Have you been bitten by the aviation bug? Are you wondering about where are the best flight schools in the USA? We got you covered, we'll help you figure out everything from where to find the best flight school, and how to get your private pilot certificate all the way through to becoming an airline pilot.

Ready to begin your flight education journey? Let's get started!

Students in Ground School - Pilot Mall

Which Type of Flight School is Best?

There are three different paths you can take in order to achieve your dreams of becoming a commercial pilot.

The types are:

    1. Part 141 Flight Schools
    2. Part 61 Flight Schools
    3. Aviation Colleges

Part 61 and Part 141 flight schools have different approaches to training and based on your age, lifestyle, and finances. One type of flight training might be a better fit than the other.

Part 61 focuses on preparing students for the practical exam, while Part 141 has a more structured curriculum and schedules.

Part 61 is better for those with time and financial restrictions, while Part 141 allows for faster progression but requires dedication and commitment.

Aviation colleges can be a great option for those looking to combine their flight training and a degree program into one.

For the sake of time and money, it's important to choose the right type of flight school for yourself.

Factors to Consider

Before jet-setting off to one of these schools, make sure you consider all of the important factors.

  • Type of Flight Training: Determine what your end goals are and the best way to achieve them, some individuals choose to get their Private pilot Certificate at a Part 61 to see if they want to genuinely pursue a piloting career before locking themselves into a 4-year college program or an expensive flow-through aviation program for the major airlines.

  • Aircraft Fleet and Maintenance: No matter which path you decide to take regarding your aviation education, ask the school about their training aircraft. Learn about the make and model along with how many aircraft are currently in their fleet. Since flight schools often hit the 100-hour inspection requirements frequently, aircraft are often down for maintenance. The more aircraft a school has, the more likely you are to have a plane available to fly when you need it.

  • Instructor Qualifications: Learn about your flight instructor's qualifications and flight experience. See if their teaching style fits with your learning style.

  • Location: Find out about where the flight school is located and determine if you need to figure out lodgings or if the school has housing options available to student pilots.

  • Financial Aid: Flight schools are expensive, learn about how to get scholarships, loans, and any financial aid that is offered for a student pilot.

ATP Flight School Website Screenshot - Pilot Mall
(source: https://atpflightschool.com)

1. ATP School - Part 141

Our first pick is ATP is your goal is to become a commercial pilot with the airlines. ATP has an Airline Career Pilot Program that can carry you from zero experience all the way to a job with the airlines.

When it comes to time and efficiency, this is the aviation training that a professional pilot wants. It's completed in less than a year with hard work and dedication and can help you start working in the field right away.

Keep in mind that the major airlines prefer you to hold a degree, but for regional airlines, they will accept you as long as you meet the 1500-hour requirement.

The program has some important points to consider, such as time commitment and cost.

    • Program Information: Airline Career Pilot Program
    • Location: Multiple locations
    • Time: The program requires 9 months of site training (6 months if you have a private pilot license)
    • Cost: There is a fixed cost of around $108,995 for zero flight time or $86,995 for those with a Private Pilot Certificate. ATP has partnered with Sallie Mae for private student loans.
    • Scholarships: While there is not a scholarship list, there is financial aid in the form of Stafford Loans and Pell Grants through Federal Student Aid(FAFSA).
    • Limitations: This program will not take on pilots who have already obtained their commercial pilot certificate.

But don't worry, if the price of their professional pilot program seems too steep there are other options to explore with ATP. You can also explore going through a Part 61 school with a flight instructor, finish your licensing up to Commercial-multiengine, and then after achieving 1500-hours of flight time, you can get your ATP certification through them.

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Website screenshot - Pilot Mall

(source: https://erau.edu/degrees/aviation )

2. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

Embry Riddle is one of the top flight schools in the country and many aspiring pilots seek to attend this university. They offer a broad range of degree programs related to aviation studies, aeronautics, meteorology, engineering, mechanics, airport management and more.

Their goal is to offer more than a Part 141 flight school experience and to cover all aspects of the industry and all the different jobs within it.

Embry-Riddle has an extensive aircraft fleet that includes Cessna 172s and Diamond DA42s along with advanced flight simulation devices. In the aviation industry, this college is considered the best high-quality education experience.

Western Michigan University - Pilot Mall

(source: https://wmich.edu )

3. Western Michigan University

Western Michigan university is famously known for having one of the largest aviation programs in the country. They encourage students who want an aviation career to explore their three different Undergraduate programs.

The three programs are their Aviation Flight Science degree, Aviation Management and Operations, and their Aviation Technical Operations degree.

The Aviation Flight Science program takes students from start-to-finish with flight training and courses focused on topics such as Flight Theory, Airline Operations, Aviation Law, and more.

The goal is to have a student graduate with all the flight skills and knowledge to be a successful airline pilot. They even help with Pilot Career Path programs for companies such as Delta Airlines, SkyWest Airlines, and United Airlines.

    • Program Information: Aviation Flight Science—BS Degree Program
    • Location: Kalamazoo, Michigan
    • Time: Four-Year-Degree
    • Cost: Between $7,247-$9,938.75 per 12-15 semester credits and requiring 123 hours required to complete the degree program.
    • Scholarships: View List
    • Limitations: Before pursuing this program students are encouraged to pass an FAA First Class Medical and an FAA Second Class Medical is the prerequisite for the first flight course they offer. Students must maintain an average GPA of 2.75 and a 3.0 College of Aviation GPA to remain in flight status.

Purdue University Website Screenshot - Pilot Mall

(source: https://www.purdue.edu )

4. Purdue University

Purdue is an amazing University with a variety of academic programs related to aviation, aeronautics, meteorology, and astronautics.

The program we felt best suited those interested in the piloting flight school experience is the Professional Flight Technology degree program. It teaches students about how planes are manufactured along with flight training skills.

The advantage of this program over the others is that it can be completed in three years.

    • Program Information: Professional Flight Technology—BS Degree Program
    • Location: West Lafayette, Indiana
    • Time: Three-to-Four-Year-Degree
    • Cost: Estimated totals run between $22,812(residents) and $41,614(non-residents), with a cost of $347.85 per credit hour and a requirement of 120 credits to finish the program.
    • Scholarships: View List
    • Limitations: Minimum 3.5 GPA requirements must be maintained, and the ability to pass an FAA First Class Medical.

United States Military Flight Training Website Screenshot

(source: https://www.aetc.af.mil/Flying-Training/ )

5. United States Military Flight Training

The last, but not least option is to seek out the skills and experience found by joining the United States Military. The best options involve talking with Air Force recruiters about the Air National Guard and the Air Force Reserve.

(Note: Army recruiters would be able to discuss options for becoming a helicopter pilot.)

The advantage of the Air Force reserves is being able to serve and qualify for educational assistance without the same commitments that active duty requires.

    • Program Information: Air National Guard, Air Force Reserves, Air Force Active Duty
    • Location: All across the United States
    • Time: 5-years minimum
    • Cost: This is a time commitment, not a cost
    • Limitations: Can't be younger than 17 or older than 42. Talk with a recruiter and see what health conditions are disqualifiers.

Two helicopter pilots In the Cockpit as one looks back at the passenger

Other Flight Schools

We don't want to leave out all of the thousands of flight schools around the country that bring quality education, training, and passion for flight to many students.

Here are ways to find Part 61 flight schools near you in order to get more information or start the path to building your PPL within the general aviation field.

Future recreational pilots who are interested in flying will find a Part 61 school as the best and most affordable option.

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We are all different people from various walks of life. It's not a surprise that we all have different ways in which we learn, grow, and develop.

Before starting your flight training journey, make sure flying is what you want to do. Go on a discovery flight, talk to people in the aviation industry(or an airline transport pilot), and ask them about their greatest challenges and proudest accomplishments. Meet with a flight instructor and get their counsel and advice.

The pursuit of a private pilot certificate can be a great first step before committing to a full program and it will show future programs that you are serious about a career in aviation.

Once you have the certainty that life in the skies is for you, start exploring all options and see which one feels the best for building your successful career in the aviation industry.

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