From your first discovery flight to advanced pilot training, Paragon’s mission is to deliver an excellent training experience that meets your goals and ambitions. Every student has goals that are unique to their personality and lifestyle. Knowing that, Paragon creates a unique and adaptive pilot training program for each of our students.
The First Step, Your Discovery Flight
So you have finally worked up the courage to take your very first flying lesson and learn to fly. Let us be the first to say, congratulations! Taking the controls of an airplane for the first time is an exhilarating experience that you will never forget.
If you are new to flying, our Discovery Flights is absolutely the best way to get a taste of what it is like to be an actual pilot. These mini-lessons allow you to get hands-on flight experience that you can count towards your license.
During the discovery flight, you and one of our FAA approved Flight Instructors will spend about an hour together. You will start by performing an actual pre-flight of the plane and then you will become the pilot and take the controls to experience the amazing freedom of flight.
We designed our Discovery Flight packages to be a very low commitment way to experience piloting first hand to decide if flying is right for you. If you or someone you know has ever dreamed of flying this is where you start.
After Your Discovery Flight
You have completed a discovery flight and you’re ready to start training, now what?
Most people have no idea what to look for in a flight school or training program so deciding where to start can be an overwhelming task in itself.
We have done a little homework for you by compiling a “checklist” of important items you need to research before choosing a flight school. This checklist is a great start and, of course, we think you should choose Paragon! All joking aside, we strongly encourage you to do your own research to ensure you find a school that is a great fit for you.
Checklists are an aviation mainstay that ensures all procedures are accomplished. These few points will help you make better-informed decisions about your flight training options. The following box is your “flight school checklist”.
Your Flight School Checklist
- Goals. Know what you want to achieve and communicate your goals to the school.
- Professional Training. Receive the highest level of training possible by selecting an FAA approved school. Most independent instructors and flying clubs do not provide consistent & dedicated professional training. The quality of your training is paramount; choose a school that is FAA approved and 100% committed to flight training.
- Insurance. Insurance coverage is critical for any unforeseen incident or damage for you and/or the aircraft. Know your insurance responsibility.
- Financially Healthy. Make sure the school is financially sound so that you will be able to finish your program and their aircraft are maintained properly. Schools that reinvest in the school and equipment are usually financially sound. Just take a look around and follow your gut-feeling.
- Accreditations and Reputation. The flight school should have a positive reputation for quality and professionalism in the aviation community. Do some research online for reviews, forums, news articles and other social media sites. Aircraft Owners and Pilot Association (AOPA) is a great starting point.
- Atmosphere. It is important that the flight school has a supportive, comfortable, learning environment that can tailor the curriculum to your needs. Make sure they have training resources to help you along the way.
- Instructors. Were they educated at a university or an accredited flight school? Have they attended advanced instructor training? Are they full time professional instructors? What is their availability? These are all important questions to ask.
- Equipment. Look for modern aircraft, typically models that feature avionics that more closely resemble technology in your phone, tablet or computer. The aircraft should feature modern avionics like the Garmin G1000 to ensure you receive training on the most up-to-date platforms possible. Learning on antiquated equipment will set you back in the long run.
- Maintenance. As a pilot, it’s your responsibility to confirm that required maintenance has been performed prior to flight. Ask to see the plane’s dispatch sheet and maintenance logs; beware of any unresolved squawks. Are there multiple “inoperative” labels on the plane’s instruments? Do the aircraft appear clean and well maintained? What a plane looks like matters in aviation.
- Curriculum. Does the flight school have a professionally developed curriculum & structured training process to meet your needs? Does it use the most advanced training techniques and information available?
- Facility. Is the flight school professional, clean and organized? Does it have classrooms, computers, simulators and other hands on equipment with a comfortable learning environment?
- Cost and Time. According to AOPA and the FAA, the average time to achieve private pilot’s license (PPL) is about 50-70 hours of flight time with a total cost of $13,000-$16,000. Beware of quotes based on “FAA minimum-times” or much higher training times. All pricing estimates should be provided in writing and be fairly close in price to other schools, typically within 10-15% . If not, then you should start asking questions.
Hang out at a flight school for five minutes and you will immediately notice that pilots seem to have a language of their own made up of acronyms and random FAA numbers. When you are first getting started, understanding this new language can be frustrating and even a bit intimidating.
Don’t worry, you will catch on and fit right in before you know it. In the meantime, here is a short list of a few common terms and definitions to help you get started.
(FAA) Federal Aviation Administration. This is the government agency that oversees and regulates all things related to air travel and safety in the USA.
(PPL) Private Pilot License. This is the most common and usually the first certificate that student pilot will obtain. It allows you to fly just about anywhere as long as the weather is nice.
Sport Pilot License. This is a certificate that allows a person to become a pilot in smaller aircraft. In theory requires less training hours and the cost is less than a PPL but it has many restrictions.
(CFI) Certified Flight Instructor. This is the person that will be teaching you to fly, a teacher for pilots. All of our Instructors have been trained at the University level or trained by a FAA approved professional flight school.
(ATC) Air Traffic Controller. ATC is in charge of all air and ground traffic for a given area around an airport. Not all airfields are ATC controlled.
(VFR) Visual Flight Rules. The FAA has designated rules to determine when a person can fly and still be safe. The basic license you will complete only allows you to fly in good weather with very good visibility. Basically, you fly by looking out the windows.
(IFR) Instrument Flight Rules. This term refers to FAA rules that allow advanced pilots with a specific license to fly in poor weather or through cloud layers. To sum it up, you fly strictly with the aircraft’s instruments to guide you.
Pre-Flight. This is an inspection of the plane a pilot must complete before every use. The preflight has a checklist that includes all critical parts and systems to ensure the plane is safe for flight.
(SEL) Single Engine Land. This is the official name of the type of aircraft you will be learning to fly in. The plane has one engine and is designed for land-based take off and landing.
(MEL) Multi Engine Land. This is the official name of the certificate pilots typically obtain to operate twin engine aircraft “multi engine”. All commercial airlines require at least 25 hours in multi-engine experience to qualify for employment.
Glass Cockpit. This is a term that is used to describe the most advanced aircraft digital instruments available. Glass cockpits became the industry standard in the mid 2000’s and have replaced the antiquated “round dial gauges”. Glass cockpits provide greater visibility, improved pilot accuracy, reduced pilot workload and improved ease of use.
(ACS) Airman Certification Standards. An enhanced version of the older Practical Test Standards (PTS). It adds task-specific knowledge and risk management elements to each PTS Area of Operation and Task.