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Choosing the right flight school

I have been hearing a lot of stories from students lately about their experiences while learning to fly. It always starts off with their favorite instructors and the fun times they had and usually not too long after, the conversation inevitably turns to their least favorite instructors. I’m sure most of us have had one throughout our flight training, I know I have, and maybe you even still fly with one.

After one particularly interesting conversation I had recently, I thought maybe it would be helpful to new students to talk about not only choosing the right flight school but also the right instructor.

Choosing the right flight school

What are your goals

Girl getting ready for her Introductory Flying Lesson

First, you need to know what your goals are. Are you looking to become a career pilot and get a commercial pilot license? If so, after you complete your Private pilot license you will need to make sure you are enrolled at a school that is a registered Ontario Career College. If you are just looking to fly for fun then you may only want a Recreational Pilot Permit or a Private Pilot License. The main difference between the two is with a Recreational Pilot permit you can fly up to a four seat single engine airplane and carry one passenger. You can add only a float rating to it. With the Private Pilot License you can fly any single engine airplane and carry as many passengers as there are seats. You can add a Float Rating, Night Rating, VFR Over the Top Rating, Instrument Rating, or Multi-Engine Rating to it as well as upgrade it to a Commercial Pilot License.

Google Search

When looking for a flight school to start flight training at, you will probably start with a Google search. You will type in something like “Flight school Barrie”, “Private Pilot License Barrie” or “Learn to Fly Barrie”. There is a good chance that this is how you found this post. With this search, you likely find flight schools from all over Ontario, hopefully more local once showing up first. So now you have a list of potential flight schools, what’s next?

Call Around

Start calling around. Even if you have no intention of going to that school, call them and talk to someone. Ask a bunch of questions. Educate yourself. If you have a flight school in mind that you would like to attend, call them last. This will give you a background of other flight schools and provide you the ability to compare. Any flight school should be willing to take the time to talk to you about your questions. If not, that might be the first red flag. 

Ask Questions

Ask questions, lots of them if you have them. There is nothing wrong with asking tons of questions. REMEMBER, there is no such thing as a stupid Question! You are about to invest a lot of money into something you may or may not know much about, if you have a question, make sure you ask it. Check out our post on the 10 questions you should ask a potential flight school.

A couple typical questions include:

  1. How much does it cost to get your private pilot license?
  2. How long does it take to get your pilot license?

These are all perfectly valid questions, in fact, they are all questions you should be asking.

Talk to the staff 

The next thing you want to do is visit the flight school and talk to the staff in person. Ask who you would be flying with and see if you can talk to your potential flight instructor. Don’t necessarily expect your flight instructor to be in the office when you are there, they could be up flying or simply off that day.

Choosing the right flight instructor 

I truly believe that one of the most important factors in choosing the right flight school and learning to fly is getting paired with a flight instructor that you can get along with. You want an instructor that you feel comfortable flying with, that you can ask questions to, and that you can feel open with. Becoming a pilot is a serious and sometimes stressful activity but I also know that it should be a fun and enjoyable experience. I see no reason not to laugh and have fun while still keeping safety at the forefront. Personality conflicts in the aircraft can be detrimental to learning to fly.

Don’t worry so much about what class your instructor is, any reputable flight school will have a supervising instructor in the office on a regular basis to help new instructors through any potential issues. In fact, if you have a new instructor, they will have an experienced instructor watching and helping them along, so you’re basically getting two instructors for the price of one.

And now for the shameless self promotion. At Ontario Flight Centre, we have many instructors available to help you learn to fly. We operate Cessna 172 aircraft, the most popular training aircraft ever made. We are available 7 days a week to help accommodate your schedule and we offer a fun and relaxed training environment. You will never be forced to fly in bad weather or if you don’t feel comfortable.

Once you have chosen your flight school, you are ready to get started. Check out our post: The flight training process, in a nut shell – Coming Soon!

Whether you are still researching flight schools in the Barrie area or have already started your flying lessons, I hope you find this post helpful. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact us, even if you don’t plan to learn to fly at Ontario Flight Centre, we are always here as a resource.

Happy Flying!

Brad Furch
Chief Flight Instructor 
Ontario Flight Centre