Proof of Concept

Since the day we opened our doors, Charleston Flight School has been sending the same message to as many people as we could: flight training has changed drastically with the advent of high-quality training devices, often referred to as flight simulators.

Kevin, left, with Matt

Kevin, left, with Matt

In flight training, time is definitely money. The more you fly, the more you spend. It’s always been that way because, let’s face it, flying can be an expensive hobby. And the truth is, you can’t learn how to fly unless you spend time in an airplane. The trick is to minimize, as much as possible, the hours that you need to spend in an aircraft.

On January 24, 2014, a young man named Kevin Sandoval stepped into our simulator for the first time. He had purchased 10 hours of block time in our Redbird FMX full-motion simulator and wanted to learn to fly as quickly as possible. Kevin soloed after just 10 hours in the airplane, and on April 16, 2014, he passed his private pilot checkride with the examiner Wally Moran. That’s a total of 82 days.

From the start, we’ve been telling prospective students that if they followed our system and used the simulator in conjunction with the airplane, they could finish up much more quickly, which translates to much less expensively. The FAA requires a minimum time of 40 hours in the airplane. They will allow 2½  half hours of sim time to substitute for airplane time. That means a flight student could get their license with 37.5 hours of flight time. Kevin Sandoval had exactly 37.5 hours in the airplane when he took his checkride.

Of course, Kevin has some other things going for him. He was completely comfortable in the sim from the very first day, and he trained on a regular basis. Towards the end of his training, he would fly twice a day. But in addition to all that, his CFI, Matt Schwade followed the Charleston Flight School syllabus, teaching Kevin how to master every maneuver in the simulator, and then letting him practice what he learned when he got into the airplane.

Kevin was an exceptional student from the very beginning. Nonetheless, there is no doubt that the use of the simulator accelerated Kevin through his lessons. We can’t promise everybody can get done in 37½ hours, but we can promise that by using our system, we will save you money and time, and make you a better pilot to boot. Getting you into the air as quickly as possible, and as safely as possible, is our goal. Matt Schwade guided Kevin to the first step in an anticipated long career.

If your dream is to fly, whether as a bucket list item or a career move, check the flight schools around you very closely. Talk to freelance flight instructors. Find out if there is a flight simulator in your area and ask that flight school if they use it. Remember that every hour in the airplane is cash out of your pocket, and that cash out of your pocket goes into the pocket of someone else. Keep in mind that some flight schools have a vested interest in stretching out your training because the flight instructors need the hours to go to the airlines, and the flight school makes money on both the flight instructor and the airplane rental. Ask questions, get references, and choose somebody that is more interested in teaching you how to fly than moving on to the airlines.

Don’t accept boring holes in the skies, doing the same thing over and over, with little input from your instructor except to schedule your next flight. Your goal is to learn how to fly and don’t let somebody take advantage of you and delay your goal for their own selfish purposes.

To Kevin Sandoval, we say congratulations!