Our Flight School Tours


New Member
Ok, here goes. Please don't be offended by my opinion, I know a lot of you attend these schools, and this is just my personal experience. We made our decision based on what is right for us, and I am not saying that it's not right for others. Also, please forgive me if I use a wrong term or something, I am just the wife, remember.

OK, day one FSI-

We arrived to find our name on a welcome board, very thoughtful. We toured the facilities in the rain so our guide was very courteous in providing umbrellas, holding doors open etc. We were blown away with the Level D flight Sim, we got to sit in 3 different ones and I can see how they are a very powerful training tool.

We were taken to the office of Mr. S who is the um, Dean?? Is that the right word? He talked with us for about 15-20 minutes, and didn't seem to mind the finger prints Caleb put on his office windows. (Caleb was flirting with the ladies in the hall as they walked by, and they were all so incredibly sweet.) Mr. S also held Caleb on his lap and bounced him around which I thought was nice.

We saw the planes which were in great shape, we saw the class rooms that had power point presentations. We saw the cafe which is also a convenient touch. When we were done with the campus, we went to Jackie's office, were she had some toys for Caleb to play with, and she went over $$ and stuff with Corbin. She then gave me a bag that had a guide to the Indian River area, a map, a list of pediatricians and play grounds, etc. and vouchers for free breakfast from the cafe the next morning. We were allowed to stay in a Bungalow for free that night. We drove around the city and saw the beach. It was a very nice city. It had a small town feel to it, but not in the um, dusty Utah desert way I expected. It still had a Target and WalMart which seals the deal for me, lol. We did not get a chance to SEE any apartments, but from the research I did on the net, they are around $650 for a 3 bed 2 bath, with pool, etc. That would get you nothing in Utah. That's half our mortgage payment. Jackie and Kelly were just so very nice and told me I could call them if I ever needed help with anything like finding dr.'s or whatever.

I have one slight concern with FSI and that's that the place was pretty quiet. We saw probably 10 or so students there, while the halls at DCA were so crowded we couldn't get through. Maybe it was the incoming hurricane? I don't know if it's good or bad to have few students. On one hand it's less competition with other students for instructor jobs, but then if it doesn't pick up, that might mean there are no new students for you to instruct. The major appealing thing though is that they don't care if you go somewhere else while waiting to instruct with them, you don't lose your spot in line.

My biggest complaint about FSI, was that the TP in the Bungalows was the John Wayne style. Surely they could splurge for Charmin?
But if that's the worse thing I can come up with then they must be doing something right. We are hoping that the attitude and how accomodating they are continues into the training, and doesn't end once you have signed your check over. If you want more info about the actual programs, classes, etc. you'll have to ask Corbin, I tended to tune out during the stuff I didn't understand.

Ok, next we drove to Pan Am. We drove around the campus and never even got out of the car. We could tell from the outside that the area and campus did not compare to FSI, so we didn't bother.

Then on to DCA. They generally like you to take their standard 5 hour tour. We had a 15 month old with us so we are lucky to get in an hour or two. They seemed a little miffed that we were not wanting the cookie cutter tour. I asked for a place to change Caleb's diaper, and they suggested I do it in my car. It has luggage on both seats so I had to change him on the cold tile floor in the bathroom. The person who gave us our tour talked a lot about how long the runways were, and how many planes go in and out of that airport every day and a bunch of other stuff that we didn't feel was important. He knew we had to deal with Caleb's patience, but that didn't stop him from wasting a lot of our time. We wanted to say "enough already, show us the sims and the classrooms and the planes".

We did finally get to see the planes. They were not seemingly more or less taken care of then FSI's. But he didn't really say anything about maintainance. FSI talked for a long time about the maintainance rules and what they do for safety. I am not saying DCA doesn't do the same things, but they just didn't say either way.

We then got to see the classrooms, not as impressive as the power point at FSI, but that's not a big deal. We walked by the sims but did not get to go inside as a result of our unwillingness to take the 5 hour tour. We then went to the guide's office, where he said "well you are already sold on FSI, I can tell, but let me tell you why you will regret that" I am not really sure what he said after that, I wasn't listening, maybe Corbin was.

Every where we went there were posters that said things like "Comair will be hiring hundreds of pilots in the next 12 months" Oh really? And they are ALL coming from DCA aren't they? Then the guide pulled out a log from 99-01 that showed the number of hours DCA pilots got hired at vs the number of hours non DCA pilots were hired at. I asked him for the list from 01-02 or 02-03 since we really should see some post 9-11 numbers and he said it was still being compiled. Interesting. The list showed that other pilots weren't getting hired until they had upwards of 4500 hours, while DCA pilots were getting hired around 1000. I am sorry, MAYBE that's true, but I don't think it is, nor do I care. He went on and on about how important it was to chose a school that had a connection to an airline. I found it amusing that Delta sends their pilots and students to FSI for the sim training.

I felt like we were being given the sales pitch of the year. His answers were stale and rehearsed. It was like "what can I do to get you to buy this car today?". They also say their instructor waiting pool is about 3 months right now. FSI's is around a year. That sounds like bad news but what it says to me is that DCA students aren't willing to wait around. FSI must have a pretty damn good instructing program if people are waiting that long to be a part of it. FSI has internship programs you can do while waiting too. DCA will take you off the waiting list of you go somewhere else while in the pool. FSI doesn't care.

I could go on and on. But I won't bore you. We also did not care for the Sanford/Orlando area as much as Vero Beach. I was surprised, in Utah the larger cities are generally nice and new and well taken care of with a lot to do and see, and the small cities have nothing but tumbleweeds and a mini mart. So I was not expecting to care for Vero. In the end, it was the over all attitude that we got from DCA. Honestly the way they pitched, that we would not succeed if we did not choose their school, just makes us want to go to FSI even more, to prove them wrong. Maybe that's childish, but it's how we felt. They just rubbed us the wrong way, they did nothing to provide accomodations or meals or information about the area like FSI did. As we walked out the door we were told we owe it to DCA to come back and do the full tour so we can make an educated decision. He said we would get free, no obligation plane tickets for Corbin and I, but not Caleb, and that even if we still chose another school the tickets were free. All we had to do was pay $150 for the hotel. Um hello, you can get a hotel for $50, so let's see, that makes the tickets $100, not FREE.

We didn't take this situation lightly, we based it on what felt good and right to us, and that may be different for some one else. I know that just because a school gives me a mug and a map and has toys for my kid doesn't make them better then other schools. But the way FSI treated us, they were so accomodating and did not make us feel bad about having Caleb there and they did everything they could to make it nice. Their whole attitude was "do waht's best for you", not "you're screwed if you don't go here". There was a letter waiting when we got home thanking us for touring and telling us to call if we have more questions. Nothing from DCA. FSI encouraged us to go tour other schools and talk to students. DCA said why waste your time touring places that aren't connected to an airline. FSI has great PR, great facilities, great SIMS, great classrooms, great area....DCA didn't. It wasn't a difficult choice. Now we just need our house to sell, and we'll be on our way.

Again, please don't be offeneded about my opinion, it's mine. That doesn't mean DCA doesn't have a good program, we just feel FSI is better for us. Ultimately it was all Corbin's choice as he knows what to look for in the training and I don't, and it was an easy choice for him too. Ok, I am going to go duck for cover now.
Ok, here goes. Please don't be offended by my opinion,

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That's freaking it, lady. I'm offended at your choice, so don't come back to these boards, EVER!!!

Kidding...... You shopped around and seemingly picked what you guys liked. good luck.
I'll warn 'ya right now...someones going to reply to this and say, "I told you so", but it ain't gonna be me

Anyhow, I'd always heard great things about FSI, in fact I have a friend who did the ASA training program (which by the was is a Delta Connection Airline..funny huh?) and was promptly hired by ASA and is flying RJ's right now. That was two years ago. It brings me to a question: Does FSI still do the ASA program?

I must admit that while a few month's ago I was fully committed to staying the FBO route, but if my 1st class med goes okay I might consider FSI. My wife is going to be in Orlando in January so that would be a great time to visit.

It's good to hear that I may be in for a nice visit. I'm extremely glad to hear that they were welcoming of not only your son, but you as well. I'd read some posts about FSI in the past that they weren't friendly to pilots with families. Sounds like they got rid of the bad appples which is awesome.

FSI sound like a class act. Any place that sends you a thank you letter afterwards is classy and proves that they really care about you the student...and the student's family. Really makes you feel welcome.

Anyhow, I'm rambling right now, so I'll shut up before I completely stop making sense.

Glad you had a good visit.


Sounds like you did a good job considering your options and weighing each school. I've never been to the Pan Am campus, so I can't comment. However, we did feel the same way about DCA. The high pressure sales pitch was very offensive to us. And the old hiring data -- give me a break.

My hubbie is at FSI, and I can tell you they absolutely do still treat you like a customer after you've handed over your money.

Best of luck to you and your husband.
someones going to reply to this and say, "I told you so"

[/ QUOTE ] Some things you have to find out for yourself, it's important for everyone to understand that. I'd rather go to all the schools and know we made the right choice then go to one and always wonder. We like feeling like it was our decision, and while I hope this post might help other's who are curious or looking at those schools, I'd still advice everyone to tour all, not just FSI.

Um, ASA program...I'll have to ask Corbin. They had internship programs, and something about getting half of your ratings paid for if you were hired as an instructor, and something about being hired, but paying $25K for more training, but that you were absolutely guaranteed a job, I am not sure what that's all about. It was confusing me. So I am not sure if one of those programs is the ASA.
That is pretty similar to my experience when visiting the flight schools down here. I wasn't impressed by the used car salesman bit that I got from a couple of schools.

Does FSI still do the ASA program?

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Not at the moment... I have attended two seminars that FSI has held with hiring managers from ASA and right now ASA is transitioning their turboprop crews into the CRJ as they phase out the turboprops which unfortunately means that they aren't running the ASA program at the moment. That's not to say that it's canceled, but inactive.

Some things you have to find out for yourself, it's important for everyone to understand that.

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I'm with you on that one.

As far as the ASA program goes, I'm fairly certain they didn't promise you a job. An interview maybe, but I wouldn't imagine a job.

That thing where you pay an extra $25K sounds about right. From what I remember about it from my friend you got your ratings etc, and then got into the ASA program for some CRM trainging, and I think some jet sim training.

Anyhow. Let us know what you find out.


I'm just curious why you didn't like the looks of Pan Am. I've never been there myself but they're brand new facilities with brand new planes. What gives?
If only everyone did their homework like you did!

FSI has a good reputation throughout the industry. No matter what choice you make now, it will be an "educated" choice
The planes were fine, it wasn't BAD, we just especially didn't care for the Ft. Pierce area when compared to Vero and FSI. I am sure the school is just great, but where it's not just Corbin, it's also me and my son, we have to look at the are and the living situations, and neither of us cared for Ft. Pierce. Sorry. It was like a piece of chocolate cake, where FSI was a piece of chocolate cake with fudge icing, chocolate shavings, and whipped cream. While even just chocolate cake is good, why not have the better one?
. It was like a piece of chocolate cake, where FSI was a piece of chocolate cake with fudge icing, chocolate shavings, and whipped cream. While even just chocolate cake is good, why not have the better one?

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Mmmm. Chocolate cake with icing and chocolate shavings.......
FSI looks and sounds like a QUALITY place to learn to fly. But when I went up with my instructor all he said was it is WAY over priced and you're basically paying for all the bells and whistles. Do you need power point presentations to learn how to fly? No. What good is a level D 737 sim(example) flight sim to a 200hr pilot? However the training is supposed to be exceptional, thats why all the airlines train there. The first discovery flight I took was with an instructor who went to FSI. He told me if he could do it all over again he would have went to Ari-Ben, and got a • load of multi - time. I was really leaning towards FSI for a while, but as it stands now its ATP in Feb. for me for the ACPP. I hope you guys enjoy FSI, and Florida.Good luck!
Thanks Smokey, I understand your POV. FSI is actually a few $K less then DCA is, I can't remember how it compared to Pan Am. Corbin is a bells and whistles kind of guy. And a name brand kind of guy. Can't get him to wear shirts from Wal Mart or shoes that aren't at least $50. LOL. So he'll enjoy the bells and whistles.I can see both sides, I can see getting it done for as little as possible, but I can also see wanting to enjoy your experience and feel special. Not that you can enjoy your experience elsewhere, like I said though, it's the chocolate shavings and fudge icing. LOL. We did call Ari Ben before touring and it wasn't for us.
Well, my wife did a great job at telling the story of our visit, so that means I don't have to make this post very long....
About the ASA program, The guy giving the tour did mention that it was pretty much inactive, but that they were looking at resuming it as soon as possible. The way it works is you basically interview to get into the program, and if accepted it's like 25K but you are already hired as long as you pass the program. I feel a lot better about somthing like that than the other jet training that is almost as much at the other schools. He told me that out of all the people ever accepted into the ASA program, only 2 have washed out. I can tell you right now, If I got into the program, I would make SURE I didn't even come close!
He was totally up front about the fact that it all depends on when hiring resumes and the pools start to get smaller. Well, that's the skinny on the ASA thing as far as I know. It wasn't a determining factor in my decision and I am not sure as to the extent of truth there was to what he was saying, but it would be cool if it was starting to resume when I am in a position to take advantage of it.
The planes were fine, it wasn't BAD, we just especially didn't care for the Ft. Pierce area when compared to Vero and FSI. I am sure the school is just great, but where it's not just Corbin, it's also me and my son, we have to look at the are and the living situations, and neither of us cared for Ft. Pierce. Sorry. It was like a piece of chocolate cake, where FSI was a piece of chocolate cake with fudge icing, chocolate shavings, and whipped cream. While even just chocolate cake is good, why not have the better one?

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Hence the nickname Fort Piss.
"I found it amusing that Delta sends their pilots and students to FSI for the sim training."

Huh? I always figured Delta trained their pilots somewhere around Atlanta.

Flight Safety is the most expensive place around to train. Obviously, reciptionist's and head's of marketing who think your baby's cute, power point demonstrations, and cookies and tea cost a lot of money. It's your money...have a ball....let us know how it turns out.

I just had a great chance to compare three young, low time, CFI's for the flight school I'm starting. The kid who got all his ratings part 61 for a fraction of the big academy price was the one who impressed me the most. He can fly circles around the other guys, but that's not what instructing is about. I'd say as CFI's, they all have their strengths and weaknesses but are competent to do the job at hand and learn from it. As pilots....the part 61 guy is way ahead. All will be fine CFI's and all will have a chance to do the job. It just so happens that the one who spent the least amount of money is the best pilot.....go figure....