6 Best Flight Schools & Courses

Guides · 9 min read · Jan 19, 2022
Flight Schools

Many dreams of becoming a pilot and flying aircraft for a living and all of them can see their dream come true. The truth is that most of the time people who never get to become pilots do not do it because they believe getting into any flight school is too difficult due to a lack of information, so they just never even try it.

To spare you that terrible feeling of seeing others live your dream, we are going to give you all the information you need about flight schools so that you can at least try to make your wish of becoming a pilot come true.

Now, before you learn about flight schools and try to get into one, it is important for you to know what it takes to become a professional pilot.

The first thing to keep in mind is that depending on the level of flight training and the amount of flight time, a professional pilot may or may not be considered eligible to be a commercial pilot and make an airline career. In other words, there is more to becoming a commercial pilot than just going to school. If you want to learn more about this, we invite you to read our guide on how to become a commercial pilot.

That said, let’s dig into the details of flight schools and what you need to consider when selecting the best one for you.

A central view of a cockpit of a flight simulator ready to use in flight training.

Getting the right flight training

We explained in our guide on the simple steps to become a pilot that depending on the type of aircraft, you will need to obtain a corresponding license. And we can extend that by saying that to obtain the corresponding license you will need the right flight training.

As Wilbur Wright, the oldest of the Wright brothers said:

It is possible to fly without motors, but not without knowledge and skill.

Therefore, it is important for you to verify that the school you choose can actually provide the knowledge and skill you need to fly the type of aircraft you desire.

For example, it would make no sense for you to choose an aviation program where the only type of aircraft you will get flight time in is a single-engine aircraft if you are aiming to have an airline career. If you really want to be an airline pilot, you will need to get flight training on multi-engine aircraft just like the ones major airlines have in their fleet.

Access to a private pilot certificate

Getting a private pilot certificate (PPL) is an important step on the path of becoming a commercial pilot. Fortunately, any serious aviation program will provide you with the knowledge and corresponding flight training to get your PPL.

However, it is important to highlight that the best schools will include simulations with a flight instructor instead of taking you to a real flight with zero experience.

Also, keep in mind that after getting your PPL, you will be considered a private pilot and you can start building up your flight time towards your goal of becoming a commercial pilot.

On the other hand, if the school you are investigating as your possible option offers you a program that ends after obtaining your PPL, then it may not be the best option. Of course, you could take it as a first step, but you will need to get another course afterward and it may be complicated and time-consuming.

However, if you intend to become a private pilot to fly single-engine aircraft for recreational purposes only, then that school and that aviation program might just be the best for you.

Becoming an airline pilot

Many schools around the world will offer you an aviation program with the flight training you need to become an airline pilot. However, you will also need to pay attention to other aspects including the possibility of obtaining your commercial pilot certificate.

While getting your commercial pilot certificate will take you to the level of being a professional pilot for any airline, the truth is that it may not be enough to compete against the top commercial pilots around the world.

To really be a competitive career pilot and have a successful airline career, you may want to pair your aviation studies, flight training, and commercial pilot certificate (CPL) with an associate degree, college degree, or even a Bachelor’s degree.

Why get a degree?

Although you do not really need a degree to be a pilot, simultaneously obtaining a college degree or a Bachelor’s degree will help you be better prepared in the eyes of your employer. Moreover, a more integral education will provide you some other benefits, including:

  • Having studies beyond aviation studies to become an integral professional.
  • Having more probabilities to escalate your airline career.
  • Having the possibility to get another position. Being a career pilot can be exciting, but being constantly in the air can also be tiring after many years. You could derive your career into something like aviation management.

The good news is that many of the best schools around the world offer a combination of a college degree and flight training, so you can get both in the same place at the same time, making it easy for you to become a competitive career pilot.

Obviously, if you already have a college degree or a Bachelor’s degree, you will not want to put in the time and effort to get another. What you really need is a ground school to get the aviation studies and a flight instructor to get the flight time and skills you need to obtain your license.

In any case, keep in mind that there may be other factors affecting your choice. Here’s a list of factors you may also want to consider:

  • Flight locations during training. Do you prefer to see the sea or the mountains, for example?
  • Technology applied. Does the school offer simulations? Do they have aircraft with the latest instrument technology?
  • Type of aircraft. Do they offer a single-engine only? Or do they also offer multi-engine options?

Of course, there are also price and scholarship offers, but these are more up to you and your current situation. Consider that not always the most expensive is the best option or the cheapest the worst.

All said, let’s take a look at the top schools around the world.

Two airline pilots in uniform in a cockpit of an aircraft flying high above heavy gray clouds.

Top 3 flight schools around the world – with a degree

At this point, we hope you noted that the best school for you is the one that really covers your needs. The schools we present here below only represent the ones with the best reputation, special programs, and up-to-date information for the professional pilot, and they are not presented in any special order.

Ohio State University

Given the fact that this is one of the most prestigious universities in the United States, you can expect their aviation program to be at the same level. Moreover, this program is one of the oldest in aviation, having started in 1917.

Of course, you will be getting a Bachelor’s degree, and you will have the opportunity to choose out of two options a Bachelor’s in Aviation or a Bachelor’s in Air Transportation.

As the university claims, after completing the program you will be prepared for a career “at airlines and in fields such as corporate aviation, cargo aviation, flight support and planning, aviation support systems, and air transportation management.”

Another important aspect to highlight is that they have their own airport, ensuring easy access to training aircraft.

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

With locations in Florida, Arizona, and even a presence online, the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University is considered one of the “Harvard of the Skies”.

Founded in 1926, this university offers an aviation program that will help you get ready for a successful career. Upon graduation, you will get a Bachelor’s of Aeronautical Science, although you could also opt for alternative programs such as aeronautical and aerospace engineering, global security & intelligence, air traffic control, and business administration to go along with flight training.

Moreover, if you already have a degree, you can find graduate programs and even a doctorate in aviation at Embry-Riddle. As the old saying goes, “the sky is the limit”.

University of North Dakota

Another American university on the list is the University of North Dakota which excels at the programs they offer. At this university, you can get a degree in any area outside aviation and still get a private pilot certificate or even a CPL in the process. By taking their Professional Flight minor, you will be able to become a private pilot even before completing your major degree, approximately within 2 to 3 years.

This is a really good way to launch your career in aviation as a private pilot, get money to support your studies, start gaining experience and get better opportunities once you finish your Bachelor’s with options such as airport management, aviation management, air traffic control, and aviation technology management among others. And if you want to take it even further, they also offer a Master’s and a doctorate program in related fields.

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What about a flight school without a degree?

As we mentioned before, you may already have a degree or would like to spare the time and effort to get a degree and jump into an aircraft as quickly as possible. Of course, there is a program for you out there, and among the programs that offer students the education and training required to become pilots, there are some that match the excellence of the university programs mentioned above. Here are some of the most prestigious schools you can find.

CAE Oxford Aviation Academy

This school is considered by many as the top-of-the-class thanks to the 85 years of experience in training pilots across the globe.

Although it was established in Great Britain, CAE Oxford Aviation Academy also has centers in Amsterdam, Brussels, Gondia, Hong Kong, Melbourne, Perth, Phoenix, and Rae Bareli.

While not granting any degree, the training programs they offer are a great path to obtain your ATPL, CPL or MPL in a relatively short time. With a fleet of 200 aircraft, this academy is capable of training more than 2,000 pilots a year.

CTC Wings

Although this is better known as a European flying club, its reputation makes it a top one. Moreover, they have their aviation academy, with centers in New Zealand, India, Australia, and Singapore. What is more, 97.8% of their cadets pass all 14 airline transport pilot license (ATPL) subjects in their first attempt and 99% of the graduates get placed with some airline.

In 2013, 243 new pilots graduated from the CTC aviation academy. The UK’s largest airline, EasyJet, hired 119 of the 243 graduates in the same year.

Airline Transport Pilots

This non-degree school is located in the United States with 41 centers across the country. They offer two interesting programs for you to quickly become a pilot and start your career in aviation.

The Airline Career Pilot program is perhaps the most attractive one because it allows you to finish in about 9 months and start working with an airline in approximately 2 years. The second program is called the ATP Certification Training Program, which takes 7 days and is aimed at students wanting to get ready for the ATP Multi-Engine knowledge test.

A young flight school student is being instructed by a female instructor on how to operate an aircraft in flight simulator.

Which school is best for a pilot?

As we have already mentioned, the best school for you will depend on your needs, your desired location, and what you are willing to dedicate to your education in terms of time and money. Of course, there are plenty more options we have not mentioned in this guide, as we just wanted to give you an overview of the most renowned schools and help you understand what to look for when deciding which is the best for you.

Now, before we come to an end, here are some questions people usually ask regarding flight schools. We hope they can help you have an even clearer idea.

How much does flight school usually cost?

The cost will depend on the type of school (degree or no degree), and the things included in the program. However, for a quick idea, the average cost to complete the professional pilot program with a multi-engine option at the University of Ohio is $49,508.05, while the 9-month fast-track Airline Career Pilot Program at Airline Transport Pilots ascends to $80,995. Of course, with the latter, you will be flying much faster.

Is flight school hard to get into?

We would be lying if we said it is easy. Different schools have different requirements, but in general, they will include medical requirements to be able to get flight time and other academic requirements such as exams to measure your proficiency on the basic skills you will need for the program. However, as with anything else, it is not impossible. All in all, the most difficult part is usually getting the money you need to get started.

How many years does it take to become a pilot?

As you may have seen above, the time it takes to start your career as a pilot will depend on the path you take. If you go for the degree type of program, it may take about 4 years, but if you go straight into training, you could be flying small aircraft within months.

A flight instructor and a young student sitting in a flight simulator cockpit and trying to become a pilot.

Final words

Remember, this is not set in stone. Do your own research and you will find the best option for you. Also, do not forget that there are alternatives to becoming a pilot if you want a career in aeronautics and aviation, and you can always complete your education with a course, just like the aviation courses we offer.

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Carlos Collantes
Carlos Collantes
A mechanical engineer and aviation enthusiast dedicated to share some knowledge by creating top-notch content, especially in engineering and aviation topics.

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