Finding the Right Aviation School for Your Needs

With over 500 FFA flight schools in the US, students trying to choose the best one for them can be a daunting task. Not all schools are the same or will be the right option for the student. Breaking down the most important factors that will fit the student’s needs is an ideal first step. 

What are the Health Requirements to Become a Pilot? 

Students must obtain at least a third-class health certificate from a certified FAA medical examiner prior to their first solo flight. However, even students with disabilities or some limitation are still able to attend aviation school and typically obtain their license after successful completion of their classes and training. Potential students with disabilities or questions should contact a local FAA medical examiner for more information and guidance. 

Know What Type of Pilot Program(s) are Offered 

Student requirements vary depending on what type of pilot they wish to become. There are four types of pilot licenses: Private, Commercial, Airline Transport Pilot (ATP), and Instrument. Each will have specific requirements. For example, an ATPL will require a first-class health certification. 

Different types of flying also require logged flight training hours. Commercial flying, for example, requires at least 190 hours. Hobby or recreation flying requires 60 logged flight hours. 

Where are Aviation Schools Located? 

Some states have one or two schools and commuting to and from could be hours. Other states, such as aviation schools Chicago IL, offer many options that are nearby. Students should consider this factor because it could potentially take longer to achieve their goals if they live too far from a school to regularly attend their lessons. Smaller aviation schools can take students longer to complete training, upwards of 30 extra hours, since they generally have fewer pilots and classes. 

How Long Will Aviation School Last? 

Length of courses varies at each school and depend on factors, such as but not limited to, amount of instructors and availability of the student. Remember, license requirements are mostly based on logged flight hours and the individual instructor’s faith in the student’s abilities to safely take off, pilot, and land their aircraft efficiently and safely within the guidelines outlined by the FAA. However, for a commercial license, most students can look to invest about 14 months in an aviation school. 

How Much Does Aviation School Cost? 

The type of license will affect the overall cost to the student. Remember, there are four types of pilot licenses: Private, Commercial, Airline Transport Pilot (ATP), and Instrument. 

• Hobby/Sport–$3,000 to $5,000 
• Private Pilot–$6,500 to $12,000 
• Private and Commercial–$10,000 to $12,000 
• Private, Instrument, Commercial–$18,000 to $24,000 
• Private, Commercial, ATP, and Instrument–$30,000 and up 

Cost can be daunting for students, especially the younger students, but many aviation schools offer financing or student aid. Others might have a contract with major airlines for job placement too. Students should contact individual schools for more information. 

Make a list of schools. Research and visit potential schools too and speak to former students and instructors. Whether looking to be a hobbyist pilot or to become career pilot, students should choose the best, most convenient aviation school that fits their needs and budget.