So you want to become a pilot? Perhaps you already have your wings and are just looking to do some additional training. Choosing the right Twin Cities flight school can make or break the successful completion of your training. In this blog, we will list what is important to look for when choosing the right flight school.
When choosing a school, always try to consider the location of the facility. There are over a hundreds airports in Minnesota to choose from and a few around the Twin Cities area that offer flight training. One thing to always ask is, if the airport where your training will primarily be done is controlled or uncontrolled. Many students train at smaller schools at uncontrolled airports, and come out with no experience dealing with Air Traffic Control (ATC). This creates a very limited experience for students and usually students do not feel confident to fly into controlled airports, whether its during your training or maybe even years after they have their pilot license. Some of the major controlled airports in the Twin Cities area (Aside from Minneapolis – St. Paul International) are Flying Cloud Airport (KFCM), Crystal Airport (KMIC), St. Paul Downtown (KSTP) and Anoka Blaine (KANE). Flying cloud is considered the busiest controlled airport in the Twin Cities area, (Excluding Minneapolis – St. Paul international). The airport boast a great diversity of aircraft and pilots whom call “KFCM” their home base. The reason why we love Flying Cloud is because we believe it offers the best training environment for students due to it’s complex challenges of intersecting runways and diverse aircraft traffic.
Visit The School
Make an appointment to stop by and check out their facility. Get to know some of the students and observe the feel of the school. Does it seem like a friendly place where you want to spend a lot of your time? Are you acknowledged when you walk in the door? Do people smile and greet you like a future Pilot?
Choosing a school with quality instructors is key to a successful training experience. Always look for schools that have a wide variety and “mix” of instructors from all types of backgrounds. This will ensure you will find the instructor that fits with your learning style. Be sure to choose a school that has a good reputation for their instructors and is known for their flight instruction quality. You want your instructor to be looking after your best interest, and to create a positive environment for you as the student to excel in. An overlooked part of flight instruction is on instructor pay. A lot of schools will pay their instructors little compensation. Do you want your instructor who can barely afford to keep a roof over their head providing you the skills you need to fly an airplane? Look for professional instructors who are well compensated and really enjoy teaching. We highly recommend you interview several instructors and even fly with a few of them to get a feel for their teaching style.
Flight School Reputation
Doing your own research on a flight schools reviews or past student experiences, this will give you a better idea of the schools reputation. A simple google search of the school name will often populate many links for you to follow or view public reviews on the school. A lot of schools also have their own Facebook pages which you can visit , to get a better idea of what others experiences at the school have been. Many aviation organizations , such as AOPA, also recognize schools for the quality of training that they provide. Getting feedback from others and their own experiences will help you make the decision in choosing the right school for yourself. Inflight has been named to the AOPA flight school honor roll numerous times for It’s outstanding value and quality of flight instruction.
This is probably the biggest concern for most students, is my flight school being upfront about training costs? Be sure to get a realistic quote from schools, and avoid those who quote on “FAA Minimums”. We will take the example of “Joe Pilot” who wants to get his Private Pilots license.
Joe pilot goes to a school and gets a quote on his training costs to obtain his private pilots license. The school gives him a quote based on “FAA Minimums”, meaning they quoted him on 40 hours (The minimum amount of hours needed to obtain a license). While this is definitely possible and we have seen it in the past, realistically most students will finish around he 55-60 hour mark. The airspace is more complex, the rules have changed, and there is just more to know than 20+ years ago when the 40 hour minimums were introduced by the FAA. The national average is currently 55 hours. Joe pilot goes through all his training only to get near the end and realizes he does not have enough money saved up to complete his license for the extra hours of training he needs.
The situation above is very common, and causes a lot of frustration for customers. Make sure that you are given costs based of realistic situations, a good idea as well is to ask an instructor what the average hour completion rate is currently at the school. Having a good instructor as well who is making sure you are coming prepared for lessons, will help cut down costs and make you into a better student.
Some other common cost areas to watch out for are dry rental rates. These look great on paper because the aircraft seems to be a good deal. The downside is you never really know how much it will cost because the rate isn’t calculated with fuel and the fuel rate changes all the time. Look for schools that rent with a wet rate so you know up front how much you are paying for the airplane per hour.
Quality of Aircraft and Maintenance
You can’t have a successful training program without a good fleet of aircraft. Make sure when you are visiting or looking around for schools, that you ask to see their aircraft. This will give you a good idea of how well the school maintains their aircraft, and the safety culture of the school. Ask the school for references of former students and current renters so you can ask them about their maintenance experience.
These are just some of the things to look for when searching for a flight school. Make sure you are doing your research before committing to anything, remember this is an investment in yourself and something that you will have for the rest of your life, choosing the right flight school is important. A flight schools environment and culture will ultimately define the pilot you become. We invite you to schedule a tour or stop by at Inflight Pilot Training, we would be more than happy to show you around. Call us today at (952) 698 – 3000.