Being an international student in flight school in the USA is rewarding, challenging and exciting. I came from The Bahamas, so South Florida quickly became the top and best choice to go to for flight training. Florida is known worldwide as a top region for flight training. The weather is usually great, winters are mild, the terrain is flat and there are many airports and flight schools.
The general environment in Florida is aviation oriented. There are plenty of flight schools, major airports, general aviation and commercial traffic, student pilots and aviation professionals. Also, one of the biggest airshows - Sun n Fun is held in Florida yearly in Lakeland. As an international flight school student this makes training in Florida all the more interesting. The area I live in is about 3 miles to the west of North Perry between Ft Lauderdale and Miami. My house is almost lined up with the approach end of runway 10R. As a result, I hear a majority of the air traffic landing as runway 10R is probably the most used runway. This keeps me motivated and inspired. It’s the best sound to wake up to.
The level of professionalism and skill of the air traffic controllers (ATC) is always incredible to experience. Coming from The Bahamas, local controllers do not have the same amount of resources or training as many U.S. air traffic controllers. The level of weather and flight planning resources available in the U.S. is so vast. It gives you confidence in your flight planning and makes flying in Florida more enjoyable.
When you are not flying, there is much to do in Florida while you are on the ground. There is almost always an event happening in South Florida. There are theme parks, beaches, concerts and festivals, to boat and air shows. The Academy’s Student Affairs team tries to ensure that your life as a student goes as smoothly as possible. Ensuring the safety of all student pilots is crucial to them. Attempts to help students get comfortable and associate with each other are encouraged through extra-curricular activities. A lot of attention is placed on international students since the culture and language can be very different for some.
Overall, I have had an amazing time flying in Florida. The weather is usually perfect. In the summer, you can get pop up thunderstorms in the afternoon but they do not tend to last long. Sometimes it can get bumpy at noon time since Florida is warm and flat so many thermals may develop. On one hand, it helps you develop the skill of knowing which clouds not to fly under. On the other hand, flights in the afternoon can get really turbulent. My favorite experience is flying up and down Miami beach. It is such a scenic view and a calming flight. Seeing all the high rise buildings, luxury condos, the Miami Heat Basketball Arena, Port of Miami and the sharks in the shallow water is always an extraordinary experience.
Florida is without a doubt one of the best places for an international student to go to for flight school. Good weather and infrastructure along with a diverse international community, endless things to do and scenic flying has made the U.S.A. and more specifically South Florida the ideal choice for me.
What is your most memorable experience as an international flight school student in the USA?