I'm happy to see Westwind finally got represented on Jetcareers...thanks Doug!

Anyway, I just started in the August 5th class as a career changer, but I already have my PPL. It's been a very good experience so far!
I’m glad to hear that someone is finally posting something about WSA. I too am looking at changing careers. I have narrowed it down to FSI, ATP and WSA. I visited FSI back before 9/11 and was prepared to start the following spring, but everything changed. I am thinking about visiting WSA in the next month or so.

Would you mind giving us some details as to your situation and why you choose the school that you did? (Nothing personal just some insight into your decision). I read these post practically everyday hoping to find the right answer but I beginning to believe that there is no right answer. I guess you just have to match your situation with the path that fits your particular situation.

Thanks for the information and I hope everything is going great.

I'm going to go visit the school at the end of Aug and if I like it I'm going to start class in Oct.

Are there a lot of happy students? Have you heard any badgood stories?
Hey Chuck,

Sorry it took so long to reply...I haven't checked back here since last week!

You're definitely right, there is no single answer to the question of which school to go to - it all depends on what you want out of a school, what your goals are, and what your financial and personal situation is. The financial part is very important. Between what I was able to save from my previous career and a sizeable loan from a family member (very reasonable interest rates!), I don't have to put my self into tremendous debt with a bank. I doubt I would be going to a big school if I needed to take out a student loan to fund the whole enchilada.

Here's a little more about my situation:

I had originally trained at a "mom & pop" FBO, and although the training there was good, it was somewhat disorganized. I decided to go with a larger school, because I wanted a more professional and organized learning atmosphere. Also, I wanted to surround myself with people whose goals were similar to mine and were experiencing the same training - I think that makes for a superior learning environment.

I focused on Arizona (I'm from New Jersey) for two very simple reasons: 1) I love Arizona! I've always wanted to live here 2) Plenty of schools to choose from. The important thing here is, a big move wasn't a problem for me, since I'm unmarried and have no children. Uprooting a family probably would have been a problem!

Visiting schools is a must, and I also recommend trying to contact a few of the students if you can. A little effort on the internet should get you at least a couple e-mail addresses for active students at each school. A few schools dropped off my list just by calling them on the phone and talking to their admissions people. I narrowed my choices down to a short list of three before I went visiting. That short list was based on location, local airspace considerations, the type of airport on which the school was based, and their aircraft.

To make a long story short, I liked WSA because it was located on an extremely busy,towered, Class D field, and also lies close to Class B airspace (Phoenix Sky Harbor). Just as important, all the students and CFIs that I had talked to had favorable opinions about the school, and the staff was always friendly. The overall atmosphere was much more relaxed than other schools, without sacrificing professionalism. The maintenance of the aircraft seems excellent. Finally, the overall philosophy of the school matched mine. Westwind wants you to know the material well enough to be a superb teacher, not only because they hire their CFI's from their own program, but also because any employer will expect a professional pilot to be a teacher to their more junior pilots. That makes perfect sense to me.

No one made a promise to me that I would be at an airline in two years. Frankly, I have enough sense to realize that such a promise is ridiculous. It's no different than going to Penn State for engineering - no one guarenteed a job would be waiting when I left there. You have to go out and get it!

Anyway, I've only been in the program for a couple weeks, so I haven't heard or seen much negative yet. The only downside so far is that the aircraft are a bit more expensive than at the FBO where I trained, but I knew that going into the deal. And since the training is fast paced, the money disappears quickly! WSA makes it easy to track your expenses though.

I'll be happy to let you know how things go; I'll be starting the instrument training full force in a couple weeks. Let me know when you come in for a tour, I'll try to meet with you if you want.

Thanks for the information Ben. I am trying to plan a trip in late Sept or early Oct. If I do I will be sure to let you know. I have received my infomation from WSA and have been looking over it and have a question you may be able to help with. How is the housing there? The brochure makes it look great but is it as nice as the pictures? I have a wife and daughter that would be making the trip with me so I have to make sure they will be happy living there. They like myself have never lived outside of Mississippi and according to Doug and some of the other pilots that posted in the general forum, I would be stepping up by moving to Phoenix! ;)

Again, thanks for the info and keep us informed.
The apartment complex's are very very nice, 2 bed room apartment would run you 600-800 a month at a very nice complex, take a look for your self, go to then go to area code and type in 85027, I'm almost positive thats the area code. All the listings have pictures of the complex and some have virtual tours.

Sorry, I didn't mean to leave you out of my previous response! The same goes for you too...if you come out for a tour later this month let me know, and I'll meet you if you want.


Yes, the apartments really do seem pretty nice. The Phoenix area seems to have expanded too fast, and many complexes will almost pay you to move in! Almost every complex has move in specials, like a month or two free rent with a one year lease, no security deposit, no move in fees, etc. Many of the complexes I've seen are very clean and close to new, with an amazing amount of amenities for the price. I'm paying under $600 a month for a two-year-old one bedroom with a dishwasher, full size washer and dryer, garbage disposal, name it! I'd be paying over $1000/month for this in New Jersey!

Unfortunately, I don't know much about the complexes close to Deer Valley Airport because I took a place on the south side of the city (Chandler), about 40 minutes from the school (I had to compromise on location with my fiancee-to-be!). In addition to the site flyallday mentioned, you can try to get an idea of what else is around the Phoenix area.

The summer here is ridiculously hot, but I imagine Mississippi isn't much different...just more humid! I've visited Phoenix and the rest of Arizona in each of the other seasons though, and it's simply beautiful. And there's plenty to do here, especially if your family enjoys the outdoors. My personal favorites are the multitude of ancient Native American cliff dwellings and pueblo ruins that can be visited.

Let me know if I can help in any other way!

Make sure you come next door to Pan Am while your here. If you end up coming to Pan Am they will reimburse 600 dollars of your trip down. And by the way the planes there are air conditioned. When its 115 in the cockpit, that makes a big differance.
I agree...a trip to Deer Valley would be wasted if you don't tour both Westwind and PanAm. The two schools have differences that go beyond just price and the type of airplanes they fly. Each school has it's own "personality" or me, the difference was drastic. The only way to find out which fits you better is to visit and talk to people who are actually there. When visiting, always keep in mind that these are people you'll need to deal with for at least the next year or two.

There are some significant differences between Westwind's planes and PanAm's. One difference is price; PanAm definitely charges more per hour. But to be honest I don't think PanAm is necessarily overcharging for their planes, they're just different. Here's the breakdown of the differences as I see them:

As fukoki noted, PanAm's planes all have air conditioning...I don't know of any Westwind planes that do. Phoenix gets insanely hot in July and August; 110 to 115º is not uncommon in the afternoon. I've honestly never been in an air conditioned plane, so I don't know how much of a difference it would really make. Running through the pre-start checklist only takes a couple minutes, and I've found that once the engine is running with the window open, the spinning prop is about all the air conditioning I need. Of course, you need to shut the window for take off, but then you have the air vents...and once you get above about 3,000 ft, the outside air temperature drops considerably anyway. I haven't found myself wishing for A/C so far.

PanAm flies Pipers, Westwind flies Cessnas (except for multi training, which is also done in Pipers). I like Pipers because that's what I did all of my Private training in. That's one of the reasons why PanAm made my short list when I was originally looking into schools. But I also know that Pipers tend to rent for more than Cessnas no matter where you was true in New Jersey, and it seems to be true here.

The PanAm planes seem to be maintained just as well as Westwind's, so I don't think there's much of a difference there. Both schools have dedicated, on-site, full-time maintenance facilities.

All of PanAm's planes are equipped with a full color, moving map GPS, which is a very nice piece of equipment, but not something I want to pay for on every flight...WSAs planes all have integrated GPS, most have moving map displays, and several have full color Garmin 430s. You have the freedom to choose which planes you want to fly at WSA, so you're not always paying for equipment that you won't necessarily need or use.

All of PanAm's planes are painted identically...white with blue and gold. It definitely looks impressive to see their fleet of planes sitting together on the ramp, and you can identify PanAm's planes immediately on sight. But the custom paint is also reflected in the price. Westwind's planes look like any others you might see, except for the "Westwind" logo on the vertical stabilizer. For me, I find that I learn equally well regardless of what color the plane is ;)

So, to make a long story longer, the planes at PanAm are more expensive, but you do get something for that money. The question you need to ask yourself is, how important is it to you to have those things. For me it wasn't worth it.

Also, remember that a large part of the tuition quote that any school gives you also includes the costs associated with ground schools, flight instructing, etc. I honestly didn't go so far as to compare the hourly rates for instructors or ground school costs, but I suspect that is also part of the reason why PanAm's price is so much higher than WSA.

Remember, the choice is yours...I'm very happy with Westwind so far, but there are obviously students that chose PanAm instead. Weigh the differences carefully and decide which is best for you!

What can you tell us about former or current students and their success at finding a job after working there as a CFI? What, if any, agreements do WSA have with regionals, etc.? I guess what I'm asking is what are the chances of landing a job afterwards and with who?

Thanks again for the info!
One more question, how many students are there at the school, they say they guarantee you a job as a CFI for a year, but do you have to wait until a CFI job becomes available. What I'm trying to say is are there more CFI's then students
Hey, sorry about the late post again...I've really been keeping myself busy at the school! Anyway, to answer your question about recent hires from the program, I've been told that some of Westwind's CFIs have been hired by Air Wisconsin (United Express?), Mesa (American West Express), ASA and Comair (both Delta Connection?) in the last couple months. Considering the state of the airline industry right now, that doesn't seem too bad. Westwind doesn't guarantee placement with an airline or even a job other than Westwind CFI, so I don't think they have any official affiliations or agreements with the regionals or other airlines. But that's the real world...there isn't a single major university that guarantees placement after graduation in any field. Why would aviation be any different? I'm extremely skeptical of any flight school that "guarantees" an airline position, especially now.

From what I understand, everyone who successfully completes Westwind's program will be hired as a CFI. However, when I interviewed the school last year, I was told that approximately 50% of their students wash out of the program for one reason or another. That's an eye opening figure, and I appreciated the honesty. The big "weeding out" courses seem to be the Private and Instrument programs. The point is, Westwind will hire you if you complete their program, but, as with everything in life, there are no guaratees that you can make it that depends on how hard you're willing to work and your abilities. The plus side to all this is that there are plenty of students for the CFIs that do make it through the program. In addition, Westwind offers FBO style flight training, so the CFIs are also kept busy by the local folks who just want to learn to fly for fun. usual, I ended up writing far more than I originally intended... I hope it helped!

Flyallday and Phoenix,

I would not attend either Westwind or Pan-Am. Westwind is simply a Mom and Pop FBO with fancy uniforms. Their syllabus or lack there of is a joke and they haven't a clue what standards are or how to prepare a pilot for the airlines. Pan-Am is on their way to ending up like ATA "out of business". Be careful about Pan-Am, they will have you put alot of money on the table and take every penny of it. Be especially cautious about the "700 hour gauranteed interview". Look at the airline industry. Do you think anyone is getting hired at 700 hours right now. Try 1500-2500 hours (except for several Flight Safety graduates/instructors who have been recently hired with as little as 1200). I know alot of guys who have left Pan-AM after being screwed out of their money. A large number of students from Pan-Am in FT.Pierce FL. are now here at Flight Safety. Before either of you choose a school do your homework and find out what the difference is between excellent training and adequate training, what a good syllabus consists of, what kind of checklists for the aircraft do they use, Do they have an SOP (standard operating procedures) and if you can, find out what kind of reputation they have in the industry. I can gaurantee you will only recieve adequate training at Westwind, and Pan-Am will attempt to suck you dry. I suggest touring Flight Safety Academy or Embry Riddle if you want to find a school who will best prepare you for an airline career. ILS
and if you can, find out what kind of reputation they have in the industry.

To tell you the truth, flight safety I believe has the best reputation of all the flight schools but it is a lot of money and the one thing I dont like about the school is the 2 year waiting list to become a CFI. I take it that your a student there, where is everybody going after they are done with there training? Are they able to find jobs teaching else where?
Yes I am a student at Flight Safety. I attended Westwind for one rating and then came back to flight Safety. Flight Safety is very thorough with their training. The Syllabus, SOP, and checklists for the aircraft are put together by Flight Safety International, the number one leader in airline and military simulator training. They start teaching you the piloting skills that will take you through your career from day one. Westwind claims they do also. I know better. I witnessed it first hand. Their training did not even come close to Flight Safety's. That is why I returned. The waiting list for instructor is about a year with a 30%-40% drop off on call back. We have 10-15 instructors leaving to go to our simulator centers as instructors and we have had between 12-20 instructors recently get hired with regionals. Some with as little as 1200 hours. We have 8 or so instructors set to interview this month. So as you can see things at our school are starting to move pretty well. Your number one concern should be the quality of your initial training. Trust me when you finish your Private thru MEI at Flight Safety you can pretty much get a job instructing anywhere. They know you were trained well. Good luck...ILS

P.S. If you think Flight Safety is expensive I hope you realize and understand that FSA is UP FRONT about their prices. I finished Flight Safety's CIME program $4,000 under budget and the one rating I completed at Worstwind went $3,800 over budget. This is very common at Westwind (probably 8 out of 10). I gaurantee you will finish at or above what you were told Flight Safety would cost at Westwind and you will not get near the quality of training. Here are some key points to Flight Safety's CIME/CFI/CFII/MEI program:

1. 55 hours of multi time (CIME portion)
2. You complete your instrument in a new Seminole not a C- 172 (excellent training experience)
3. Upset attitude recovery training in a Zlin (aerobatic)
4. Spatial disorientation training in a GAT Trainer
5. The most thorough CFI program you will find
6. If you do not want to instruct you can interview with ASA for a slot in the direct track program and transition to F/O in a CRJ ($25K)

Westwind cannot touch any of that.....
I'm actually enroled at Westwind right now, but after talking to ILS I decided to change to FSA. Besides my decision to attend Westwind was a rather haste dicision after deciding to to attend Pan Am, it was mainly cause they are at the same airport and they seemed to have a much friendlyer atmosphere. And I'm sure that they are but I want to get the best training I can get and IO belive that is FSA. I always knew FSA was the best but throught I could get somthing 'almost as good' for less money, like Pan Am, but when I then realised the differences in quotes from FSA and the others, I realised it really isn't that much more expensive than some of the others and for the quality of training and job prospects I really think it's money well spent.

Although, not to be totaly biased I will say you probably won't have much trouble getting students as a CFI at Westwind because they take non career student pilots too. But then you don't get all the multi time that you get at FSA either.

Good luck with your decision.
Congratulations on the career change, doing what you love is an awesome thing.

Just wanted to throw out my piece of advice on the matter: Visit the schools, take the tours. While you’re there, talk to the students and instructors in the program to get the best feedback on the real experience at the school. Find which program works best for you, and go for it. You’ll very likely look back at flight training as one of the best times of your life.

Don’t believe everything you read on these boards either. For example, CLR4 saying other schools are on the way out like ATA - he’s pretty much talking out his butt there. There is no basis in reality for statements like these.

Again, it’s whatever program works best for your situation. Through process of elimination, the two year wait at FSI to become a CFI immediately knocked it out of my list of potential schools. I’m glad he’s happy there, but I think it’s kind of tacky (almost rhymes with classy) to go around to different schools forums to try and market his school. I guess he’s hoping to shorten his waiting period.
Actually, I never planned on waiting for a CFI position at FSI. I was able to pick up a charter job flying a Cirrus SR22 and hopefully a King Air really soon. I owe picking up this charter job with low time solely to Flight Safety Academy. When I handed in my resume with Flight Safety's name on it, 3 letters of achievement from FSA, and an awesome letter of recommendation from FSA I was interviewed on the spot. The interview with the Chief Pilot went really well and the rest is history. I also picked up an instructing job on the spot the same day at the same airport for my down days thanks to Flight Safety. That is why I attended FSA and stand behind them 100%. They have the best training and the best name in the industry. Talk about cruising other peoples forums. Go back to Pan-Am's forum E7B. We all know you work for them. ILS

The best safety device in any aircraft is a well trained pilot...

Flight Safety Academy 2003
CLR4 - Congratulations on the charter job, that sounds awesome. Your post was very good too, simply talking about real things that happened to you.

I will not support nor deny the assumption that I work for Pan Am because I do not want my identity revealed. I have no problem with cruising around to other school forums, my only problem was the negative campaigning that you do on the other school forums, especially when you’re making things up. I find it completely repugnant and lacking in good taste (notice I didn’t say class). Your opinion of your own school is similar to other student’s of other schools. Most people take pride in their school, I’m just saying let’s keep the politics and negative campaigning out.