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Flight School Dropout Rate


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The AOPA is conducting a study on the flight school dropout rate. The article states that 70 to 80 percent of students dropout before earning a certificate. It’s my guess that the study is likely focused on fixed wing schools; however, it will be interesting to see the results. Does anyone have any insight besides the salient issues such as low time instructors, bad management, etc? I wonder what the subtle issues are.

AOPA embarks on quest to fix flight training.pdf

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For many, the aviation pictured in their mind watching airshows is much different than the reality. And then you have the meta-cognitive "Am I the best pilot" stress that other jobs don't have.

 

At UND on the airplane side you have to wait a semester to get into the private course, once you reach CFI, the whole class can fit in a small room. And financing there is very easy so I don't believe it is a money issue.

Edited by Shaun
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I'm more inclined to agree with Shaun. The people I've seen who dropped out of flight training did it more because of a confidence issue than anything else. I've seen maybe five or six people drop under those circumstances. I've seen one drop out due to money, and one other because he just couldn't wrap his head around the concepts in ground school and was asked to leave.

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During my Private training I wanted to quit more times than I can remember! It was frustration that got me. Some things seemed so difficult, that I would question not only if I could do it, but was it even worth it?

 

I'm sure there are also a great number of people who quit when they learn exactly what they are going to have to go through to get a job?

 

Others, after a few flights, probably just say, "this looked realy cool in the movies, but actually being up there really sucks!" Or, they can't stop puking!

:)

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The AOPA is conducting a study on the flight school dropout rate. The article states that 70 to 80 percent of students dropout before earning a certificate. It’s my guess that the study is likely focused on fixed wing schools; however, it will be interesting to see the results. Does anyone have any insight besides the salient issues such as low time instructors, bad management, etc? I wonder what the subtle issues are.

Across the US, I would guess helo schools do not fare much better. Look at the dropout rate for SSH!

 

Not necessarily in any order.

1. Lack of funds

2. Lack of committment...didnt know they would have to learn so much

3. Frustration they can't control the ship quick enough (I have 3 hours and I should be able to hover perfectly!)

4. Frustration because they dont know the process. One of the first things I think you should with a student is sit down, go thru the FAR requirements for Private, and get them to understand every step in the process. That way they know where they are and what is next. What we might think is the most basic of knowledge may not necessarily be common knowledge to your student.

5. Frustration over the lack of available helo's or CFI's.

6. Changing CFI's..big one there.

7. Realization this just aint for me, some take longer than others.

8. Fear of tests. Not the brighest student, reading problems, etc...

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My personal observation has been that serious students generally don't start training without funds already in place, so a lack of funding precludes their ever getting in the cockpit and therefore dropping out. Of the students who do start and subsequently vanish, it is definitely more of the "Geez this looked so cool and WOW I didn't realize it would be so life-consuming and academically demanding". I have yet to see how anyone could get so far as a 2nd flight without understanding that it is not just a joy ride for 60hrs and you get handed a license. There are too many to count, the number of people who have walked into my office looking for an EASY, fun, new career and left with .5 helo time and a sheet of paper outlining the process and requirements, never to be heard from again. Blatant honesty is tough to deliver but it sure makes the students I do have a joy to teach because they are in it 100% and know what is necessary and expected of them to succeed. While I'm sure I've lost some potential students, I can sleep at night knowing we're all probably better for it. And I'm flying my butt off these days so apparently I'm not scaring too many people away! :P

 

Blue Skies

HG03

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I think frustration, slow progress also brings cost implications.

There were times I thought "why am I here" never going to get there lets walk.

This is where a good FI will help talk you through your problem or even say don't think you are cut out for this, I did overhear my instructor saying this to a guy, it was wrapped up nice but that was the bottom line.

 

A lot of work & cost is required, a review after 10 hours to discuss progress was part of my training, with a statement that I would not be ready in the minimum hours, this gave me confidence in instructor, I could have walked due to lack of commitment or money, but he gave me the truthful appraisal which was correct. (not saying how many extra hours)

Hg3 has the attitude I admire tell it like it is.

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Across the US, I would guess helo schools do not fare much better. Look at the dropout rate for SSH!

 

The scary thing is the dropout rate at SSH was a lot lower than it should have been. It's amazing how long someone will continue to try and do something they have no ability to do when they're committed to losing 60 grand. Some of those people eventually managed to make it through somehow and are flying comemrcially. Scary.

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I been at this for going on 36 years now, its nothing new. There was a 70% drop out rate from people who started flying lessons to the one that gotten a pilot certificate. This comes up just about every time there is a deep economic down turn. Part of the problem is the aircraft, when I learned how to fly, the airplanes I learned in were already old, now just older. Good lord a new 172 will set you back dam close to 300K and it will not perform much better than a 172 that is 40 years old. You get the new airplane stink, and G-1000, a radio that takes about 8 hours to learn the basics of it and another 50 to get comfort level up. I had old Narco radios and when I gotten into an airplane with the state of the Art KX 170B's the interface was none needed and I thought I died and when to heaven. As for the Helicopter side, gee, I learned in a Bell 47G-3b-1 it was an old machine then and at the time R-22's were just getting going. A lot of people start flying with the idea of what flying is, and well they find out soon enough what it is not. So there is the drop out factor. Its the time you have to put into it and the study part that puts a lot of people off. The regs say 40 hours for a private pilot certificate, and most are no were close to that number 75 to 80 hours of flight time is more like it. Money always was a factor, thou not as much as some would belief. I don't know why the drop out rate is what it is, I been trying to figure that one out for about as long as I been flying. The rewrite of part 61 has not help the matter much, or things like Recreation Certificates either. Now Sport Pilot poses some thing interesting, but there is the lack of affordable Sport Aircraft, either you spend a lot on a new aircraft or not so much, but a lot for what they are on old forty to 60 year old J-3's. Never mind the other expenses that go into flying. AOPA would like to see the growth numbers of the 1950's and 60's and all the little airports that were around then that have since gone. The airport I learn at have been buldozed back in 1985 and is nothing but an over grown field now, That is the other problem, the lack of little airports and a welcome sign, to many locked gates and Barbed Wire!

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he scary thing is the dropout rate at SSH was a lot lower than it should have been. It's amazing how long someone will continue to try and do something they have no ability to do when they're committed to losing 60 grand. Some of those people eventually managed to make it through somehow and are flying comemrcially. Scary.

 

That is the scary thing for sure. It is amazing how many people have licences that should not be in an aircraft!

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  • 2 weeks later...

I've noticed quite a few people quitting when they get their commercial. Alot of people seem to be scared of the idea of CFI, and the issue of getting a job once they have it. I remember the speech from a few yrs back "Oh yeah, get through school and well give you job for sure! And then once you have 500-1,000 hrs, you can go to PHI and start at 60k a yr!". Find a school now days that can say that, and will actually be able to follow through with it. I can't deny it, it got to me. I moved schools after commercial to a place with more students. Hype gets to every and I've had people even at the private level ask me question related to this and what they should do.

 

Now it is a legitimate concern, especially in this job market. However, it certainly doesn't help the atmosphere or motivation of a student.

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I've noticed quite a few people quitting when they get their commercial. A lot of people seem to be scared of the idea of CFI, and the issue of getting a job once they have it...

 

Not all pilots make good teachers. In fact the two jobs are completely unrelated! The fact that everyone who wants to be a career pilot (who can't join the military) must teach as a way to "pay their dues" in order to get hired as a pilot, is absurd! I've certainly flown with enough Cfis, who although, were good pilots, were crapy teachers,...but what ya gonna do?

:o

 

Others probably say to themselves,(after hearing stories of hundereds of unemployed Cfis, who haven't flown since graduating),...why bother with it? :huh:

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Hey everybody..

 

this will be quick (i know what you're thinking.. impossible, but i have no choice, gotta get ready for the job fair and i've been gone three days already). :-)

 

i actually have a ton of stuff to say about this, but can't decide where to start... folks above are right-on about much of it, but there are other things we see behind the curtains so to speak. most flight schools operate at a loss, or so close to it they squeak.. it's very hard for an owner/operator to turn students away because it means much needed revenue to them... so, some end up flying students and promising them a future, even tho they clearly know that they will probably never be professional pilots. (now, before you jump to conclusions, there could be many reasons for them not making it; No focus, bad attitude, not professional.. i'm not necessarily talking about lack of skills or aptitude, many times the flying is the easy part!). Some schools will take large sums of $$ from students up-front KNOWING they will probably not make it.. then when they fail or give up, the school takes fees out of their balance and up to a year to return their $$, if they ever do! In our humble opinion this is criminal.. both financially and morally. Now, i know some of you are thinking that you can't really KNOW someone will not make it, and you are completely correct... but the one's that are marginal and then do pull thru are few and far between, and we think operators should tell them right up front.. it's hard, but it's only right. Especially if they are getting loans for the $$.

 

the above is just one issue i have seen that adds to the drop-out rate.. but i would put it high on the list of causes.

 

Another, which has been brought up, is that some folks, usually the younger pilots in training, come into this with the idea that it will be quick, fun and easy... fun, yes, and worth it, you bet, but for most... not easy. I don't think most even think about the amount of work it will take, and dedication, it can easily overwhelm!

 

aloha,

 

dp

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Dp, you see this first hand more than most of us. I think part of it is the sense of entitlement younger generations have. I interview people (for other jobs, not pilots) who think because they have 6 months experience they demand 100K a year. It used to be the "norm" that we would start out in a career, work there years and move up gradually. I know I sound like another old fart, but most younger folks today have a much higher expectation of where they will be a month from now than most of us ever dreamed of at their age.

 

For those that work hard to achieve that expectation, they can really succeed. For those that expect it to be handed to them, well..quite frankly, they don't.

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Dp, you see this first hand more than most of us. I think part of it is the sense of entitlement younger generations have. I interview people (for other jobs, not pilots) who think because they have 6 months experience they demand 100K a year. It used to be the "norm" that we would start out in a career, work there years and move up gradually. I know I sound like another old fart, but most younger folks today have a much higher expectation of where they will be a month from now than most of us ever dreamed of at their age.

 

For those that work hard to achieve that expectation, they can really succeed. For those that expect it to be handed to them, well..quite frankly, they don't.

 

I hear this a lot about us "younger pilots". I don't know where everyone gets the idea that we're in it for the money, and expect it ALL, right now?

 

Every job I have tried to get has paid between $400 and $800/mo. I am well aware of, and am expecting to, have to sleep in my car, and eat peanut butter (out of the jar) three meals a day, while trying to survive on $400/mo, just to fly twice a week, for a few years while building enough time for an "entry-level" job!

 

In fact my career goal was to fly Tours in Vegas, and I have always been well aware of the fact that they only make around $30K to $40K/year!

 

I really don't think "low pay" is why anyone is dropping out. I suppose their could be one or two out there (probably Silverstate victims, from what I've heard about their ads), but I've never met one?

<_<

 

I didn't feel "entitled" to make $100K six months after graduating! I just wanted a way in. I mean,...how am I supposed to "pay my dues" if I can't find that first job, and doesn't a license "entitle" me to at least that? Because if it doesn't, than why would anyone go beyond the Private?

:huh:

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I know I sound like another old fart, but most younger folks today have a much higher expectation of where they will be a month from now than most of us ever dreamed of at their age.

 

The world moves much faster today than it did back in your days. If you don't keep up with it it leaves you behind.

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A license doesn't entitle you to anything but the ability to fly. Being hardworking, presentable, knowledgeable, and persistent does. There are first jobs out there, its just the matter of finding them. I know a few people who got great jobs by finishing school, and then becoming a linemen at heli bases. Making contacts and maintaining those contacts. Its like the offshore diving industry, you don't finish dive school then directly become a diver. Typically, you're a tender first before you "break out" into the industry. even if it takes you close to a year to find that first job they do exist.

 

Being able to say after all this I came out on top: this is why you go past the private level. It's not for all of us, but is attainable for some.

 

And anytime anyone ever said they're considering dropping out my only response is this, "That benefits us both, you get a new career, and I have less competition for a mine"

 

And butters, I'm not trying to belittle you or make you feel worse, as I once felt the same as you. I managed to find a way in, and it is possible despite what it may seem like.

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Amen screen name!

 

And I keep up with the world moving fast around me, but I'm always willing to start near the bottom knowing I will soon be running the place.

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I've always been willing to start at the bottom. I was just never able to find an operator who's doggy door I could crawl through.

 

Anyway, this topic is about "dropping out", so here's why I dropped out. After years of searching, I finally realized that a job flying a helicopter wasn't worth the sacrifices it took to get one.

 

There's more to life than what I do for a living, and flying isn't my "raison d'etre"!

:)

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Anyway, this topic is about "dropping out", so here's why I dropped out. After years of searching, I finally realized that a job flying a helicopter wasn't worth the sacrifices it took to get one.

 

:)

 

 

you aren't flying or doing training?

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you aren't flying or doing training?

 

I did some recurrent training a couple of weeks ago, and I still try to fly at least once a month (while I still have some savings left).

 

I'm now trying to find another career path (while I'm still "somewhat" young). And if I do finally establish myself doing something else, I doubt I'd be able to afford to leave, if by some miracle, a flying job ever came up?

 

There's a point of no return when trying to start a career, and since I'm closing in on five years, I think I've definitly reached it!

 

If I were to continue to search for a job in this industry, I'd end up spending my retirement years, ripping tickets at the multiplex!

:lol:

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