flight school in California

Best 15 Flight Schools In California (updated)

It’s a common misconception that you have to live near an airport to enroll in flight school. However, there are over 100 flight schools across the state of California! That means no matter where your future pilot lives, from San Diego to Sacramento and from Redding to Fresno, they can find a flight school close by.

In this article, we will explore some of the best flight schools in California and what makes them so great!

1. Torrance Flight Training Center – Torrance, CA

Torrance Flight Training Center

Torrance Flight Training Center (TFTC) is a small, family-owned, and operated business operating since 1976. Located in sunny California, Torrance Flight offers students the opportunity to train outside of the congestion of major airports without sacrificing the time it takes to learn how to fly! Their staff boasts over 200 years of combined aviation experience, and they offer instruction for certificated pilots and those who want to pursue their private pilot license.

The instructors at Torrance Flight employ a variety of programs and methods. For example, many schools will use video training to help students learn essential skills such as takeoffs and landings; however, TFTC uses structured lesson plans rather than videos, which allows students to retain crucial information.

Although TFTC is a family-owned and operated business, its instructors are top-notch! They have a very well-run system in place that aids in providing excellent customer service as well as ensuring their pilots get the most out of their time training at Torrance Flight.

2. Bob Ellis Aviation – Lancaster, CA

Bob Ellis Aviation

Bob Ellis Aviation (BEA) is owned by Bob Ellis and is located at Mc Clellan Airfield, where it has been operating since 2003. BEA boasts dual Command Instrument/Commercial Pilot ratings and offers private pilot training for single-engine land and sea aircraft. BEA has earned the reputation of being one of the finest flight schools in California because they take pride in their customer service and the experience and skill of their instructors.

The instructors at BEA are not only experienced; they’re also lovely! According to customers on Yelp, the staff is unlike any other flight school because you see that they care about your needs and wants. They bend over backward to make sure you get what you want out of your time with them, including whether or not you will receive a ride in their airplane for free!

3. Stockton Field Aviation – Stockton, CA

Stockton Field Aviation (SF) has been operating since 1970. It is located at the Stockton Metropolitan Airport, where they offer private pilots training and single-engine land and sea ratings. SF was founded by its current owner, Chuck Halterman, who owns and operates the business with his wife, Kathy. SF is a full-service flight training school that offers aviation classes, and individualized lesson plans to help their students learn at their own pace and maximize their learning potential.

SF has an excellent average rating on Yelp; however, it’s not just all talk! Their satisfied customers rave about how great of a value Stockton Field Aviation is because they care about getting you into the sky for a fair price. In addition, SF boasts a top-notch staff that makes sure you have fun while also helping you become a proficient pilot!

4. Visalia Flight Center – Visalia, CA

Visalia Flight Center (VFC) is a flight school that has been operating since 1989 and is located at the Visalia Municipal Airport. VFC also boasts an excellent Yelp review average as well as many satisfied customers. VFC believes in offering high-quality training for a fair price, which helps them build a solid customer base.

VFC’s instructors have years of aviation knowledge and experience, so you can rest assured knowing they will be able to help you learn all about flying an airplane! With over 25 years of success under their belt, you know that the team at Visalia Flight Center is one of the best in California by far.

5. Liberty Aviation – Hayward, CA

Liberty Aviation (VA) was founded in 2011 and is also located at the Hayward Executive Airport. VA specializes in flying lessons for single-engine aircraft and also offers private pilot training. The founders of VA, Lance, and Leland, are very experienced; they’ve been flying ever since they were kids! They have extensive knowledge about all things aviation, which helps them provide one of California’s best flight training experiences.

The instructors at Liberty Aviation are not only professional pilots but great people as well! Customers on Yelp rave about how much fun it is to train with these guys because you know that the time spent learning will be both valuable and entertaining. The staff at Liberty Aviation makes sure their customers receive quality instruction while also having a blast doing so!

6. Santa Monica Flyers – Santa Monica, CA

Santa Monica Flyers (SA) is a flight school located at the Santa Monica Municipal Airport. SA has earned its place as one of the best flight schools in California because they provide excellent service to their customers while also providing exceptional training. The owners and operators of SA, Dan, and Dena, put customer service first so you’ll always feel like an essential part of their family.

With over 25 years of experience under their belt, you know that the staff at Santa Monica Flyers knows what they are doing and how much experience matters when it comes to learning how to fly! SA offers excellent pricing, fantastic instruction, and quality equipment, all of which make for one happy customer who can now call themselves a pilot!

7. Chico Aero – Chico, CA

Chico Aero (CA) is a flight school located at the Paradise City Airport, where they provide both private and commercial pilot training. With over 50 years of experience and great reviews on Yelp, you know that this is one of the best flight schools in California. The owners and operators of CA, Mel and his wife Beverly, really care about their customers; they want them to learn as much as possible while enjoying themselves!

CA provides top-notch customer service as well as professional instructors who make sure their students receive instruction from someone who not only knows what to do but cares about helping you become a better pilot. In addition, they’re always available to answer questions or help with any problems that may arise, so you know all your concerns will be addressed.

8. Aviation Adventures – Vista, CA

Aviation Adventures (AV) is a flight school located at the Brown Field Municipal Airport founded in 1996 by Ray Peckman. Since he was 14 years old, Ray has been flying and used his skills as a pilot to make AV what it is today; one of the best flight schools in California!

Some of the services offered by AV include multi-engine training, checkride preparation, and aerobatic instruction. Their instructors are dedicated and passionate about aviation which shows through their dedication to customer service and providing high-quality training for a fair price.

9. San Diego Helicopters – San Diego, CA

Founded by Steve Morton in 1983, this is a helicopter flight school. They have locations at Montgomery Field and Miramar MCAS, as well as Livermore Municipal Airport. This is one of the most highly regarded helicopter schools in the world.

10. Tucker Aviation – Los Angeles, CA

They were founded by a retired test pilot, Chuck Tucker, in 1962 as a flight school and aircraft dealership. They now offer most types of aircraft rentals & sales with an emphasis on safety and fun! They are located at the Van Nuys Airport.  

The company offers many services to give pilots excellent training both in the air and on the ground with their staff of instructors or through outside schools/organizations like EAA/IFR & AOPA. There is no shortage of aviation resources around here!

11. McClellan Aviation – Sacramento, CA

McClellan Aviation (MC) has been around since 1940 and was created for students going into military service to learn how to fly. However, now they train a wide range of pilots, from beginners to experienced aviators who want to brush up on their skills or earn certifications before taking an assessment flight for their next rating or certificate renewal. The staff here boasts 20 years of experience. 

12. Pacific Coast Aviation – San Francisco, CA

Pacific Coast Aviation (PCA) was founded in 1969 and is now the most extensive flight school on the west coast with 22 facilities throughout California, Arizona, Texas, Kansas, and Colorado. They’ve trained thousands of pilots worldwide since they started to help pilots prepare for private pilot training through commercial multi-engine & instrument ratings to ATP certification.

13. Western International Aviation – Los Angeles/Glendale, CA

Western International Aviation (WIA) was founded by Bill Cahall back in 1963 as a fixed-base operator at Glendale Airport. Now they are one of the biggest fixed-base operators around! They also provide aircraft sales, charters, helicopter services, and flight training.

14. Edelweiss Air – Lake Tahoe, CA

Edelweiss Air is a full-service FBO located in South Lake Tahoe at the California/Nevada border. They offer ample hangar space for customers to store their aircraft along with fuel & servicing on the GA side of the airport. The company also provides aircraft maintenance, avionics sales & installation, rentals, and flight instruction from private through ATP.

15. Pacific Flyer Aviation Charter – Santa Cruz County, CA

Pacific Flyers was incorporated in 1970 as an FAA Part 135 Operator providing on-demand charters for all your air travel needs. Their main facility is located at Watsonville Municipal Airport (KWVI) in Watsonville, CA.

Pacific Flyers offers many services, including aircraft sales & charters, maintenance & avionics, flight instruction at all levels, management of airports, and UAV/drone flights!


California is the most populated state in America and has some of the best aviation resources around! So whether you are starting at the beginning or looking to sharpen your skills, there is an option for you.

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