Dr. Mary Ann O’Grady
When considering enrollment in a flight training facility that offers “accelerated flight training” courses that allow you to earn your private pilot’s license or other ratings, such as instrument, commercial or CFI/CFII (flight instructor) within a reduced timeframe [seemingly] in an attempt to save you time and money, reflect upon these questions:
How do accelerated flight training programs compare and contrast with regular flight training programs?
How does the quality of the education compare/contrast between accelerated flight training schools and regular flight training schools?
Do you have what it takes to attend accelerated flight training schools and successfully complete an accelerated flight training program to get your “ticket”?
The definition of accelerated flight training in comparison to regular flight training suggests that a flight student will be able to complete any one of the pilot training programs within a reduced time frame while still adhering to the number of hours required by the FAA at every one of their FAA certified flight schools. For example, the private pilot license requires a minimum of 40 hours according to parts 61 and 91 of the FARs. This includes 20 hours of “dual” flying with an instructor, 10 hours of “solo” flight time when you will be practicing preflight procedures, airport operations, takeoffs and landings, navigation, flight at various airspeeds, stalls, night operation, and emergency operations. You will also need three hours dual cross-country flying with a destination in excess of 50 miles from their origin, three hours of dual night flying, and three hours of dual flying by instruments only. Your solo flight time includes a minimum of five hours on cross-country flights during which one trip must cover a minimum of 150 miles with landings at three airports.
The aeronautical knowledge required by the FAA in the FARs in addition to the time spent developing your flying skills in the air, includes aerodynamics, aircraft systems, aeronautical decision-making, weather reports and forecasts, planning for the unexpected, aircraft performance, and various methods of navigation that is often dictated by what avionics are available in the flight school’s aircraft as well as what nav aids are located on the airports where you are flying. My suggestion is to take advantage of everything that is available to you rather than developing a penchant for a particular nav aid that may or may not be available to you in the case of an emergency or due to other unforeseen circumstances.
In addition to the ground (classroom) and flight (in the air) training, it is necessary for you to demonstrate your mastery of both the theoretical and practical application of the material by taking and passing a written, oral, and practical flight test with an FAA examiner. Although you must pass the written test by taking advantage of any number of study guides that are available, I caution you that passing the written test alone will not make you a safe and competent pilot. Your flight instructor will guide you in what areas to study as well as where you will find the most up-to-date information which is the ideal way to spend those times when you have IFR conditions and you are working towards becoming a VFR pilot. As one honest flight instructor succinctly told his advanced aviation students: “Yes, I can teach the ATP ground school for taking the written ATP exam in three days, but you will never retain the information.”
If you are considering enrolling in accelerated flight training schools with an accelerated program, be sure to reflect upon whether that program will provide the same quality of instruction that a regular or non-accelerated flight training program does. It is wise to consider the level of flight training or rating that you wish to pursue at this point because they require varying levels of expertise to successfully complete. For example, if you are just entering your initial private pilot training program which will serve as the foundation for all the rest of the ratings that you may decide to pursue, you might want to ensure that it is at the highest level of ground school and practical (in the air) experience. This will maximize your learning of the course materials and developing your skills as PIC (pilot in command). Typically it is better to learn a skill correctly the first time than it is to have to unlearn it and then develop that skill correctly. Perhaps the major consideration when making the decision regarding an accelerated flight training program is whether or not you personally have the temperament and capability to successfully complete such a program to get your “ticket”?
Not every student functions equally as well in a high-stress environment which is usually exacerbated by an accelerated flight training program. In addition, flying has sometimes been described as “hours of boredom occasionally punctuated by several minutes of pure panic.” This is not meant to discourage your decision regarding accelerated flight training schools and accelerated programs. However, when you have flown for thousands of hours, you are bound to encounter challenging situations, such as non-functioning radios, a deterioration in the weather, a malfunctioning flap switch, etc. So, developing confidence in your abilities as a PIC becomes a prime directive where you must be able to make a decision based on the information that you have available to you at that point in time and then stick with it whether you like it or not.
There is one accelerated flight training program that is being advertised on the Internet which purports to be the “fastest, safest and most affordable path to the sky” and that you can “learn to fly as little as 10 days or less” with their accelerated flight training program. They also promise to focus on teaching “in a relaxed, laid back environment.” One thing that is immediately evident with this program is the lack of the student-centered ideology, and instead a focus on the philosophy, talent, skills, and goals of the owner/CEO. There is little or no reference to tailoring their instruction to maximize student learning potential and a successful completion of the program.
And also keep in mind, the indication of an excellent flight instructor is his or her ability to instill those skills and information in his or her students.