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Flight School, Flight Club or FBO – Your Flight Training Choices

Flight School, Flight Club or FBO - Your Flight Training ChoicesChoosing the best aviation training center will depend largely on what the student wants to achieve, how far they are willing to travel, and what amount of time they want to spend in school. At the beginning of your flight school search, it helps if you have a general idea of what you want from aviation.

Why do you want to learn to fly? What is your ultimate, long-term aviation goal? Do you want to fly for fun, or are you seeking a flying career? Will your flying be local, or do you want to use general aviation aircraft to travel? Do you want to own an airplane or will you rent? These are questions you should answer before you start considering flight schools. And you should consider whether you’ll train full time or part time; that can make a big difference in your flight school selection criteria.

There are more than 300 institutions in the U.S. that offer some sort of formal aviation training program. Some of that is related directly to flying. Other parts are concerned with aviation management, as well as airline or airport operations.

The most important thing to do, before choosing a school, is to determine what type of degree or certificate is desired. An aviation training center may offer a Bachelor’s degree in aviation, or it may offer other types of programs and certificates. In some cases, a rating certificate is all that is needed to become a professional pilot. However, the higher the level of the degree, the more credibility that will be offered. For those simply looking to become recreational pilots, a more flexible and economical option may be to simply hire a private instructor, or join a flying club.

Flight School

Flight schools come in two flavors, Part 61 and Part 141, which refer to the parts of the Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs) under which they operate. The most common and least important distinction between them is the minimum flight time required for the private pilot certificate (sometimes called a pilot license)—40 hours under Part 61, and 35 hours under Part 141.

Considering that the national average for earning a private pilot certificate is 60-75 hours (how long you’ll take will depend on your ability and flying frequency), this difference isn’t important for initial pilot training. It does make a difference to commercial pilot applicants: Part 61 requires 250 hours, and Part 141 requires 190.
What differentiates the two is structure and accountability. Part 141 flight schools are periodically audited by the FAA and must have detailed, FAA-approved course outlines and meet student pilot performance rates. Part 61 schools don’t have the same paperwork and accountability requirements.

Flight Club

A flying club or aero club is a non profit member run organization that provides its members with affordable access to aircraft. Many clubs also provide flight training, flight planning facilities, pilot supplies and associated services, as well as organizing social functions, fly-ins and fly-outs to other airports and so forth. While flying clubs are home to those who pursue flying as a hobby, many commercial pilots also get their start at flying clubs.


A fixed-base operator (FBO) is a commercial business granted the right by an airport to operate on the airport and provide aeronautical services such as fueling, hangaring, tie-down and parking, aircraft rental, aircraft maintenance, flight instrcution, etc. In common practice, an FBO is a primary provider of support services to general aviation operators at a public-use airport either located on airport leasehold property or, in rare cases, adjacent to airport leasehold property as a through the fence operation. In many smaller airports serving general aviation in remote or modest communities, the town itself may provide fuel services and operate a basic FBO facility. Most FBOs doing business at airports of high to moderate traffic volume are non-governmental organizations, i.e., either privately or publicly held companies.

Your Guide To Choosing A Flight Training Center

Amy Labus Olson, a certified flight instructor, member of the The Ninety-Nines, Inc., Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), National Association of Flight Instructors (NAFI) and Women in Aviation, International (WAI) suggests the following steps for people interested in flight training.

  1. Find a flight school, flying club or an independent flight instructor. You can search AOPA’s online database for a flight school near you or the flight instructor database. Go to the flight school’s or flight instructor’s website and make contact. Call the flight school or the flight instructor and ask them your questions about flight training. Joining a flying club is another way of learning to fly. Flying clubs have some members who are also flight instructors, so if you become a member of their flying club, they can provide you with instruction. If you’re interested in finding a flying club in your area, the AOPA website has a link called Flying Club Finder.
  2. Take an introductory flight. This gives you a great opportunity to see what flight training is all about. You’ll see what it’s like to perform the pre-flight inspection, taxi, takeoff, fly, land, park and shutdown the aircraft.
  3. Decide where you want to learn to fly and with whom you want to fly. It is your choice where you want to lean to fly and who you want as an instructor. In my experience, you have to shop around because not every flight school or flight instructor will be a good match. I have trained at several flight schools and with several flight instructors where some were good and many were not so good. Don’t be afraid to try different flight schools and different instructors. ultimately it’s your money and your right to choose where and with whom you’d like to fly.
  4. Select a type of certificate: sport, recreational, or private. Make sure to talk with your flight instructor about your aviation goals and budget.
  5. Select a type of aircraft. The aircraft you fly depends on the type of certificate you choose as well as the type of flying you’d like to do. If you are interested in the sport pilot certificate, the single-engine airplanes must be in the light sport aircraft (LSA) category. Several examples of single-engine LSA airplanes are Gobosh, Remos, Flight Design CT, Cessna Skycatcher, Tecnam Bravo, and PiperSport.The most common single-engine training aircraft for recreational and private pilot training include but are not limited to Cessna 150 or 152, Cessna 172, Piper Warrior, Piper Archer, and Beechcraft Sundowner. In my opinion, the best training aircraft is a Cessna 172. I found it to be one of the most reliable, durable, maneuverable and stable training aircraft. A Piper Warrior is equally as good if you prefer a low wing trainer.
  6. Budget your time and money. This is a very important and necessary step to obtaining your certificate. Calculate the hourly cost for the instructor, aircraft rental, fuel, medical certificate if required, course materials, knowledge test fee, and examiner fee. Having a budget will eliminate financial surprises and help you decide how often you can fly. I have created a sample private pilot budget to give you an idea of the expenses and total cost.
  7. Apply for a student pilot certificate. All pilots start out as student pilots. As a student pilot you receive and log ground and flight training which is all applied toward whichever certificate you have chosen: sport, recreational or private pilot certificate. The student pilot certificate is similar to a learner’s permit that one receives when learning to drive. Usually students apply for a student pilot certificate at the same time they apply for their third-class medical certificate. An aviation medical examiner (AME) usually gives you a student pilot certificate to fill out as part of the third-class medical exam. Your flight instructor will provide you with a list of AMEs in your area or you can view AOPA’s database of AMEs searchable by state or the FAA AME database.

A student pilot certificate is valid for 24 calendar months and a third-class medical is valid for up to 60 months, depending on your age at the time of your AME visit. You can also get a student pilot certificate from a designated pilot examiner or your local Flight Standards District Office (FSDO).  Source

Why Choose Aviator Flight School For Your Pilot Training
  • Licensed by the State of Florida Commission For Independent Education License #4155
  • Aviator Flight Training Academy is a Division of Aviator College of Aeronautical Science & Technology, which is licensed by the State of Florida Commission for Independent Education and Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges.
  • 27 Years in the Flight Training Industry
  • To date, Aviator has trained over 5000 pilots for the commercial airline industry
  • Only School Offering 200 Hours of Multi-Engine Time
  • Aviator is the only flight school that has a full 200 hours of multi-engine time included in our program
  • No Flight Training Devices (Simulators)
  • FTDs are not used towards your flight time for any ratings
  • Approved by the Federal Department of Education to offer Title IV Loans
  • Aviator has the ability to offer students federal funding on approved accredited programs
  • Job Placement Assistance with Regional Airlines
  • Aviator offers job placement assistance for our graduates
  • “A” Rating with United States Better Business Bureau
  • Classroom Environment – All classes taught in our educational center, NOT online

Contact Aviator
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