direct track internship


New Member
I spoke with Sierra Academy and was told that nearly 100% of Sierra graduates are hired as CFIs in the direct track internship, and of those that participate in the internship nearly 100% are hired by airlines before they even complete the program. This sounds great but is this the truth or are they blowing smoke up my ass. Info from Sierra studets would be apprecitaed. I realize this school has a bad rep and I have heard all the negetives and positives so please only respond if you have first hand knowledge. Thank you.
Flyguy, I am a current Sierra student working on my Commercial Multi-Engine add on. There are others who may have more detailed insight to your question, but I'll tell you what I've come to know in regard to your question.

"Nearly 100% of Sierra grads are hired as CFI's." Sounds accurate, some pilots go elsewhere, some wash out, most have been hired as CFI's.

"Nearly 100% are hired by airlines before they even complete the program." True, up until . . . about . . . oh . . . say . . . September 11, 2001. Since then, as you probably already know, the airlines have been going through difficult times. Thousands of experienced pilots have been furloughed and are looking for work. The greatly reduced number of jobs available are being sought by a bigger pool of more experienced pilots.

Technically, the above quotes are true. However, to be completely forthright, there is more to understand. Since airline hiring has been dramatically reduced, there aren't nearly as many airline jobs for CFI's to be hired into. With few places to go, many CFI's have nowhere to go except to stay as CFI's at Sierra. With more CFI's staying at Sierra, fewer positions are available for guys like me who are just a few months away from becoming a CFI. Whether it be airline hiring or Sierra CFI hiring, the larger pool of applicants combined with fewer available jobs leads to greater competition. To get hired, you must be very good at what you do (anything from high test scores to passing check rides to quality of training and, of course if you're applying at an airline, experience).

The good news is that many airlines are steadily recooperating from 9/11. There is some hiring going on at the regionals and small charter operations. The aviation industry will rebound, it's just a matter of how soon. Also, Sierra CFI's are faring well in competing for jobs at regional airlines against more experienced pilots. Several (about 5-8) Sierra CFI's have been hired on with various operators within the past 5-6 weeks. With the hiring market being so competitive, having been trained at a school like Sierra is more of an asset than ever. Most are confident that things are steadily improving and should allow for a reasonable hiring market soon (hopefully about the time I get 1200 hours).

If you want to get the 'scoop' from other pilots around the country in regard to the hiring market, visit

I'm not too worried about the current hiring situation. It will be about a year before I complete my degree and begin training, another year before I get my CFI from zero time (according to Sierra) and another year before I'm at hiring minimums (again according to Sierra.) In three years the hiring should be up (at least at regionals) and even if it isn't I wouln'd mind sticking around as a CFI building hours a little longer, and maybe get my ATP so that when the regionals do start hiring I'll be that much more competative. I'm just trying to deturmine that the CFI hiring at Sierra is better than say FSI where millions of students are competing for a handfull of CFI slots.

I have yet to visit any flight school. I plan on visiting Sierra and several others but unless another school really "woows" me, I'll probably attend Sierra. I'm just a little concerned about some things I heard from the admin staff at Sierra. It is somewhat inconsistant with what I hear from the grapevine and it sounds too good to be true, and you know what they say about stuff that sounds too good to be true.

So is it a safe assumption that what Sierra told me is at least somewhat accurate?

if there is something you want to say about SA "offline", please email me at I am ALSO looking at SA. I have been to the academy for a tour and liked what I saw, more or less......


Hey. My last post gave my email incorrectly.. its

anyways.. I am seriously evaluating coming to Sierra in the beginning of June or beginning of July, and getting to the 11th hour.. I would like some "current" situation news if you have any.

Feel free to post here or email me...

Dean Roczen
anyone at Sierra now...

How is the CFI pool moving? I would be coming far behind a CFI spot, but still it'd be good to know overall how SA is moving students through the CFI program... anyone teaching in other locations (Livermore? SJ?)
Honestly haven't heard anything about how the pool is currently moving. But to state the obvious, I'll say it's moving relatively slow. I hope to be in that pool myself by the end of June, but if I hear anything in the meantime, I'd be glad to pass that on to you. I don't know much about the guys instructing @ LVK - just that there are a handful of guys over there.

Sorry, not much to go on.
Thanks. I expect it to be somewhat slow, even if some of the other posts suggest some movement. This isnt a big deal for me at this point, I'd be coming in only beginning my Commercial (have PPL, +/- 105 hours).

But can I ask you how the ground school works? I mean, I understand the 141 aspects of it, but I guess what I am asking is what does the typical schedule look like. I heard from another student there, thought I'd ask you also.. you see, I'd be able to consult on the side based on my current profession and thats a GOOD THING, and this would be easy or hard depending on the GS schedule.

Is it a situation where you either have class in the AM or in the PM..? Or both? I am a big early AM flyer and also like the weekends, so the days are big ??'s for me...

Any advice would be helpful on the "typical day of an SA" student....
Blue Lake,
I would guess that there are, currently, 3-4 new instructors hired each month (and that's just a guess). You mentioned beginning your commercial @ Sierra - are you already instrument rated?

Most every ground school class starts at the beginning of every month. You take only one class at a time. Each class meets once each weekday until complete. For example, my instrument ground school met 12pm - 3pm every weekday for about 7 weeks. Once ground school is completely over you only show up to school when scheduled to fly. (You also fly on days you attend ground school, depending upon your instructors days off) My Commercial ground school met 8am to 12pm every weekday for 4 weeks. Multi-Engine GS was, I think, 3pm - 6pm for 1 week. CFI GS is expected to be 8am - 12pm for 6 weeks. Your daily scedule depends on YOU! If you choose NOT to fly weekends then you'll probably fly 3 times a week and attend GS 5 days a week. When GS is over and you're still working on a given rating, you'll just fly your 3 days a week. However, many of us fly 5 days a week and attend GS 5 days a week, resulting in a 7 day a week schedule while in GS, and back to 5 days a week when out of GS. If you like to fly weekends, you will likely be able to fly those mornings (since most others don't, planes will be available for you).

Also, I saw that you're a GIS consultant. How is that working for you? Reason I ask is that I was a Geography major in college when GIS was really 'catching on.' I took every class my college offered on mapmaking and GIS (which wasn't much) and even tried to intern @ ESRI of Redlands, CA. At the time, I was sure that was going to be my career so I'm interested to see how it is working out for you.

Hope this helps more than my last post.

Thanks for your reply, that was extremely helpful.

GIS has worked out great. I began doing it while in Grad school in the mid-90's. I've been here in Redding working for a GIS Consulting firm in a lot of capacities since then. I spent years making GIS databases and services for vineyards, now am working on more the "enterprise" types of things (govt stuff..more writing.. less GIS-ing).

While I dont have the full picture, my hope is to be able to affiliate with some GIS firm or otherwise and do some work while in academy. I also teach here at the local college (Acces classes) and would ocnsider teaching evenings...

we can talk more on this if you want offline (

Thanks again for your help..