Over the years I have very much appreciated the confidence that our customers have placed in us. Confidence that has some sending us thousands of dollars before they have even met us or seen our operation. In the case of some foreign applicants this is a requirement conditional to the granting of a visa to come and study in Canada. The Canadian government may ask for evidence of funds deposited in a Canadian bank showing that funds are available to complete the desired training.
As president of Harv’s Air over the years I have also heard of many student pilots depositing large amounts of money at flight schools in Canada and in the USA only to find that the school was not able to deliver promised training or worse yet to go out of business altogether leaving the student locked out with his or her money tied up in some hopeless tangle. Any hopes of a refund are usually between unlikely and impossible.
What can a prospective student do to protect themselves from such a terrible situation? Do your research! How long has the flight school been in operation? Do they own or lease their aircraft, hangars, offices and other related equipment? Do they ask for large amounts of money upfront with the promise of discounts or gifts if this is done? Are references or testimonials available of students who have trained there in the past? Can you spend the time and money to personally check out the school and talk to their staff? Can you afford not to do this?
Be aware of organizations that ask and encourage that large sums of money be paid upfront! Although flight schools are not a bank in that you should owe them money, likewise they are not a bank in that they should be sitting on a lot of your money. Sadly there are a lot of schools spending today’s money paying 2 month old bills (or older). Unusually bad weather, sudden increase in costs, 9-11, SAR’s or just about anything may be enough to push some of these businesses over the edge.
Prepaying large sums also means you lose control. What incentive does the school have to serve you if they have your money already?
Again I say, do your homework, check things out. That way you can be confident that the training organization you pick will see you through all your training.