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Craft a new menuCraft a new menu

Does your school offer private, instrument, and commercial training? Good. So does everyone else. If you want to stand out, craft a new menu. Flight training doesn’t have to fit into a perfect box of a certificate or rating. Offer new skills, new adventures, and new ideas.

Taking a more expansive approach has two key benefits. It differentiates you from your competition, and it gives students a reason to continue to fly with you. Here are a few ideas, direct from the schools that are offering the course:

Time building: Pilots are constantly looking to build time for any number of reasons. The new ATP rule that requires 1,500 hours to get an airline job is the newest. If a student doesn’t want to instruct, maybe they’d be willing to put down a flat sum for a specific number of hours. ATP does this in a few different configurations.

Pinch hitter: You’ve heard of these before, the nonpilot courses that get spouses and significant others involved in flying. The safety element is what sells the course, but from a flight school perspective, you have another prospect in the database who has self-identified. A good experience here and they may come back for more. Make sure to structure it in a digestible way, as the Aeroventure Institute has.

Bush flying: Who says you have to be in Alaska to have a bush flying experience? The Andover Flight Academy conducts its nationally renowned course from New Jersey. The right instructor, right landing spots, and right attitude are all that’s required.

Finish up: There are literally hundreds of thousands of people in this country who have taken some sort of flight instruction, yet never earned a certificate. Appeal directly to them with a course that promises to finish their training. You know it’s simply a private or sport pilot training course. They think it’s customized. Sporty’s Academy has had good success with their version.

Rusty Pilot: It’s shocking how many pilots don’t realize that all they need to do to regain currency is to complete a flight review. Many never get back into flying because they think their certificates expire and they have to start over. Get them back in the air with a Rusty Pilot course through AOPA.

IPC: Uncertainty in the buying process can be just enough to push a customer away. Make it easy for them by creating currency packages, such as an instrument proficiency check. Don’t just spell out the requirements on your website—create a flat-rate course that gets them fully back up to speed. Pull in a combination of ground, flight, simulator, and study materials, as SunState Aviation has done and you have a good offering.

These are just a few of the dozens of options available. Whether it be an adventure course, a currency offering, or a new aircraft checkout, use your imagination and expand your menu.

Ian J. Twombly

Ian J. Twombly

"Flight Training" Editor
AOPA Pilot and Flight Training Editor Ian J. Twombly joined AOPA in 2003 and is an instrument flight instructor.

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