Best Flight Schools in South Dakota

South Dakota, located in the Great Plains region of the United States, offers a unique flying experience for those interested in becoming commercial or private pilots. With its vast open spaces and stunning natural beauty, South Dakota is home to some of the best flight schools in the region. These flight schools offer a comprehensive curriculum that covers all aspects of aviation, with experienced instructors and modern facilities to provide students with a strong foundation in flight training.

Whether you’re pursuing flying as a career or simply want to explore the skies, South Dakota’s flight schools have something to offer. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at some of the best flight schools in South Dakota to help you find the perfect fit for your needs and goals.

Best Flight Schools in South Dakota


Riggin Flight Service

๐Ÿ—บ๏ธ1600 Airport Rd, Madison, SD 57042
โ˜Ž๏ธ(605) 256-9774
๐ŸŒhttp://www.rigginflightservice.com/

Riggin Flight Service

Riggin Flight Service, a flight school with a rich history dating back to 1947, offers a diverse range of training programs and services for aspiring pilots. Located in Milbank, SD, this family-owned business provides comprehensive flight instruction and specialized training in various aircraft types.

The flight school offers several training classes tailored to meet different pilot aspirations. For those interested in obtaining a Private Pilot license, Riggin Flight Service provides training in their Super Cub, Cessna 140, J-3 Cub, and Cessna 150 aircraft. Additionally, students have the opportunity to earn their tailwheel endorsement concurrently with their Private license.

For individuals who may not be eligible for a Private Pilot license due to medical restrictions, Riggin Flight Service offers training for a Sport Pilot license. This license allows aspiring pilots to fly light aircraft, such as the J-3 Cub, with just a driver’s license as medical certification.

Riggin Flight Service also caters to pilots looking to enhance their skills and qualifications. They provide specialized training for tailwheel endorsements, multi-engine ratings using the Piper Apache aircraft, instrument ratings using the Cessna 150 and Cessna 140, and ag pilot trainingโ€”an uncommon offering available at only a few flight schools in the country. The ag pilot training program can take individuals from Private Pilot all the way to an Ag Pilot license within approximately three months.

Additionally, Riggin Flight Service offers bush pilot training, preparing pilots to operate in remote areas or perform specific tasks such as checking on cattle after a storm or during calving season. This training covers techniques for flying with tundra tires or skis, particularly useful in regions with substantial snowfall.

For those interested in seaplane flying, Riggin Flight Service provides training for obtaining a seaplane rating. The picturesque Lake Madison serves as the training area, allowing students to experience takeoffs and landings on water while working towards their rating.

Riggin Flight Service welcomes individuals who have previously started their flight training elsewhere but were unable to complete it. They offer assistance in finishing the training and obtaining the desired rating or endorsement.

Morris Riggin, the owner and instructor at Riggin Flight Service, comes from a family deeply rooted in aviation. With extensive experience as a pilot, flight instructor, aerial crop sprayer, and designated pilot examiner, Morris brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the flight school. He continues to expand his qualifications, aiming to add helicopter training to the services provided.

With over 70 years of operation, Riggin Flight Service has established itself as a reputable and reliable flight school. The school’s commitment to providing diverse training programs, experienced instructors, and a convenient testing center creates an environment conducive to student success. Riggin Flight Service remains dedicated to serving the aviation community and looks forward to many more years of training and supporting aspiring pilots.

Programs Offered:

  • Multi-Engine rating
  • Instrument training
  • Ag pilot training
  • Private pilot
  • Sport pilot
  • Tailwheel training
  • Bush pilot training
  • Seaplane training

Plane Training

๐Ÿ—บ๏ธ4160 Westjet Dr, Rapid City, SD 57703
โ˜Ž๏ธ(605) 939-9326
๐ŸŒhttp://www.planeflighttraining.com/

Plane Training

Plane Training is a flight school that prides itself on combining old school stick and rudder skills with a modern philosophy. With a diverse fleet of aircraft, they offer a wide range of flight training programs and services to cater to various pilot aspirations and skill levels.

From introductory flight lessons to advanced training, Plane Training covers a comprehensive spectrum of flight instruction. Their fleet includes Cessna and Piper rental aircraft, ensuring that students have access to a diverse range of airplanes suitable for different mission requirements.

Whether you are a student pilot or aspiring to become an Airline Transport Pilot (ATP), Plane Training offers customized courses tailored to meet individual needs and schedules. They provide training for various ratings and endorsements, such as Private Pilot, Complex, High-Performance, Tailwheel, Instrument, Multi-Engine, and other advanced certifications.

The flight school also offers gift certificates, allowing individuals to share the joy of flight with others.

To enroll in their flight training programs, there are certain requirements set by the FAA. These include being fluent in English, being at least 18 years of age, holding a valid FAA medical certificate, completing ground training, passing a knowledge test, accumulating flight experience, and successfully completing a practical flight test.

Plane Training’s Private Pilot Course offers a personalized learning experience to meet the unique needs of each student. Recognizing that no two students are alike, they provide one-on-one instruction to ensure the best possible learning experience. Beyond the Private Pilot course, Plane Training offers instrument training, high-performance and complex endorsements, multi-engine training, commercial pilot training, and flight instructor ratings.

Their aircraft fleet includes models such as the Piper Archer/Warrior PA28-151, Piper Archer III PA28-181, and Piper Warrior II PA28-161. These aircraft are equipped with modern avionics systems, including Garmin navigation equipment and ADS-B capabilities. They are well-maintained and IFR certified, providing a reliable and safe training environment.

For pilots looking for specialized training, Plane Training offers the Bellanca 8KCAB Decathlon. This aircraft is specifically designed for tailwheel endorsements, upset recovery training, and spin recovery training. With its unique features and capabilities, the Bellanca 8KCAB Decathlon provides an excellent platform for honing advanced flying skills.

Plane Training operates from different locations, including Rapid City, SD, and Phoenix, AZ, providing flexibility and convenience to students in those regions.

Plane Training stands out as a flight school that combines traditional aviation skills with modern teaching methods. With their experienced instructors, diverse aircraft fleet, and customized training programs, they strive to ensure that each student receives the best possible training experience to achieve their aviation goals.

Programs Offered:

  • Private-ATP
  • Complex
  • High-Performance
  • Tailwheel
  • Instrument Rating
  • Multi-Engine
  • Advanced training

Legacy Aviation

๐Ÿ—บ๏ธ47010 Great Plains Pl, Tea, SD 57064
โ˜Ž๏ธ(605) 368-2841
๐ŸŒhttps://www.legacyaviationsd.com/

Legacy Aviation

Legacy Aviation, located in Tea, SD, is the premier flight school serving the Sioux Falls area. As the only FAA certified part 141 flight school in the region, Legacy Aviation offers approved training methods that enable students to achieve their goals in fewer hours, saving them money and ensuring a higher level of safety.

With a team of experienced flight instructors, Legacy Aviation is dedicated to providing quality training and assistance to aspiring pilots. Their instructors are FAA approved, ensuring that students receive instruction from qualified professionals who meet the rigorous standards set by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Legacy Aviation boasts a fleet of well-maintained aircraft suitable for training and rental purposes. The aircraft selection includes models such as the Piper PA28-151 Warrior, Cessna C172S, PA-28-151 Piper Warrior, and PA23-250 Piper Aztec. Equipped with advanced avionics systems, including Garmin GPS units and autopilot capabilities, these aircraft provide students with a modern and reliable training experience.

In addition to flight training, Legacy Aviation offers ground training, aircraft rental, fuel sales, and maintenance services. Operating at the Lincoln County Airport, one of the busiest airports in South Dakota, Legacy Aviation serves pilots with aircraft based at the airport as well as those flying in and out of the area.

Legacy Aviation is committed to supporting and promoting general aviation in the Sioux Falls area. They strive to provide educational opportunities for pilots, furthering the advancement of aviation knowledge and skills within the community. Their dedication to the promotion of general aviation flying and training sets them apart as a reliable and comprehensive aviation service provider.

Whether you’re looking to obtain a private pilot license, instrument rating, commercial pilot certification, or simply rent an aircraft for recreational flying, Legacy Aviation offers the resources, expertise, and support needed to help you reach your aviation goals. With their focus on safety, approved training methods, and a wide range of services, Legacy Aviation is an excellent choice for individuals passionate about flying in the Sioux Falls area.

Programs Offered:

  • Private pilot
  • Commercial pilot
  • Instrument rating

Wright Brothers Aviation & Air

๐Ÿ—บ๏ธ5971 Hanger Rd, Mitchell, SD 57301
โ˜Ž๏ธ(605) 996-1228
๐ŸŒhttps://www.wrightbrosaviation.com/

Wright Brothers Aviation & Air

Wright Brothers Aviation & Dakota Flight Center is a renowned flight school that offers an exceptional learning experience for aspiring pilots. With their commitment to providing high-quality flight training, they have become a trusted name in the aviation industry.

One of the standout features of Wright Brothers Aviation is their flexibility. They understand that people have busy schedules, which is why they offer the freedom to fly when you want to go. This allows students to tailor their training around their availability and learn at a pace that suits them. Whether you want to fly in the morning, afternoon, or evening, Wright Brothers Aviation ensures that you can pursue your passion for flying without limitations.

Learning to fly at Wright Brothers Aviation is an experience like no other. They emphasize the joy and excitement of taking to the skies, and their knowledgeable instructors make the journey enjoyable and rewarding. With an average of six months of training, flying just a few times per week, students can earn their private license and embark on a life-changing adventure.

When it comes to cost, Wright Brothers Aviation offers transparency and affordability. The total cost of learning to fly with them ranges between $6,900 and $7,500, taking into account factors such as aircraft rental and instructor fees. By providing estimated prices, they ensure that prospective students have a clear understanding of the financial commitment involved in their training.

Wright Brothers Aviation believes that almost everyone possesses the physical and scholastic aptitude to learn to fly. In fact, nine out of ten individuals who aspire to become pilots have the necessary ability and skills. They emphasize that passing a simple medical exam and obtaining a student pilot certificate are the primary requirements for beginning flight training.

The flight training program at Wright Brothers Aviation covers essential topics in ground school, including the principles of lift, gravity, drag, control, airspeed, and basic instrumentation. This comprehensive approach equips students with the knowledge and skills needed to become competent pilots.

For individuals interested in pursuing a private pilot license, Wright Brothers Aviation offers a complete training course. The estimated price for this course includes aircraft rental, dual instruction, ground instruction, a student pilot flight kit, a third-class flight physical, a written test, and a flight check. By providing these services, Wright Brothers Aviation ensures that students receive comprehensive training to meet the requirements for a private pilot’s license.

Wright Brothers Aviation also offers introductory flights for those curious about the world of aviation. For a nominal fee, individuals can experience the thrill of flying and even take control of the aircraft under the guidance of a certified flight instructor. This opportunity allows prospective students to get a taste of what it’s like to be a pilot and make an informed decision about pursuing flight training.

Overall, Wright Brothers Aviation & Dakota Flight Center stands out as a reputable flight school that prioritizes the joy of flying, affordability, and quality training. Their commitment to providing exceptional flight instruction and services has earned them a solid reputation in the aviation community. Whether you’re dreaming of a career in aviation or seeking a new exhilarating hobby, Wright Brothers Aviation is the ideal place to launch your journey into the skies.

Programs Offered:

  • Private pilot license

Hangar 9, Inc

๐Ÿ—บ๏ธ4740 6th Ave SE, Aberdeen, SD 57401
โ˜Ž๏ธ(605) 725-4774
๐ŸŒhttps://flyhangar9.com/

Hangar 9, Inc

Hangar 9, Inc. is a flight school that offers affordable and comprehensive flight instruction to aspiring aviators. If you’ve ever dreamed of taking to the skies, Hangar 9 is the perfect place to turn your aviation aspirations into reality.

To help you determine if aviation is the right path for you, Hangar 9 invites you to schedule a discovery flight. This introductory experience allows you to get a firsthand glimpse of the thrill and excitement of flying. By taking you on a discovery flight, Hangar 9 aims to help you make an informed decision about pursuing flight training.

Hangar 9 takes pride in providing a complete learning experience, from ground school instruction to practical training in the aircraft. They offer a range of aircraft for training purposes, including an Aeronca Champ, a Piper Cherokee 140, and a Piper Cherokee 235. These aircraft are well-maintained and suitable for various aspects of flight training.

To obtain a private pilot’s license, Hangar 9 outlines the requirements that aspiring pilots must fulfill. This includes a minimum of 40 hours of flight time, consisting of 20 hours of dual instruction. Within the dual instruction, specific components are emphasized, such as cross-country flying, night flying, and instrument training. Additionally, 10 hours of solo flight time are required, which includes cross-country flights and solo takeoffs and landings at controlled fields.

In addition to flight hours, there are several other requirements that need to be met. Aspiring pilots must pass the FAA medical physical to ensure they are fit for flying. They also need to successfully pass the private pilot written test and the private pilot practical test, which assess their knowledge and skills in various areas of aviation.

Hangar 9 strives to make aviation accessible and achievable for individuals with a passion for flying. By offering affordable flight instruction, they ensure that cost doesn’t become a barrier for aspiring pilots. Their commitment to providing comprehensive training and preparing students for the necessary exams demonstrates their dedication to producing skilled and knowledgeable pilots.

If you’re ready to embark on your aviation journey, Hangar 9 is ready to guide you every step of the way. Contact them today to learn more about their flight school, discuss the requirements in detail, and start your thrilling adventure in the skies.

Programs Offered:

  • Private pilot license

SDSU Aviation Program

๐Ÿ—บ๏ธ201 W Second St S, Brookings, SD 57006
โ˜Ž๏ธ(605) 688-5769
๐ŸŒhttps://www.sdstate.edu/school-health-and-consumer-sciences/aviation

SDSU Aviation Program

The South Dakota State University (SDSU) Aviation Program is a highly regarded four-year program that equips students with the skills and knowledge necessary for successful careers in the aviation industry. This comprehensive program offers high-quality aviation training at competitive rates, preparing students for a Bachelor of Science Degree in Aviation. Within the program, students have the opportunity to specialize in two distinct areas, allowing them to further refine their educational experience.

For students interested in becoming Certified Flight Instructors and pursuing careers as professional pilots, the Aviation Education Specialization is an excellent choice. Graduates from this specialization often find employment in the airlines, military, government, and corporate sectors. Exceptional students may even be invited to serve as flight instructors within the SDSU program during their junior and senior years. This unique opportunity allows individuals to contribute to the improvement and development of the very program they are a part of. It’s worth noting that the Aviation Education Specialization is accredited by the Aviation Accreditation Board International (AABI), ensuring the highest standards of education and training. Additionally, graduates of the Aviation Education program are eligible to apply for a restricted privileges airline transport pilot (R-ATP) upon graduation, providing enhanced career prospects.

The Aviation Education Program at SDSU is committed to preparing safe, innovative, and professional aviation educators who can make a positive impact in the field. The program aims to enhance human potential through transdisciplinary, learner-centered education not only in South Dakota but also beyond. By fostering the development of multi-engine commercial pilots and instructors, SDSU ensures that graduates can apply their core educational experiences to the aviation profession effectively.

The program’s educational outcomes/goals are designed to ensure graduates’ readiness for the aviation industry. These include the ability to apply general education experiences to aviation, demonstrate instructional knowledge in single and multi-engine aircraft to the FAA commercial pilot standard, and create and teach relevant aviation topics to colleagues. Furthermore, students participate in a senior capstone course that bridges the gap between their educational experiences and their future careers. Rigorous assessment measures, including direct and indirect assessments, are employed to evaluate students’ competencies within the profession.

In addition to the Aviation Education Specialization, SDSU offers the Aviation Maintenance Management Specialization for students interested in aircraft repair and maintenance. This specialization requires students to complete an Airframe and Powerplant license before transferring to SDSU to fulfill degree requirements. Students may have the opportunity to work for the Chief of Aviation Maintenance at SDSU prior to graduation, providing valuable real-world experience. Prospective students interested in this specialization are encouraged to contact SDSU’s Aviation Program faculty for further guidance.

SDSU maintains a fleet of well-maintained aircraft to support its flight training operations. This includes twelve Cessna 172 Skyhawk aircraft equipped with G500 or G1000 avionics for primary training, two Piper Seminole aircraft with G1000 avionics for multi-engine training, an American Champion Citabria for optional tailwheel training, and aviation training devices such as the Redbird TD and Frasca RTD. These resources enable students to gain practical, hands-on experience in a variety of aircraft and settings.

For those interested in pursuing aviation education at SDSU, the program guides for both the Aviation Education Specialization and Aviation Maintenance Management Specialization provide comprehensive information on course descriptions and program requirements. It’s worth noting that while there are additional costs associated with the aviation education major, there are no additional admission requirements to enroll in the program. To stay up-to-date with the latest news and developments from SDSU’s Aviation Program, individuals are encouraged to visit their Facebook page.

Overall, the South Dakota State University Aviation Program stands as a reputable institution that prepares students for successful careers in the aviation industry. Through its rigorous training, experienced faculty, diverse aircraft fleet, and accreditation, SDSU provides a solid foundation for aspiring aviation professionals. The program’s commitment to safety, innovation, and professionalism ensures that graduates are well-equipped to meet the challenges of the industry.

One notable aspect of the program is its emphasis on hands-on training and practical experience. With a team of 29 full and part-time flight instructors and a fleet of 15 well-maintained aircraft, students have ample opportunities to apply their knowledge in real-world aviation scenarios. The inclusion of advanced aviation training devices, such as the Redbird TD and Frasca RTD, further enhances the training experience by providing a simulated environment for students to develop and refine their skills.

The Aviation Education Specialization, accredited by AABI, prepares students for a range of aviation careers, including becoming Certified Flight Instructors. Graduates from this specialization have found success in various sectors of the industry, demonstrating the program’s ability to produce well-rounded aviation professionals. The opportunity for top-performing students to serve as flight instructors within the program not only enriches their own learning experience but also contributes to the overall improvement of the program itself.

For those interested in aviation maintenance, the Aviation Maintenance Management Specialization offers a comprehensive curriculum in partnership with approved FAA A&P programs. This collaboration allows students to obtain an Airframe and Powerplant license while completing their degree requirements at SDSU. The chance to work with the Chief of Aviation Maintenance at SDSU prior to graduation provides invaluable practical experience, further enhancing students’ readiness for the workforce.

The program’s commitment to assessment and evaluation ensures that students meet the industry’s competency standards. The senior capstone course serves as a bridge between academic training and professional careers, enabling students to apply their knowledge and skills in a practical setting. Through direct and indirect assessments, the program ensures that graduates are well-prepared to enter the aviation industry with confidence.

Prospective students will find the program guides, course descriptions, and program requirements readily available, offering transparency and clarity in their educational journey. Additionally, the program’s dedication to providing high-quality aviation training at competitive rates makes it an attractive option for those seeking a well-rounded aviation education.

The South Dakota State University Aviation Program is a reputable institution that offers a comprehensive education for aspiring aviation professionals. With its focus on safety, innovation, and professionalism, along with its diverse range of aircraft, experienced instructors, and accreditation, SDSU provides students with the necessary tools and skills to excel in the aviation industry. Whether pursuing the Aviation Education Specialization or the Aviation Maintenance Management Specialization, students can expect a rigorous and enriching educational experience that prepares them for successful careers in aviation.

Programs Offered:

  • Private Pilot
  • Instrument
  • Commercial Single and Multi-engine
  • CFI & CFII
  • MEIAviation