"The Tour"


Well-Known Member
Greetings to everyone and many thanks to Doug Taylor for an outstanding site. I found this site late last night. This is my first post.

Anyway,....This past Thursday my wife and I flew commercial (Southwest) to FS for their tour. I arrived on time and was greeted by the receptionist. She was very friendly and arranged for my tour guide (student). I will keep names out of this to protect the innocent.

As I write this, I realize that this could become a very long post, as the tour lasted just over 3 hours, so I will jump to the things that most influenced me.

My guide was a young lady, very knowledgeable about the school and also very confident with herself (a good thing). She showed me classrooms, simulators, briefing rooms, the weather room, etc. I was quite impressed with the whole operation. The campus is quite large, consisting of several buildings. What I did notice however was that the facilities seemed a bit under maintained. These conditions would become even more evident after visiting Pan Am International Flight School in Ft. Pierce. The students seemed very busy, and pretty much kept to themselves (a bit unimpressionable perhaps). Towards the end of the tour, we visited the flight line where I was able to peek into a Seminole, Archer and Zlin.

I could tell just by looking at my wife that she was very impressed, as was I, in fact I had pretty much committed myself to FS. As a matter of fact, she told me that she might like to consider signing up (and she hates to fly). Our tour guide did a fine job of representing the school and was very obvious that she was proud to be there. Our guide then brought us back to the main building were we then met with a Marketing Rep (MR).

This is where the tour went south. Let me tell you a bit about myself and situation. I am 33 years old with a college degree. November 9th I will be doing my FAA PP checkride. I have been training at a local FBO now for nearly 6 months with about 57 hours under my belt. This change will obviously be a complete lifestyle change for me (us). We have 3 children and my wife stays home with them (we don't like daycare). Fortunately, we live a comfortable life.

The MR first reassured me that I was not alone, and that flying is a common career change. The MR then explained to my wife numerous times how much she will suffer during the first 5 years. We knew that already. Did I mention numerous times?? Then they began to insist that FS was my only choice, as other school could not live up to the reputation. I understand that FS has a very highly respected reputation in the industry worldwide. Following, the MR then began to bash other flight schools (unprofessional in my opinion). The kids came up in the testimonial, and they said "screw them"
, in respect to there change in lifestyle.

Then salaries became the topic. I understand that the first few years is at poverty level, with considerable increases with seniority, however the $ which she expressed seem completely unrealistic, especially in my scenario (I am no spring chicken). After our session, my wife and I were in complete shock. Not into the lifestyle we will be living, but the image in which this person is representing the school. It almost seemed as if she was trying to talk us out of it (remember, she is a marketing manager). Well, I certainly would not base my life decision on one person, but it did highly impact my feelings about FS. Yes, I do want to hear all aspects of such a career change, but then it should be presented in a way that doesn't make you feel dirty afterwards. We both felt a bit played by the end

A few other thoughts...This school is 50 years old, and has a current enrollment of approximately 400 students. Why is it then that their airplanes are older, and the facilities and it amenities are not current?? At $60 grand a pop, for that many years, it should look a little better. Additionally, since ASA has temporarily pulled out, there is no carrier which is committed to FS.

So in summary, I was a bit disappointed with the facilities, and certainly its marketing dept., which did not do its job. My tour guide was however very pleasant as I mentioned earlier. Yes, there is mention of an airline signing with FS, but it is not official yet. I do like the reputation which proceeds Flight Safety, and feel it would only help the perspective employment candidate.

I am interested in your thoughts and experiences.

If you are interested, I will post my experiences with Pan Am under their topic.
So I take it you were unimpressed with FSI?

I'm thinking about going there with a goal of becoming a pilot for an airline. Should I invest my time and money at a different school?
Is housing easy to find around there? Is that included in the package, like college dorms are usually part of the tuition?

What are the classes like? What happens if you fail a checkride?
Purdue Pilot: I don't want to say that I was unimpressed. Anybody who enjoys aviation would love the place. After all, they do have airplanes there. I was just a bit disapointed in the marketing staff, and feel that Pan Am has better opportunities. I realize that my thoughts and feelings during that interview can not be expressed properly in the post above.

The most important thing for you to do is go there and meet the people yourself. Like the lady from Pan Am said...each person needs something a bit different.

I suppose I feel that I would rather spend my money at Pan Am where the people are interested in me, not just my cash. Or at least that is the impression I got.

As to your other question. They do have housing available, but I was told by "marketing" to find other accomidations. Yes, there are apartments available all over the area. Vero beach is very nice. Find the chamber of commerce and have them send you info. When you pay for your tuition, all that is included is flight time and ground. Supplies, room and board are seperate.

Hope this helps...


Aviator: Please correct me if I am wrong on the above statements.
<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by aviator:
They have dorm style rooms on campus, but they like to keep them for international students. You can find better acomodations in town for a cheaper price. At the flight line there is a message board which always has students offering cheap rooms. The classes are very fast paced, some harder than others. Instrument and CFI I found to be pretty challenging. If you fail a check ride its not the end of the world, you get with your instructor go over what happened and do another flight or two, then try again. After that it's more serious, meet with the director of training, mabye one more shot. If you can't pass after that mabye this buisness isn't for you. Check rides are about 80% mental, just don't sweat it know the material and you won't have any problems. I would also follow luftpost's advice, look for a school that right for you. Most of the big schools are located in Central Florida, take a trip vist FSI, PanAm, Comair, ATA, FIT, you could see them all in a weekend. After that make a choice!
Hope that helps.

That's a good idea! I think I'll do that this summer!

Since they're all located in JetBlue cities, I'll have an excuse to fly them!
Hi guys,

Anyone who's been reading this board for a while knows I am a big proponent of FSI (you can look back in the archives to Mar/Apr/May for more detail). Last year when I was researching schools, I spoke to a lot of people from all the major schools, including current and former students and instructors. The one theme that was common was that you get your money's worth at FSI, and that they are very accurate in their pricing quotes. This was NOT the case for Comair, Pan Am, ATA. That was one of my main reasons for attending FSI.

I am 33, went in with my PPL, and finished the FSI program $1500 under what they quoted me. The aircraft, while not brand new, were exceptionally well-maintained and with the exception of one Seminole flight (too many people needed too few planes), never had one cancelled for maintenance. And I definitely don't recall the facilities looking "under maintained." Pan Am's facilities are certainly newer, because they were built last year. Pan Am used to be in the building at Vero where the FSI ASA program is now housed.

Obviously I wasn't there when you talked with the marketing rep, but it seems to me that she (I'm assuming who you talked to) was trying to paint for you an accurate picture of the job climate right now. Most schools will not do this; they will still try to tell you that they have fast-track programs on-line and can get you into the right seat of a jet in 10 months or whatever.

I could be wrong, but I'm certain that there is not one active fast-track program left in the country. Most of the airlines that had those programs (American Eagle, for one) are furloughing, not hiring pilots. There are tons of experienced pilots out of jobs now, competing for the very few jobs still available. So it's true that the days of the 350-hour wonder is over.

I guess the gist of what I'm saying is not to discount FSI based on being given the straight scoop about the aviation industry. It's going to be tough for the next couple of years. If any fast-track program will survive, it will be FSI's ASA program (ASA has had very good results from that program), and those who go through it are VERY prepared for the right seat at the regionals.

Good luck with your decision.
I'm caught in quandry here... If I go with FSI, I get the power of the name (good for applications) but if I go with Pan Am I get brand new facilities and aircraft.

I guess I'll have to take a tour!
Question for OnTop2 and Aviator. You both made a comment that the days of the 350 hour wonder pilot are over. Did you consider that 50% of the active airline pilots are going to retire in the next 5 to 8 years? Who is ready to take their place? Did you consider it takes anywhere from 5 to 8 years to train for the majors, starting from zero flight time? I consider flying in the regionals as part of that training. If what you believe is true, the airlines will be in more trouble then they are today. It aint gonna happen. Watch what happens after the first of the year. The airlines will not wait for the 1K hour ++ pilots that takes more than 2 years, doing the CFI route. The regionals were in the training/hire mode before 9/11 and they will start up again after the first of the year. The strong will survive and the weak will merge or sell out. The market for the regionals will be even bigger. Mark my words all you doom and gloom proponits. Time will tell who is right. See you all from the front lines. I am there now and will look forward to the future as only getting better.

I normally just "lurk" around the boards reading the posts, & have never before posted. But all of this I just had to reply to. The choice you make as to which school you attend is a very important one, for several reasons (I will expound on two). First, is the money issue. All of these schools are interested in your money, period. No matter how nice the marketing department seems to be, they want your business, & therefore your money. No school trains pilots solely out of the goodness of their hearts. Second of all, the choice you make for a school is important for the school's reputation. Let's make this clear, all employers will consider a school's reputation for the quality of their graduates. None will consider a school's reputation for groundskeeping. Could you ever imagine a prospective employer saying "Yes, I've heard of that flight program, they have excellent landscaping, you're hired!" Of course not.

As you might expect, I am a FSI student. I am not knocking any other flight school, as I have never looked at anyone but FSI. In talking to professional pilots, most (but admittedly not all) had heard of FSI, but no working pilot I ever asked ever heard of the others I mentioned to them. Apparently, they hadn't heard about their excellent groundskeeping! I certainly don't mean this post to be derogatory in any way, & I apologize if I come across this way, but I just want people to make good decisions based on good information.


Let me clarify - the days of the 350-hour wonder are over, at least in the short-term. I wasn't trying to spread doom and gloom, rather giving a more realistic view of the state of the industry. We can all sit here and blow smoke, or we can see the situation for what it is and adapt.

The shortage of pilots that existed last year has disappeared - there are tons of very qualified pilots out there pounding the pavement looking for work after being furloughed, so the regionals will not need to look to use low time pilots for quite some time.

Yes, lots of pilots will retire in the next 10 years. But whether the economy and the airlines recover enough to require replacement of all those pilots remains to be seen. I certainly hope so, as I want to eventually move up to a major airline as well. But I'll also be prepared to stay at ASA for the long haul, just in case.
P.S.: Where did you get your "50% of the active airline pilots are going to retire in the next 5 to 8 years" stat? I'd be interested to see that. I find it hard to believe that 50% of active airline pilots are between 52 and 59 years old.