what can I expect if were to enroll in flight school?

Hello, I’ve been thinking about if I should or shouldn’t enroll in flight school. I know quite a few people here on the IFC are either in flight school or are pilots already. So I was wondering, what can I expect if I were to enroll in flight school? I don’t know much about flight school, which is why I’m asking this. (obviously lol)

My main questions are:
-what exactly do you do in flight school before stepping into the cockpit?
-are ground school and flight school different or do they work together in some way?
-how long (on average) does a student spend in flight school?
-how strict are the teachers/instructors?
-what kind of exams are there, and how many are there?
-how big is the workload?
-where can I find things to study and or prepare myself for flight school? (If I were to enroll that is)

Again, I’m not all to familiar with flight school and how it works, so I may sounds a little bit clueless. (which I am). I just want to know so that I can either prepare myself or decide if I want to do it at all.


Before I dive in to these questions, do you know if you are looking more Part 141 or Part 61 Schools. I’ve attended both so can tell you both sides and their differences but was seeing if you had any in mind?

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Well the first thing is figuring out how expensive then whole thing is, because it’s a lot


I’m not entirely sure. Tbh, I don’t even know what type most of the flight schools near me are. Do you recommend a certain type?

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what is the average cost of flight school?

Let me type up a response, I’ll include differences between the two as well :)


Good question! I’d first recommend a discovery flight. Usually around 30 minutes of flight that will go over pricing, paperwork, curriculum, etc. This is always a good first start as it makes sure you are ready for this process. With that in mind, once starting, it is usually some paper work the first lesson. From there, you start off with a ground lesson or two (for part 141 usually) or jump right into the plane yet again to get a feel for it. You’ll go over preflight stuff and the general cockpit.

This is where there is a difference between Part 141 and Part 61. Part 141 will have ground lessons built into it and set into the curriculum. This is nice to have as it definitely engages you and you must be there to get through the lesson. Part 61, which I did for my private, might have a ground lesson or two as needed, but it’s really more on your own. I did an online ground school for this, which helped but it was on me. My only ground lessons were on harder topics like airspace and then in preparation for my oral and practical exams.

This is a question that doesn’t have an answer. I got my private in just under a year, I’ve heard some who get theirs in 90 days, other over 5 years. It depends on what you do, your availability and what you want to do. With this is mind, Part 61 is much more flexible. You make your schedule. Part 141 is more on a timeframe. For example, I have 3 flights scheduled a week (Flights can be sim time, flight time, or ground time). I’m not sure if its like that for all 141 school since I’m in a university, but I’ve heard the schedule is way more set for you.

This is why we do discovery flights. You will learn your instructor. My instructor for private was an old man with tons of experience. He commonly said towards the end of training, you do what you need to. If I wanted to solo to practice something, I did it. He was very relaxed with the process. I’ve had another who was so relaxed she got fired (probably a good thing). My current one is to the point and clear with what he wants, but for a good purpose and very nice. Students sometimes stick with one instructor, others will hop around.

Let’s start with private. Private has 3 main exams (along with instrument, commercial, etc. but those come later in training). Before the main 3, let’s talk about the pre-solo. Prior to your first solo, your instructor will give your a pre-solo exam. It’s them making sure you do fine. It’s a FAA regulation, but very relaxed. For mine at a Part 61 school, I had a month to do it from the start of training and my instructor who walk over hard problems. From here, the big 3!

Written: Multiple choice questions with a massive answer bank provided. Practice exams help a ton!
Oral: Scenario based questions received and given orally. These are my least favorite, but are part of the process (and these are usually done in the same time as the practical, but right before you fly)
Practical: The final exam. You fly the plane and the instructor evaluates. You’ll know what to expect from training and from reading the ACS (Airmen Certification Standards).

Again, as you wish. Part 61 being much laid back isn’t a ton of work. You’ll get stressed at times, usually towards your exams since they are your first go (and since they are an exam), but you do as you wish. You make your timeframe and usually do ground stuff as you wish. For me, I wanted to know it all and so… I studied a TON. Part 141, due to set curriculum, is much more in-depth, will usually have mock check rides and stage checks to ensure you are on the right pace, making the workload much more.

Start looking online! I use google and type “Flight school in my area” and boom. I looked at pricing, aircraft, curriculum, etc. I found 2 schools to do discovery flights with and made my decision. It’s hard to prepare prior without knowledge, so I won’t worry about most stuff until you start lessons. But, like me, I watched videos and knew other pilots who helped me get the standards down ahead of time.

Your instructor will then tell you good things to use to study and prepare.

At the end of the day, there is no right or wrong with Part 61 and 141. I liked both equally. I would say I’ve learned more in Part 141 as ground lessons were set and I had someone teaching me, instead of myself, but everyone is different. Also, every school and experience is different. I had mine and most of what I said is standard, but not true for everyone! Just keep that in mind.

I’d start looking earlier than later though. I’m not sure how old you are or busy you are, what your plans are for the future (whether just for fun or for a job) but all of those play a role in your decisions. Just remember, 16 years old to solo, 17 to get your private. If your a young lad, maybe wait a little so you don’t have so many lessons you are waiting to solo. But if you are taking your time, you could start whenever.

When you also determine a more set plan, go ahead and get your medical (Any of the 3, I went with 1st class, the most strict, since I plan on doing this for a job). It’s always good to know if you can do this before you get too far.

If you have any follow ups or any other questions, let me and the community know. I actually have a lesson coming up in a few hours, so I might be delayed with a response.

Best of Luck in your aviation future! (I should also mention I’m American. If you aren’t, this won’t exactly apply)


Thank you so much for writing this! I’ll keep these things all in mind!

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My flight School is in Addison it’s call Monarch Air they charge $189 Per hour for the plane $75 per hour for the instructor and sadly now that the fuel prices are too high there’s a $10 an hour fuel surcharge if the prices go down this will probably go away

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This is very key. Knowing the distinction and what you’re looking for. I had a friend at my uni (part 141) drop out to go to a part 61 because she didn’t enjoy the separation of ground classes from flight classes in private (in some schools for your private you have to take your ground classes and your written before you can start flying, which for us was a semester class that felt kind of rushed because of the sheer amount of information you have to learn).
I did part 61 for a summer about 2 years ago and enjoyed that I was in the air almost every time I went to the airport to fly. However, there was no pressure on me to get my written done until right before my check ride which allowed me to be lazy about it.
It’s all personal preference really and you @N908QD have taken a great step by asking the forum for our personal experiences. I will say like @AviationReports said, research and discovery flights are key. You’ll get to learn your instructor(s) as you progress and fly more with them.


You also want to keep in mind of where you want to end up after flight school. If you want to go to an airline, I would recommend a part 141 school because you can get your R-ATP in 1000 hours instead of 1500 hours.

As for instructor strictness as you mentioned, that highly depends on the instructor. When you go into flight training choosing the right instructor for you is critical to the successful outcome of your training. Everyone has different learning styles, and most instructors have different teaching styles that might not match up very well with how you learn things. Even though it is an instructor’s job (from Fundamentals of Instruction) to adapt their teachings to your learning style/ability, I would go with the instructor that you can easily get along with and understand well.

I could go on forever on what to think about/what to know when going into flight school (as im 3/4 of the way through flight school myself) however I would probably break the max character limit for posts before I got everything in lol…

If you have any more specific questions feel free to PM me and I can explain in more detail. Ive helped @IF787 with this type of stuff previously.


thank you so much!

R-ATP is 141 plus other specifications within the type of college degree or experience. Not all 141 schools have R-ATP.



Yes that is something I didnt mention, and it is true. That is something else you want to consider about the flight school you want to attend if your ultimate goal is airlines.

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What an awesome community - to be a resource for so much good advice on such an important life decision. Best of luck with what you decide @N908QD


This is also great advice for others such as myself, given I plan on attending a flight school this summer. Definitely one of those topics I’ll be bookmarking for future reference!


Plus you got many welcoming DM inboxes for advice


One tip I have for flight training. After receiving your private pilots license, use sheppardair to study for your written exams. Literally the best thing in existence lol…


I have another question, and that’s how the lessons themselves work. How long do students tend to spend on a certain thing before moving on to something new? I also wanted to know how the written exams are taken, and where I can find practice ones? Sorry about all the questions, I’m pretty ignorant when it comes to a lot of aviation stuff, despite being an AvGeek. :p

It honestly depends on what your learning as to how many “lessons” it takes to understand the concept…

One of the skills that take student pilots probably the most amount of time is figuring out how to land, and remembering what the sight picture looks like in the proper landing attitude. (Gaining a 6th sense in a way of knowing where the airplane is (situational awareness, how close you are to the ground) and knowing when to flare)

Everything else kind of depends on the person. Some people struggle with steep turns and some dont…

As for the written exams (USA) you schedule them through psi linked here: Login - PSI - True Talent Enterprise

For Practice Exams I would recommend the ASA Private Pilot Prepware (online app) which is on the app store, google play store etc(costs about $10). And I also used King Schools Practice Private Pilot Knowledge Test (completely free) as well. If anyone has any better resources feel free to add on…

All of the information regarding the Written Exams, Age Requirements, and so on can be found https://www.faa.gov/training_testing/testing/ (6th bullet point down)

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