Soaring high in the sky with the birds and clouds is a dream shared by many. However, becoming a pilot isn't the result of dreams and desires alone. The truth is, flight school is a difficult experience that catches many aspiring pilots off guard. That's why the vast majority of flight school students end up dropping out of their program.
If you're considering flight school, rest assured that this doesn't have to be your fate. By making a few key preparations and developing some critical habits before you begin your training, you'll put yourself in the best possible position for success in your training.
If you were training for an athletic event, you'd take every aspect of your health seriously. Your diet would be maximized and you'd be certain to get enough sleep every night. Unfortunately, most people don't take the same approach when they're going to school. This is a critical mistake.
Before you begin your flight schooling, take a look at your health habits. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Are you getting enough sleep each night? (6-8 hours)
- Is your diet healthy, balanced, and sustainable?
- Do you find time to exercise regularly?
- Are you free of ongoing, lingering health issues?
Your flight school training will go a lot better if you answer "yes" to all of these questions. If you can't make that statement, make a list of the changes that need to happen. Then, develop your plan and start the process immediately. It's easier to make those changes before you add intensive training to your list of daily activities.
That way, when you're spending time in the classroom or in the cockpit, you'll be in the right condition to learn the most from your experiences. You'll also reduce the chances of an illness or injury forcing you to withdraw from school.
Organization and Study Skills
As an adult, you've likely found yourself falling into a sustainable, manageable daily routine. You probably don't have to juggle dozens of appointments or learn new information on a daily basis. Flight school, when integrated into your daily life, can create issues as a result.
First, you'll need to remember how to study. Note-taking strategies and study approaches such as Project CRISS can help you comprehend and retain the information from difficult textbooks. Consider brushing up on these approaches to reading or others that worked for you in your high school or college career.
You'll also need to effectively manage your time in order to fit class, flight time, and study into your day. If you don't keep a day planner, get in the habit of doing so before your classes begin. Smartphone apps make this easy to accomplish, but you'll want to experiment with various options to find the one that works best for you--and it's always best to do that before your classes start!
A final barrier that you'll face in your flight training is tuition. While some people are in a great financial position to take on the cost of school, others might not have an additional $5,000 - $9,000 dollars lying around. Furthermore, some flight schools can run much higher than that in terms of their cost.
That means it's best to create a strict budget. Make sure that you're living in such a way as to have a surplus of money each month. Ideally, that surplus would be at least $250 to $500 dollars. If you need to make adjustments to your food budget, entertainment costs, and travel arrangements to get there, you'll want to do that immediately. Fortunately, flight school isn't a permanent change, so consider these alterations as temporary inconveniences.
While the road to becoming a certified pilot is straightforward, that doesn't mean it's easy. That said, going into aviation colleges with solid preparation and habits will ensure that your chances of achieving certification are high.