Thank you for choosing to use the GG-Pilot Flight School Guide. This document is meant to assist you in searching for flight schools and selecting the one that is best for you.
Please be aware that the information provided is meant as a guide and is only one of many sources of reference. Also, the information is geared towards the civilian aviation community and therefore does not cover military flying.
The Internet provides unlimited searching opportunities. Now you can find ample information on just about any topic within seconds and have it at your disposal instantly. With this vast range of sources you are almost guaranteed to obtain just what you want. All you need is some frame from which to conduct your search to ensure that you find what you are looking for.
The same strategy that you may apply to searching for something in a store or shopping online can be applied to finding necessary information for your flying career. If you know what you are looking for your job is nearly complete, the hard part is determining what you need.
When you start a search begin by writing down what you know and what you need. One of these steps is already done for you- you want to fly. Now go a step further. Where do you want to fly? Are you in the United States? Do you want to come to the United States to fly? Be more specific in location- which state or county or city do you plan to conduct your training in? Next: what do you want to fly? Helicopters? Airplanes? Do you wish to fly commercially or privately? Now your search is becoming more specific. By considering the above you have narrowed down the criteria for searching quite a bit and are on your way to finding what you need. Lets have a little summary of what you have:
You might ask 'is that all?' Essentially yes. But to really get the schooling you need, we have to focus on specifics that you should be aware of.
After you have a list of schools that fit the first list of qualifications you can narrow them down according to the following things:
Does this school have proper accreditation? Check to make sure they offer the certification that you need. What sort of financial aid is available for you? Confirm that the school follows a syllabus approved by the FAA. This will ensure that your instruction is structured, and you will have an overview of what you can expect. Another factor that will make your training more convenient is if the school has an FAA examiner on staff, that way you can be tested in the location you are familiar with.
It may seem to be a point that should not need discussion, but some schools maintain their aircraft better than others. See if the school lists the aircraft you want to train in on their website or if you can contact them directly to find out more about the aircraft being used. Sometimes an old aircraft can be in better shape than a new one, depending on how it is maintained.
Location and Activity
We have already established that the general location is a key factor when you choose a school. Now be more specific. Is there varied terrain? Can you get high altitude mountain training? Will you have plenty of days that will allow you to fly, meaning that visibility is good and wind is not an obstacle? Also will you get experience with different weather conditions? Keep weather in mind when choosing a training location. Flying in only one condition of weather can get boring, however it should be stable enough for you to become confident in your abilities. The same thing goes for terrain, flying is more enjoyable in an area that has variety: mountains, lakes or ocean, valleys and hills. From my experience, Los Angeles offers just that. I can fly to the ocean in the morning, then pass over the LA basin, and reach Mount Baldy all in one day if I wish.
Variation in air traffic and airspace is another consideration. At the beginning you may wish to fly in an area that is not so busy, however you can only learn so much from that. Your communication skills will suffer if you do not have the ability to make contact with other aircraft or air traffic control. A book or classroom environment can only teach you so much, the rest is learned in practice.
It is always good to learn from people that once were in your position. Schools should have some sort of feedback listed on their website or reference any pilots that received training with them and are now successful on their own. Check to see if any instructors got their schooling from the school at which they are now teaching. This can be a good indicator that the place is student friendly and a good working environment. After all, why would they choose to stay there if it wasn't good?
This can be the final step to choosing a school. Contact them with your questions and examine the response you get. Is the correspondence quick and clear? If you call or visit in person are the people friendly and helpful? How do the facilities look? You will be in the school surroundings for a while so you want to make sure it is comfortable as a learning environment. Also see if you can meet some of the instructors or the head of the school. Do they seem determined and committed to helping students learn? All these things are key to your own success as a student and later as a pilot. Who knows, if you like the school you go to for your training you may also get a job there or get contacts that can help you in the future.
Searching for a flight school is just like searching for anything else. You start with a broad category and step by step narrow it down to your own needs. With the most important criteria that we have discussed you will be on your way to finding a top flight school in no time. Start with a Google search or use a different search engine you are comfortable with. Then slowly shape the search to fit your goals. When you have a list of qualifying schools examine each in more depth. Contact them. Check the school out personally and meet the people that make the school function. Show your own passion and drive for flying and you may discover something at the school that the Internet or books did not cover. Above all be selective. This school will be the foundation for your future so make it a good one! Do not let the price be a factor that turns you away, you can ask for financial aid or work out a plan to finance the schooling. The quality of education is important and maybe a cheaper school offers more than an expensive one. Keep your eyes open to all aspects.
Good luck on your search!
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