Choosing a Flight School

So does Ground School teach me how to fly? Whats the difference between that and a college, apparently after I complete the program I am signed off to take some theoretical test.

Nooo a ground school gives you the knowledge to understand aviation and flying. You will have to take a written test over this knowledge that you’ve learned and must get a 70 or better on the test. You also must have an instructor endorsement to take it. The actual learning to fly will take place in the airplane with a CFi

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So Ground school gives you the knowledge to fly, and Flight School gives you the skill to fly. Is that correct?

Yes that is correct

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Hey, I’m a current Purdue student within the School of Aviation and Transportation Technology. Just like you, I was looking at Riddle, Western Michigan, North Dakota, and several others. I took a tour at Purdue and absolutely fell in love with it. Statistically speaking, Purdue is number one in most Aviation Majors across the United States and the school lies within Purdue’s Polytechnic Institute which also ranks top of the list for technology related majors.

There’s really 4 main things you can do within the School of Aviation: Professional Flight Technology, Aviation Management, Unmanned Aerial Systems and Aeronautical Engineering Technology (not to be confused with Aeronautical Engineering).

  • Professional Flight - your typical part 141 flight school. Includes lectures along with flight labs where you can log time in aircraft. Typically, students who come in with a private start working on building time but don’t even think about getting your instrument or commercial until your sophomore/junior year. As it is highly regulated under part 141, you have to go at the pace that the University decides. Most come out as a CFI by the end of junior year and continue to build time that way. If you meet the requirements, you are eligible for a R-ATP which will cut you 500 hours for entry into the airlines. A fair warning, the major is extremely narrow with job opportunities; the only real pathway is to becoming a pilot. Lose a medical, lose interest, lose something, and it can all go down to shambles. If you think about it, 500 hours is maybe a year longer of instructing if you are full time. Don’t get me wrong, the Flight program is great, arguably the best, but the reality of things is that you can obtain the exact same thing at a part 61. This doesn’t only go for Purdue but for all 141s.
  • Aviation Management - best one in my opinion (because I’m an Aviation Management major). A very broad study of the aviation industry. Business, ATC, etc. It’s all there at your fingertips. Great professors with a relatively balance-able workload. You can get most general jobs in the industry with this degree and it is for sure more versatile than Flight. If you were wondering, Purdue has a part 61 flight school across the way, and I’m pursuing my certificates there while studying management. It’s great!
  • Unmanned Aerial Systems - pretty small program don’t know too much about this one. You get to work with drones and robots a bunch which could be fun.
  • AET - mechanic school, work on planes, definitely not as difficult as Aeronautical Engineering (which is in a totally different college itself).

As for Riddle, don’t count it out but there are so many more reasons to come to Purdue. I always saw Riddle as a trade school while I was able to get a true college experience with a great School of Aviation behind me. If you are really interested in coming to Purdue, come take a free tour. I remember when I took mine a few years ago, and guess what, now I’m one of the tour leaders! Funny how it came full circle, but yes I truly do like it here and think that you will too. If you have any specific questions, you can drop a message in my inbox.


Absolutely amazing! Thank you for the detailed explanations. I’ll let you know if I have any questions.

I disagree with 141s being cheaper. It’s so highly regulated it’s pretty much planned out when you get your certificates and you’re forced to pay for the time that you fly until you achieve said certificate. You are unable to accelerate ahead, for example get an instrument rating from a part 61 and the rest from the university’s 141 program, that’s a big no-no. If I remember correctly, the only certificates you can achieve at a 61 if you are part of a 141 are your private and CFI.

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To get money thrown your way in aviation is extremely tough. Not impossible though. I had a 3.48 unweighted gpa and 6 AP classes with credits and a 1360 SAT, 25ACT and I got zero aviation money thrown my way. However, I got I to ERAU Daytona, UND, Ohio State, University of Illinois Urbana Champaign, and FIT as far as aviation schools are concerned.

Your best bet is to apply for grants. I got a good amount. If you are a minority (African American or Latino ) you will get a decent amount of money thrown your way. If you are a woman ever. More and if you are a woman of a minority background you will pretty much get a full ride and then some money for books thrown your way.

While ERAU is a decent school, when you weigh in the cost 200k in debt it’s not a wise choice. There are many schools cheaper and provide just as good quality of training without being in debt 200k.

To further break it down.
Go to ERAU 200k
Become an instructor 19-30k for a year.
Go to the regionals 32-50k a year.
How long do you think it will take you to pay that off with interest of say 5-8%.

Hopefully that helps :)


How about this?
I am very interested in taking up airline management as a career, but specializing in fleet management and route networking. I have gotten a full tour of those offices at Delta Airlines, which was pretty awesome.
However, one thing I was not able to conclude was what degree to pursue. Should I go after a MBA, something in economics, or specified airline management degrees like Embry-Riddle offers?
That is something I have to think about this year, as I choose colleges to apply to.

I would get a degree in aviation management maybe a minor in buisness. thats my opinion

Could I get a degree in aerospace engineering at MIT ( I hope) and then go to ATP or another school?

Awesome thank you for this info.
Do you know anything about ATP flight school? Or which college would you recommend for airline pilot?

Aside from cost, why wouldn’t you be able to do that? As you probably know, it is not a requirement by the airlines to have a degree in something aviation related. Studying something different leaves you options should you lose a medical, lose interest, or if something else goes downhill and you are not able to perform as a pilot anymore.

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ATP is a great option if you decide to get a degree in something non aviation related. Yes, it is quite costly but the benefit is that you will get all of your certificates in less than a year. It is no doubt a full time grind and I’ve heard mixed reviews, but I’ve heard of a lot who went through an accelerated flight school and are relatively successful in the cockpit today. Speed isn’t everything, some get by by the skin of their teeth and by the time that they’re at the airlines, they pay the piper when the stakes are high. My advice would to be to pay the piper now and have a good foundation that will carry you into the industry. Whether it be a part 61, 141 university, or an accelerated flight school, everyone eventually gets to the same place so in my opinion, it doesn’t really matter where you go, it’s what works best for you and your schedule and what will help you learn the most.


Nicely stated brother. Thank you so much.

Thanks you for those words, I appreciate it!

So, I’m theoretically planning on going to Montana State to get an Associates Degree in aviation (If I’m able to pass a class 1 ame). I’m probably doing that because it’s close to home, cheaper than out-of-state schools, and better than other in-state flight schools. Does this, by any chance, look like a bad school? If I got an associate’s degree, am I missing out on anything that a Bachelor’s would have? They offer a 4 year, but it’s combined with business, would that really give me any edge in the profession?

Course list:


I guess my basic question is, is this a good option?

Well put and to echo Naro I would add ATP is not for someone who needs their hand to be held through the whole process.

I went through ATPs 90 day accelerated course and it was brutal. BRRRUTAAAL! It was like standing in front of a fire hose and getting drenched with info in very short period of time.
I got all my rating minus ppl in 88 days. Flews twice a day for 4 hrs. Spent an hour or so on ground “work” with the instructor and the rest was self study about 4 to 6 hours a day. I gave up my family and social life in those months. Spent my birthday doing holds and approaches. If you cant manage time and prioritize on your own you will fail out and ATP will have no problem kicking you out of the program.

Do I recommend ATP? 100% But it’s not for everyone. In my class only 3 out of 9 made it without any busts. 3 failed out. So definitely do your research on them. Each and every location has their pro and cons. So be mindful of that. The instructors are amazing for the most part but you will have the ones who only care about building flight time and not take the time to teach you every single thing. That’s were study habits come into play.

The point of ATP I to get you in and out with all the needed ratings in a short period of time and in my opinion, that’s what you ideally want. You want to finish fast and head to the regionals asap. Every month there’s an avg of two classes of 25 each. So do the math on how many people will be ahead of you in 4 years.

Hope that helps a little


Choosing a school is your own priority and what you think makes a good school. What do you like about them, what did you not like about them. What does there fleet consist of? How many students to instructor ratio is there. Stuff like that. Personally I like small schools and one on one time as that’s the best way I learn but ultimately it’s your chose to what you want and like

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