How to Choose a Flight School

How do choose a flight school to attend? 

1. First, decide what type of career you want. 

The top options:

  • Airline Pilot
  • Cargo Pilot
  • Private personal Pilot
  • Charter/Corporate Pilot
  • Ag Pilot
  • First responder Pilot
  • Fireline Pilot

What is the best type of school for me? This is the central question from friends, family, and potential students,  “what is the best way to choose a flight school.”

Business models differ according to size and strategy.

The most advertised pilot training academies and aviation universities programs have a priority to push as many students through as possible giving them a cookie cutter like curriculum so that they can maximize their resources and make the highest profit.

Big school cirriculum dictates you have to move along at the same pace as everyone else and on a set timetable, not yours. Go to any student pilot forum and learn of the “puppy mill” approach to training.

There are many forums that can give you the info. 

  • My favorite is the Airline Pilot Central forum for students. It’s a great site for future pilots and students because it’s the airline pilots who answer the questions posted by students! They give great advice, and they want to make sure you get what you need.
  • The Airline Pilot Central forum also has future employers of our students such as PSA Airlines, a regional airline. This means the advice you get is good for your career!

Small School Business Model for flight schools**

The other end of the spectrum, small schools are not the best fit for many career-bound commercial pilots.

Some small are pay as you go and can be hard to schedule time.

To Become a career pilot, you need the following on your checklist:

  • The right pilot industry connections
  • Regional airlines visiting to interview the CFIs.
  • CFI job offer to graduating students.
  • CFI hours; this is a big deal, and most small schools can’t give you enough.
  • Military Discounts available
  • VA Benefit accepted (GI Bill)
  • FAA Part 141 curriculum which is a set of lessons presented in order and more rigorous than part 61.
  • Up to date technology fleet with glass cockpits.
  • Highly skilled mechanics rated top notch by the flight instructors and the students.

3. Research the costs and talk to an admissions counselor to get all the details.

Here are the areas that you need to include when putting together your total costs.

  • Flight Training
  • Ground School
  • FAA Tests
  • Housing expenses
  • Travel expenses
  • Daily costs of living

The Best Aviation training academies should be able to help you understand how much the full-time costs versus part-time costs will be for a professional pilot career program or for a program to finish your training.

Consider what kind of financing you want to use, deferred versus pay as you go!  Each flight training program will offer just about the same type of funding; it’s up to you to decide how you pay and how often you fly. The more often you fly, the faster you’ll have a career. Plus, the better you retain the training.

Paying as you go is helpful for those working full-time and supporting a family. Ask the school what is the minimum number of flights a week they recommend. We recommend at least three flight lessons at the very least a week for example. We also have CFI that work weekends and nights to help accommodate our student’s schedules.

4. Set up a tour and a Discovery Flight

I recommend you set up a tour and a discover flight of the school you’d like to attend for two reasons:

1. You will learn how you react to flying a small plane and if it’s something you want to pursue.

2. You will get a good look at the flight school planes to see how well maintained and up to date on technology the equipment is at the school. Plus, you can ask questions of the CFIs and find out what they recommend you do to start your career. This is a big plus for students new to the aviation world. Not only ask the flight instructors but also ask questions of any of the current students. If the school is transparent, they’ll give you access to their current students.


If you have a dream to become a career pilot, pick the school that offers the flexibility and stability you need for the career path you’ve decided is your goal.

Make sure you’re not paying for just a name but for one-on-one training that fits your needs and that the school will be there for years to come.

Also, don’t just go to a school because their cheap but go because you trust the instructors and know they’ve been there and can help you with the right training and career advice.

Talk to past students, find out their experience and preview the school by taking a lesson, a discovery flight, before you sign a contract.

**VT AAA flight school is backed by an international aerospace company with the ability to give you one on one training within an ab initio curriculum. We’re a great choice for a San Antonio or Austin Flight school location because we’re between the two cities at the New Braunfels airport. l! Look at the Professional Pilot program page. 

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