We welcome International Flight Students!
Recommendation from Northern Air International Students
A few words about getting my PPL at Boundary County Airport in June, 2009. Finishing the flight school I had started in 1999 was one of my dreams and goals for most of the last 10 years. While living on the East Coast (Boston and NY), I tried to combine school or work with instruction on the weekend, the quality of the overall experience was very different from the one in Bonners Ferry, ID. However, my memory of flying with Dave Parker, my instructor, was that of exercise in lightness, inspiration, mentorship, and a profound appreciation for nature, its rules and our role within it. What I experienced on the East Coast was much more similar to a course: transactional, conventional, impersonal. So I decided to stop while I still harbored in me some flame for the pure art of flying and to hope until my career allowed me to return to Bonners Ferry, ID.
Last summer, the time seemed right, so one day after I got married, my wife and I arrived in Idaho and settled into the ‘apartment in the hangar,’ which explains why our friends say we went on a hangarmoon instead of a honeymoon. If I had to live life ten more times again, I would still choose to spend that month in the apartment in the hangar. And here is why:
The community around Boundary County Airport is one of those rare pockets of sincerity, affection, and moral integrity that I have only rarely come across and which helps you regain confidence in society. Whether we are talking about random people lending you their car, doing other favors for you, inviting you over for dinner, presenting you with a box of asparagus from their gardens or other goodies, organizing huckleberry breakfasts on Saturday mornings for nearby pilots, playing the guitar in the evenings, these gestures are natural and have nothing contrite about them.
The landscape and region are fantastic. My wife and I drove from Bonners Ferry to Banff National Park, with its impressive mountain scenery; drove to Sandpoint for a quick jump in the lake and a nice dinner; took hikes around the surrounding mountains, spotting bears, beavers, elk, or kayaked down the smooth waters of the Kootenai River. The apartment and the conveniences are exactly what I needed: access to all the teaching materials for the theoretical exam (e.g., books, DVDs, maps, computer); access to a fully equipped kitchen where I often cooked for more than just my wife and myself; WiFi to stay in touch and be able to check weather and flight warnings; proximity to the airport for those early morning and late night flights; proximity to the center of Bonners Ferry to be able to shop for food; ability to see life at the airport up-close (e.g., talking to pilots from far-off places who decide to stop to refuel always have fascinating stories)
The airport has an airport car that one can use to go shopping or even for longer drives. This is extremely helpful.
However, most importantly, flying is full of excitement and I always felt extremely safe. Whether flying with Nathaniel, an instructor with a heart as broad as his experience, Dave, who has been an inspiration and mentor for me ever since I first met him 10 years ago, or other pilots who sometimes invite you for a ride in their unique planes, the flying experience is always an adventure. What comes to mind are night flights with Nathaniel, when, in order to land safely on some of the smaller airports , you would need to key the mike to light up the lights of the runway; flights over Glacier National Park, with its remote, jagged peaks; solo flight to new airports so isolated and quaint that when you find them you wonder whether the runway is long enough to serve as a bowling alley or following the winding Kootenai River to practice sharp turns at low speed; watching storms as they form over the plains around Coeur d’Alene.
With the help of Nathaniel and Dave, as well as the entire crew at the airport, I managed to finish my PPL in 3 weeks; however, I decided to stay longer to enjoy some more flying and the region. I also know that Bonners Ferry, ID has become an oasis of peace that I will always be able to come back to at various points in life to get re-energized.
Why Northern Air?
A flight school in Montana informed me that non-U.S. citizens have to go to a part 141 flight school for their training. She highly recommended Northern Air Inc. (NAI). “Northern Air in Bonners Ferry Idaho is my first choice for flight training! I work with the school, and they are simply the best in the Northwest U.S.A.” After some research on the Internet, that seemed to be the case. Besides, the town of Bonners Ferry with its variety of activities, bars and restaurants was very inviting, so my decision was made…
The training @ NAI
On my arrival day I had flight lessons from 8 to 10 am, attended a Quest Kodiak test flight at noon and flew another 1.5 hours in the afternoon. Welcome to Northern Air!
The next six weeks were packed with flying, studying, some mountain biking and meeting the great people of NAI and North Idaho in between. Nathaniel had created a tight schedule to let me, as a total beginner, become a private pilot in 5 to 6 weeks. He was always interested in my progress, available to answer questions and kept his good mood and humor even in the busiest times. He was my main instructor but I had flying lessons with all the instructors from NAI. This was a huge benefit because everyone had different focuses and priorities, so I got good all-round feedback.
The Part 141 FAA approved course also contains stage checks. I did them with airport manager and school owner Dave Parker; a very warm and inviting person who seemed to love every aspect of his job, his company and aviation and inspired everyone around him. Keeping the airport facilities and planes in excellent shape was as important to him as the outstanding Customer Service NAI provides.
During my training I lived in a trailer at the airport, rented from NAI. It was only 30 feet from the NAI building, basic but had everything I needed (two rooms, a kitchen, a bathroom, a patio and WiFi). By staying near the airport, I was involved in the flight happenings immediately: I was invited by other pilots to join them at their flights, heard all the radio messages on the speaker and had many conversations with student pilots, pilots, instructors and other visitors. NAI offered me a courtesy van, so I was always mobile without renting a car.
Thanks to the great support of the entire Northern Air team, I was able to complete the private pilot training within 6 weeks, and at the same time have a lot of valuable experiences and encounters in North Idaho. I couldn’t have wished for a better place and hope I can come back soon to further improve my flying skills.
At Northern Air, we offer the following Part 141 FAA approved courses:
• Private Pilot Certificate (35 minimum flight hours)
• Instrument Rating (35 minimum flight hours)
• Commercial Pilot Certificate (120 minimum flight hours)
Courses begin monthly. The hours to complete a program will vary depending on each student’s ability.
Each course of study involves three stages. Each stage must be completed within 90 days. Each course of study must be completed within 270 days.
We are an international flight school, meaning we can issue an I-20 form to obtain an M-1 Visa for international students enrolling in the Commercial Pilot Course.
International Student Entry Process For Commercial Pilot Training
If you are interested in enrolling, contact us first at firstname.lastname@example.org
1. Pay the I-20 Fee & Submit Form
All foreign students are required to have an I-20 Form to enter into the United States. A non-refundable fee of $150 is required to submit your I-20 information.
If you also need an M-2 for dependents, more information will be requested and a DS-156 Nonimmigrant Visa Application is required.
There is a $50 fee per dependent to process documentation for M-2s. To begin the I-20 information submission, you must submit your I-20 fee first.
2. Request M-1 Student Visa
Call the nearest U.S. Embassy to set an appointment to receive your M-1 Student visa approval. Go to the U.S. Embassy with the appropriate documents for a routine interview.
Bring the following documents to your appointment at the US Embassy:
- I-20 Form
- Financial Statements
- Receipt for payment of Form I-901
You will be notified whether you are approved or disapproved. If approved, the U.S. Embassy will provide you, the student, with an M-1 Student Visa permitting you to enter the United States.
The length of time for this process varies depending on the country. We strongly suggest that you practice your interview with a friend or family member and research the aviation field in your home country.
Two common questions asked by the U.S. Embassy are:
- Why do you want to become a pilot?
- What reasons can you give that you will return to your home country after completion of your flight training?
FOR INITIAL FLIGHT TRAINING REQUESTS INCLUDING PRIVATE, COMMERCIAL, INSTRUMENT, AND MULTIENGINE
3. Request TSA (Transportation Security Administration) Clearance
It is very important that you begin the process for TSA clearance as soon as you decide that you are going to train with us.
Do this prior to arriving. This ensures a quicker start to your training. The application processing fee for each course is $130.
The name on the credit card used must match the name on the application. If there is not a fingerprinting agency in your country, you need to have the fingerprinting process completed after coming to the United States.
Verify if there is an agency in your home country at this TSA link: www.flightschoolcandidates.gov, and complete that form. They will send an email to you requesting fingerprints, and give you access to a website that will list all fingerprinting agencies. After you have received approval for your M-1 Student Visa, the TSA fee can be paid.
The TSA Clearance Process:
- Go to: www.flightschoolcandidates.gov
- Click LOGIN → New Student Account
- Complete all the requested information; if you have any questions, we can help. Here are a few items that students usually need help with in order to complete it.
- You MUST give your Last Name and Your First Name
- Training Request Course Name: Initial
- Course ID #: 101
- Aircraft Type: Cessna 172
- Category is 3; this signifies aircraft under 12,500 lbs
- Pay the $130 processing fee directly to the TSA
- Upload a color copy of your passport and your visa.
A very important part of your TSA clearance is fingerprinting. Secure your fingerprints prior to your arrival to enable you to begin your training with little to no delay. If your fingerprinting is not processed prior to your arrival to the United States, your student pilot training could be delayed up to 45 days.
Before beginning training, each student must…
1) Receive and hold a medical and student pilot certificate appropriate to their specific level of training
2) Be able to read, speak, write, and understand the English language as set forth in the FAA regulations
3) Be at least 17 years of age for the private pilot certificate (first course of training) or be at least 18 years of age for the commercial pilot certificate.
Each course of study follows an FAA approved training course outline based on a Part-141 flight training syllabus. Each student must pass a written exam, oral exam, and practical flight test administered by an FAA designated examiners appropriate to each course.