Choosing a Flight Training Organisation (FTO)

I am asked quite often which flight school is best and I pretty much give the same answer each time.  It depends.

It depends on you, the individual trainee, on your style, on your circumstances and on how you feel about the organisation you are considering making a massive investment at.  Your investment is not only one of your money, but of your time, effort and reputation.

I emphasise my strongly held opinion that any potential trainee, be it for a career as professional pilot, or to train as a recreational/private pilot, should make the effort to visit the FTOs they are seriously considering training at.  Listen to their sales pitch, but remember that is exactly what it is, but also talk to the ground staff and flying instructors.  Most importantly you should talk to the students that are already there.  One size does not fit all.

Explore the logistics of living within or close to each organisation, sometimes called pastoral care.  It can be a very important factor in how you learn and perform.

I recommend you choose an organisation that offers a programme targeting more than a bare minimum pass in the exams and flight tests.  Box ticking might achieve your licence but it seldom impresses a prospective employer.  Not to mention the potential safety impact of a poor knowledge base.

Beyond an FTO’s programme, I recommend you explore the skill, knowledge and experience of their flying instructors.  While this may not be easy for you to determine, in my opinion it is the single most important factor in your training.

And after basic training, I also strongly advise pilots to choose an excellent trainer for their subsequent aircraft type ratings and role training.  The last thing you want is to begin your career without a thorough and comprehensive understanding of the aircraft you are to fly and the operation you are to be part of.

Cheap is just that.

Good luck with your future.

Keep the ball in the middle, keep your nose up in the turn and stay away from the edges of the sky.  That is where the taniwha live.