View Full Version : Flight Training Advice?

08-01-2012, 06:07 PM
Hey there fellow EAA'ers! My cousin and I have been saying that we'll go for our pilot's licenses soon, yet college and work really have a knack for getting in the way of it. Now that we're both slightly closer to actually going and just doing it, I was hoping some of you would be able to offer your advice and experience to us dreamers. :D

First off, I'm kind of hung up on which license to go for right now - private, rec, or sport. At this point I'm eager to get into the air at all, but I know that I will eventually want my private pilot's license (maybe when I have a little more leeway in time and money). Is it easier to get the sport first and work up later or will it make more sense to just go for the private license right off the bat?

Does anyone have suggestions as far as ground school material goes? I've been leaning toward the Sporty's program, but I know a lot of folks have used Jeppsens or Gleim too. Just wondering if anyone has any say one way or another.

And finally, (for now :eek:) is it better to learn at a towered or non-towered airport? I've noticed quite a bit of debate about this on the web and have been pretty tied up about it myself. I live close enough to FBO's at both, so I'm not sure where I should be trying to go. Any thoughts?

I'd really appreciate any suggestions or thoughts you guys have!

Bill Greenwood
08-01-2012, 06:32 PM
I think is it likely quicker and therefore cheaper to learn at a nontower airport, unless you just love to hear someone who is probably not a pilot, chattering on the radio and telling you where to taxi and fly.
If the tower ariport is busy, you will spend time and money waiting on the ground for other traffic while the engine and the cash register is running.
It is good to know how to fly in and out of a tower airport also, but that is easily learned in a couple of flights there.

If you have the money or will have, don't waste time, go for the private pilot. But if you are short of money, no real harrm in doing the sport first. The important thing is to get started, asap.

I think the best ground school course is the computer interactive one, cost more than just books but should allow you to learn it better and faster.

08-02-2012, 07:52 AM
I agree with everything Bill said, but have one caution. If you decide to go the "Sport Pilot now and PPL later" route, see if you can take your sport pilot training with a CFI rather than a Sport CFI. If you do, the time you spend getting the Sport Pilot training can be counted against the time you need for the PPL.

champ driver
08-02-2012, 01:16 PM
Private, Rec or sport, I'm not really current on two of those so you'll have to decide, but it depends on what you want to do with your license after your done.
As for the ground schools, you could go out to the airport and talk to recent pilots and students and see what they may recommend. I'm sure that all the major programs are very good though.
I agree with Bill Greenwood, he has some good ideas and suggestions.
Here's some more suggestions in no particular order.
If you have most, or all your money saved up in advance for flight training, then you can fly as often as your lifestyle allows. This allows you to fly more often per week, which means you'll learn faster and save money in the long run. If your forced to fly only as often as you can come up with some money, then you'll probably drag it out for a year or more, and that means more money.
I would say as an absolute minimum, fly at least 2-3 times per week. When you fly more often, you spend less time re-learning part of the last lesson, and you'll progress faster.
Tower or non-tower, smaller airports may have cheaper rates and as Bill said, spend less time on the ground with the Hobbs ticking. If you do learn at a non-towered airport, fly into a towered airport enough to get comfortable and proficient with comunications in the air and on the ground.
Talk to more than one instructor and find the best one for you, your cousin may fly with a different instructor which may be the best for him.
If, for some reason during your training you find your just not getting along with, or communicating well with your instructor, switch instructors, it's your money!
See if the flight school would allow you to "ride along" in the back seat while another student is learning the same kind of manuevers and procedures that your doing in your training. That allows you to see the training manuevers while being relaxed and it may help you to see problems and what the manuevers should look like. Does that make sense? Of course the student and instructor would have to agree that it would be ok to ride along first.
Don't let youself be milked by an instructor, someone who is just logging time and racking up charges teaching you over and over the same things and never making progress.
Learning to fly has it's ups and down, there will be some days when you won't think you can tie your shoes properly, then there's other days with loads of progress. What I'm saying is that there's emotional highs and lows involved, it's all part of the process. Persevere
Learn to actually fly an airplane, not just pass the test. Concentrate on the basics of stick and rudder flying first, not looking at pretty screens and twiddling knobs, that means, keep you eyes outside the cockpit where they belong. This is not a video game.
Learn good stick and rudder flying, and it should keep you out of trouble, and you and your passengers alive.
Good luck, your in for an adventure, enjoy it.

08-02-2012, 09:09 PM
Non-Tower for sure and the only draw back to starting out with Sport Pilot is rental planes are a bit scarce in some places. The cool thing about Sport Pilot is you can learn in a classic conventional geared aircraft and will not have to get your "taildragger" endorsement later, that is difficult to do for Private due to insurance reasons. Good advice in above posts i had 4 instructors 2 were eleminated very quickly all were good just not for me. Good Luck

08-03-2012, 03:23 PM
LISTEN TO ME. THERE'S GONNA BE A LOT TO LEARN!! Starting today, spend your free time/tv/internet time just studying things aviation. There are a lot if free, instant resources to get you going untill your ground school materials arrive. In fact, many people simply skip all the $400+ fancy software/books and go the (mostly) free route (if they have rock-hard dicipline, that is.) The FAA's Pilots' Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge, as well as their Airplane Flying Handbook are aviation musts (some test questions are based off of the content therein). They can be found free in pdf format at the FAA website: http://www.faa.gov/library/manuals/ . Or if you prefere them in print, go to Barnes & Noble at the transportation section and buy them both at around $20 each. Also, to tune your ears for radio work, try http://www.liveatc.net/ where you can hear live aviation radio from around the world. If you've got a mp3 player you can download some non-live radio recordings for you to listen to as you go about your day. Also, check out http://www.pilottutor.org for some free interactive lessons. So in short, you're not going to believe all the stuff you're gonna have to learn, so you better start NOW!! (I'm not complaining: in fact I rather like it that way). Hope this helps.

Bob Meder
08-03-2012, 05:01 PM
Lot of great advice here. I will disagree slightly on the tower vs. non-tower. At most, doing full stop taxi-backs at a towered airport on a busy day (KSUS when it was busy enough to split the tower), I've "lost" maybe two take offs and landings.

Far more important to find a school and/or a CFI that fits your needs. Everything else follows.

08-04-2012, 04:56 PM
Thank you everyone for the advice - I've been scanning all the 'get started flying' sites on the web, but it's nice to hear from people who've actually done it already. I'm in my last year of college and payments for that and my car are kind of splitting my checks right now, so I'm hoping flight training will be in my near future. I've been leaning toward the Private right away, since I know I would eventually like to add ratings.

08-04-2012, 08:44 PM
This seems like good and logical response Wings Aloft. Thanks for the links to the manuals.

Bill Greenwood
08-05-2012, 10:34 AM
Breezy, I don't know what you did this summer, whether you were in college classes or working, but if you had done most any of the courses for the ground school part, you could have easily finished it in a month or two and had your written test done by now. Passing the written test is good for 2 years, I think, so you have that time to finish the flying part.

When I started there were pretty much just books so I did private with 2 small Jeppesen paperback texts. Still no problem, pretty simple. I missed one question on the written, on airport lighting.

When I did my instrument and also commercial I used King school video tapes,and they were good and thorough. I think King may be the one that has the computer interactive course. Of course now they use CD rom, instead of tapes and I think computer down loads may be also available. It is easy to want to save a few hundred $, but if you can afford it the best course may save you time and be more efficent.
I have also used Gleim book for my GFI as well as King. Both good.I have not tried Sporty's.
If you can do college work, learning the written part of flying is a snap, easier than a typical high school course. But you have to cover the work, all the questions, which is perhaps 400 or 600; and the two keys are to not only know the principle, but to know the answer in the precise, sometimes nit picking way that the FAA asks and words the question.

Finally, as for non tower vs tower, it is often the case that the cost for the flying lessons may be cheaper at the non tower field, with plane rental costs less. You'll just have to check both places, and most important ask around and find out which CFI other students like and think is good. There are a few bad eggs as CFIs and some who stand out as helpfull.

Same with tower controllers. Some seem almost human, like the ones that volunteer at Osh and Fon du Lac during Airventure. But there are some bad ones that seem to dislike private pilots and who seem to think they are being paid by the word, and most are not pilots.

Joe LaMantia
09-26-2012, 09:46 AM

I note that you are in Wisconsin, not sure what part of the state. I am a native "Cheesehead" and lived in the SE portion of the state, but have flown all over Wisconsin. I did all my PPI training at Crites Fld in Waukesha, (KUES) which is Class D. If you live in that area you will be flying in a mixed environment with lots of Class D and Class C airspace and will want to get comfortable with the radio from the start. It is easier to get started w/o that task, but you will get comfortable with it quickly and it's really helpful to gain the confidence that comes with handling the "extra" task. My instructor started my training by handling all the calls then after a couple of lessons he introduced radio tasks in gradual steps, first ground handling, then adding departure, and finally approach and landing procedures. Lots of good advice given on this thread and I would suggest you hang around a couple of airports and check-out costs and Flight Instructors a bit before you actually start-up. If your near a grass strip with Cubs and Champs or basic trainers you can get the best start in airmanship. Hartford and Palmyra are great if your near there, lots of other around the state.

Good Luck and have Fun!