The Pilot School, also called by players as the Flying School or Flight School, is the most important and hardest of the vehicle schools in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, unlocked after "Verdant Meadows" with the purchase of Verdant Meadows. Since it is the only school mandatory to the storyline, completion of all the lessons with at least Bronze medals is required to continue the game.
The pilot school consists of several lessons teaching the player how to fly planes, helicopters, and at the end — how to use a parachute. The work pays off later when the Rustler, Stunt Plane, and Hunter are unlocked respectively for achieving Bronze, Silver and Gold. By completing lessons, the player will earn/increase their flying skill.
The ten lessons to pass are:
- Takeoff: You'll have to lift-off and pass to three coronas to complete the test. Finish in 30 seconds or below to get a Gold medal.
- Land Plane: Fly through the corona and activate the landing gear and land in the designated place and avoid having to let the nose of the Rustler touch the ground or it'll incur damage penalties. Finish in 30 seconds or below to get Gold medal.
- Circle Airstrip: Take off and climb to pass through the first corona. Then, fly a circular course through the field. Do this in a minute to get a Gold medal.
- Circle Airstrip and Land: Do the same routine on the last test and also land on the designated area. Finish this in 1 minute and 20 seconds to get a Gold Medal
- Helicopter Takeoff: Piloting a Hunter, press X to accelerate to climb upward. Release X to level off. After that, rotate the helicopter 180 degrees. Push the left analog stick forward to tilt the helicopter at a 45 degrees and press and hold X to go forward. Fly through the corona to pass the test. Doing so within 30 seconds will get you a Gold medal.
- Land Helicopter: Pass through the first corona by pushing the left analog stick foward and pressing and holding X. After that, land on the runway to pass the test. Landing within 30 seconds will get you a Gold medal
- Destroy Targets: Destroy three targets in the field and then two trucks running at the back of the Snake Farm. Then, destroy remaining vans in the field and land the helicopter at the designated area. Finish this in 1 minute and 20 seconds to get a Gold medal.
- Loop-the-Loop: To do a loop-to-loop is to press the analog stick down and pass through 2 coronas in 21 seconds to get a Gold medal.
- Barrel Roll: Fly through the first corona, then push the left analog stick directly left quickly to do the barrel roll. After that, fly through the last corona to finish the test. Finish the test in 18 seconds or less to get a Gold medal.
- Parachute Onto Target: Skydive down to the target and deploy the Parachute, glide to the target zone to get a medal. Landing at the center of the target zone within 55 seconds will get you a Gold medal.
- Carl is usually expected to finish the lessons in quick succession, but it doesn't necessarily have to be the case. A certain lesson may be frustrating, and the player can, yet, take time out and do other things - date a girlfriend, do other side missions, purchase safehouses, and more - Toreno will phone occasionally to berate Carl for not learning to fly, before making a third call in which he jokingly threatens to put Sweet in with a humourous prison inmate, but Carl can ignore him. Once the player has rested enough, Carl can continue.
- Quite notably, the lessons Circle Airstrip and Land, Destroy Targets, Loop-a-Loop and Parachute Onto Target are the only extremely difficult lessons as far as obtaining a gold medal is concerned. For this, the player can do the following :
- Circle Airstrip and Land - Pull out the wheels immediately after crossing the last corona and align the Rustler straight in the direction of the airstrip and land atleast 50 metres away from the beginning of the runway, by atmost 70 seconds. Keep the speed low but constant and push the Rustler into the target zone within the next 10 seconds.
- Destroy Targets - Keep firing the Hunter's umlimited minigun constantly and the rocket missiles continuously while flying tilted at a bent 30 degrees to 45 degrees range and destroy the trucks at the end of the runway within 24 seconds. Turn immediately towards the snake farm while keeping the minigun fire key pressed, and maintain the same angular range to destroy the first car within 40 seconds and turn immediately in the direction of the second car to destroy it within 60 seconds. Turn to the runway again in straight alignment and land in the target zone within the next 15-20 seconds.
- Loop-the-Loop - This is slightly tricky and is often entirely a matter of luck, but in each attempt, push for the loop immediately between the 12th and 13th seconds to pull off the loop. Once through, fly immediately into the second corona. Usually it may by frustrating because the timer still always registers the 22nd second if even a millisecond of it has passed, but keep trying and exactly one of these attempts will register a new time record of 21 seconds.
- Parachute Onto Target - This, too, is often a matter of luck, but the best way is to maintain forward freefall and open the parachute exactly at the 23rd second, then push ahead till the 30th second, and alternate between downward and forward movement in two rounds of 4 seconds each, and then reduce it to a round each of 3 seconds, before letting the controls loose to land right at the centre of the runway by 55 seconds. Performing a 54-second stint in this lesson is a rarity, while it is impossible to earn a gold medal within 53 seconds, meaning that only at 54 seconds and 55 seconds is the player liable to earn a gold medal.
The reward for all Bronze is a Rustler, for all Silver a Stunt Plane, and for all Gold a Hunter.
Access to the areas of airports which contain planes will be available.
Note: Restricted areas of airports can often be accessed by parking a car against the gate, while on top of the car you will be able to jump high enough to jump to the top of the gate and climb over. However, with the exception of the Maverick in Easter Bay Airport in San Fierro and all aircraft in Los Santos International Airport in Los Santos, all the planes in them will be locked until completion of the flying school.
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