How to choose your flight school: busy airport versus small airport

If you are looking for a flight school you should carefully research and choose the school you want to do your flight training with. This is how we think about flight schools located at busy versus small airports.

Big and busy airport:
Flight training at big and busy airports is usually more expensive than at small airports. Usually busy airports have a control tower that manages the traffic at the airport. You cannot move your aircraft, leave or enter the airspace without getting permission from the tower. This means that you have to wait! Either you have to wait for other aircrafts to finish their operation, or if the tower is busy managing other traffic you are low on their priority list and have to wait.

Since you usually get charged by the minutes you fly the aircraft you end up paying money for sitting on the ramp or a taxiway with the engine running while doing nothing but wait.

Another factor is the weather. Especially if you fly a helicopter you might be able to do flight training even though the weather isn’t great. If it is good to fly, but not good enough, some airspace restrictions might apply. In that case only a limited amount of aircrafts is allowed to fly at the same time. You might end up not flying at all.

Small airport:
At a small airport you just don’t have enough traffic to slow down aircraft operations, and if it gets busier it usually gets resolved very quickly and it slows down. Usually you should be able to just get into your training aircraft and take off. This saves you time and money to focus on the important parts of your flight training.

Some people say that your radio communication skills are not as good as if they would if you train at a busy airport. Make sure there are busy airspaces in the area that you can fly to to easily learn these skills. This way you don’t have to multitask from the beginning of your training.

Conclusion:
It is likely that at busy airports you spend a lot of money just waiting to take off or enter an airspace. Small airports are usually quieter on the radio, making it necessary to fly to a different airport to experience a busy airport. The upside is, you can time your training to train your radio skills.

Tip:
While you study your books, open the liveatc.net webpage and listen to a busy airspace nearby to get used to listen to a tower. Choose an airport you can fly to, to get used to locations, taxiways and runways mentioned in the radio calls. It will help you getting used to it.

1 thought on “How to choose your flight school: busy airport versus small airport

  1. Carefully researching different flight schools to choose one that has an airport that will give you the most beneficial training is a good idea. If you know the different benefits of each you’d probably be able to choose which one will give you the pilot skills you want. I would imagine that going to the school and getting a tour if possible would give you the chance to see how they operate.

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