Basic to our training program is an understanding that our students are self-motivated, will set goals for completion of each phase of training, and will devote a certain number of hours each week in preparation for the Knowledge (written) Test and the next flight training session. If you are one of those self-motivated and disciplined types and want to receive a customized training program on YOUR schedule, YOU are our type of student!
Think of aviation as learning another language: A lot of the grammar (“jargon”) is new. The sentence structure (“this-before-that”) is new. And like anything worth learning, it takes DISIPLINE and PRACTICE!
Whether our students have a goal of obtaining the certificate or rating in three weeks, three months, or a year is not as important as working towards those goals with a specific completion date in mind, committing yourself to study and practice, and adhering to a schedule.
This is how Alas de San Miguel produces confident, safe, professional pilots:
An orientation meeting is held to set specific goals and schedules based on the student’s motivation level, availability, and other commitments. Together, we’ll estimate dates by which flight training will commence, the Knowledge (written) Test taken, and the Practical Test (checkride) completed. Your choice of training publications and media, whether published by Jeppesen (recommended), the FAA, King Schools (videos), or other high-quality materials, will be based on the way YOU learn. All of the requirements of the Airmen Certification Standards, published by the FAA, will be introduced, demonstrated, and practiced but your syllabus or curriculum will be tailored to YOUR way of learning.
Your flight training will include multiple cross-country trips that will incorporate “scenario-based” training techniques. This approach, designed by flight training professionals and aeronautical educational institutions in cooperation with the US FAA, seeks to apply “real-world” situations and decision-making opportunities into the training environment. FAA/Industry Training Standards (FITS) has also measurably improved safety, the “fun-factor”, and increased the student’s appreciation of the great utility of General Aviation aircraft. In other words: “On the first day, we’ll start using the aircraft like YOU will be using it!”
As stated earlier, there is NO minimum requirement for classroom sessions when preparing for a US FAA certificate or rating (except the ATP certificate). Therefore, it is very important that the student commit to a home-study program, take good notes, develop a list of questions on items needing further clarification, and adequately prepare for the next flight training session.
Students are encouraged to involve family and friends in their training, particularly those persons interested in aviation, concerned about the quality of flight training, or the level of safety inherent in small aircraft. We also encourage students to occupy a rear seat during a friend’s flight training. The experience offers the non-flying student a low-stress observation perspective that economically adds to their knowledge and confidence.
Communications! Understandably, many students whose first language is not English are nervous about their communications in English, particularly in a high-stress aviation environment. Our advice? RELAX! We work to simplify the process and have developed methods over the years that include ground simulator sessions, written “rehearsals” in the aircraft before keying the microphone, home-study courses based on the Macmillan Aviation English training manual, and “active listening” to websites such as LiveATC.net.
Remember: the most important thing is to show up for your flights having prepared for the lesson, allowing enough time for a pre-flight briefing and questions, the lesson itself, and a post-flight de-briefing. Also helpful in your training is to “Do one thing EVERYDAY related to aviation!” Whether that is studying your training manual, reviewing your notes for your last training session, watching a AOPA Air Safety Foundation video, or meeting your pilot friends for lunch: it helps to keep your “eye on the prize” of joining the ranks of US FAA Certificated pilots!
Also keep in mind that it is possible to plan training flights that accommodate your business and family matters (business trips, family reunions, weddings, etc.).
If you indicate a desire to fly your own aircraft in the future, your training can also address the costs, challenges, joys, and realities of aircraft ownership. We will spend time discussing acquisition and operating costs, the legal requirements to maintain airworthiness, insurance, preventative and scheduled maintenance, cost-saving measures, and many lessons we have learned in 40+ years of helicopter and airplane ownership. If desired, simple preventative maintenance tasks authorized under 14 CFR Part 43 can be demonstrated and practiced by the student.
There are many excellent flight schools in the United States and elsewhere that cater to those students who need full-time classroom instruction, a highly structured program, and have the resources in time and money to spend months in a highly-structured flight school in pursuit of their certification or rating. This approach is certainly an alternative that should be explored by students who have not yet developed their study skills, personal discipline, or have difficulty in setting their own schedules.
Our goal is to offer professional level ground and flight training on YOUR schedule, to help you become the best and safest pilot possible, and to make it FUN!
1). For more information on FAA/Industry Training Standards see: www.faa.gov/training_testing/training/fits/media/fits_qa.pdf
2). For access to LiveATC.net: www.liveatc.net/