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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

Ian J. Twombly is senior content producer for AOPA Media.

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