In this article, I’m going to answer one question we hear often, do accelerated flight training programs work.
Fast-paced flight training is a popular option with students looking to get into an aviation career. This sort of training means dedicating a lot of time and money to your flying upfront—but it also means getting your wings as quickly as possible.
Are these programs worth it? Here are some advantages and disadvantages of accelerated programs, along with some tips for success if you decide to dive in.
What is an Accelerated Flight Training Program?
This is the opposite of what most people do when they go out to get their pilot’s licenses. The more common route is to take your time and participate a few times a week.
The Difference Between Accelerated Flight Training and Regular Flight Training
You’ll usually book a two-hour flight lesson three times a week, or maybe four if you’ve got the time to spare. Of course, you’ll still have to study in between flights, but you’ll also have time for work, school, and family obligations.
Perhaps the best way to describe the difference between the two paradigms is to ponder what you would have to give up to accelerate your flight training. In the example above, you were working or at school and taking lessons on the side.
An accelerated training program is the opposite.
Accelerated training programs are full-time commitments. They require your complete attention, from morning until evening five or six days per week.
The specific time commitments and how long you must dedicate to the program depend on several factors.
For one, it depends on what type of training you’re setting out to do. For those who are already pilots, accelerated programs to add a rating have been around for decades. With the right prep, you can accomplish many things in the course of a few days.
Advantages of Accelerated Flight Programs
Think about it—who learns a foreign language better and faster? The student who takes one French class every week, or the student who moves to France for a few months?
Believe it or not, the student success rate with accelerated flight training is very high. While this might sound counter-intuitive, this reality stems from the commitment you have to have to begin one.
By putting everything else on hold, you’re ensuring that other things aren’t going to pop up and that you’ll have minimal distractions during your training.
Even in accelerated programs, students have time between lessons to assimilate their new knowledge.
However, in normal flight training, students usually have a few moments of reviewing and recapping what happened last time. That catch-up time isn’t necessary when your lessons are stacked so closely together, and that enables you to move forward even faster.
Finally, accelerated flight training often makes a huge difference in how you schedule your flight lessons. Of course, every program is different, but there may be groundwork every morning followed by longer flights or simulator blocks in the afternoon.
Longer schedule blocks are good for a lot of reasons. For one thing, it means more training time and fewer pre-flights, taxiing, and run-ups. Those items necessary for every flight still get done and still get learned—but they eat up a smaller percentage of your total training time.
Disadvantages of Accelerated Flight Programs
For all the plusses of getting your training done quickly, some minuses need to be considered. This type of training is certainly not optimal for everyone.
If you’ve never experienced it before, accelerated training is likened to “drinking from a fire hose.” You’re going to have a lot of information thrown at you and very little time to study and absorb it all.
Therefore, studying in advance is crucial.
The time commitment and time frame are also things to consider.
Not everyone can give up a few months or a year to complete the entire program. When you go through training that quickly, you also go through money very quickly. Most accelerated flight programs require you to pay in advance for precisely that reason—it’s just too tedious to make payments every day.
One concern with learning a skill quickly is retention. Often when we learn something new, it is in the repeating of that skill and the use of it that ingrains it into our long-term memory. When you learn something quickly, there is always a chance that you can forget it just as quickly.
This is one reason why this sort of pilot training isn’t the best option for everyone.
Ideally, those who want to be professional aviators, to use their new knowledge every day for the rest of their careers, make the best candidates for this type of program.
Finally, during long programs, there could be a problem with burnout. Pushing yourself too hard for too long can have a negative effect on your learning. All flight students need to take time to rest and relax for their health and for the good of their training.
Tips for Success in Accelerated Training Programs
If there is one recipe for success in a fast-paced flight school, it’s to do as much as possible on your own and in advance.
Because the knowledge exam requires extra practice and study, which will create a stumbling block when combined with the practical lessons. By having it out of the way early in your training, your mental and time resources are freed up for learning other things.
You should also have completed ground school. This will help you begin training with a strong base. There are many online ground schools to choose from to help you with this. If you need help picking one view our article on the best online ground school options.
The closer you can come to an immersive all-aviation-all-the-time experience, the better.
Schools that offer programs have a fantastic community of students that have come together to learn their skills. All those like-minded people make great comrades and study partners. So don’t bail out when class is adjourned—stick around and become an “airport bum.” It’s amazing what you’ll learn and what opportunities may open up.
Finally, try not to put too much pressure on yourself and remain flexible.
Are Accelerated Flight Programs Worth It?
This is a question only you can answer for your own situation. Hopefully, now you’ve got an idea of what a program like this will take on your part. It’s a big commitment of your resources.
Like all instruction, your success and the value you get from your training are dependent on the school you pick and the instructor you work with. Finding the right school isn’t just about their instructional record or their program—it’s also a culture fit.
You need to find a place where you’re comfortable and ready to learn.
If you’re starting your training right out of school, it minimizes the time between school and your first paying job. On the other hand, if you’re trying to wrap up a rating or get a specialization like your CFI, you can’t beat accelerated training.
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Liz Brassaw is a first officer for a regional airline and the former Chief Pilot and Chief Flight Operations Officer for Thrust Flight. She holds an ATP, CFI, CFII, MEI, AMEL, ASES with over 2,500 hours of flight instruction given. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree from the Utah Valley University School of Aviation Sciences. She’s passionate about flying and enjoys instilling that love in the instructors on her team and the new students she trains.