Hi Captain Lim,
First of all, I want to thank you for your superb web site. It has all the information and insight that is very useful. I emailed you earlier this year regarding cadet pilot program. I tried to apply to all the airlines that offered the program and I was rejected due to citizenship/ permanent residency problems.
I think I am going to learn to fly as direct entry student later on. I notice that you recommended 2 schools in the US: Flight Safety International and Western Michigan University.
My question is, do you know of other schools that you would recommend? There are some local flying school in my area but they don't seem to be good enough.
What things to look for when I try to find a good flying school?
Thanks in advance
I am in no position to recommend any particular flying schools. However, I can give you some guidelines so that you can find the right school of your choice, locally or overseas.
If you are going to finance your own training, then you have to select the best one. The most important things would include finding out the quality and quantity of the training, the accessibility and the costs. Ideally, you should go and look at the school. Since you are paying for it rather than being sponsored by an airline, you can even request for a trial flight with an instructor. Tell them you want accommodation. Look at the people running the school and find out, if possible, from past students, whether their instructors are experienced.
If you plan to be a professional pilot with an intention of joining an airline, you should seek to learn in a professional atmosphere. In the USA, Phoenix East Aviation trains one with zero flying experience up to ATPL level with ratings. If you are heading toward the airlines, Comair Aviation Academy and the Flight Safety International are two places to look at. For more information on these, you can visit www.ftmag.com
Most pilots hired by airlines today have at least a college degree. So it would stand you a better chance to enroll in institutions providing such facilities. Look at the 6 USA institutions below:
1. University of North Dakota
2. University of Illinois
3. EMbry-Riddle Aeronautical University
4. Purdue University
5. Parks College
6. University Aviation Association, Opeliak, Alaska.
Some of the items you need to look at during the on-site inspection would be: whether the training aircraft used are old or new ones; are they IFR equipped; good classroom facilities; availability of public transport; simulator facilities; ground school conducted by instructors or CBT (computer based training). Meet up with the flying instructors and find out the policy on changing of instructors in case you can't get along with one. Remember, an impatient instructor will ruin your flying career. Find out the pass/fail ratio and see if the school is worth the price it charges. You need to know the exact cost and the refund policy in black and white as well.
What I have listed above are more relevant to flying schools in the USA but the guidelines are similar elsewhere. United Kingdom and Australia have many good flying schools too. I have written about some of them in previous FAQ.
For more information on the institutions above, you can search for them in the Internet.