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Visiting flight schools

RM7599

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Mar 11, 2002
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Hey all! I'm going to be visiting a few flight schools in the upcoming months and I was wondering if I could get some insight on questions that I might ask. I'm trying to figure out where to do my flight training at.......man, it's no easy task. At least I have my four year degree out of the way!!! Thanks for all the advice!
 

bobbysamd

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Flight School FAQs

I'm surprised that more people don't ask which questions to ask when choosing a school. I've a few suggestions.

1. Price, obviously. More expensive isn't always better. You'll get a price quote based on minimum hours, but virtually no one goes through in minimum times. See if you can get them to be honest with you about typical times people need. Some people suggest computing cost per flight hour. In that regard, don't forget that sim hours are cheaper than flight hours, and that can bring the cost per hour down. Ask about student loans.

2. Ask if the school is a Part 61 school or a Part 141 school. Part 141 schools are approved by the FAA. Part 141 schools must meet certain standards for facilities, personnel and equipment. Some people feel that it makes no difference at which type of school you train. Others feel that 141 is better because the training is more standardized and organized. Run a search on the board for discussion(s) on flight schools.

3. Take a look at the airplanes and the facilities. New doesn't necessarily mean better, but cleanliness and a professional appearance is important. It is important that a school have enough airplanes so that you don't miss an activity because of student overload or maintenance.

4. Ask about housing. Some schools include it in the price. Others don't.

5. Ask for references. People choose schools to help them meet certain professional goals. The best way to determine if a school will help you meet that goal is by speaking with someone who attended the school. Find out if the person left the place happy and attained his/her goal. Talk to instructors and other students. Sometimes, you can determine whether you'll be happy at a school from the rank-and-file's attitudes.

6. Ignore most of what the school's "career counselors" are telling you. Most are just glorified salespeople. Take what they say with a grain of salt.

7. Find out the course length. Some schools get you in and get you out with all of your ratings in 90 days. True, such drinking-from-firehose-style learning is what you'll see in the airlines. On the other hand, airline training is a variation of flying, which you will know already. Learning to fly is learning a new and different skill and a whole new body of knowledge. You might do better at a school that is less intensive while learning to fly.

8. Consider the school's location. Sometimes, people are better off in the boonies, where all they have to think about is school. Depending on where you go to school, you will have your hands full studying for ground school, attending class, preparing for your flight activities, and flying.

9. Last but not least on my list, ask about employment opportunities after graduation. Specifically, ask if you can get a job at the school as an instructor after you complete the course. This is of utmost importance.

Hope these ideas help. Good luck with your choice of schools.
 

kintz

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Jan 28, 2002
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Re: Flight School FAQs

bobbysamd said:
You'll get a price quote based on minimum hours, but virtually no one goes through in minimum times. See if you can get them to be honest with you about typical times people need.

Not all schools quote minimum costs. The estimated costs given to our students are mean cumulative invoice out charges. If you want a minimum cost estimate, you'd have to ask for it specifically.
 

naviator

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Dec 4, 2001
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I agree.....

Good advices from the previous post.

I don't know where you are "flightschool-hunting" but use that checklist and call Ari-Ben Aviator in Fort Pierce Florida. (www.aribenaviator.com)

I attended their pro-course in July 2000 and I have now instructed there for about a year. The program is based on twin-time. You'll realize that twin-time is getting more and more important.

My total time now is 1150, with 860 multi. You can definitely not get that amount of multi-time anywhere else (at least not for 25 000 dollars).

PM me if you need more info.

Good luck!
 

avbug

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Definately don't tell them you're an ag pilot looking for some large airplane time, and ask about their simulator...I did that a few months ago at a well known flight school, and they had no sense of humor about it.

I was serious at the time, and was providing some instruction to several other ag pilots who were preparing to test for a government assignment that required instrument proficiency. It didn't help; no sense of humor whatsoever.

I did get to provide the instruction, and did rent their sim, but got strange, suspicious looks all the time I was there.
 

172driver

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Apr 4, 2002
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1. Ask about average time and $$ to finish the course, not quoted.

2. New airplanes mean nothing. Well maintained airplanes mean everything. New ones break just as much as old ones, IMHO. On site maintenance is a must.

3. Airplanes that break mean nothing as long as the school has a good ratio of airplanes to students. Do they? How often do people have to cancel blocks because of a/c availability?

4. Are students being hired as CFI's when they finish? Are CFI's being hired by anyone when they finish? This is pretty cyclical but if schools have laid off a bunch of CFI's, they may hire them back before you as a graduate.

5. Most importantly, ask these questions NOT of the admissions rep/used car salesman but of the students and CFI's. See if you can either pull some of them aside when the tour is over or if the admissions people will introduce you. Beware also that their opinions will vary greatly depending on how they, personally, are doing. Lots of people with a chip on their shoulder because they're either lazy or not too sharp. Don't believe much of the admissions jargon...they are paid to blow smoke.

6. Do you need to borrow $$ to finance your training? If so, you'll probably have to go 141. Are the loan payments due upon graduation as a student? If so, good luck paying them on a CFI income.

7. How many hrs are CFI's getting on average? Pay?

8. Housing prices in the area? Stay away from housing contracts provided by the school...they're usually convenient but pricey.

9. Do people around the school look happy?



If you're checking out Florida schools, feel free to private message me. I'll tell you what I've learned about schools in this area. Confusing time, I know, and people have lots of different motivations to steer you with. It's a big $$$ industry and with $$$ comes Bull$...
 
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