Choosing a Flight School

In 2008 AOPA named Jason Schappert as the number one collegiate flight instructor of the year, and he recently made a blog post with an accompanying YouTube video that goes in to some of the details for those attempting to choose a flight school. I checked out the video and thought it might be useful for some of the current or future Santa Cruz Flying Club students.

To answer a few questions for the newcomers to aviation you might have after watching this video, I just wanted to point out that Santa Cruz Flying Club is a Part 61 school. What this means for you is it is a less expensive and less rigid program than the 141 programs such as you would experience at an aviation college. The training is based on your own skill level, and your Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) will tailor each lesson to exactly what you need most for that flight instead of following a rigid syllabus.

To get answers to any of the other questions he Jason brings up in that video I invite you to take a look around our website, give us a call at 831-722-4580, or the best option would be to just set up an appointment with one of our flight instructors and bring a list of your questions.

2 responses to “Choosing a Flight School”

  1. Mckenzie Laird says:


    My name is Mckenzie Laird and I am a Senior UCSC Student this coming year. I have recently been inspired to go to flight school. I was wondering if you might point me in the right direction !

    Thanks for your time, Mckenzie

  2. Dan Dawson says:

    Thanks for writing, and glad to assist! The best way to get started is to make an appointment for an Introductory Flight lesson, it is a discounted first flight that almost all schools offer as a part of their program. On this very first flight you will be at the controls and get to fly the plane.

    Intro flights are an excellent opportunity to ask all of the questions you might have about flight training, cost, hours involved, and to get a hint of how much fun it is to be able to grab a plane and head off on a flight!

    Watsonville has several excellent flight schools and I would recommend you take a look at all of them and choose the one that looks the best to you, links to those schools are:

    The Santa Cruz Flying Club used to offer flight training directly in our own aircraft, but at this time we are most closely affiliated with Ocean Air Flight Services, our offices are located in their building upstairs and I highly recommend them. But all three schools are great and have a variety of aircraft available. And announced for the first time this morning are new discounts available for Santa Cruz Flying Club members at all three schools: Any current member who rents an aircraft from any of those schools gets a $5/hour discount on their rental! (limit 2 hours/month). You can read more about the discounts here:

    So a few things I'd recommend you check out would be:

    1) Take a look at the websites of the schools and just pick one for your intro flight, give them a call and get it scheduled! Feel free to give one of our member Flight Instructors a call directly, Rick Macleod can be reached at 831-685-3708.

    2) Next, if you get a chance come and visit one of our club events or monthly meetings, such as the one taking place on Monday, March 11th, which will be discussing getting started with flight training! Read more about that here:

    3) Sign up for the Santa Cruz Flying Club email list. We send out a monthly email newsletter, you can subscribe at and you can see the most recent copy of it (published this morning) here.

    4) And then of course I'd recommend joining the Santa Cruz Flying Club so you can get discounts on your aircraft, take part in our social activities, and learn from talking with other pilots. Membership information is here:

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.