The First Step, Your Discovery Flight
So you have finally worked up the courage to
take your very first flying lesson and learn to fly. Let us be the first to say, congratulations! Taking the controls of an airplane for the first time is an exhilarating experience that you will never forget.
If you are new to flying, our Discovery Flight is absolutely the best way to get a taste of what it is like to be an actual pilot. This “mini lesson” is only $99 and you will get hands-on flight experience that you can count towards your license.
During the discovery flight, you and one of our FAA Approved Flight Instructors will spend about an hour together. You will start by performing an actual pre-flight of the plane and then you will become the pilot and take the controls to experience the amazing freedom of flight.
We designed our Discovery Flight Program to be a very low commitment way to experience piloting first hand to decide if flying is right for you. If you or someone you know has ever dreamed of flying this is where you start.
After Your Discovery Flight
You have completed a discovery flight and you’re ready to start training, now what?
Most people have no idea what to look for in a flight school or training program. Deciding where to start can be an overwhelming task in itself.
We have done a little homework for you by compiling a “checklist” of important items you need to research before choosing a flight school. This list is a great start and, of course, we think you should choose Paragon! All joking aside, we strongly encourage you to do your own research to ensure you find a school that is a great fit for you.
Checklists are an aviation mainstay that ensures all procedures are accomplished. These few points will help you make better-informed decisions about your flight training options. This is your flight school checklist.
Flight School Checklist
- Goals. Know what you want to achieve and communicate your goals to the school.
- Professional Training. Receive the highest level of training possible by selecting an FAA approved school. Most independent instructors and flying clubs do not provide dedicated professional training. The quality of your training is paramount; choose a school that is accredited and 100% committed to flight training.
- Insurance. Insurance coverage is critical for any unforeseen incident or damage for you and/or the aircraft. Know your insurance responsibility.
- Financially Healthy. Make sure the school is financially sound so that you will be able to finish your program and their aircraft are maintained properly.
- Accreditations and Reputation. The flight school should have a positive reputation for quality and professionalism in the aviation community. Do they have any accreditations?
- Atmosphere. It is important that the flight school has a supportive, comfortable, learning environment that can tailor the curriculum to your needs.
- Instructors. Were they educated at a university or an accredited flight school? Have they attended advanced instructor training? Are they full time professional instructors? What is their availability?
- Equipment. Look for 5-10 year old aircraft to ensure you are getting the most modern and reliable training equipment available. Ensure the aircraft have modern avionics “Glass Cockpits” like the Garmin G1000.
- Maintenance. As a pilot, it’s your responsibility to confirm that required maintenance has been performed prior to flight. Ask to see the plane’s dispatch sheet and maintenance logs; beware of any unresolved squawks. Are there multiple “inoperative” labels on the plane’s instruments? Do the aircraft appear clean and well maintained?
- Curriculum. Does the flight school have a professionally developed curriculum structured to meet your needs? Does it use the most advanced training techniques and information available?
- Facility. Is the flight school professional, clean and organized? Does it have classrooms, computers, simulators and other hands on equipment with a comfortable learning environment?
- Cost and Time. According to the FAA the average time to achieve a basic pilot’s license (PPL) is 50-70 hours of training with a cost of $9,900. Beware of schools or persons promising much lower or higher rates and times.
Private Pilot or Sport Pilot Certificate?
Once you have completed your Discovery Flight you will start your training to become a pilot. There are two certificates to choose from, Private Pilot or a Sport Pilot. There are advantages and disadvantages to both; you will need to decide which is right for you.
The Private Pilot is the more popular of the two certificates. It allows you more freedom to fly where you want, when you want and with more than one passenger. The FAA requires a minimum of 40 hours training but the national average is about 60 hours.
The Sport Pilot is a new type of certificate that was designed to encourage more people to fly. It is a great introduction to the sport because it is generally less expensive and less time consuming to obtain. The disadvantage is that it is very restricted to when and where you can legally fly. The FAA requires a minimum of 20 hours training but the national average is close to 45 hours total.
All of our basic pilot training courses are designed for Technically Advanced Aircraft (TAA). Our entire fleet is designated TAA and feature the Garmin or Dynon “glass cockpit” avionics packages. By training in TAA you are ensuring you are getting the most advanced flight training available.
The table above explains the differences and restrictions in more detail for each license.
Hang out at a flight school for five minutes and you will immediately notice that pilots seem to have a language of their own made up of acronyms and random FAA numbers. When you are first getting started, understanding this new language can be frustrating and even a bit intimidating.
Don’t worry, you will catch on and fit right in before you know it. In the meantime, here is a short list of a few common terms and definitions to help you get started.
(FAA) Federal Aviation Administration. This is the government agency that oversees and regulates all things related to air travel and safety in the USA.
(PPL) Private Pilot License. This is the most common and usually the first certificate that student pilot will obtain. It allows you to fly just about anywhere as long as the weather is nice.
Sport Pilot License. This is a very new certificate that allows a person to become a pilot. It requires less training hours and the cost is less than a PPL but it has many restrictions.
(CFI) Certified Flight Instructor. This is the person that will be teaching you to fly, a teacher for pilots. All of our Instructors have been trained at the University level or trained by a FAA approved professional flight school.
(ATC) Air Traffic Controller. ATC is in charge of all air and ground traffic for a given area around an airport. Not all airfields are ATC controlled.
(VFR) Visual Flight Rules. The FAA has designated rules to determine when a person can fly and still be safe. The basic license you will complete only allows you to fly in good weather with very good visibility. Basically, you fly by looking out the windows.
(IFR) Instrument Flight Rules. This term refers to FAA rules that allow advanced pilots with a specific license to fly in poor weather or through cloud layers. To sum it up, you fly strictly with the aircraft’s instruments to guide you.
Pre-Flight. This is an inspection of the plane a pilot must complete before every use. The preflight has a checklist that includes all critical parts and systems to ensure the plane is safe for flight.
(SEL) Single Engine Land. This is the official name of the type of aircraft you will be learning to fly in. The plane has one engine and is designed for land-based take off and landing.
Glass Cockpit. This is a term that is used to describe the most advance aircraft instruments available. Glass cockpits have become the industry standard and replace the old round dial gauges because they provide greater visibility, pilot accuracy and improved ease of use.
(PTS) Practical Test Standards. These are the set of rules determined by the FAA to assess a pilot’s ability to control an aircraft. The pilot must be able to consistently complete flight maneuvers to at least PTS in order to pass the exam.
The table above is the official list of letters and their call sign. Sounding official has never been easier.