Thursday, February 22, 2007

Where's the Best Place to Get Your Pilot Training

Deciding on where to obtain your pilot training is one of the most important decisions you'll make on your way to becoming a pilot. The first question you need to ask yourself is what is your goal in aviation. Do you want to become a fighter pilot for the US Air Force? Do you want to fly a Boeing 747 for the airlines? Charter pilot? Or, are you interested in aviation not as a career, but just to be able to fly yourself and your family around?

I remember when I knew that I wanted to learn how to fly. I was 13 years old and had just taken my first discovery flight at the local airport. Because funds for my pilot training were limited to what I could make washing airplanes and pumping gas at the local airport, I did not have an overabundance of choices when it came to learning how to fly. I pretty much had to go with whatever flight school was at the local airport. Luckily, it worked out just fine for me.

If I had to do it all over again and knew back then that I had wanted a career as a professional pilot, I probably would have attended a four-year college that offered a major in aviation or an aviation-related science. Looking back, I can imagine the fun I would have had flying for the Western Michigan Flying Broncos flying team.

All you have to do is thumb through a flying magazine or other similar publication and find places that offer professional aviation training. These places specialize in not only giving the future career commercial pilot the best training, many of them will guarantee interviews with airlines they have relationships with. If you can afford the step tuition that these specialized places of learning charge, this type of school may be best for you.

If you want to become an Air Force pilot, there is really no need to obtain any sort of aviation training in advance. If you end up at the US Air Force Academy, as I eventually did, you will find that right now Embry Riddle is the Academy's contractor to provide flight training to seniors at the Air Force Academy. Of course, once you make it through the Academy and get to Undergraduate Pilot Training (UPT), the Air Force is going to give you all the training you'll ever need to fly a Mach 3 with your hair on fire.

Just want to fly around on your own with possibly your friends or family on board? Believe it or not, pretty much any old FBO at your local airport will do the trick just fine. At that point, it's important to try and end up with a flight instructor that you think you'll be able to get along with and learn from. If you don't feel a connection within a few hours of training, you're probably best off looking for another instructor. If you don't mind the limitations imposed by the new Sport Pilot certificate, then you might want to take advantage of this new, less expensive way to get into the air.

Todd Snively is a Commercial Pilot, Certified Flight Instructor and Certified Instrument Flight Instructor with Airplane Single and Multi-Engine Ratings. Mr. Snively has been a licensed pilot since 1977 with 6,000+ flight hours in numerous aircraft, gliders and helicopters.