American Flying Adventures is a solid operation. When I called them seeking flight training, I expressed my desire to get my commercial license in shortest amount of time possible, i.e. 6-8 months. He did not provide any guarantees but said that it had been done before and that it depended mostly on the student.
I drove from Pittsburgh to Clearwater and upon arrival, AFA located some accomadations for me. The next day I was already scheduled for my first flight. After five weeks and a lot of personal studying on my own time, I obtained my private license in 5 weeks. Later on, I finished my commercial in 9 months using my own aircraft and one of their instructors.
While I was getting my PPL, there was also a guy from Switzerland taking a vacation who obtained his license in 4 months.
They are just like any other business looking to make a profit. Therefore, the airplanes are scheduled efficiently and very well maintained. Since it's in their interest to get people through training quickly, they seem to hire only the best instructors. The owner appears to have a good eye for picking them. My instructor at the time was one of the best pilots I've ever flown with and is now a RJ captain. They also have good relations with many examiners which I believe is good for both the student and the business.
I've personally flown some of there airplanes to receive their 100 hr inspections and can personally attest that there equipment is in top shape. All of their airplanes have excellent NAV and COMMs. The 152 I used had King avionics with an ILS receiver.
Personally, I feel that I have an eye for finding quality in this world. After speaking with many schools, and reviewing the information on their web site, I felt that AFA was a good choice because they provided honest answers.
I didn't want to spend a lot of money to go to a big school or get caught up in any politics often associated with "structured programs". For me it worked out. Things might have changed at AFA since the time I was there. But seeing how driven the owner was to grow his business, I would think that they are just as good or better. I would suggest making a personal visit if possible so you can draw your own conslusion.
One last thing. Training at St. Pete International airport is a lot of fun. Since it is a Class D airport you some quality experience practicing with your radio communications. The tower is very friendly towards student. The runway 17L/35R is 7000+ ft giving
you an added sense of security while practicing engine failures etc.
They also run many commerical flights out of St. Pete, so you will have a lot of fun watching 727,737,757s and corperate jets blast past you while you are out on the ramp. I don't think there are many other airports where you can train at and be in that kind of enviroment.
Wings Level, did you happen to stay with a host family while you were there? What accommodations do you think are the best out of what they offer? Was it a pleasant stay? I have a close friend who wants to get his PPL this summer with American Flying Adventures. If you could PM me the info, I would really appreciate it.