“The desire to fly is an idea handed down to us by our ancestors who, in their grueling travels across trackless lands in prehistoric times, looked enviously on the birds soaring freely through space, at full speed, above all obstacles, on the infinite highway of the air.”
– Orville Wright
If you have been dreaming of flying a plane, helicopter, glider — or even an unmanned drone — you are in luck. There are thousands of schools worldwide that can accommodate your deepest desires, whether you’re seeking to become a professional or just dabble in the art of flying.
To provide a glimpse of the opportunities out there, we have uncovered both the most highly regarded programs in the U.S., one high-flying adventure in Africa, and all the other top flight schools to know.
Top Flight Schools to Know
Recently featured on the National Geographic Channel, Alaska Floats and Skis offers comprehensive training on float planes. Students gain experience on crystal clear lakes near Mt. McKinley and surrounding areas.
Training consists of six hours on the ground and two days of flight. For a grand total of $2,100 you can enjoy the course and three nights lodging. You don’t need to have your pilot’s license to enjoy this adventure!
Embark on an unforgettable adventure to South Africa to learn the art of bush flying. The experience will provide you the opportunity to practice 60 take-offs and landings at 45 different airstrips, as well as the chance to fly over the most beautiful parts of South Africa. Additionally, all students are provided one-on-one instruction from highly experienced instructors.
Learn from aerobatic pilot phenom Michael Blackstone and his crew to maneuver aerobatic aircraft, such as the Pitts S-2C and Extra 300L. Based in Fullerton, California, SkyThrills specializes in helping budding pilots become familiar with unusual altitudes, upset recoveries and aerobatic moves. Courses take place just off of the Southern California coastline, and you don’t need to have any flight experience to participate.
Air Combat USA is considered the original dog-fighting school for civilians. Also established by Michael Blackstone, the school utilizes its own patented tracking system that verifies air-to-air kills and fighter planes fashioned with on-board cameras for video playback of each session. Dare to pilot a Marchetti SF260 with a cockpit similar to an F-16; this combat-ready fighter is built to withstand aggressive, aerobatic maneuvers. Combat program packages begin at $1,395.
Looking to learn how to pilot a glider? Soaring Academy provides full-training for a private pilot certificate. Glider piloting is often a first-step for those who want to become airplane pilots.
If you’ve long dreamed of becoming an airline pilot, Pan Am International Flight Academy has been in the business of turning out top-rate pilots since 1980. The organization operates training facilities out of Orlando, Merritt Island and Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. The school has been noted for its high-tech flight simulators that are often used in major motion pictures.
Considered a leading helicopter pilot training program, the US Aviation Academy prepares students to become both private and commercial pilots. For $155, the school is willing to take you up in a ‘copter for an introductory lesson. If you’re taken with the sport, you can then join one of the school’s programs.
ATP is a highly rated flying school for both those seeking to become private and commercial pilots. The school is well known for its 150 day accelerated “Fast Track” commercial piloting education. For just under $65,000, you will be prepared to fly private single-engines, multi-engine commercial jets, and everything in between.
Have a fascination with drones and want to learn to fly them? The Unmanned Vehicle University (UVU) is now the only university in the world to offer doctorate and masters degrees in unmanned systems. You can completely change the course of your career and join the quickly growing force of drone pilots. UVU pilots learn to fly the Predator, Reaper, Hermes, Heron, Aerostar, Global Hawk and other small crafts.