I was asked recently on another forum if it would be worth it to train in small bites when the money was available or to save up for a year (or more) to do it all at once. I thought I'd share that write-up here with those who might be entertaining a similar question:
Yes definitely, but go into it fully aware of what's to
come: Once you have your license, you have acquired a skill that is
multifaceted and has a shelf-life. The longer the time between your
flights, the more rust has a chance to build on your skills. Most people
can go a week or 2 in the early stages and not experience significant
recession, but beyond that you'll find yourself working hard to do basic
things. Please consider establishing a personal minimum for time between
flights (or if it goes long, go up for an hour of rust removal with an
Your US pilot's license itself will NEVER expire, but it can go dormant so to
speak. Every 2 years you're required to go up for a flight review with an
instructor and if you don't then your license is not usable until you do.
I have had clients who haven't flown for 20 years come to me for this kind of
training. It takes a little while to get back into the game, but they do
not have to re-test in any way.
Saving up prior to training also gives you the ability to do it on a better
pace. If you could see yourself going for a week or more between lessons,
don't go up. You'll spend the entire next lesson trying to get back to
where you were when the last one ended and this is a sure way to spend way too
much money doing the same thing.
The best way to train is to spend several full days in a row, take a break of a
few days for study and recuperation, then go back at it again. This kind
of immersion will give you a huge advantage: the familiarity with what you're
doing and the freshness of the experience will let you build more advanced
skills more efficiently (ie: less money).
If you can't do full days in a row, at least try to do several consecutive half
days. Don't let the school talk you into going for an hour or two per
session - you want more depth than that. Go for around 4 hours at a time,
at least. This will allow you sufficient time to brief the flight, do the
flight, then post-brief.
Study the books before you even go for your first flight too - the more time
you spend filling your head with knowledge the less you'll have to pay for
somebody else to do it.
Since I'm already well down the path of answering way more than you asked, one
more thing: be picky about your instructor. The first job most pilots get
is that of teaching. Don't let the school just assign you an instructor,
interview several and ask about their experience and teaching style.
You'll find out very quickly who is there just to build their time and who
really cares about teaching you well.
Chief Pilot, The Flight Academy
11 Jun 2012 13:37