Best Flight Schools

Updated on February 4, 2024

Flight school is an important investment for aspiring pilots. Choosing the right program can set students up for success in a lucrative aviation career. When selecting a flight academy, key factors to consider include location, cost, fleet quality, instructor expertise, and job placement resources. The following flight schools stand out as top training programs across the United States.

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

Location: Daytona Beach, FL

Rating: 9/10

Acceptance Rate: 70%

Avg SAT Score: 1210

Tuition: $37,370 per year

Avg Salary: $69,000


Embry-Riddle boasts top-tier training, modern aircraft and simulators, along with extensive career guidance. As the world’s largest aviation university, Embry-Riddle graduates are highly recruited in the industry. The school maintains close partnerships with airlines and corporate flight departments.

University of North Dakota

Location: Grand Forks, ND

Rating: 8.5/10

Acceptance Rate: 83%

Avg SAT Score: 1080

Tuition: $24,000 per year

Avg Salary: $55,000


UND offers an immersive flight program with access to a fleet of over 100 aircraft. The university operates one of the largest non-military flight facilities in the world. UND has trained over 10,000 pilots to date and partners closely with regional airlines for job placement.

Purdue University

Location: West Lafayette, IN

Rating: 8/10

Acceptance Rate: 67%

Avg SAT Score: 1370

Tuition: $28,000 per year

Avg Salary: $62,000


Purdue’s professional pilot program includes technologically advanced Cirrus aircraft and flight simulators. The university also offers runway access to a major international airport. Graduates have an impressive job placement rate at both regional and major airlines.

Arizona State University

Location: Mesa, AZ

Rating: 7.5/10

Acceptance Rate: 89%

Avg SAT Score: 1220

Tuition: $10,822 per year (in-state)

Avg Salary: $50,000


ASU offers a world-class facility called the Polytechnic Campus. The flight school utilizes a fleet of Piper aircraft and high-level Frasca flight training devices. Small class sizes ensure personalized instruction. Graduates report high satisfaction with career prep and job placement.

Liberty University

Location: Lynchburg, VA

Rating: 7/10

Acceptance Rate: 89%

Avg SAT Score: 1110

Tuition: $22,021 per year

Avg Salary: $48,000


As one of the largest Christian universities in the world, Liberty offers values-driven training. The flight school provides new Cessna 172s and Piper aircraft, along with advanced simulators. Students receive rigorous training and individualized attention from instructors.

Florida Institute of Technology

Location: Melbourne, FL

Rating: 8/10

Acceptance Rate: 48%

Avg SAT Score: 1250

Tuition: $36,500 per year

Avg Salary: $62,000


FIT Aviation operates a fleet of Cirrus and Piper aircraft for training. The program focuses both on pilot certifications and broader aeronautical science education. Graduates report high career satisfaction and typically transition smoothly into airline, corporate or instructing roles.

Middle Tennessee State University

Location: Murfreesboro, TN

Rating: 7/10

Acceptance Rate: 84%

Avg SAT Score: 1080

Tuition: $9,092 per year (in-state)

Avg Salary: $55,000


MTSU has specially designed facilities for aviation students. The aerospace department provides training in technologically advanced simulators and aircraft. Strong industry connections facilitate internships and job placement. Graduates regularly matriculate to regional airline roles soon after certification.

LeTourneau University

Location: Longview, TX

Rating: 6.5/10

Acceptance Rate: 68%

Avg SAT Score: 1080

Tuition: $30,770 per year

Avg Salary: $55,000


Letourneau University has a Christian foundation dedicated to servant leadership. The aviation program includes a fleet of advanced Cirrus SR20 aircraft and state-of-the-art Redbird simulators. Commercial pilot graduates report high job placement rates soon after finishing.

Southern Illinois University

Location: Carbondale, IL

Rating: 6/10

Acceptance Rate: 58%

Avg SAT Score: 1060

Tuition: $15,835 per year

Avg Salary: $55,000


SIU’s aviation technologies program includes hands-on flight instruction, simulator training and aviation management coursework. The university offers an intimate learning environment focused on safety and leadership. Recent graduates have matriculated to regional airline and corporate aviation roles across the central U.S.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What are the main factors to consider when choosing a flight school?

The main factors include cost, fleet quality, instructor expertise, location/access to airports, job placement resources, and the availability of financial aid or scholarships. Carefully weighing these factors can help identify the best fit flight academy.

How much does flight school cost?

Most four-year aviation degree programs cost between $80,000-$100,000. Accelerated flight-only schools can range from $30,000-$60,000. Cost varies based on fleet, technology, location, reputation and more. Financial aid can offset expenses.

How long does flight school take?

The typical timeframe is 18-24 months for a bachelor’s in aviation or aeronautics. Flight-only programs focusing solely on certifications can take 6-12 months. The duration depends on full/part-time enrollment, weather delays, and stage of training (private vs commercial).

What certifications do I need to become an airline pilot?

The key certifications are private pilot license, instrument rating, commercial pilot license, and multi-engine rating. Most airlines require at least 1,000-1,500 flight hours before applying. Bachelor’s degrees and CFI ratings make candidates more competitive.

Can I work while attending flight school?

Most intensive flight programs recommend avoiding outside work in order to fully focus on training. However, some schools allow flexible scheduling, enabling students to accommodate part-time jobs. Working as a certified flight instructor (CFI) also provides income.

What aircraft are used for flight training?

Standard training aircraft are light single-engine planes like Cessna 172s and Piper Cherokees. Multi-engine training uses light twins such as Piper Senecas or Beechcraft Duchesses. Large flight schools have dozens of planes while small schools may have just 3-5 dedicated trainers.

Are there flight simulator options?

Many schools incorporate advanced flight simulation technology into training. Simulators provide realistic cockpit environments facilitating instrument training. High-quality simulators can reduce overall flight time and cost.

Can I get college credit for previous flight experience?

Schools may provide course credit for prior flight ratings through exemption exams. Most schools allow students to complete general education credits separately through AP, community college or CLEP tests. Each college has specific transfer and test-out policies.

How competitive is the commercial airline job market?

The airline job market is quite competitive, but retirement rates help drive steady pilot demand. Building experience as a flight instructor or corporate pilot can help differentiate candidates. Networking, persistence and flexibility on job location also improve prospects after certification.

What physical or medical requirements exist?

Students must hold FAA medical certificates (minimum Class 2) to start flight lessons. Class 1 certificates are required for airline pilots. Excellent hearing, vision, color perception and motor coordination are essential. Ongoing medical exams ensure fitness to fly.

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Rohit Mittal

Rohit Mittal is the co-founder and CEO of Stilt. Rohit has extensive experience in credit risk analytics and data science. He spent years building credit risk and fraud models for top U.S. banks. In his current role, he defines the overall business strategy, leads debt and capital fundraising efforts, leads product development, and leads other customer-related aspects for the company. Stilt is backed by Y Combinator and has raised a total of $275M in debt and equity funding to date.

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