Whether you took a few classes years ago and you’re looking to finally complete your flight training, or you’re just embarking on your journey to earn your wings, finding the right flight school to help you meet your needs and goals is essential. When the average time to earn your private pilot’s certificate takes between 6 to 12 months, and costs approximately $6,000-$10,000 it’s important to do your research and ask good questions before making your investment.
We receive countless questions from current and prospective students, at various stages in their journeys to become pilots, and our focus is always on helping future pilots find the best fitting program. It’s important to note that the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) and other aviation-industry leaders provide a wealth of great information on how to choose the best program for you, but thing the following three often-overlooked elements are essential for your success.
Make the Connection
Rather than restricting your flight training experience to the Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) you fly with, we suggest arranging meetings with a few different CFI’s. During your time with each, make sure to discuss your goals, share concerns and ask for their advice on how you should approach your training.
Not only does this approach allow for you to notice subtle differences and similarities of each instructor, it often helps to establish a solid foundation and can be the beginning of a great relationship. Choosing an instructor that is not only knowledgeable and enthusiastic to work with you is the best way to ensure that you will enjoy and be successful with your flight training.
Don’t Underestimate the Importance of Ground School
Of course, learning to fly requires the ability to accurately control the aircraft and perform a variety of maneuvers, but understanding how, where and when to fly safely is paramount. This is where aviation ground school comes in, consisting of either an instructor teaching a scheduled class or a self-paced home-study program using video or audio recordings and/or a computer-based program.
According to the AOPA, if you’re a disciplined self-started, the self-paced programs can’t be beat. Why? Because you can complete ground school training when it works best for you and review the recorded content as needed. However, if you prefer learning in a classroom environment and/or need the structure that it provides, then attending scheduled classes is your best bet. Many students find that a combination of traditional classroom instruction and self-paced materials available for additional studies provides the perfect blend of instruction to help them pass the FAA airman knowledge test.
Well-Maintained and Dedicated Training Aircraft
Another crucial aspect to evaluate in a flight school, particularly from the AOPA, is how well a flight training program’s aircraft are equipped and maintained. When you consider that trainers are flown frequently and rigorously, aircraft maintenance is an essential factor to consider for your safety, as well as your ability to schedule training flights easily. So, make sure to ask questions about maintenance policies and procedures during your interview process.
Depending on the type of aircraft you wish to fly and your training goals, it’s also important to consider the training fleet’s mix of primary, advanced and multi-engine aircraft. In addition, confirm that the school’s trainers are dedicated to training and not utilized for aircraft rental services.
Let’s Get You Flying!
Are you ready to turn your dream of flight into reality? If so, the Waukesha County Airport is home to two great flight schools. We’re also fortunate to be affiliated with Carroll University’s Aviation Science Minor, a unique program designed to prepare students for careers in general and professional aviation while pursuing their degree. As a student participating in the Carroll’s Aviation Science Minor, you will earn your pilot’s license as part of the program. Whatever your path to flight, you’ll find the support and guidance you need here at Waukesha County Airport.