Confused about PanAM


New Member
Hello. This is my first post on this site. I am looking into attending a "Pilot Factory" flight school. I am 23 years old, have never attended college, and I would like to get my ratings in an accelerated environment, and worry about a college degree later. I was seriously considering PanAM until last night when I read all the horror stories on this site. I am a little confused when it comes to the cost of the program.

1. The tuition is approx. $40,000. Do you have to pay for each flying lession in addition to the tuition or is it included?

2. Is it easy to fall behind?

3. How hard is it to pass a first class medical? I don't have any major problems but I do smoke about a pack a day.

4. Is the Pan AM flight academy looked down apon by the airlines? How about Flight Safety?

Thank you in advance for any answers to my questions. I do not know any pilots and I know if I call PanAM and ask them, they will just tell me what I want to hear.
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3. How hard is it to pass a first class medical? I don't have any major problems but I do smoke about a pack a day.

4. Is the Pan AM flight academy looked down apon by the airlines? How about Flight Safety?

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I don't know about the answers to #1 or #2 but I kow abt 3, 4

3, stop smoking.

4, Does not matter what they think. Until you get a degree your app won't make the pile. if you want to fly, choose a flying college vs a pilot mill, ERU, DanWevbster etc...
The tuition for Pan Am is $53000, if you have 0 hours. You will need another $3-4 k for books and check rides. Figure on spending $55- 60k. All of your flight training is included in this price, with one exception.
If it takes you longer than the advertised time to earn your ratings, you will pay additional fee's for the instruction. This is applicable to you question about falling behind. If you have the aptitude, and fly as often as possilbe, you shouldn't fall behind. On the other hand, if you concentrate too much on vollyball and chicks, you will fall behind. It will cost you more.

I passed my first class medical no problem. The Doc checks your blood press, vision, and he listens to your lungs, and heart. SO STOP SMOKING. You pee in a cup, and he checks your hearing. Pretty simple.

There is only one school that is looked down upon by airlines. Not really the airlines, because they dont care where you learned to fly. But pilots do look down on Gulfstream Academy, and Gulfstream Airlines. Do some research, and you'll learn why. Flightsafety has an outstanding reputation, and Pan Am is too new to have one good or bad. There are some posts here bashing Pan Am, but it seems to be the same 2 or 3 guys who didn't have good experiences there.

The next thing you need to do is visit the schools you are interested in. Talk to the students away from the marketing and tour people. I did the tour at FSI and Pan Am, and spoke to students at each school. Away from the faculty and administrators, they were very honest. I didn't hear anything bad at either school.

It took me 4 months to narrow my search for a school down to 2. I have visited 7 schools personally, and only FSI and Pan AM have made the cut. Now I just have to decide! /ubbthreads/images/icons/confused.gif
One more thing. Find some pilots who are working. Ask all the peolpe you know if they know any. They can give you good advice. I was lucky, I have a cousin who is an FO with ACA. He helped me see through all of the BS spewed out by the flight schools. He even went on tours with me to see first hand what they had to offer. He is a Flightsafety grad, and when we went to Pan Am, he was very impressed.
The price quoted for tuition is the ideal price. If you pass every mission the first time, then you'll get through the program at that price. But, realistically, most people end up paying more than the quoted price.

You pay as you go from the account they set up for you. Your loan money goes into an account (in installments over 3 months) and is drawn out after each flight for the airplane rental and the flight instructor. As FlyingTurkey said, $55-60K for 0 to CFII/MEI is more realistic.

Is it easy to fall behind? That depends on the student. If you want it bad enough, you'll be focused and motivated and keep up with your studies. Remember that it's much cheaper to study at home than to have your instructor lecturing you on things you should know for $xx per hour. And it's much, much cheaper to read up on your maneuvers at home than it is to watch your instructor do it umpteen times in the plane for $1xx per hour.

Is it easy to fall behind? yes
Is it realistic to stay on schedule? yes, if you're focused and motivated

Do you have any flying experience? I got my Private at a local flying club to get my feet wet and decide if aviation is right for me. I'm very glad that I went that path. (But, that's another topic on another forum).

Attending a flight academy is a big step and a huge chunk of money. Make sure it is, without a doubt, what you want to do with your life.
My .02, get a degree and take flying lessons at a good local school. Get referals, visit the schools, and interview THEM. It's your money, and it's better spent on a college degree and good local instruction. Get your instrument rating, and then your commercial ticket. By then, you should know if it's something you want to continue to pursue. The big schools are O.K. for some, but I think there's a more efficient way to spend your money. The degree will be needed when interview time comes, and as a fallback in case the pilot career gets sidetracked.
Becomming an instructor has been enormously educational--for ME!!
Long time reader first time poster. Meaning I have read ALL the post about PAN AM. I am currently attending the school. I am bothered a little on how some of you are stating, " I was thinking about going there, but not now!" I don't want to turn this into a mile long post so. Follow these few rules at all schools and you should have no problems. 1) Fully understand what you are getting into 2) Stay focused 3) Watch your account 4) Run your own show (if you don't want to start a groundschool, fly, switch to new program... then don't) I liked the posts that say I was screwed out of my money. I NEVER get screwed out of my money. If you have a legitamate reason why something should not have happened, present this to the right people, in the right order. I know it sucks you go to the first person on the chain, nothing. Next, nothing... Eventually if it is legit, it will be taken care of. (Even if you have to resort to the threat of legal action) I agree 100% that we should not have to do this, it is a business they try to extract money they(flight schools in general) are good at it. If you let it happen your account will dwindle down fast and only because of you. If something doesn't seem right correct it. My experience so far has had its bumps, exactly what will happen elsewhere. Stay on top of your business and your time will be good. I had NO prior knowledge about aviation going into this, I just jumped in head first. I don't regret any of it. ALL FLIGHT SCHOOLS ARE THE SAME. Don't listen to so and so is better... When you decide to go to a flight school, don't regret it just take it as a life experience- a costly one at that. flame away

I'm not flaming- however there are a few things wrong with your post. First- I agree that if you get screwed out of some money you have every right to get it back as you stated, if for a legitimate reason. But- when these people state that they were screwed out of money, it isn't because a legitimate reason- it's because the school just cost too damn much. You say you never get screwed out of your money. Bullsh*t. Lets see you get your money back after you blow a stagecheck by messing up a steep turn by 10 feet (keep in mind, you've never messed one up before) then you have to fly with your instructor, then- you have to wait for another stagecheck. Meanwhile you are losing valuable time- not to mention a WASTE of money to repeat two flights. I could go on about other areas where you lose money and you can't get it back. Most of us here are explaining OUR experiences- so maybe none of these things have happened to you, but in my opinion- They will. By the way, how long have you been there? I have gone many different routes throughout my training so I can say which one was better for me, however, don't state that "flight schools are all the same" if you've only been to one. You say that you had no prior experience, you "just jumped in head first." I don't know if that was such a good idea. I know it's different strokes for different folks but you shouldn't admit to not looking into anything else. You'll realize this a little later, when you see people spend a third of what Pan Am charges, and they have a job before you! Also- I don't think that if we are spending so much money, that we have to work hard to keep our accounts straight! Good luck with your career, and your pocketbook-
I guess I was flaming.... ooops- Oh well, give me what ya got! J/K. Where's all the guys on my side when I need them. heh heh!!
I have read most of your posts here, and it seems the main complaint you have about Pan Am is administrative, and not with the actual instruction. As far as the cost goes, Pan Am is competive with all the other large flight academies, with the exception of ATP. You make it seem like Pan Am is the most expensive school on the planet. I know FSI could cost the same if not more. As far as not passing a check ride because you were off by 10 feet, well IM not sure about that, you may have exagerrated your statement, or were not fully aware of the reason why you failed. I do know Pan Am does not have self examining authority, so there is no biased reason for your failing the ride. (although I have heard of examiners failing guys for the slightest reason to keep thier fail rate up) You seem to like the smaller slower paced structure of a FBO better than the academy style structure of Pan AM. Maybe you will do much better in that enviornment. I dont think there are many guys on your side because your experince is just not typical.

"Do, or do not, there is no try"
You are correct. My personal complaints are only against the administration. My instructors at Pan Am were excellent, I have no complaints with instruction. My biggest complaint, and if you read my posts you already know this, is that if you decide to go to the academy style training, then people who go to FBO's shouldn't have CFI jobs before you and spend a lot less money. That is what you're paying for. FASTER FARTHER FOR SURE!! Pan Am's slogan. It just isn't true. My complaint is strictly a money and time issue, other than the personal ones against the administration which I have never posted because they have only happened to me and a couple others. Don't get me wrong, I was in no hurry when I attended Pan Am, but it was frustrating finishing at the top of my class yet still seeing people at other smaller schools finish faster. Also on my previous post I was talking about failing a stagecheck not a checkride. Stagechecks are Pan Am's form of making sure everything is going smoothly. I'm not sure if you go there, but if you do, then you should know what I'm talking about. Yes, it is VERY common for someone to bust a stagecheck for something so little as altitude by 10 feet. Then you have to go back with your instructor, and wait for another opening for a stagecheck pilot. It is very common for this to happen. Believe me, there are a ton of people on this board that feel the same way I do. I am not the diamond in the rough, I have spoke with them on other posts, and personally. If I gave out the idea that Pan Am is more expensive than all the other schools, then I appologize, because I do believe they are all pretty close in price. If you've read my posts, I always state that it's only my experience and my opinion, so people can feel free to think what they want, but when someone tries to hide things then I will pop up on here and state the truth. I will give you an example of my complaint- I have been a flight instructor since September. We just hired an ex-pan amer who was just 2 classes behind me. I was working on my commercial when this person showed up for private. 10 months after I finished my ratings, this person is finished and looking for a job-now who knows? there may be reasons for that but there are many others in the same situation. That just isn't right. Good Luck

I just noticed that you haven't made up your mind of a flight school yet. If you choose Pan Am, I wish you the best of luck, I mean it. Just don't take any crap from them, and I'm sure you'll be okay. It's different strokes for different folks. Also keep an eye on those brief costs- they'll eat you up. The current Pan- Amers know what I'm talkin about. I truely hope you don't have any problems with them- cause I sure as hell wish I didn't- You'll like the instruction, I loved it there, except for those damn stagechecks. It was a great experience- at least for the first few ratings- they will make you an excellent pilot, but you will be a broke excellent pilot.

Good Luck
I do agree with you the stagechecks are a major problem I don't see them agressively fixing it either. I personally don't take any crap and just tell them I will not wait 10 days for one. The failing of stagechecks is also kind of a joke, it all depends on who you get and if they are in a good mood. Which throws the whole "standardized" idea out the window. I had my share of the stagechecks from hell, but all were at the Phoenix location which has far too many chiefs and not enough Indians. If you do decide on Pan Am I would seriously consider the Florida campus, although the scene is terrible you can focus more on training. I don't want to go into the FBO vs. Pilot factory. You can complete the ratings fast or slow it's all up to you. I shouldn' t say all schools are the same, but if you read all the post from other schools they sure seem all alike if you ask me. Therefore one could make the decision to go to Pan Am over others for the small reasons. Personally I love getting into a brandnew aircraft it smells good and gives you a good sense of security. The facilities etc... These are really the things that set schools apart. I am glad to here your working. I am just waiting for my initial CFI ride. Orlando FSDO is taking forever. Take care
Hey expendableone-

Good luck with the CFI ride. Have you tried looking for a D.E. that can do initial CFI rides? That's what I did, cause the FSDO here was taking way too long.

Good Luck
If I go to Pan Am I will go to Fort Pierce. I live here in South Florida, so I would still be somewhat close to my friends and family. I probably just wont have much time to see them. /ubbthreads/images/icons/frown.gif But I am looking forward to it.
The purpose of a stagecheck is to determine if a student can complete the specified maneuver within the Practical Test Standards. Please explain why you would expect to pass a stagecheck, or checkride if you cannot complete the maneuvers within the allowable tolerances? Yes, you may have done the last twenty steep turns with your primary instructor to the PTS, however, a stagecheck is an indication of how you will perform with someone other than your instructor, like maybe a designated examiner. It’s cheaper to fail the stagecheck then the checkride.
Well President Bush just had a speech about how unscrupulous people in corporate america are hurting the country. I hope some administratives at Pan Am were listening.
No, it's probably not "divot." This is "tired" from Arizona, probably making sure to use an IP address off site from PanAm. "Tired" is tired of PanAm getting what they believe to be unfair criticism from FLDiver and others. See my post in reply to "tired's" post on other thread for my take. On this issue, though, one question. Is there any reason to assume that the failure of a stagecheck by a student leads to more revenue for PanAm? And if so, is there any reason--considering the way they've handled some other issues here, that the failure might be assumed to be suspicious? Once you've created doubt about your honesty, all your policies come into question. Not sure that's fair, but that's the way the world works.