Our Summer operating hours are:

Monday to Sunday - 9am - 7.30pm

Opening hours will be reviewed and may be subject to change. Any changes will be notified to the Members in advance.

Outside these times please email: flightdesk@sherburnaeroclub.com
Home > Blog > Flying Clubs Vs Flight Schools

Flying Clubs vs. Flight Schools: Which is Right for You

Posted 03 Jun 2024

Flying Clubs vs. Flight Schools

Read below to learn more about the differences between flying clubs and flight schools and which one is right for your needs.

New to aviation? Then you will probably come across terms like flight schools and flying clubs. If you guessed that both terms are the same, you would be only half right!

The purpose of both flying clubs and schools is to teach people how to fly and become skilled pilots – but the approach for each is quite different.

Read below to learn more about the differences between flying clubs and flight schools and which one is right for your needs.


Flying clubs have been around even before aviation was a thing! That’s right, even before the Wright brothers took their first fateful flight in 1903, there were a handful of flying clubs around the world – but their purpose was quite different.

At the time, these clubs provided a common space for aviation enthusiasts who wanted to tackle the problem of flight and design the first manned aircraft. These clubs were usually full of engineers who used their resources and ingenuity to come up with various designs.

However, after the Wright brothers proved that aviation could be possible, these clubs began to evolve into more of a place where people could learn how to fly.

Flying clubs, as the name suggests, are small independent clubs with aviation enthusiasts (often veteran or retired pilots), instructors, and just connoisseurs. These clubs play a vital role in aviation because they allow like-minded people to come together and learn how to fly together.

A defining factor of flying clubs is their structure. Unlike a regular school that is defined by a stringent structure of teaching, these clubs address the needs of each aspiring pilot individually. For example, if you just want to experience flight without learning how to fly, then the club can get you an experience flight with a trained pilot.

If you are a new pilot who is looking to fly light aircraft or microlights, then a flying club will be able to provide you with a suitable aircraft and a trained instructor to teach you the basics of flight.

Veterans can also find a home in flying clubs. In fact, most small clubs are established by veteran pilots who want to help people learn how to fly in their community! These clubs offer a small space, a few aircraft, and limited flight training.


If you only want to take up aviation as a hobby and want a relatively relaxed learning environment, then we highly recommend that you go for a flying club. Here are some of the benefits that you can expect by joining a flying club:

A Close-Knit Community

Flying clubs are a source of motivation and inspiration. These clubs offer a sense of community where like-minded individuals can come together and celebrate aviation.

Flying clubs promote an environment that fosters growth and keeps candidates involved. If you are looking to take up aviation as a hobby, then you are likely to find people with the same passion as you at flying clubs.

Always Something Going On

Whether it's training sessions, community gatherings, air events, or weekly huddles, there is always something going on at a flying club. Flying clubs also regularly invite veteran pilots who can share their experiences and help candidates with their struggles in flight training.

Flying clubs also host meetups, events, and special workshops that can help students with their training.

A Networking Hub

A flying club doesn’t just connect you to the local aviation community. Flying clubs are interconnected, and you are bound to get exposure to multiple clubs and meet people from various walks of life.

Private pilots usually visit other clubs in their free time to network, meet new people, make friends, or exchange notes on training. These clubs provide access to veteran and new candidates – and if you are looking for social interactions, then we guarantee that you will find your fill in flying clubs.


This is another key factor that sets flying clubs apart from full-fledged flight schools. Flying clubs operate on a small scale which means that they don’t have the same fixed and variable costs associated with larger schools.

Aviation is a very costly endeavour that requires quite a lot of infrastructure and staff. All of this cost is divided and pushed onto the candidates which can be considerable. However, the good news is that flying clubs rarely have the same fee structure as a flight school. This means that you can easily enrol and learn how to fly on a budget.

While you may not have access to a fleet of different aircraft, and you may only be limited to a private pilot programme, you will easily find flying clubs to be a way more affordable and convenient way to learn how to fly.


On the other hand of the spectrum, we have flight schools! These establishments can be thought of as regular schools, but the curriculum is solely based on aviation.

A defining characteristic of a flight school is its structured approach towards flight training, its size, its fleet of aircraft, its faculty, its amenities, and its capabilities for a wide range of advanced flight training such as commercial pilot training.

Flight schools were quickly established during the early 1900s. The advent of World War 1, devastating as it was, proved to be quite a catalyst for the aviation community. Government and military interest in aviation truly propelled the field forward and can be credited to the quick establishment of flight schools as well.

After all, these aircraft were indispensable during military operations and there was an urgent need for highly trained pilots.

In the late 1900s, flight schools had become quite common around the world, and they serve an incredibly important role in aviation even today.

It is important to note that flying clubs that have been around for a long time may decide to go with a hybrid model where they also provide structured flight school training services. Take the example of Sherburn Aero Club!

Sherburn Aero Club opened its doors in 1964 and is one of the biggest and best-known flying clubs in the North of England.

The flying club opened a flight training school in the 1970s and invested in major aviation infrastructure such as a large fleet of new aircraft, an airfield refurbishment with new runways, hangars, and an extended clubhouse.

These types of hybrid clubs provide the best of both worlds where newbies and veterans can come together and learn from a wide range of faculty and services.

So, to summarise, flight schools are places with a structured curriculum where students can learn not just the basics of flight, but they can also enrol in advanced courses such as commercial pilot training, simulator training, and more.


Here are the benefits of joining a full-fledged flight school:

Comprehensive Training

Flight schools are designed to teach students according to the strict guidelines set by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). This means that all the training is highly compliant and is updated according to the latest regulations and guidelines.

This is an extremely important factor because flight schools also focus on commercial training, a highly stringent flight programme that is essential to modern aviation. Furthermore, flight schools also focus on conduct and professionalism. Flight instructors play the role of being not just teachers but also role models for students at flight schools.

Once you begin your programme, you can bet that you will graduate as a completely new and changed person!


Light aircraft are the ideal choice for flight training, and while you do get access to these aircraft at flying clubs, you will never get the same variety found in flight schools!

To be highly trained and skilled in aviation, you will need to practice on not just one type of aircraft but multiple aircraft! Learning to fly different aircraft is crucial for flight training because it makes pilots more adaptable and capable, especially if you are going for a commercial pilot programme.

Community and Friends

Flight schools and clubs have one thing in common: they provide a space to build a community. The difference is that with flight schools, you get a much wider exposure to various other flight schools around the world. The aviation community is all over the globe and if you are the type of person who wants to network with a variety of people, then we highly recommend that you go for a flight school.

Flight schools also regularly host large events, aircraft showcases, conferences, meetups, and more. We guarantee that you will experience the best of aviation by joining a full-fledged flight school!


Flight schools are expensive and there is no subtlety to it! The truth is flight schools invest heavily in infrastructure and have various capital expenditures. This cost is pushed onto the students and only people who can comfortably cover all expenses usually go for a structured programme.

However, there is good news! Just like any other school, flight schools also offer various incentives. You can not only apply for scholarships, but flight schools also offer discounts and various monetary incentives to make flight training easier.

Furthermore, the type of programme you go for will also have an impact on your fee structure. For example, a Light Aircraft Pilot Programme will tend to be the cheapest, followed by the Private Pilot Programme, and then finally, the Commercial Pilot Programme.

Please note that there are multiple fees to consider! Flight schools can charge for tuition, aircraft training expenses, medical assessment services, and more. Additional fees are set by the CAA and not directly linked to the school. These fees include licencing fees, application fees, and more.


Flying Clubs

Flight Schools

Limited training facilities

Comprehensive training (PPL, CPL, ATPL, LAPL, and more)

Limited faculty

A panel of veteran certified instructors

Limited amenities

Several auxiliary services like café, common area, hangar space, medical licencing services

Limited fleet of aircraft

A wide variety of light and complex aircraft

Access to events and networking

More exposure through air events, conferences, CSR activities, and more.

Flexible training

Structured Training (much like academia)

Low-cost training

Flexible Costs and access to grants, scholarships, and incentives.

Restricted growth for private pilots

Growth opportunities and licence upgrades from PPL to CPL under one roof

Access to the aviation community and aviation enthusiasts.

Note: hybrid flight schools like Sherburn have the benefits of flying clubs and flight clubs.


In the end, it all comes down to your individual needs.

As mentioned above, flying clubs and flight schools serve the same purpose: to teach people how to fly. However, they are different in their structure and expenses. For most people who are looking to get into aviation as a hobby, a flying club would be best suited.

A flying club is specifically designed to cater to the needs of the average Joe who is only looking to experience the thrills of aviation and maybe get a private licence out of the process.

If you are someone who has limited means, a tight schedule, and adequate ambition, then we recommend trying a flying club near you.

However, if you are someone who wants to explore the best that aviation has to offer, then we highly recommend that you go to a flight school.

Flight schools are for people who want to pursue aviation in a structured way, much like they would pursue an academic degree. A flight school can provide access to not only world-class faculty but also a range of auxiliary services that can make training more convenient.

Flight schools are also for students who want to make a career in aviation. A flight school has all the required infrastructure and equipment to help people get top-class training for commercial flight programmes. This includes access to veteran airline pilots, simulator training, certification training, medical licensing services, and much more.

If you are torn between flying clubs and flight schools, then you can also go the hybrid route and pick a flight school like Sherburn Aero Club. This school was initially established as a club but as its popularity increased, the club opened up a separate flight school within the premises.

Since Sherburn has been both, a club and a school, you can get the best of both worlds and experience the best that aviation has to offer! The biggest benefit here is that you can decide how you want to pursue your journey at Sherburn.

You can join as a candidate for a private pilot programme, and then simply advance and carry forward your Private Pilot Licence (PPL) training to a commercial flight programme all in the same campus without any changes to the learning environment.


Sherburn Aero Club, which has been operational since 1964, is the ideal place for most of your training and flying needs. It is one of the largest flying clubs in the North of England and also one of the largest in the country.

If you wish to begin your career in aviation or wish to take to the skies as a hobby, Sherburn’s flight training school offers private and commercial licences, along with pilot medicals to ensure a smooth journey going forward.

For those who wish to experience the thrill of a flight for fun or to help fuel their aviation dreams, Sherburn offers experience flights for the newbie, as well as the veteran in various types of light aircraft.

With a large fleet of new aircraft and an airfield refurbishment with new runways, hangars, and an extended clubhouse, we cater to brand-new flyers who have just started their journey to the skies, as well as seasoned flyers who have been operating aircraft for decades.

The flight experience option is also available for people who wish to take to the skies for special occasions, even if they aren’t into aviation in the long run.

Sherburn offers a dedicated day-long Flight Radiotelephony Operator’s Licence (FRTOL) course for those wishing to get the certification, running the first Sunday of every month.

In addition to that, if you are looking for a hangarage for your own aircraft, need servicing or repairs, want to buy a new aircraft or aviation equipment, or are just looking to enjoy and watch the aircraft, Sherburn Aero Club is the place to be.

Call us at 01977 682 674​​​, email us at flightdesk@sherburnaeroclub.com, or message us via our online contact form for more information.

Photo by Rui Alves on Unsplash



Latest Posts

Contact us

GDPR - By clicking submit, you agree that Sherburn Aero Club will hold the details you have provided in the form above to enable your enquiry to be addressed in a timely manner. Your details will not be passed on to any other organisations and will not be used for marketing purposes. If you wish these details to be deleted from our system at any time, please contact us.