5 Things to Consider in a Flight School

5 Things to Consider in a Flight School

Making the decision to pursue a pilot's license is a big deal. It's life-changing! It may be the best thing you ever do. That being said, there's some factors to consider when selecting a flight school. It needs to be the right fit, just like with anything. When doing your own research, it can be overwhelming with all of the information that's out there, a lot of it is confusing. Some people go into it with aviation in their family, so they already have a good idea of what to do & what to look for.

This blog post is for those who are doing it completely on their own with no prior knowledge.

Types of Flight Schools

One very important thing to understand is that there are different flight schools that operate under different regulations.

They are what we call Part 61 and Part 141.

Part 61

Operating under Part 61, flight schools have more flexibility to customize the training syllabus to the student's availability & capability. It tends to be more relaxed & ideal for those who cannot train full-time & have separate jobs. There's more room for variation & Part 61 schools can typically accommodate someone who can only fly 3-4x a week. Financially, pilots usually pay out-of-pocket or through scholarships.

Part 141

Part 141 is typically associated with a larger, more structured flight school, typically an academy of sorts. Part 141 is a more regimented syllabus & requires full-time attention. These schools are subject to FAA inspections to maintain their Part 141 status. You can find Part 141 universities such as the University of North Dakota or Embry-Riddle. Part 141 is ideal for career-oriented pilots who can dedicate every day to flying. Typically, the finances are covered through loans.

The Five Things

Now that you know more about the type of programs that are available, let's dive into what you should be looking for.

1. A Healthy Fleet

You want a flight school that has its own maintenance shop on board, or at least one they have a solid relationship with on the airport. Aircraft mechanics should be just a shout away to ensure that the planes are healthy & safe to fly. Trainer planes take a beating, so it's important that you, as the student, will easily have access to a mechanic who can take a look at that low nose strut.

2. A Plentiful Fleet

The more options the better. The last thing you need is for your training to be interrupted by unavailable planes. If the flight school you're looking at has two planes, odds are, you'll be fighting tooth & nail for a spot on the schedule. Not only that, but the planes have to come down at some point for maintenance. That means even less options for you as the student. Do yourself a favor & find a flight school with a fleet of at least 3-5 planes.

3. A Team of CFIs

Not only can a lack of planes be a downer, so can a lack of flight instructors! If a flight school is lacking CFIs, this is a red flag. Not only is there less availability for you to get on the schedule, there could be an internal issue that drives flight instructors away from the school. If a CFI doesn't want to work there, you probable don't want to fly there. On top of that, if you only have one option for a flight instructor, who's to say you two will even work well together? Finding a flight instructor is like dating: sometimes two people don't mesh, & that's okay! You want options.

4. A Variety of Planes

Remember how I said you should have a plentiful fleet? Well, you also want a fleet with variety. If you're planning on obtaining different certificates, it'd help to stay with one flight school for the entirety of your training. You'll want to ensure that the flight school has a plane with legacy instruments, a plane with a glass panel, complex planes, multi-engine planes, etc. This way, you've got a one-stop shop.

5. Culture

 One of the coolest things about aviation is the community. You meet people with the best stories & craziest experiences. Your flight school should be a place where networking comes naturally & the opportunities to build professional relationships are plenty. I'm not saying they have to have a team BBQ every weekend (though that would certainly help), but there should be a sense of camaraderie. Pilots should want to help other pilots! 


I wish you the best of luck on your search for the right flight school. Even if you end up flying with one, you can always end up switching if it ends up not meeting your expectations. Find what & who can help you achieve your goals!

Happy flying!


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