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One last training question

Old 01-14-2022, 11:10 AM
  #1  
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Default One last training question

So Iíve gone back and forth over this, but Iím looking for a little bit more input. I had a discovery flight last week with an independent CFI who will charge me 120 hr/wet for training in a cesna 150 along with 40 bucks an hour for her instructing. Iíve figured to get a ppl with her would be around 9k if I knock it out in around 60 hrs. Iíd also be paying for an online ground school, and all exam fees, plus or minus a little more. And while Iíve read mom and pop training is better than places like ATP, I have concerns about there being little structure from the training. However, I feel somewhat obligated to give her my business since she did that discovery flight for free.

My other option is to go to a local 141 school in my area for my PPL, pay their package rate of 12k which includes 44hrs of flight time, 130 or so hrs of instruction, ground school, exam books, etc. Iíd still also be out exam fees. However, this school is owned and operated by former AF pilots who also train NATO pilots. Iíd be training here out of a Grumman AA5, and possibly receive better instruction, but I donít know that for sure.

After the PPL I will be using my GI bill for all other ratings, so this will mainly be my biggest cost for training. What are your opinions and thoughts?
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Old 01-14-2022, 12:25 PM
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A few thoughts:

141 vs 61 - doesn't matter, you will have the same PPL at the end of the day. And it doesn't sound like you're positioned to get any of the R-ATP benefits (as you have to do your training through a University program).

141 is more structured. 61 is less structured. Which do you like? You will take the same check ride at the end of the day.

The biggest differentiator is probably how quickly you want to train. Typically, a 141 school has more airplanes and more instructors, along with AATD/Sim devices, that will allow you to progress more quickly. Your local independent 61 teacher usually has 1 airplane and when it's down for mx or the weather sucks for a week, or they go on vacation you lose that week.
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Old 01-14-2022, 12:30 PM
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First, don't feel obligated because of a discovery flight, but you may want to go with the independent instructor if they can fly with you a lot.

Second, package deals can be bad, in fact I'd be worried about handing over money in advance. Especially if you have no idea when you'll get an instructor assigned (some have waiting lists) or any guarantees on how often you'll fly, or whether the company will even stay in business. You might also get passed around from instructor to instructor as they get their hours and move on. That single instructor will probably be committed to completing your training. On the other hand, if you go with the independent instructor, you might not have options if you decide you get along (though you can probably switch to the big school if it isn't working out)

Either an independent instructor or a school can be a good option under the right conditions. You need to know:
-Is there a waiting list/when will I get an instructor?
-How many times a week am I guaranteed to fly? (The more the better, 3-5x week if you can)
-How many airplanes do you have/airplane availability? How much downtime do they normally have?
-How many students are assigned per instructor (if workload is too high, you may get substandard training)?
-What is your instructor turnover rate/How long will you be instructing before you leave for a better job?
-What times and days are you available to train me/does it line up with my schedule?

You may not be able to ask these questions directly (or they may not answer directly), but if you can talk to a current student or get a reference these questions are very important.

Last edited by FlyinCat; 01-14-2022 at 12:51 PM.
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Old 01-15-2022, 11:16 AM
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Ask 10 people this question and you'll get 10 answers. It's difficult to know what you're getting into and how it will play out when you first start - which is why everyone has the same question you just asked. It's the old saying, "you don't know what you don't know". Either route can work just fine and some of the key variables have already been pointed out. Earning your first certificate is the most challenging because you don't know what it takes to pass a checkride. From there on, you have a pretty good idea on what to expect. So here's my opinion that you asked for. Flying is flying - you can either do it or not on the day of the checkride. The oral portion, that you need to pass first, is always a much more challenging hurdle. But this is also where YOU can do a lot to better your chance of success and for minimal cost or even for free. Read, Read, Read. Lots of books out there to help prep you and a million YouTubers out there as well - some better than others, YMMV.

I bounced around different flight schools, flying clubs, independent instructors, etc - all part 61. Some felt like a good fit, others felt like they were stealing my money. Some had zero structure, some had a good syllabus. I spent several years flying for fun part time while gaining my certificates. I'm not sure if I spent more or less money than someone who paid a big name school to have it all done in 18 months or less but I do have zero debt from it. Debt management is important when you're just getting started and throwing out those first applications.
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Old 01-15-2022, 08:12 PM
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Originally Posted by QRH Bingo View Post
Ask 10 people this question and you'll get 10 answers. It's difficult to know what you're getting into and how it will play out when you first start - which is why everyone has the same question you just asked. It's the old saying, "you don't know what you don't know". Either route can work just fine and some of the key variables have already been pointed out. Earning your first certificate is the most challenging because you don't know what it takes to pass a checkride. From there on, you have a pretty good idea on what to expect. So here's my opinion that you asked for. Flying is flying - you can either do it or not on the day of the checkride. The oral portion, that you need to pass first, is always a much more challenging hurdle. But this is also where YOU can do a lot to better your chance of success and for minimal cost or even for free. Read, Read, Read. Lots of books out there to help prep you and a million YouTubers out there as well - some better than others, YMMV.

I bounced around different flight schools, flying clubs, independent instructors, etc - all part 61. Some felt like a good fit, others felt like they were stealing my money. Some had zero structure, some had a good syllabus. I spent several years flying for fun part time while gaining my certificates. I'm not sure if I spent more or less money than someone who paid a big name school to have it all done in 18 months or less but I do have zero debt from it. Debt management is important when you're just getting started and throwing out those first applications.
Thanks for this. While Iíve not flown since my discovery flight due to waiting on a possible foot surgery with my guard unit there are two things you mentioned here. One is check rides, Iím still studying the ASA book and going through the Sportys online school, but the oral portion already has me worried. Also, being debt free is my biggest goal. With the GI bill, I should be able to get most of my training for free. Couple that with the hope to be at the 1250 R-ATP minimum and hopefully within the next 2.5 to 3 years I can be at a regional. My biggest fear is missing the hiring wave people mention that will happen in the next 4-5 years. If I can make it to a ULCC by the time Iíve 50 (being 39 currently) Iíve be perfectly happy.
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Old 01-15-2022, 08:21 PM
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Originally Posted by FlyinCat View Post
First, don't feel obligated because of a discovery flight, but you may want to go with the independent instructor if they can fly with you a lot.

Second, package deals can be bad, in fact I'd be worried about handing over money in advance. Especially if you have no idea when you'll get an instructor assigned (some have waiting lists) or any guarantees on how often you'll fly, or whether the company will even stay in business. You might also get passed around from instructor to instructor as they get their hours and move on. That single instructor will probably be committed to completing your training. On the other hand, if you go with the independent instructor, you might not have options if you decide you get along (though you can probably switch to the big school if it isn't working out)

Either an independent instructor or a school can be a good option under the right conditions. You need to know:
-Is there a waiting list/when will I get an instructor?
-How many times a week am I guaranteed to fly? (The more the better, 3-5x week if you can)
-How many airplanes do you have/airplane availability? How much downtime do they normally have?
-How many students are assigned per instructor (if workload is too high, you may get substandard training)?
-What is your instructor turnover rate/How long will you be instructing before you leave for a better job?
-What times and days are you available to train me/does it line up with my schedule?

You may not be able to ask these questions directly (or they may not answer directly), but if you can talk to a current student or get a reference these questions are very important.
To be honest where I live, there are very few people doing flight training. Although all the questions you mention are things I should look into it appears. Thanks for your input.
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Old 01-15-2022, 08:25 PM
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Originally Posted by TipTanks View Post
A few thoughts:

141 vs 61 - doesn't matter, you will have the same PPL at the end of the day. And it doesn't sound like you're positioned to get any of the R-ATP benefits (as you have to do your training through a University program).

141 is more structured. 61 is less structured. Which do you like? You will take the same check ride at the end of the day.

The biggest differentiator is probably how quickly you want to train. Typically, a 141 school has more airplanes and more instructors, along with AATD/Sim devices, that will allow you to progress more quickly. Your local independent 61 teacher usually has 1 airplane and when it's down for mx or the weather sucks for a week, or they go on vacation you lose that week.
As you stated 141 might be the way to go, even if it does cost me a few more bucks out of pocket. However, I like the sound of structure instead of just winging it. Also, I would be positioned for an R-ATP from the community college Iíll be attending after PPL, but I must get this first hurdle out of the way and be prepared to attend during the summer session to start instrument training.
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Old 01-16-2022, 12:56 PM
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Know that the block package isnít going to get you to checkride.

Finishing in 44 hours is rare. Most people require around 65 hoursÖ so youíre only approximately 2/3 of the way there when you exhaust the prepurchases flight time
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Old 01-16-2022, 05:33 PM
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Originally Posted by DontLookDown View Post
Know that the block package isnít going to get you to checkride.

Finishing in 44 hours is rare. Most people require around 65 hoursÖ so youíre only approximately 2/3 of the way there when you exhaust the prepurchases flight time
This is why I think the independent Cfi might be cheaper and maybe better for me in the long run, just so much to think about. The block package training would be in a Grumman AA5 at 180 an hour and 60 with a CFI as compared to 120 for a cesna 150 and 45 the cfi time. Just in that alone Iíd save almost 4k if I need an instructor for every single hour flown past the 44. Just a lot to process for someone who doesnít really know anyone else in the aviation industry to ask besides you guys.
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Old 01-16-2022, 10:29 PM
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Originally Posted by tsimmns927 View Post
So I’ve gone back and forth over this, but I’m looking for a little bit more input. I had a discovery flight last week with an independent CFI who will charge me 120 hr/wet for training in a cesna 150 along with 40 bucks an hour for her instructing. I’ve figured to get a ppl with her would be around 9k if I knock it out in around 60 hrs. I’d also be paying for an online ground school, and all exam fees, plus or minus a little more. And while I’ve read mom and pop training is better than places like ATP, I have concerns about there being little structure from the training. However, I feel somewhat obligated to give her my business since she did that discovery flight for free.

My other option is to go to a local 141 school in my area for my PPL, pay their package rate of 12k which includes 44hrs of flight time, 130 or so hrs of instruction, ground school, exam books, etc. I’d still also be out exam fees. However, this school is owned and operated by former AF pilots who also train NATO pilots. I’d be training here out of a Grumman AA5, and possibly receive better instruction, but I don’t know that for sure.

After the PPL I will be using my GI bill for all other ratings, so this will mainly be my biggest cost for training. What are your opinions and thoughts?
It's the quality of instruction that is the issue. There are puppy-mill "do it as fast as you possibly can" 141 schools out there and there are good 141 schools with structure that hold you to the standards. Same goes for Part 61, there are old timers or those that don't care enough to be current on the standards, skills and knowledge, and those that keep themselves sharp and up on everything. Unfortunately, as a new student pilot, you are basically in the worst position possible to evaluate these things. The more life experience you have, the better you can sniff out the shady stuff.


The problem if you do it at a place that doesn't hold you to the standards is that if you manage to pass, you'll be in for the shock of your life when you go to work any commercial job that actually does hold you to those standards. Those pilots typically do not last long or have to go back to the basics and re-learn everything somehow.
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