The biggest thing to remember is that aviation is very versatile. You have pilots who fly hot-air balloon, gliders, helicopters, and even ultra-lights. The thing is that many people dive right into flight training, pay $4000-5000, get to about 30-40 hours, run out of money, time, motivation, or all three, and just give up. Unfortunately I'm here to tell you that if a person takes flying lessons and does so without first doing research into the process, that is almost a sentence to feel for sure. So, before a person even begins to consider taking flying lessons (here is the key)-they must know the process as thoroughly as if they were going to be tested on it. In other words you must become a professional student pilot, essentially anticipating what is coming up next your training. You must become an active manager of your training, learning the jargon and/or lingo of aviation.
Ground School Saves You Airtime=Saves You Money
Another thing you must do: buy a ground school course! I'm not talking about one of those silly courses that just focus on getting you to pass your written. If you just want to pass your written, go buy a book! Don't pay $200 for a DVD course that only focuses on the knowledge part of flying (e.g. rules, navigation, etc..). You need something that is going to teach you how to actually-actually fly. The course that you select should contain information on the four fundamentals of flight, take-offs and landings, stalls, steep turns, and performance maneuvers. If it doesn't include actual in aircraft footage, you are wasting your money! There are two fantastic courses available that incorporate the knowledge and practical aspects into one course. I want the reader to know however that I don't endorse one for the other. The first one is King Schools, and the other is Sporty's. Now I selected Sporty's, why?
Well to be honest I am partial to Sporty's because it was easy to understand and pretty straight forward. The seven or so DVD's were packed full of everything you could ever possible want to know about flying. The whole course was shot in or around airplanes, and you felt like you were flying a lot of times just watching the course. Sporty's can pretty much be used at any flight school. So whether you are taking lessons from a individual Flight Instructor, or you are going to a pretty sizable flight school with multiple instructors on staff, these course will still benefit you.
What about King Schools? Well, I think King Schools is a great option, but there is a catch. In order to use King Schools ground-school, you must be taking lessons from a Cessna Pilot Center. The thing about a Cessna Pilot Center is that it generally costs about $6,000 to get your license from one. The training is great, and the instructors are usually extremely trained beyond your conventional instructor, but it is for that reason that you will pay more. Speaking of flight schools did you know there were two types?
The government differentiates between flight schools by putting them in two categories. Part 61, and Part 141. So Part 61, what is that? A part 61 school can be as simple as a flight instructor who owns a plane and gives lessons, or it could also include a larger school. Part 61 has its own set of rules for earning a certificate, and are pretty standard. Part 141 schools are usually more career oriented. However they have the distinct advantage of reduced training requirements. Also some 141 schools allow you to use your training as part of college credits. The thing to remember is that a 141 school is usually gonna cost more. A Part 61 school is usually gonna be your best bet on a budget. Some Part 141 schools have gotten approval to train their students without ever requiring them to take an exam. The reason being because they have passed so many students that the government goes ahead and waves the requirements. Part 61 schools don't ever have that option. In comparison you could view a Part 141 school as a University vs a Part 61 school as a trade or technical school.
To be honest both ways you will end up with a license, your license won't say where or how you earned it. Both types of schools are subject to government inspections, and are held to very strict standards.
So you have decided to take lessons... That is excellent! However there are a few things you should be aware of. First of all, you can save a great deal of money depending on the aircraft you rent. Since you are only charged for the time that the engine is running, it works out pretty good. The thing is no matter what airplane you decide to train in, you still will end up with a private pilots' license. It doesn't matter if it is a 4 seat Cessna 172 or a 2 seat Cessna 150/152. Here is another important tip: When you first start off, why not take your lessons in the smallest and cheapest airplane available. That means that for 30-40 hours you will be flying something that costs way less. Don't pay for extra seats if you don't have to! Just before your checkride it is just as simple to transition over and get checked out in a larger roomier airplane. That away you will only spend 5-10 hours in the more expensive airplane vs a full 40 hours. The savings could shave off an easy $1000 from your training!
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