Newcomer/Flight School Questions

suspense

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I am preparing to venture into aviation and fairly green about it. I have family that fly for Delta & FedEx, so I have received info from them, but I still have many questions. I would appreciate any help on any of the following:

1) I am researching flight schools. I have read the responses to UPSFO's recent request for similar information and was pleased at the abundence of information about Comair, Mesa and Flight Safety. I was wondering if anyone had any opinions about Sierra Academy in Oakland, or any other California school for that matter.

2) I was originally interested in Mesa, b/c apparently they hire into their regional right out of school and you avoid having to instruct for a year+. This is important to me, as I am 30 and time is of the essence. However, after reading various messages on this board it seems like they don't provide flight instructing certificate training, so if they don't hire you, you aren't even able to go somewhere else and instruct. Is this correct?

3) What is a ab initio program as opposed to a part 141 school.

4) If Delta is the final goal, should Comair be my school of choice?

Thanks in advance for any help.
 

Timebuilder

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1) I sent Sierra Academy several emails a few years back, telling what I had done, and expressing interest in their so-called direct track internship. As soon as they found out that I already had my commercial and multi, they lost interest. Succeeding messages left on their voice mail generated no responses to my calls. My personal opinion is that they didn't see sufficient opportunity to make money by teaching me the CFI material, and then hiring me as an "outsider" who might run around their students who started at zero time. Apparently, there was no "direct track" for those who had several ratings.

2) I'll let Bobby field this one.

3) Ab initio means "from the beginning", a specially developed program to take you from being a screened candidate to an airline first officer, and it is widely used to train foreigners for their country's airline. I know of no US airlines doing this currently.
141 is an accelerated program that allows for lower minimum flight requirements in exchange for increased oversight by the FAA. We have already discussed the relative merits, as I'm sure you have seen.

4) This is a question for your family member who flys for Delta. With the amount of animosity between the pilot groups, my instinct says "no".
 

Cornelius

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I instructed out in the SFO bay area for about 2 years and one thing I learned was Sierra Academy is way overrated. The instructors are paid worse than what I'm getting paid at a regional, and thats pretty bad. There planes are very old and the OAK FSDO right next door is always getting on their case. The program is super expensive as well compared to other schools. It also seems like a pretty up tight place to be at. If I had a choice of schools in the Bay area, I would go to ATP up in Sacramento where they have brand new Seminoles. Sure their program may be expensive to, but it seems like a well organized school. There're really are no other big flight schools in the bay except maybe American Flyers out of Oakland and San Jose. Another thing about ATP school is you get a lot of multi which is hard to come by unless you buy it.

Good Luck.
 

de727ups

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Huh?
Serria academy has been around a long time...that has to say something. On the other hand....I've really never heard too much good said about them. I can't speak about them from personal experience.

I have an on-line friend who did a mid-life career change and got all his ratings at Mazzi in Fresno....he's instructing at Riddle-Prescott now. His overall opinion of the place was good and the rates are favorable compared to most big schools. The only way you could beat it is a local part 61 school with a good, experienced, CFI. I know Fresno isn't a garden spot....

If you really aren't interested in instructing, I don't know what to tell you....don't PFT. Instructing is a great way to build experience, confidence, and learn CRM. I hear so many put it down and say "I just want to be an airline pilot...right now"....well, it basically doesn't work that way.

Many say they are older and don't have time to "waste" instructing. Personally, I don't think instructing is a waste and it ticks me off when someone asks me for advice and then makes a statement like that (not speaking directly to anyone, here). If you can find an honorable way (not PFT) around instructing that gives you good experience, then more power to you. I did the Grand Canyon tour thing and was happy to get the 135 time and not instruct....but I NEVER thought instructing was a waste of my time and that I wasn't learning something and gaining experience by doing it. I've been a CFI for 22 years. Sorry about the little rant, there, suspense, these comments aren't directed at you, per se. I think I should organize my thoughts and start a new post.

As far as Comair/Delta. I'd say there is a danger in targeting a certain airline. If you say "I just wanna work for DL", you could pass up seniority, and a career, at some other airline that would have hired you while DL may never give you the time of day for some reason. I targeted Alaska and United...got interviews from Continental and World...and got hired at UPS. All major airline jobs are pretty good jobs.
 

suspense

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instructing

Thanks for the info so far. de727ups, don't worry about the rant. I appreciate your candor. While I certainly want to get where I'm going as quickly as possible, I've heard too much positive remarks about instructing to ignore it. I will probably go that route. As such, I'm looking for a Part 141 school and basically just trying to find out what the best school for the money is. I have read a lot of good things about Flight Safety, but they seem to be really expensive and don't include any CFI or single-engine add on. They justify it by stating that you are going to get so many more hours in a multi-engine than in any other school. Is this worth the extra money?
 

bobbysamd

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suspense [B]I was originally interested in Mesa said:
3) What is a ab initio program as opposed to a part 141 school?


An ab initio program trains people who've never been in airplanes before to be licensed pilots. You can say that all pilot training are ab initio programs. However, it primarily means a flight training program that takes a zero-timer and trains him/her to be a line pilot for a particular company. Mesa is the best example I know, because graduates are hired to the line at 300 hours. Comair is somewhat of an ab initio program because it will hire its grads to the airline at lower times than outside applicants. However, Comair people have to instruct at the school to acquire the mins to be hired. I believe those are 1000 total-100 multi (I may be wrong about the multi).

Part 141 is the FAR which governs FAA-approved flight schools. MAPD, Comair and FlightSafety are examples of 141 schools. All 141 approval means is the school meets certain criteria and standardization. Ab initio and/or airline affiliation has nothing to do with Part 141 approval. You can sometimes get your ratings in less time than if you trained under 14 CFR 61.

I'll opine on your Delta question by saying, not necessarily. I don't believe that Comair pilots have any hiring preference at Delta. I may be wrong. Don't forget, pilots from other Delta Connection code-sharers and vendors, such as SkyWest and ASA, get hired at Delta. I dunno how much an advantage military pilots, preferably ex-Navy, with 20/20 or better vision, have at Delta anymore. :rolleyes:

Hope that helps. Good luck with your choice.
 
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