DCA pros/cons

UWfan

New Member
I am deciding between DCA and some other flight schools to finish up my training. I presently have my comm./inst. SEL.

For those of you who decided to attend DCA- What pros out weighed the cons that finally made your decision to go there?

For those of you who decided not to attend DCA- What cons out weighed the pros that finally made your decision not to go there?

Any thoughts will be greatly appreciated.

UWfan
 

stuckingfk

Well-Known Member
I have a thought. If you already have your commercial/SEL, why don't you try to finish locally. If that doesn't work, I have heard great things about ATPs CFI course, and multi add course too. If you went this route, I think you could save some money.
 

Wannabe2

New Member
My $.02,

Please take what I say with a grain of salt as I am quite biased. I just graduated standz class today and am awaiting my first student. That being said, I am a big fan of DCA and could not be more pleased with my decision to attend.

If you already have the commercial/inst. stuff done, this is the perfect time for you to attend DCA. You have saved some money getting those ratings somewhere else probably. I don't think DCA has ever claimed to be the cheapest way to train. It isn't. As a matter of fact, it probably ranks right up there with some of the most expensive. That being said, I think the quality of training you get here, and more importantly the opportunities it affords those that complete the program are worth paying a premium. (No flames please, I understand that there are lots of places that offer EXCELLENT training as well) I know that after instructing for 800 hours I will be interviewing with a regional. Comair, Chataqua, hopefully others soon. That interview is guaranteed. I don't think anyone else guarantees that without getting into PFT. I could be wrong...

At last night's monthly saftey meeting, they announced 8 or so names of people that are, or will be in the next couple weeks, released from the academy so they can go interview. Tons of guys are getting hired right now. Chataqua in particular is picking up lots of folks.

To put some real numbers to it, My private instructor here at DCA has three weeks left of training at Comair and then he hits the flightline. My instrument instructor just started his training at chataqua a couple weeks ago. My commercial instructor was also my private instructor so he's already taken care of. My multi instructor didn't get hired. (it happens) My CFI instructor just got his letter from Comair and is awaitng a class date. My CFII instructor was one of those released last night and has to decide where he wants to interview. Not bad stats.

The pros: Quality training (both flight and ground), professional atmosphere, guaranteed interview, self governing authority for a number of rating so you are't risking a pink ticket, awesome maintenance staff, Delta flight priveleges while you are employed. There are more, but to me, those are the main ones.

The cons: Cost, living anywhere in florida (this involves heat, humidity, bugs, swamps, alligators, crazy old drivers etc.) following some pretty strict academy rules (I could list that in the pro's too I think), maintenace delays, weather delays, moving away from wife/home/friends, 6:30 am flights, 10:00 pm simulators. Stagechecks, Checkrides, Stress in Standz class.... the list goes on but you get the idea.

After reading this I think I sound a little like one of the admissions officers trying to sell the program, but to a certain extent I am. Its a great school and I would highly encourage anyone interested in a high stress, low paying job to come and take a look. Tracy was my admissions officer and I don't think he was blowing any sunshine up my ass. He told me how it was and he was 99% right. Call him up and ask him the hard questions, he'll give you the straight information.

Sorry for the ramble, this is the first time in the 10 days since standz class that I have had to post on here and it all just tumbled out.

I'll leave you with a note that one of my fellow standz class graduates has been keeping in his wallet since he started school and I thougt it was the coolest thing I'd read in a while. It was some type of speech his buddy made to some group or another:

"You are getting ready to live a f*&%ing dream man. It's gonna be hard, and it'll suck at least as often as it's fun. You're gonna be broke, starved and maybe even in need of a good shower from time to time but it does get better. Regardless of the final outcome, when it's all said and done you'll be able to look in the mirror and be incredibly grateful that you took the chance.

I've had bank presidents see some freighter take off and say to me in no uncertain terms that "they'd give it all up"...just to be able to do that."

Hope this rambling mess helped. Fly safe.
 

flyguy

Well-Known Member
[ QUOTE ]
That interview is guaranteed. I don't think anyone else guarantees that without getting into PFT. I could be wrong...

[/ QUOTE ]
Sierra guarantees interviews with Continental Express and American Eagle, and most get interviews with Skywest as well. Lots of schools guarantee interviews without PFT, just not jobs.
 

montanapilot

Well-Known Member
the guarenteed interview line is a bunch of bull**it. Thats only if you make it there as an instructor and by doing everything their way.

To the original poster: dude you've almost made it, there isnt a need to go to DCA and drown in a sea of debt. I would continue to go the FBO route and save your money instead of paying sallie mae for the next 20 years. The airlines wont care if your ratings are done at Mom and Pops flying or at DCA.

Dont believe their advertising you see in Flying and AOPA it is deceitful.
But you gotta love lines like "the only solid choice" and "pilot positions are reserved for academy graduates".



I know nothing about the quality or thoroughness of the training and I am sure it is just fine. However their methods and cost leave a bad impression with me.


By the way UW fan. Where are you doing your training at right now? BFI? I go up to Seattle quite often, next time I get up there I'll drop you a PM
 

UWfan

New Member
Wannabe2-

I appreciate your $1.50, I mean 2 cents worth. I'm kidding. I thank you for taking time and filling me in. I appreciated all that you said, especially the quote at the end. I'll be down there to tour at the end of this month.

UWfan
 

Aviator737

New Member
UWfan,

Wannabe2 had some very good things to say, but also note montanapilot's message. The large flight academies (Delta Connection, Regional Airline, Pan Am) are very expensive. I'm convinced half of the reason is because of their "brand name". While I'm sure you will get good quality training at a school like DCA, I'm also confident you can get equally good training at an FBO. Or, if you're intent on accelerated training, schools such as ATP and Ari-Ben. (Truth be told, they can finish you much faster than DCA. ATP = 3 months, Ari-Ben = 6 months, DCA = 2 years)

I've toured DCA, and liked elements about it, but also found the program to be very "slick". That's probably the other half of the reason they're so expensive. Their marketing is impressive, but I personally don't feel like paying for colorful brochures and full-page ads. The expenses certainly aren't reflected in top-of-the-line aircraft, because I understand DCA's flight line to be rather old--though very functional and well-maintained. (The flightline is something you won't be seeing on your tour.)

One regional airline pilot (a very young guy) said he had a friend just finishing off at DCA who said the guarenteed interview was, as montanapilot also put it, "bulls**t".

Over and over again I've heard (from professional pilots): "If you've got the time, you've got the interview. If you've got the personality/attitude, you've got the job." Not that it's that simple, of course, but a generalization.

Still, I believe it comes down to the individual and their wants/needs, and what they're willing to pay for it.

My two pennies.
 

montanapilot

Well-Known Member
Well i just busted out my handy dandy DCA 4 color packet (this brochure i got is old to so they might have raised the prices already) and this is what it'll cost you UWfan.

Commercial Multi - $7185
CFI - $7480
CFII - $3665
MEI - $5968

for a grand total of $24,298


or you can get your CFI/II/MEI at allatps for 5,000
and add on your Multi Engine for about $2,000

*no I dont work for atps either, just trying to save you a few bucks (i am a republican what can i say
)
 

Wannabe2

New Member
UW fan,

If I would have realized you were a husky I'd have told you not to come. Kidding of course, but I am a couar and the last thing I need down here is one more husky reminding me about the apple cup if you know what i mean.

When you come down PM me and I will show you around a bit if you want.

Some valid points made by others here about costs etc. and I have already made my arguments on most issues so I will leave it. Somebody said something about the interview being bull*&^t, and that you only get it if you go thru the program DCA's way or something. Well exactly, if you study here and follow the rules here and get thru the whold deal here then you get the interview. How else would it work? If I came here and didn't do things DCA's way not only would I not expect the interview, I am sure I'd be looking for a new job quickly too.

Sorry, but the interview is NOT bulls*&(t. Good to know that other schools are offering guaranteed interviews too, those probably are not bull%^$t either.

There's another 17 cents worth or so.

GO COUGS!
 

172_Captain

New Member
[ QUOTE ]
My $.02,
That being said, I think the quality of training you get here, and more importantly the opportunities it affords those that complete the program are worth paying a premium.

[/ QUOTE ]

Yes siree, DCA trains you the airline way. Other than using a checklist for everything except letting a fart, how does DCA's training differ from part 61 training? Oh, I forgot, they schedule you for a 6:30a flight and then a 10:00p sim, the airline way.

[ QUOTE ]
That interview is guaranteed. I don't think anyone else guarantees that without getting into PFT. I could be wrong...

[/ QUOTE ]

And the fact of the matter is the airline interview is what you are paying for. Would you pay $60k for training if there was no airline interview? Sounds like PFT. DCA is'nt paying for your training are they?

[ QUOTE ]
At last night's monthly saftey meeting, they announced 8 or so names of people that are, or will be in the next couple weeks, released from the academy so they can go interview. Tons of guys are getting hired right now. Chataqua in particular is picking up lots of folks.

[/ QUOTE ]

After DCA made a small fortune on these these folks backs, they recieve their interview. Sweeeet! DCA gave them nothing. Only thru hard work, dedication and perserverance did these folks succeed. DCA is about money, period.
 

DE727UPS

Well-Known Member
UWfan...if you are flying at Wings or Galvins, you could probably do it cheaper at DCA or FlightSafety....BFI is way expensive. On the other hand, any guy who can solo out of BFI has my respect...look out for the big brown 727.

My opinion....A good part 61 program turns out just as good a stick as one of the big academies at a lower price. Part 61 is better in some respects in that you can do things you could never do at a big academy.

Two things come to mind: Landing on the beach at Copalis State and doing ILS's at Bremerton when it's zero/zero. Now that's experience......
 

flyguy

Well-Known Member
[ QUOTE ]
Other than using a checklist for everything except letting a fart, how does DCA's training differ from part 61 training?

[/ QUOTE ]

They don't have a checklist for that? Hmmm, that might be a violation of 141.
I must admit 141 is very ridiculous about procedures and such, right down to how many erasers we need in our classrooms.

However I have to disagree that the program found at the academies is never worth the extra cost. For some people it may not be, but not everybody is the same.

I believe that what you are paying for is not a guaranteed interview, but convenience . In one place you can get all of your training, all of your groundschool, a good shot at an instructng job, turbine transition training, interview preperation, and a good shot at an interview with a regional. It is the whole package you are paying for, not just an interview, although an interview is a nice bonus.

Also, the airline lifestyle is something that one should get used to early on. I do think DCA may go a little overboard making their students be available any day and any time between 0600 and 2300, and its incredibly dorky that they have "pushback" on the 172 checklists, but there is nothing wrong with getting used to the lifestyle. There is more to flying for a living than going to every fly-in restaraunt within a 100 mile radius, and cruising around at your leisure having all the fun in the world, it can really take a toll. Knowing what I'm getting into and learning whether I can handle it, and really do want it, is something I want to find out before I pour my whole life into this career. Its not just about money.

I can't say that the academy route is for everybody, but for some people it may be a better fit. Its up to each individual to decide.
 

flyguy

Well-Known Member
[ QUOTE ]
Part 61 is better in some respects in that you can do things you could never do at a big academy.


Two things come to mind: Landing on the beach at Copalis State and doing ILS's at Bremerton when it's zero/zero. Now that's experience......

[/ QUOTE ]
Just because we go the academy route dosn't mean we have to miss out on these type of experiences. We still get certified to fly airplanes just like everyone else, and nothing stops us from renting planes and flying for leisure. In fact here at Sierra most of our students opt to do their commercials part 61 so that they only have to do their duel at Sierra and can build the rest of the time by renting planes and flying for fun. We have a part 141 syllabus for commercial, but most students choose the 61 syllabus because they can do more flying on ther own and they can save a lot of money. Its kind of the best of both worlds.
 

Hollywood

New Member
they do "pushbacks" at dca.oh my god. i'm laughing uncontrollably right now. i can just see one of these guys stoping for fuel somewhere and asking the receptionist at the fbo if they can get a "pushback" for their 172. i must have read that post wrong. they don't actually push a 172 backward with a tug do they? do DCA's 172's have a special hookups where the tug driver can hook his headset in a talk to the captain? ok, enough jokes. i reread the post. it said in the checklist. makes more sense. the would have a lot of workmans comp claims fron line personel being chopped up.
 

flyguy

Well-Known Member
They don't actually pushback but they have it on the checklist as a 'placeholder' for lack of a better term. Just one more thing to get you used to being an airline pilot I guess. At least that was how it was explained to me when I toured Comair about a year and a half ago. They may have changed that since, but they did it then.
 

DE727UPS

Well-Known Member
"and its incredibly dorky that they have "pushback" on the 172 checklists".

Someone from DCA say it isn't so? Please....
 

Hollywood

New Member
i guess it's important. i hear many people that get through the interview eventually wash out due to poor pushback techniques. being able to properly communicate with the tug driver is fundamentally important and should be incorporated into all training checklists. keeping th FA's well informed is also overlooked. FA's are a vital part of the team and should be informed when performing slow flight and stalls. "flight attendansts cross check, prepare for slow flight". sorry guys. sometimes i kill me.
 

EatSleepFly

Well-Known Member
Geez, and I felt like a dork at Riddle when we had to "Ramp In/Out".

If this is true, it should definitely be added to the infamous Dorky Pilot thread over at flightinfo.com.
 

flyguy

Well-Known Member
Notice there are no DCA students either confirming or denying whether they still do this. I suppose I wouldn't want to be made fun of either I guess.
 
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