Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Something new: Learn to fly for the New Year - The Flight School at Weiser Air Park (KEYQ), Houston, Texas

A Cessna 152 is often considered the tricycle of airplanes with more beginners learning on it than any other plane. Nevertheless, flight instructor Aaron Stinson never fails to notice the look of stark terror and amazement on his students’ faces as they near the end of the runway when they have to make a choice: pull up or chicken out.

In the end, many students amaze themselves by taking off in a plane with no prior experience. After that, their fate is sealed. They’ve caught the “bug,” as pilots like to call it.

Stinson, the general manager and a flight instructor at The Flight School in Cypress, has taught flying for more than 10 years. During that time, Stinson has learned to adjust to his student’s needs. Some are too afraid or too young to fly. Some must put their education on hold until they have the money. 

However, more often than not, students end up coming back. On average, 60 percent of flight students become certified pilots at the Flight School, a stark contrast to the national average flight training drop-out rate of 80 percent.

Price is always a factor in someone’s ability to become a pilot, but the Flight School strives to make it affordable, offering some of the lowest rates in the area. An introduction flight can cost $99 but earning a pilot’s license can cost anywhere from $6,500 to $8,000 depending on how many flight hours are logged. While 40 hours is the minimum to earn a private pilot’s license, the national average is 78 hours and the flight school averages 55 hours, said Stinson.

“The majority of people who come in to fly have always wanted a pilot’s license,” said Stinson. “They think it’s the neatest thing in the world and they are at a point in their life where they can afford it and they have the time or a combination of both.”

According to the school’s owner Benjamin Paradis, students’ high completion rates stem from the schools personalized training. Paradis and the staff hold monthly meetings with the instructors to discuss how each student is doing, so more experienced instructors can offer training tips to help younger pilots through challenges.

Stinson believes the schools warmth adds to its appeal.

“We’re trying to make this as laid back as possible and have fun with it,” said Stinson. “The majority of flight schools are working to get people to become professional pilots. We can certainly do that. But the overwhelming majority of our students are businessmen, stay-at-home moms or lately we got a wonderful influx of stay-at-home dads.”

It was this personalized, quality instruction that helped the school earn the AOPA’s Flight Training Excellence Awards, said Stinson. According to AOPA only seven schools in the nation are selected for the honor out of 2,500 nominations. Some of the criterion includes completion rates, friendliness, curriculum and affordability.

One look inside the Flight School and its warm atmosphere becomes apparent. A brief scan reveals hundreds of photos of new pilots, a testament to the number of students who have passed a milestone in their flying.

“When someone solos for the first time by themselves, we take a picture or when they actually get their rating as a private or commercial pilot,” said Stinson.

Stinson has seen children as young as 10 and 12 sign up to fly even though children have to be 16 to solo and 17 to get their pilot’s license.

“Those kids want to be professional pilots but they’re too young right now,” he said. “They get hours as they go.”

In the end, Stinson believes one of the biggest obstacles keeping people from flying is fear. However, he believes they shouldn’t be.

“Flying is not unsafe,” he said. “Highway 290 is unsafe.”

The Flight School is located at Weiser Airpark on U.S. 290. For more information, visit http://theflightschooltexas.com.

Story and Photos:   http://www.yourhoustonnews.com




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