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The aircraft you fly for your training can have a big impact on the quality of the training. Obviously you'd prefer a reliable, properly equipped, presentable airplane over one that looks warn out, leaks fluid, and has holes in the instrument panel where instruments or avionics once were mounted. The condition of the training fleet says a lot about the professionalism and pride of the school.

As you visit various schools you'll probably notice that some trainers appear to be new or nearly so, while others obviously are veterans with many instructional hours under their wings.

Age and flight hours are not really issues in training aircraft, because the FAA required that all active aircraft be maintained in airworthy condition, and inspected regularly by trained and federally certified mechanics.

However, in addition to having fewer rattles and fresher looking pain and interior, a newer trainer may feature more modern avionics and equipment, and perhaps even more power and performance. If you prefer new, the look for a flight school with a contemporary fleet. You should expect to pay more per hour to rent a new aircraft compared to an older trainer. But there's more to consider than the condition of the aircraft. The number and type of aircraft in the training fleet also are factors. Are there enough airplanes for the number of students training, and are they mechanically reliable? One way to find out is to ask several students if they are able to schedule and fly airplanes without much trouble.

Several different types of trainers are in use today, including high- and low-wing single engine airplanes with two or four seats. Some pilots develop a preference for high or low wing, but the fact is it makes no difference in your training. Both types fly essentially the same for training purposes. A high-wing design offers better visibility from the cockpit when looking up from inside a low-wing airplane, and when looking left and turning left.

Two-place trainers generally are smaller and lighter - and slightly less expensive to rent- but the pilot-instructor weight-carrying capability may be limited. One advantage to a four-place trainer is that you won't have to go through transition training after receiving your pilot's certificate, when you'll want to take family and friends for rides.

There's an endless variety of specialty training and specialty aircraft to keep things interesting after you get your certificate. For example, multiengine, aerobatics, soaring and motorgliders, mountain flying, water flying, antiques and classics - you name it, and the training is available. Continuing education is the key to maintaining and expanding your aviation skills and knowledge.

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