chat with some of the current students. Try to do it without instructors or program officials present to get an unscripted view of what they like and don’t like about the flight school.
7: Can I take an introductory flight?
An introductory flight is a good way for someone interested in becoming a pilot to truly get to know the level of professionalism of a school. Not only will you be able to ask questions about how a school’s aircraft is maintained, but you will also have an opportunity to work one on ones with an instructor to get your questions answered. This inexpensive investment in your career will provide you the time and opportunity to evaluate the school’s aircraft, staff, the school’s instructors, and the programs they offer.