You've decided to take the
plunge, now what? Some flight schools advertise in the yellow pages,
there are many freelance instructors and airplanes for rent that don't. This is where the internet can come in real
handy. Below are some sites that can get you started as well as get
you a discount on your first flying lesson.
Be A Pilot - has a
list of flight schools and has a discount coupon you can use on your first
AOPA (Airline Owner's and Pilots
Association) has a Flight Instructor Search
AOPA Flight School Search
FAA pilot school search
- Part 141 only
NAFI (National Association of
Flight Instructors) Flight Instructor Locator
Another thing you can do is call your
local Fixed Base Operator or FBO. They are the companies on the field that
offer gas, and other amenities to people that fly into the airport. They may
also offer flight instruction, and if they don't they
should be able to point you to some people on the field who do. Try
FBOweb to find an FBO
in your area.
Then you might want to stop by the airport and ask
around. You'll find that aviation is a small community and people
are happy to help you out and answer any questions you might have.
Do Your Research
Now that you have a list of names and
phone numbers, what questions should you ask?
If you're talking to a flight
instructor make sure you ask him/her what ratings they have. All CFI's
(Certified Flight Instructors) can teach new students in a single engine
airplane, which is the type of plane most instruction is given in. If
they have more than a CFI, like a CFII (CFI Instrument Instructor), they
will be able to teach you if you decide to get your Instrument rating after
you earn your Private Pilot certificate. Ask him/her what they charge per
hour of instruction. Ask him/her what airplanes they teach in, and the
If you are calling a flight
school, ask them if they have a Private Pilot course with a fixed price.
You can also see if they will rent their airplanes in block time for a
discount (you can ask the CFI that also). You'll want to know if they
have several flight instructors, and if so, can you change flight
instructors whenever you want, or will you be assigned just one? Ask
if they operate under Part 141 or Part 61. Do they offer financing or
any help obtaining financing?
Some things to watch out for:
If a flight school or CFI tells you that you can (or will) obtain your
license in 35 or 40 hours, begin to listen very carefully. This is
probably the single easiest way to find out if you are talking with a BS
artist. If they tell you the truth, by saying that is the minimum
flight time and it will depend on your skills and learning ability as to
whether you will finish in that length of time, then you are probably OK.
However, if they tell you that 'sure you can finish in 35-40 hours', or that
'most people' obtain their license with that few hours, or even worse,
that you will definitely finish in the 'minimums', then run, don't walk away.