I need help deciding on a school, FSI or Pan Am


New Member
I had made up my mind to go to Pan Am in September but after finding this forum and reading all the negatives, I am having doubts. Can someone please tell me something good about Flight Safety? How big of a school is it and are the planes in good shape? Thanks for any info you can give me.
You'd have a much harder time finding something bad about FSI. Some people will try to tell you that the negatives are:

1.) the length of the wait list to instruct there...but don't pick a school based solely on whether they say they will hire you...thats rediculous- tons of things can happen between the time you start, and the time you're ready to get a job. Pick your school based on quality.

2.) The cost- Sure its not cheap, but none of the big flight schools are. The prices they quote are very realistic, and many people finish under budget if they work hard (myself included). If you have your heart set on one of the big academies, then dont let a grand or two here and there make your decision- they're all about the same price when its all said and done. Oh yeah, and you don't have to pay them one cent up front...so no getting screwed ATA-style. Once again, go for quality.

Some positives:

The planes, are in excellent shape. When I left they still had a few of the older Seminoles (not sure if they still do or not) that they used for initial multi training. All the rest of the Seminoles are about a year old. The Cadets and the Arrows are all in excellent shape, as the maintenance is second to none. If you've got a squawk, they'll come out on a golf cart and fix it...if its going to take a while, they'll assign you a new plane.

Your training would include Spatial Disorientation training, Crew Resource Management, and Upset Recover/Spin Training....all of which are awesome- especially the URT/Spins.

The CFI program there, while intense and somewhat lengthy, is second to none. To be honest though, the CFII program is nothing spectacular...just a quick ground school to review IFR procedures, then a few flights. You could probably do it just as well and cheaper elsewhere.

I'll be the first to plug FSI, but also to say go look at some other schools too, then make your decision. Good luck!
Well, I also attended FSI and would be hard pressed to say anything negative about the place. I was VERY pleased with the training I recieved there and agree that it was top notch.

A personal friend of mine (another CFI) went through the whole program down the road in Fort Pierce at Pan Am. Overall I think he had a positive experience but he frequently talks about the negative aspects of some program (ACE?).

The aircraft are in great shape, the maintenance dept. is equally top notch. NEVER did I have a major squawk (only the ocassional landing light), and never did I have to cacel a flight due to maintenance.

Good luck with your choice, if you pick FSI you won't be dissapointed if you work hard!!
I also almost went to Pan Am. I am very glad I want to Flight Safety instead.

One big thing I will note is that the cost of FS is pretty darn close to Pan Am. At the time anyway FS quotes threw in everything you needed and then some (the FS quotes were thousands of dollars high in the end). The Pan Am quotes were missing items that added up. When I did a break down at the end of my FS time I realized I was within a few grand of what I would have paid at Pan Am. I'm not bashing Pan Am, but I'm very happy I attended FS. I have been finished for almost a year and I am glad I went there and I would make the same choice again.

On you're other question. I have yet to see anything better than Flight Safety aircraft maintenance. The single engine aircraft are older, but kept in great shape. They have a stack of new twins from winter of 2001/2002. The facilities are top notch & I had great instructors. The administration always treated me like an important customer and they still check in with me now that I'm out working.

Good luck making the call. I know it was a tough one for me.
I graduated FSI's CIME (Commercial, Instrumet, Multi-Engine) program last May and if I had to do it all over again, I would have done the same thing. I too ended up under budget, this is very possible if you find a crew partner and stick together. A crew partner is someone you pair up with who is about the same pace as you in the program. You stick with that person until the end of your program and you'll usually come up under budget. Not only that but you have the oppertunity to learn a great deal more than doing it by yourself. When you fly, your partner rides the back seat and watches and learn. You get to your destination and switch seats. It was a great help and I highly recommend it. Also their CFI program is great. When I was there Al St. George had just come back and he really turned the program around for the better. Awsome aircraft, Great instructors, and a really good program. Good Luck.
I know two guys who attended Pan Am. Anyhoo, neither has had anything positive to say about Pan Am. Of course, if you drop in on the Pan Am forum, you may find some that seem satisfied. Its a good thing you at least found this forum to help yourself make the choice.
I thoroughly enjoyed my FSI experience. I was treated like a customer, a rare thing in the flight training industry, was given respect and top-notch training. No school is perfect, but you will not find a better overall value/school than FSI. Period. End of story.

I have been to the Pan Am forum many times and have not heard many things positive about that academy . I asked for anyone to tell me something good about the place but didn't get many replies. Here at FSI I am getting more positive replies. Does anyone know which of the two schools is the largest, student wise? I know Pan Am has 300 max.
FSI has the capacity for around 600 students (might have to run a few stand classes for that
) I think right now the number is around 225?
Just more proof of why I should apply to FSI.
I talked to some people over at FSI and they were VERY nice and helpfull. I said that I want to get all my certificates there except ATP and in 2 days I got a First Class mail from FSI that was very thick and included all the info I needed.
So I say FSI. Plus its by a beach.
I understand where your coming from, but I can tell you from experience FSI is the way to go. I did my instrument and time building at Pan Am, and the remainder of my ratings at FSI. Flight Safety treats you like a customer, is professional, and pretty much lets you make your schedule. Pan Am tells you when to fly, demands you fly twice a day, gives no time off except for a one week LOA if it fits into the ground school schedule, and holds your money from the loan company only giving you $5000 with each dispersment. FSI gives you your check when it comes, and lets you make payments as long as your balance is above $300.

Pan Am has you locked in with a $2000 penalty if you want to leave. Pan Am is after your money, and they will have you repeating lessons left and right. I thought it was just me, but everyone repeats. The only time I repeated at FSI was when felt like I should.

As far as the fear of not getting an instructor job, don't worry if you have FSI on your resume you'll get a job. I did! No instructors from Pan Am stay there because they're treated just as badly as the students. Trust me FSI is the way to go!
Yeah, and PanAm's by a Fort. What's with that?


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Fort Pierce is so so beautiful...a mecca of fine culture, fine dining and the arts.
Easy....you'll be accused of pan-o am-o bashing...I was. All I said was, when going to FPR, don't forget to bring your gun!

Just more proof of why I should apply to FSI.
I talked to some people over at FSI and they were VERY nice and helpfull. I said that I want to get all my certificates there except ATP and in 2 days I got a First Class mail from FSI that was very thick and included all the info I needed.
So I say FSI. Plus its by a beach.

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If all other things were equal (which they aren't, but let's pretend), FSI still is the hands down winner based solely on the attitude and helpfulness of the support staff. You are treated like a valued customer. That is UNHEARD of in this industry! From the VA office to accounting, marketing, the pilot shop, and the cafe, everyone is genuinely nice and makes you feel at home. You'll see exactly what I'm talking about when you tour.

Rough, rough, rough....I think I've successfully found a more boring and depressing town than Vero. Oh yeah, at the airport, for about 2 hours in the morning the old pilots come out, drink coffee for a bit, b.s. a little and then go home then there's NOBODY around at all. Did land at a true grass strip the other day which was cool.

Guess the lesson for the forum is: enjoy Vero and Florida- there are worse places for a single guy. And, being on a long waiting list is not bad- you get to go out and teach in the real world for a bit and really appreciate HOW GOOD YOUR TRAINING AT FSA REALLY WAS.......and lastly, HOPEFULLY make some contacts so that you wont have to go back to Vero. Notice I said "hopefully"- havent made that millionaire friend...yet.