If you live in Calgary or the surrounding area and are thinking of getting your license, you have a few choices when it comes to flight schools. The closest airfield to Calgary where you can get your license is Calgary – Springbank (CYBW), about 30 minutes from downtown Calgary. There are currently four flight schools at CYBW.
The four schools are (1) Calgary Flying Club, (2) Springbank Air Training College (SATC), (3) Fly Right, and now (4) Springbank Aero. The biggest schools are my flight school: SATC, and Calgary Flying Club; they have the largest fleet of aircraft and the most instructors on staff. Fly Right and Springbank Aero are smaller.
Springbank Aero re-opened May 2013 at Springbank Airport. They are back in operation after briefly loosing their CFI (Chief Flight Instructor). They have hired a new CFI and are ready to accept students as of last May. This flight school has been in operation for over 15 years before the brief closure. They are located off of taxiway Charlie – so like the Calgary Flying Club, they are a shorter taxi to the runway. They have 3 Cessna 172’s for single engine training and their twin engine is the Piper Twin Comanche which has been recently refurbished.
The Calgary Flight Training Centre is also an option for those who live in the area, but they fly out of the Old-Didsbury Airport, which is further from Calgary (almost an hour north of downtown). The advantages are a smaller airport and far, far less busy airspace.
Big school or small school?
The advantage of going with a larger school are generally there are more resources available in terms of aircraft and instruction. Also, ongoing private and commercial ground schools are generally found at the larger schools. Smaller schools sometimes don’t run formal classroom teaching unless they have enough students – but the ground schools may be administered online. The benefits of a smaller school are a more personal experience and better availability of aircraft. A smaller school will have less students and won’t be as busy – so better odds that your instructor will have more time for you and your chances of booking an aircraft short notice are likely better.
Read some things you should consider when picking a flight school. Also, some things you should consider if you are deciding whether you want to learn how to fly or a laugh about why learning to fly is a bad idea.