A Few Questions From A Possible Future Student


New Member
I am planning a trip to Vero Beach within the next couple of months. I want to hear from the been there, done that group. Just have a few questions about housing, training costs, etc..... I am currently a 64 hour private pilot, hoping to pack on some more hours this summer.
How long does it take? Is there an average cost? What kind of housing is available (I will be bringing my girlfriend with me)? What is the schedule like? What is it like staying on as an instructor?
Feel free to contact me at flying_rebel@mailcity.com

HI! I'm currently a student at the school.

I've been there since last October, and I came in at about the same level. I had about 60 hours or so on a 10 year old private license.

People here are anywhere from 20 - 50 years old! I've 31 years old, married, and decided to make a career change. My Finance Company (DAD) and I visited several schools in the area (Comair, Gulfstream Academy, Pan Am), and decided that Flightsafety appeared to have the best overall program. It's not perfect, but it seemed to be the best for me and my situation.

If you're considering spending $25-50,000 to become a professional pilot, I think it's worthwhile to to spend $500 to fly down, rent a car, and check out several places.

Your situation could be different, your priorities may be different, so the best choice for you may be different. I would recommend checking out the school in person. The marketing department has a few "professionals", but students who are working part time usually give the tours and answer questions with a minimal amount of BS. Really, they don't have a stake or commission involved in convincing you to come here. The fact is that lots of people are coming here because it is a good program. By the way, I have no stake in you coming here either, I just know how straining it is to make a good decision without all of the facts.

Housing is available on campus, but most U.S students get an apartment or house off campus. IF you bring your girlfriend, you'd definately have to rent somewhere off campus, and you'd find lots of options. I guess it gets to be cheaper in the summer when a lot of the older folks go back north.

About Instructing... I'm planning to become one here, hopefully by the end of June.
They pay $14 per hour, plus health insurance. If you sign a contract to instruct for 800 hours of FLIGHT time, they'll pay the costs for your CFII and MEI.

Most of their instrument training is conducted in the twin engine. This gives you more twin time, but make no mistake about it, you pay for it! $229 per hour (dual). You also spend a fair amount of time in a Frasca simulator. They are touchy, and some people refer to them as the "penalty box". However, they do let you repeat approaches without having to wait for ATC clearance and vectors back around.

Here's what I did, and you could do if you came in this summer without flying a significant amount of hours in between. I started with the commercial ground school. Near the end of that course, I came in and spent about 5 flights with instructors to learn the FlightSafety way of doing things. Then I started the "time building step" where you do a few cross countries dual, a lot of cross countries solo, and several dual lessons to practice commercial manuevers. Then I did "step three" and earned my private multiengine rating. It took me two weeks to do that, flying once a day. Now I'm on "step four", where I'm refining my instrument skills and working towards my instrument rating. "Step five" is where it all comes together and you earn your Commercial Instrument Multi Engine rating.

I started on October 2nd, and am pretty confident that I'll be done by the first or second week of March. That comes after flying 5 or 6 days a week, scheduling aggressively, and pushing my instructors a little.

Really, so much depends on your situation.

Good Luck

Hey Mike great post and fun family website. I am in a very similar situation to you with wife and family and older and looking to fly commercialy ASAP.

Currently training in San Diego CA in a Fly For SkyWest Program-but concerned with training costs.

Always good to read other people's views and input. Appreciate your post.

Good luck.
Hey Mike, Question for you?
What is your outlook and experience in your contacts (at Flight Safety)in requards to making it on as a flight instructor? I called flight safety and spoke with one of their professional staff last week. They told me that, in estimation, 50% of the pilots trained their make it as flight instructors on their line at one time or another. They stated that the other pilots usually go out and contract on at FBOs for instructor jobs. It concerned me a little when thinking about spending all of this money for training that quite a few of the graduates don't have jobs. When you contract on with an FBO you have to work usually on commision only and most of the time you have to find you own students. This seems as if it would be extremely challenging (not to mention with reguards to having to pay back the loans incurred for training). I realize that Flight Safety had a distinguished name in the industry and they are looking for the best instructors no matter where they can find them, however it would also seem reasonable that the pilots that they train should be trained to their standard and thus have a greater than 50% chance to instruct there. What further information can you give? Every bit is appreciated.
"What are my chances of making it as an instructor?"

That's one of my biggest questions too. Talking to current and former instructors here, along with some of the staff leads me to believe that your chances are pretty good to be hired as an instructor here. However, I know that not everyone is hired. Unfortunately, I don't know the statistical information.

The training program is pretty intensive, with lots of emphasis on how to teach and present the information. It is my understanding that the school has more students enrolled than they've had for years, and the instructors are constantly getting jobs and flying away. This means that there is demand for instructors here.

If you are trained here, then you would have an advantage to instruct here. They do require "outside" instructors to have more experience before being hired here.

While not guaranteed of being hired, I know that my chances are as good as anyone elses. Even if not hired here, the FlightSafety name on a resume helps if you need to get a job elsewhere.

Most of my "evidence" is anecdotal, based on the experience of my friends and instructors. This isn't very scientific, and the analyst in me has tried to find all of the holes in the program. There are cheaper and faster ways to get a CFI. Not many are 100% guaranteed to result in a job.

One additional benefit of FlightSafety is the networking opportunities. My instructors know their instructors who are now at the regionals. Inside of a year, some of my instructors will be working at the regionals. Many from Flightsafety go to ASA, but some go to other airlines. I could see after working here for a year or so, that a person could have made many friends.
(I've had more fun catering with friends than engineering with strangers)

My understanding is that flight instructors are in demand everywhere, so if this doesn't work out, I'll find a job elsewhere.

The bottom line is this: I'm signing up tommorrow for the April or May CFI class.
I would've done it Thursday or Friday last week, but the chief pilots were interviewing new instructor candidates both days. I don't know how many will be hired, but I'm willing to bet that I'll have a good chance at the end of my training. At least, "I'm putting my money where my mouth is."
This question is for mattjenna: What is the Fly For SkyWest Program?

I just submitted my application to FlightSafety last week and will begin classes in June. I am a private pilot with 142 hours. I'm going in with a shorter program they have where your past experience is counted...so I'll have 160 hours total, 50 hours of cross country PIC, etc....so if you have past experience...the cost can be reduced significantly...just ask them how.
Hey Mike:

I'll be starting ASA Phase 1 on Mar 12th. Interested in what you would recommend as far as off-campus housing. I would not be bringing a family but prefer NOT to have a roommate.
Thanks Ron
There are a few bulletin boards where rentals are posted at FSI. I'll look for some contact info, and email it to you if you send me your address.


Otherwise, your best bet may be just to check the paper when you arrive. There are constantly new housing postings, as people here keep coming and going!

[This message has been edited by EDKsPilot (edited January 28, 2001).]
Im a 34 year old career changer that has been looking over my options for the last 6 months and have decided to go with FSI. I'm planning on calling them next week to set up a tour of the facilities during the second week of March. Anyone have any suggestions as to the questions I need to ask or areas of the program that I need to check out while I'm there? My plans are to go through the ASA Intern program where you instruct for FSI for 800hrs.

I am also married with kids, any suggestions as to housing in the Vero Beach area? Anyone have any real estate contacts there? Maybe someone you have dealt with.

Thanks to everyone for their posts and to Doug for developing such a positive, life changing website.
I took a tour of the Vero Beach facility last week. I was very impressed and based on my visits, I would take this program over ATA. Why? FSI is a known quantity and has placed many pilots with airlines. They have a bigger reptutation to uphold. They don't ask for the entire 30K up front like ATA. VRB is not nearly as crowded as ORL. Their facilities are much larger and more spread out. I think you have a much better time getting out of FSI on time and on budget (my opinion only).

Vero Beach is a great town near the beach. You start to get that South Florida feeling down there. Warm Breeze, Blue Water.

When you take your tour of the facility, tell them you would like to be a passenger in the Saab simulator to see whats its like. They have seats for observors and they may be willing to do it for a prospective student.
FlightSafety is great. I started 10/30/00 - came here with my private and 55 hrs. I was quoted $32,700 and 22 weeks to get my multi commercial instrument ratings. I finished 2/16/01 with 198 hrs total and spent $31,200 including books, fees, testing, etc. Not a bad deal.

The trick is to be VERY motivated and dedicated, and getting on with an instructor who you like and is as motivated as you are. Sometimes I did 4 lessons per day.

FSI's planes are getting a little older (the Seminoles get a LOT of use), but the maintenance dept is excellent, and if you have a problem with a plane you ask maintenance to fix it (which they sometimes can do on the spot) or you get another plane. There are about 400 students and about 100 planes. As long as you and your instructor are flexible time-wise, you can always get a plane. Seminoles are getting stretched thin, but I heard that FSI made a deal with Piper to start getting 2 new Seminoles/month starting later this year, which should ease the tight scheduling.

In making a decision about which school to attend, I visited several and did LOTS of research. FlightSafety offered the best combination of price, quality, reputation, and options.

As for housing, the bulletin boards at FSI can be a hit or miss thing. Check Canterbury Place apartments - lots of FSI people living here, nice apartments - $575 for a 2bd 1ba.

[This message has been edited by OnTop (edited February 25, 2001).]
I passed!

I started October 2nd at FlightSafety, and finished my commercial instrument Multi engine Yesterday!

I'm pretty much right on budget...I bet I came in within $100 of price quoted.

I'll be heading back and starting CFI school in April after kid #3 is born.

CONGRATULATIONS!!!! I trust that by now you are home with your family. Thank you for all the help.

Best Wishes to you and your wife.
First of all congrat's on your completion. Why didn't you attend their ASA program? My other question is did you visit ATA and ComAir? These are schools that I'm considering, as well as FSI. What did you like and dislike about the schools. Any input would be appreciated.
I am visiting FSI in March and hope to start the first of June in the ASA-Instructor Program. Do you guys have any comments on the ASA-Instructor program?

I have my ASA interview on Tuesday, then hopefully starting Phase III of the Fast Track program on March 5. I went to look at ComAir Academy, and wasn't impressed. The facilities seem ok, and though the planes are sort of a ragtag bunch (various types/paint schemes) they seemed to be well-maintained. But after talking with some students and instructors there, it just didn't seem like the place for me. The students (and instructors, for that matter) said you can pretty much count on 30% over the quoted price. That comes out to almost $10,000! One instructor I talked to had been there 2 years and had only accumulated 700 hours and less than 75 multi. This seemed to be the norm. Plus they don't have the same type of Fast Track program.

As for ATA, I've heard a lot of not-so-good things about them. I didn't visit them primarily because their program was slightly more expensive, without the great FlightSafety name and reputation.

When I was doing my school search, I made it a point to get names and numbers of former or current students, and talked to them extensively. FlightSafety was the most forthcoming with names, and was the only school nobody had anything bad to say about.

Good luck with your decision. You certainly can't go wrong with FSI.
Just wondering what the word is around FSI (ASA program) with the slow down in hiring at ASA. Is this going to affect the Fast Track or Intern programs?
To ontop: I will be attending ASA phase I in mid april and was wondering exactly what flight safety was looking for during that phase of training. Like what they made you do during the 3hr VFR and 2hr IFR rides. Did you have to shoot a backcourse approach?
Honestly, I don't know because I didn't have to do Phase I and II (I came to FSI with my private, got the rest here). I would imagine you might - I had to in my instrument training, but not on the checkride. I'd probably review doing them. If you have a flight sim on your computer, that works wonders for reviewing the basics. I'll see if I can find out more info on those phases and let you know. The guy I'm crewed with in Phase III just finished Phases I and II.

In any case, good luck - I'll see you here!