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Where Do You Want To Go Today?

Just as with teaming up with the right flight instructor, picking the right flight school involves weighing several factors, beginning with your own goals and objectives.

What do you wan to to do with your pilot's certificate? If you want to fly for fun on afternoons and weekends with a companion, you should look in to training for a recreational pilot's certificate. Although it carries certain limitations compared with a private pilot's certificate (for example, you are limited to one passenger, the type of aircraft you can fly solo, and where and how far you can venture away from home base) the recreational certificate imposes fewer training requirements and less minimum required instructional time. A recreational certificate is the quickest, least expensive way to begin to enjoy many of the benefits of personal flying. Plus, with some additional training you can upgrade later to a private pilot's certificate. If this interest you, check with area flight schools to see if they offer a recreational pilot training program.

If you want to use an airplane for personal and perhaps business transportation as well as recreation, then you'll want to pursue a private pilot's certificate and, later, advanced ratings and certificates that will enable you to make full use of an airlplane.

You have several training options. The quickest route to earning a pilot's certificate is to attend a full-time accelerated program. This means taking a few weeks off to devote exclusively to training, most likely at a school located in another part of the country.

Most people learn to fly at a local airport, flying on weekends and before or after school or work a few times a week - two at minimum, in order to retain the knowledge and skills acquired in the previous lesson.

If you plan to make flying a career and have not yet earned a college degree, consider enrolling in one of many two- or four-year colleges and universities that offer aviation-related degrees, many of which include a full flight training curriculum. For a directory of accredited colleges and universities that offer aviation programs, contact the University Aviation Association at 3410 Skyway Drive, Auburn, AL 36830; telephone 334/844-2434; fax 334/844-2432; email uaa@auburn.edu; or visit their website at http://uaa.auburn.edu. If, on the other hand, you are interested in acquiring professional pilot credentials only and not an academic degree, then you may want to investigate schools that specialize in intensive, accelerated professional pilot training. These ab inito (from the beginning) programs take a student with no flight experience all the way through a commercial pilot certificate with instrument and multiengine ratings. Many of these full-time schools hire some of their graduates to instruct incoming students. A good place to begin your earch for ab initio schools is by studying their advertisements in AOPA's Flight Training, PILOT, and other aviation magazines and publications.

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