Tori B. Mensching
There are over two thousand flight schools across the United States. Though they all operate with FAA oversight, not all flight schools are created equal. The best flight schools share these five traits. In one visit, you can discover enough about a flight school to decide if this is the best flight school for you. Be on the look out for these items to ensure a good training experience for your investment.
Just like any other business establishment, good customer service is the number one tell-tale sign that you’ll enjoy your experience there. If you walk into a flight school, someone should greet you and offer to give you a tour or at least ask how they can help. If this doesn’t happen on your first visit, and you choose this establishment to provide flight training for you, one day you may need help with something more than an introductory tour and find no one willing to help. Imagine having a billing issue resolved with this flight school or trying to manage scheduling lessons with a school that doesn’t prioritize customer service. That’s a recipe for a frustrating flight training experience. Stick with the school who has staff ready to greet you with a helpful attitude and treat you as the high-end customer that you are.
The next item you can see immediately upon entering the property is the state of repair of the facility and aircraft. The aircraft may be older than you expect, but are they maintained well? Is there an up to date board, which shows the status of each aircraft’s airworthiness and maintenance schedule? Consider how challenging it may be to schedule a lesson if no one is immediately aware of the status each aircraft is expected to be in and when. Do the aircraft show considerable wear? Are the seat fabrics torn or the paint badly chipped and flaking? If the school is unwilling to maintain the external parts of the aircraft, consider how that reflects on their willingness to maintain the engine and avionics. Are they the best flight school for you? Choose a school that is proactive in maintaining facilities and their aircraft fleet, not playing catch-up or constantly canceling lessons due to aircraft maintenance issues.
You’ll be spending most of your time with a flight instructor during your flight training. Does the flight school have multiple instructors or just one or two? Are the instructors well groomed? You’ll be sitting next to your instructor for hours at a time, so hygiene is important. Are the instructors only there with students? Maybe you see some instructors on site preparing for a lesson. It’s a good sign when instructors are engaged at the level that they are prepared for a student instead of arriving at the flight school alongside their student and winging a lesson with no material prepared in advance. Are the instructors using visual aids or is the briefing area bare and uninteresting? Mostly, you’ll want to look for instructors with a positive attitude. Flying is challenging, but it is also exciting and fun. You’ll want the person training you to be positive and encouraging during your lessons.
Are the examiners and managers available and approachable in the school? Does the manager meet with you during the tour? Does the examiner socialize with the flight school staff on a regular basis? When the manager and examiner are accessible to you as a visitor, you can be sure that they are accessible to the instructors and students as needed throughout training. This is essential in quickly resolving any issues that arise during training. Additionally, meeting and knowing your examiner before your practical test can greatly reduce anxiety and questions surrounding the big day.
The most important quality a flight school should have is a transparent financial process for you to pay for training. This could be an account that you make deposits into or a simple per flight billing method. You’ll be paying for instructor time, aircraft time, and fuel at the least. These items should be clearly detailed in your payment program. If the school requests the entire course cost up front, be sure to check their record with the Better Business Bureau before entrusting the flight school with your hard earned cash.
One simple visit can show you all these characteristics of a school. If you know the right things to look for and the appropriate questions to ask, you’ll walk away knowing that this is the best flight school and the right choice for you.