Once you have procured your medical certificate, the next thing that you should worry about is the school that you will go to. Private pilot flight training in the United States, as specified by the FAA, can be facilitated in two ways: Part 141 or Part 61. Question is, which one should you subscribe to? To answer your question, let us differentiate the two Parts according to three criteria: curriculum, training and expenses.
The biggest difference between the two is how the curriculum is structured. Part 141 is an academic approach towards private pilot flight training. Because of that, you can expect yourself to be following a strict or predetermined flow of lessons. Even when you go to school outside aviation, any academic setting will more or less follow the same formula.
On the other hand, Part 61 is more like private instruction. The curriculum is very flexible. Of course, at the beginning, you will start with the basics as your CFI will walk you through the fundamentals of aviation and how you can handle the plane. As your training progresses, however, the CFI will start putting in some leeway for you and allow you to learn at your own pace… under his supervision of course.
Training for Part 141 schools is in a classroom setting in addition to the actual flight sessions. There’s a competitive edge to studying under Part 141, which can be advantageous as you try to oust your classmates for the top spot. There’s also the advantage of group study sessions. As for flight training, Part 141 generally employs a scenario-based training.
Part 61, being more of a private instruction, will be more intimate. It is just you and your instructor when you take flight lessons. Therefore, you can be more flexible with your routines and lessons, tailoring them to fit your needs as you see fit. If you feel like you’re weak in one area, or that you want to improve your skills in one procedure, the instructor can adjust your lessons to reflect that need.
Last but not the least are the expenses. Part 141 charges fees the way a school would, but it would also include miscellaneous fees that can make aviation school a bit more expensive than Part 61. On the other hand, private instruction allows you to save money on your flight training in the long run by letting you control the number of hours that you fly for each lesson.