Watch your pockets at Westwind!


New Member
Don't want to discourage anyone from attending Westwind, it is a very organized and thorough program. The Professional program, however, was not a very sound financial decision in my eyes. I attended Westwind as a custom student for my PPL in 2001 and was very pleased, AS A CUSTOM STUDENT.

Professional students beware! They know exactly how large your loan is and they intend to use every penny of it! I can't count how many times I talked to someone who was failed on the ever so popular 141 "stage check" that shouldn't have been.

My advice, look for a program with a set price.
Very true statement about the money. The little british guy who does the stage checks has the ever so famous Napolean Syndrome. He thinks he knows everything. I showed him some checklists from Flight Safety and he had the balls to tell me that they were teaching it wrong. He fails people for two reasons: 1. To make himself feel like he knows everything, 2. To generate more money for the school. I know several people there who should have passed their stage checks there and ended up spending a lot of extra money getting ready for the next stage check. They have a bad reputation for that around the Phoenix area. ILS
I would disagree with you on looking for a program with a set price. How could a flight school offer a set price program when their expenses are tied to how many times you have to fly to get proficiant.
There are schools out there that do it, and are very successful at it.

I will be the first to agree with you and say that they are not for everyone, however. If you're going to need more than minimum times to get proficient, then maybe a set price program is not for you.

This is especially true if you haven't accomplished a pvt certification yet, as you don't know what kind of pilot abilities you are capable of achieving. But if you know you are a capable and confident pilot, there are programs out there that are much cheaper and less draining on the pocket than Westwind AND they have set prices.

Then when you add in the intentional failing of stage checks at Westwind.....there's just no excuse for highway robbery. That was my only intention for this thread.
Well it would be a lot more honist if the school would just quote you the cost based on the average finishing time. That way you may finish over or under but at least you have a good idea. Not like most schools that quote the price for the minimum hours required by law which hardly anyone does it in that time anyhow
I'm very disturbed about these accusations that check airmen at Westwind are intentionally failing students during their Progress Checks. I think it’s dubious behavior to call someone’s integrity into question without proof, as CLR4ILS did, even if he didn’t mention the person specifically by name, and it does more to cast a bad light on his own character. Suggesting that someone is so unprofessional as to intentionally fail a student for no reason is a serious allegation.

I’ve been a student at Westwind since early August, and I’m now about half way through my commercial training. That means I’ve been through several of their progress checks. (For anyone unfamiliar with what a progress check is, they do just what the name implies: it’s a way for the school to evaluate your progress and ensures that you’re at a sufficient level of competency for the knowledge and maneuvers/tasks already covered by the course syllabus.) I’ve flown with a different check airman for each prog check except one, and they’ve all treated me fairly…in fact, they’ll play the role of instructor if they see something that they think they can help you improve. I’ve never left a prog check without having learned something new. Have I ever failed a progress check at Westwind? Yes, I failed my first commercial prog. Did I deserve to fail? Yes, because my eights-on-pylons were awful, and my lazy-8s were marginal at best. The rest of my maneuvers were fine. Result: I did an extra lesson or two with my instructor, a solo flight on my own, then up with the check airman again and show him I can do lazy-8s and 8s-on-pylons to at least PTS standards. Those extra flights weren’t mandated by anyone, but that’s what I knew I needed so that I could be sure I was competent with the maneuvers. Yes, it cost me some extra money…but I think I’ll trade the extra cash for the peace of mind that comes with knowing that I’ve mastered the maneuvers I need for the FAA check ride.

I’ve not run across anyone at the school who has believed they were intentionally failed during a progress check. In fact, just like a check ride with the FAA, your instructor shouldn’t sign you off for one until you both agree that you're ready without question. In the case of my commercial prog, I made the mistake of putting pressure on myself and my instructor to have the prog check done by a particular date because I was going away for a week…I won’t make that mistake again.

If anything, I feel like I may have gotten pushed through one of my instrument progress checks…I flew well enough in the check airman’s opinion, but I wasn’t fully satisfied with my performance. Despite passing, my instructor and I continued working on areas where I thought I was weak during the remaining lessons. So the progress check is also a tool for honest self-evaluation, not just a way for the school to track your progress (or make money, as a pessimist might suggest).

I worry about a pilot who’s only concerned with the cheapest way to do this with the least amount of time. While it’s obviously wise to carefully consider how you’re spending your money, there’s also a delicate balance between getting the ratings quickly and doing it safely and truly competently. I mean, I know there are programs out there where you can get an instrument rating in 10 days, but you’d have to knock me cold before you could get me to fly in the soup with a pilot who got his rating that way! Similarly, I’ve seen ads for flight schools that offer training at a flat rate (Airman Flight School in Norman, Oklahoma is one). I’m sure these schools offer fine training, but I’m also smart enough to realize that you don’t get something for nothing. I find it impossible to believe they would sit idly by while a student takes 90 hours to get his PPL, when his quoted price was for 65 hours! I realize that’s probably an exaggeration and an oversimplification, but the point is, there’s probably more to the deal than meets the eye. One drawback I can think of is that since you agree to a set price, if you manage to finish ahead of the schedule they assume for completion, you probably don’t get the remaining money back.

To make a short story even longer than I already have, every school and program is different and it’s up to each potential student to take the responsibility to determine which school/price combination matches his goals and financial situation most closely.
To make a short story even longer than I already have, every school and program is different and it’s up to each potential student to take the responsibility to determine which school/price combination matches his goals and financial situation most closely.

Couldn't agree with you more.
When you pay for a program that has a set price you have unlimited access to the sim, ground school, written exams and the flight time that is allowed for that course. In the program with the set price you get the same amount of time as someone who finishes the program in 80 days as opposed to 90. How quickly you get done depends on how fast you use up the time training for a checkride. It really doesn't make sense to me to pay for each flight and ground separately. I'd rather know exactly how much something is going to cost before I purchase it! I think you get better training at a school with a set price. The reason people can get through a program in 90 days is because there is a set price and no one is making any more money by keeping you there any longer than necessary. Since there is a time frame you must be flying every day which helps you learn better by not having to re-learn something like at other schools. At other schools you end up repeating yourself each flight because you haven't flown for a week because the plane was down. One, the instructors and the school are making a set amount of money no matter how long you stay in the sim or how long they give you ground school. So they aren't wasting your time or money repeating stuff and they have already gone over. That's just my opinion...I just like knowing exactly how much something is going to cost before I go into it.
I was in Costco shopping one day wearing my Westwind uniform when a lady approached me and asked me how I liked the school. She said she was thinking about sending her son there. She said Her husband, who is a Captain for America West, had done some checking around the valley for a school for their son. She said he was repeatedly told that Westwind has a reputation for failing their students on prog checks. I do not think that reputation was created over night. Since I have left Westwind I have spoken with several people there that say it still happens. For the record I passed the ONE prog check I did there. ILS
Have you ever thought that the reason people fail progress checks is because they are not up to speed on what they are required to know?? Thats what they are there for in the first place aren't they? To test your knowledge?

I can admit I have failed progress checks before but I always blamed myself for not knowing the required material. It wasn't the school or my instructors fault.

From what I have read on this thread it appears that some people expect an easy ride through the training and are not willing to except responsibilty for there short comings.

For someone not to chose a school because of some reputation they may have on failing students is absolutely crazy. Look at it from another view......the school is aiming to produce students of a high standard and will fail someone if there knowledge is not up to scratch........thats definitley somewhere where I would consider sending my son/daughter for good training.
The whole point of this thread is that smart, qualified, capable pilots are being failed on checks that they DID PASS per the PTS and were FAILED by the checkairmen. Period. And if it's still going on it should be made known to all potential students becuase it was back in January to August 2000 that I was attending Westwind and heard these stories. If it's still going on that's a shame.
I'm a current student, since August 2002. If you know the material (there's an oral portion to each progress check), the maneuvers, the procedures, and the airplane, you won't fail...and you certainly WILL NOT be failed intentionally. Period.
I'm glad to hear from a current student that this practice has been discontinued, because it does nothing but hurt the industry (flight schools that is) and the entire aviation industry needs all the help it can get!

I too have heard of the alleged failed prog checks at Westwind, from my instructor at Westwind! I know it was true because he was an employee trying to get his students through their training and he claimed he knew before a student even entered the room if it would be a go/no go.

He claimed he could do this based on how many pass/fails he had witnessed in the previous week. Like I said, don't know how much truth there is to any of this, but I believed it as a student there.

Anyway, like I said, I hope the practice truely is over because it was a real problem. Period. (<--for the effect)
I’ve not run across anyone at the school who has believed they were intentionally failed during a progress check.

Then you are either not attending Westwind, you have no friends there (you show up and then go directly home) or it hasn't happened to you ... yet.

My brother attended Westwind. He was the first to solo in his class, was ahead of everyone and didn't get his license until 75 hours or so. 75 hours for a private pilot certificate in PHOENIX where the weather is good 95% of the time is blatent robbery. His friends didn't get their certificates until into the 100s. The national average is 50 to 60 hours and even at the high end 75 is still 15 hours over which equates to about 25% more hours than the high end of the national average - and keep in mind at 75 he was the low end of his class!

Westwind has a bad reputation for a reason. Two or three disgruntled ex-students can't generate the kind of buzz Westwind has going around PHX. So, you have to ask yourself what's causing it? The most likely answer is the policies at Westwind.
In response to Airmet Tango's December post: My charactar is just fine. If I wanted to be an A--, I would have put the people responsible for giving Westwind a bad reputation on the chopping block and posted their names. Remember, the fish smells from the head down and I believe the head starts with the Chief Pilot when it comes to standards and procedures. The fact is that this reputation was not created by one, two, or three students. It takes alot of screwing people to stretch that kind of reputation all the way to Florida where I myself have over heard people talk about the school. I personally know several people there who's knowledge was well above PTS and still failed their progress checks. If you are so sure this does not happen then tell me why the average multi-add there runs 25-30 hours when most schools get it done close to the minimum of 15 hours. Do the math (12 extra hours x Approx. $275.00 = $3300.00). Sure looks like that would help make the schools pockets a little deeper huh? It really is too bad because I think the school has a lot of potential. I hear that they might buy an FBO in San Diego, CA and start another school. I think they should focus on improving the one they have first. ILS
Then it's gone up quite a bit over the past year or two because the U.S. Airforce based their bid requirements for civillian-based primary training bids on 50 hours.
I am surprised everytime i read this board i find more and more people "crying" (for a lack of a more appropriate word) about not passing a progress check/stage check.
It is sad when people can't see their deficiencies and try and blame them on others.
CLR4ILS, Flight Safety is a great organisation, but there's a reason you went to westwind (left flightsafety) and there's a reason you are not at westwind anymore. You say you quit, i just don't think you could cut it.....
There's a reason checks are there. Everyone's failed some in their careers. You go back, fit it and do it again. Deal with it.
Stop blaming it on other people/organisations.
Oh yeah, before i forget...........
Chad, image is not everything......
PS FAA-H-8083-9 page 2-3
Good reading material
This sounds like Jerry Dilk talking. First, I left FSI for my wifes job in Phoenix. Second, I ran back to FSI because Westwind was a joke and ran their "organization" like a mom and pop FBO with fancy uniforms. I do not have any deficiencies nor did I have any. I passed my stage check (if you want to call it that) for the one rating I completed there. My pass rate at FSA was above 94% on all writtens, oral, and flight tests and I guarantee you that FSA’s stage checks, orals, and flight tests are far more difficult/thorough than any of Westwinds. Yea, I can't "CUT" showing up to pick up my plane and being told that the piece of crap is down for maintenance again. Other than a few newer Cessnas MOST of westwinds planes are junk or the maintenance is not up to par. You say that people are always "crying" about your school. HELLO, that means people were not happy with their experience or lack there of at your school. I can remember Jerry Dilk telling me that he was going to put Westwind on the top "3" list of flight schools. Good luck my friend, it takes more than putting your students in fancy uniforms to call yourself a "TOP" flight school and you will never reach the reputation of Flight Safety Academy. ILS