Getting your pilot’s license requires you to take instruction from an accredited school. There are a number of flight schools that freckle the country so the choice is up to you. Before you jump right in and sign up for classes though, you should do your homework and research the area you are considering. There are different levels of pilot’s certificates. A student is the first step, then private, your instrument rating and then commercial pilot’s license. Each level requires training in both ground and flight.
Paying for flight school is a little more difficult. There are some loan programs available but they are usually at a much higher interest rate than your conventional student loans. One particular institution to consider using for financial help is the SLM Financial Corporation which is a Sallie Mae company. There are no known scholarship programs that are available to help you get your private pilot’s license so private funding is necessary.
If you are lucky you may be able to find a school that will allow you to pay-per-lesson. These are hard to find but they are out there. This is for those who can’t find the personal funding and who can’t afford to pay for their lessons in a lump sum. Many people find this type of payment suits their financial situation and their schedules. You can schedule a lesson when you see you are going to have the money to pay for it. These schools will not require you to sign a contract or hold you to a strict schedule to be completed in any specific amount of time.
If you are really lucky you will be able to secure a personal loan to pay for your schooling. If you already have your private pilot’s license and are now trying to secure your instrument rating or a higher level of license, sometimes the promise of a better income will entice some people and you could get a personal loan from a friend or family member. An instrument rating certificate does not cost that much more than flight school so you may want to combine the two.
Other options for paying for flight school are to sign with a commercial airline. Many of the airlines train their own pilots however you must already have your private pilot’s license and instrument rating before signing. In some instances, you may be hired to work as a crew member first and gradually work you way towards the cockpit of the plane. It is a good idea to check with the airline you are interested in working for.
Once you have secured your funding, whether you borrow the money, get a loan or decide a pay-per-lesson plan is right for you, you will be ready to begin looking for the flight school. You should ensure that the instructor you choose is someone you get along with. You will be spending a lot of time with them and more than likely develop a long-term relationship with them. At any rate you will no less be spending time in close quarters with them.
John Smith is a student pilot. John also just started a new community for student pilots and CFIs. Join John and others in the brand new Pilot Forums.