I'm a student at Pan Am in Ft. Pierce right now. Decent school, but if you're looking to instruct there, don't even bother unless you go through their CFI/II/MEI, and ACE program. They aren't hiring anybody that doesn't do these programs, and the total cost of them is as follows:
ACE Program: $7000
Any other specifics, PM me and I'll be glad to give you the pros and cons of this school from a current student's point of view.
Take care, and fly safe.
I have been to one of those pilot factory's, and didn't like it so I quickly turned around and headed home and did the rest of my training part 61 at a local FBO..I spent about 1/3 the money for my commercial and cfi, and started working for them...I built so much time in 7 months that I got my first regional job..which has led to a better regional..excuse me.."national" is how it has been described to me...
My point is..Based on how my flight career has gone the best move for me was going to this fairly busy pt.61 school...To top it all off there was no "chief pilot, no dress code, we made our own schedules..(If you didn't want to work for a week you simply crossed your name off the schedule book) and I made roughly $600.00 a week flying around 30 hours a week and doing very little ground work.(granted that was in the summer when the most flying could get done.)Yes I made roughly 18 an hour for both flight and ground time. Heck I made more flight instructing than I do at the regional level.
No school can "guarantee you a interview" and definitely not a job..especially nowadays..I would think that paying for some RJ sim time is pretty much a waste of time..especially if it just to work there as a cfi...I loved cfi'ing ..it was a lot of fun, but it wouldn't have been fun for me if i would have had to work at places like Pan Am or Regional Flight Academy (I have a couple friends who work there and do the whole uniform/chief pilot gig.)
Bottom Line: I wouldn't do it...I've had more interviews coming outta upstate NY then all my friends combined that came out of Riddle...
Congrats on your path to the "nationals." All things considered, it sounds like you made a wise decision and it's worked out well for you. I would actually like to expand a little bit on your response, as I have reached a similar crossroads in my training and plan on going elsewhere after my CFI. You mentioned that you went to upstate NY. Are there some parts of the country that are better than others as far as CFI job availability? Florida is a pretty miserable scenario at present...you can't throw a rock without hitting a CFI down here. Any ideas as far as transitioning to a part 61 environment? I'm looking forward to it, but the prospects seem pretty dim at present for a full-time CFI gig making enough to pay the bills (plus a HUGE loan payment!!!). Thanks again for your expertise...hopefully someday soon I'll be there in your position. Take it easy.
I wouldn't do it, either. The two instructor courses are expensive enough, though the combined CFI-I/MEI isn't that bad, but maybe you'll get some great training from them. Making people drop another $7K for the ACE program just so their chances for hire improve sounds like a hustle to me. Moreover, that ACE program would be of far more use just before that long-awaited "commuter interview" than many months before.
Just my opinion as well. I've read elsewhere that having to take the ACE program as a "requirement" for hire at Pan Am may not be 100% authentic.
They do hire people trained outside and one of my friend is working in fort pierce. decent school in terms of job security but no multi for a long time. Have to do ground instruction or simulator instruction first before starting flying.
Not too good written bout the school in most of the boards but they are pretty busy with studetns. go to http://www.jetcareers.com and you'll find a whole forum for them and all the bad news.
Check that its three greens.....
I just started my CFI class at PanAm in Phoenix. It is true that they are currently only hiring graduates of the ACE and route programs. It is not their policy, it is how they are choosing the cream of the crop with the current slowdown. PanAm hired many outside CFIs last summer and fall and they are now very top heavy because very few are leaving to the airlines. ACE graduates are guaranteed to earn their PanAm wings (ie become PanAm instructors), but they are not guaranteed to get students. There are currently 4 CFIs with wings and no students. Summer is slow in Phoenix - not many people want to move to Phoenix in the summer months - things will pick up, like usual, with the big crops of new students in the fall.
The ACE program is excellent, I've been through it. I cannot imagine going through an airline ground school without knowing what I learned in ACE. They guarantee a job within 6 months once you have 700/100, or they will refund the $7k ACE tuition. PanAm has $7k invested in every ACE graduate, they work their A$$es off to find them jobs.
You will not have trouble getting a plane or instructor at PanAm. There is almost always an extra plane or two on the ramp and instructors looking for some extra hours. The planes are in excellent condition. We think of the 1999 planes with 2500 hours as the "old" planes. The fleet has grown, with brand-new Pipers, by over 50% in the past year.
I have been at PanAm for a year and I am very happy with my education and experience. The training is excellent, the route and ACE programs are awesome. Where else can you earn quality PIC ME time in a brand new Seminole for $86/hr?
Current CFIs should not look for a job at PanAm. But, if you have your CPL or less, going through the PanAm program will be an excellent experience.
please excuse my ignorance about the ace program and pan am flt school in general, but what exactly does that course entail?!? you said that : "The ACE program is excellent, I've been through it. I cannot imagine going through an airline ground school without knowing what I learned in ACE. "
I went through a 121 program no problem as an fo, then upgraded and got my ATP/1900type out of it .....NO ACE program either. Not trying to belittle you, just think that myself and countless others make it through just fine without that program.
I am also glad that you are proud of your school.....if the training was excellent, then thats even better! Build the time while you can and get the experience, the time of being hired with 700/100 is gone for a long time.
No, do not go to Pan AM. Its not worth the cost or the heat. $7,000 for what? I think its a corporate rip off. There will be no hiring of any regional pilots in the near future with the "ACE" program. Learn to fly for real with real people. Everyone should find a small part 61 Flight school with good knowledgable people, not a pilot "factory" for training. Part 61 small airports are the heart of aviation, and if you like aviation and general aviation, support your local airport.
In my opinion CRJ Flyer summed it up best. You'll spend about 1/3 of the cost at a Part 61 school and walk out with the same things. Ofcourse you most likely won't get any kind of CRM training or sim training on a CRJ, but then again, you really don't need it. The ACE Program lets you see what you'll be getting yourself into if and when you get into a newhire class at an airline. But for $7,000 I think I'd rather wait and find out for myself. In addition the CFI courses (just under $8k total) are very pricey, considering you could get it at a place such as ATPs for $5k or about the same at a part 61 school.
Overall, Pan Am's program is decent, but its very expensive, much to the fact they sell you a lot of other things that you really could do without, such as the ACE program and CRM training.
Turtlboy: As a student at PanAm, maybe you can explain something to me that doesn't make sense. How exactly is PanAm going to make good on the guaranteed job in six months? Look at this, let's say that each ACE class has ten students, and the class runs twelve times a year. So that comes out to 120 kids in the next twelve months. Being that I heard the last ACE class was 20 kids, I think my estimate is conservative. Alright, now PanAm can't have more then 50-60 instructors? How many of those are moving on to new jobs? Maybe one or two a month, and only to Airnet? For the ACE program to work, the instructor turnover has to be 100% every six months. Otherwise, there are going to be ACE grads with no job. Unfortunately, I'll bet the instructor turnover is more like almost 0% every six months right now. Moreover, the only ACE grads seem to go is Airnet. Unless Airnet needs 120 pilots in the next year PanAm better hope that hiring picks up.
This is my fourth summer involved in aviation in the Phoenix area, and I can tell you that the summer isn't typically the slow time. Spring is usually slow, with May/June being when things pick up again. You say that there are already four instructors with no students, and that there are “instructors looking for some extra hours.” It seems to me that an ugly situation of too many instructors is about to develop.
How can you recommend PanAm's program when it is likely that all that money will result in no job?
Here's how I can see them being able to continue with the ACE guarantee. First, the contractual guarantee is not a job within six months of meeting the 700/100 times. It is a job within six months of meeting the minimum hiring times for the particular "regional partners" that you're applying to. Pre-September 11th, those agreed upon times were 700/100. I have yet to see anybody get hired from here with those times, and believe that the minimums met before anyone actually receives the ACE refund will probably be significantly higher. I can't speak from experience on this one, but good luck to anybody who tries to get their money back...I'm sure it won't be easy!
As far as the instructors sitting around, here's what gets me. Okay, congratulations, you're an instructor. You've now paid $60,000 for the program and have no students. So, seeing as how all airlines are based on seniority, and since this time spent sitting around not building any flight time is going to cost me months of seniority once I get hired, certainly Pan Am is going to compensate me for the thousands of dollars being wasted sitting around with no students, correct? I mean, isn't that the rationale you get when they're trying to get you to take out more money once you realize that the extra expenses spent sitting around for months waiting for stagechecks, checkrides, etc. has caused a significant cost overrun from the figure they give you coming in (sorry about the run-on sentence). Isn't this why their time-off policy is so stringent...because of the whole "faster, farther, for sure" thing. Just seems that time could be spent more productively. And of course they're going to compensate me for the time I'm now an instructor with no income, right? Or do I get the number for a loan extension on that one too?
If the time guarantee is actually six months from the time the minimums are met, then Pan Am has no problem with having instructors sitting around. Because guess what...if you don't meet the minimums for the regionals for two years, then guess when the clock starts ticking on that refund. You guessed it, two years.
I don't know. I'll take the good with the bad. Turtlboy is absolutely right on the aircraft, maintenance, etc. They are all second to none. I just think before you invest the kind of money they're asking for, you need to look at the end result. I'll be the first to say there are pros and cons of any program. I've been very fortunate to have some excellent instructors, learn a ton about aviation, and meet a lot of great people at Pan Am. But does the end justify the means...is finishing the program really the fastest, most efficient way to flying for the regionals. Sorry, I'm just not sold on that. But hey, if money is no object to you, then maybe you should just give it a shot.
The ACE program is simulated airline ground school. They teach us what to expect in ground school. It's 3 weeks of intense studying and learning everything we can about the CRJ and FMS and a glass cockpit, etc. We're not being trained to be CRJ pilots, we're trained to pass any type of ground school by learning and to expect and how to prepare for it and we get a great understanding of airplane systems and how to work with a glass cockpit. In my opinion, the program is invaluable, especially considering that 1/3 of new hires fail ground school and 0 ACE graduates have failed. And yes, there are many (I wish I had the number) ACE graduates flying in the regionals.
The class last month had 14 people, way too many in my opinion. My class the month before had 8 and the class starting tomorrow currently has 10. Of those 32 people, 11 were from Ft. Pierce, which leaves 21 Phoenix ACE graduates in 3 months. Airnet is currently the only "airline" hiring a decent amount of pilots every month and they take 5-6 instructors every month or two, some are currently waiting for their ground school date. (It's my understanding that no ACE graduates have gone to Airnet.) That's the facts. With some luck, hiring will begin within 6 months and I'll easily get a job once I get my 700/100. I'm estimating, with 85% certainty, that I'll be at that magic number by March 2003 - 9 months after starting my CFI.
As far as I know, the agreement still stands with the 7 regionals that they will look at ACE and route grads with 700/100. It's not a hiring guarantee, but it shaves a lot of the typical 1200/200 to get looked at. I think it says a lot that the regionals treat the 30hr CRJ sim time and 100hr route program to be worth an additional 500/100. And, the 6 month guarantee is real, it's in the contract I signed last year.
I'm throwing out lots of numbers here, sorry.
I am not ashamed to say I am in a "pilot factory." I came to PanAm to be made into a pilot and PanAm created a pilot out of me. Everybody has different needs and desires. For me, jumping into a full-time "pilot factory" and devoting every waking moment to aviation is what I needed. I know that if I would have stayed at the FBO where I got my PPL, I would have continued training with 1-2 lessons per week and spent 5+ years getting my ratings. But, that's just me. PanAm let me cut that time by 80%, but I will be in debt for 20 years because of it. It's a tradeoff I was willing to make, but everyone is different.
Turtlboy: First, you don't have to defend the fact that you went to pilot factory. The quality of equipment and training at these pilot factories is general pretty good, and more uniform then just selecting a random FBO. However, I think that the value and expectations placed on the ACE program a little high.
To start with, what airlines are ACE grads flying at? The Phoenix campus only got their CRJ FTD (not sim) early this year. According to a Pan Am press release, the Florida campus only just got a CRJ FTD. Considering that most ACE grads are either still working on their instructor ratings or have no students, it's hard for me to see how more then a handful could be flying at regionals by now.
Also, where does the statistic that one third of new hires fail ground school? Based on the airlines I know about (Mesa, Skywest, Eagle), ground school failures do happen, but it's usually at the most only one or two per a class, not one third. Typically, the people that fail either shouldn't be at an airline, or they refused to study enough. It's not because they didn't take a ground school during their training to learn about the FMS and systems. Sure, you'll have an advantage, but the class will be setup so that myself and others with a lowly CFI background can pass.
I'm also going to have to refute your hiring numbers. Airnet, the only place instructors seem to be going lately, couldn't have hired more then six or seven Pan Am instructors so far this year. One other instructor went to Chicago Express. Good news can't be found at the other “partner” airlines. Look at American Eagle or Continental Express. Neither will be hiring for a long time (think years). My point is that you'll need quite a bit of luck for hiring to really pick up in the next six months. If hiring doesn't pick up then I think your instructor job prospects at Pan Am may be pretty bleak.
In closing, I'd like everyone to consider this. The whole ACE program appeals to the new American idea of “gotta have it now”. These days many young people don't want to work to hard to get where they want to be, they want some kind of shortcut or angle in order to get instant gratification. How many students at Pan Am are over thirty years old? How many students at Pan Am have college degrees? Why are all the college grads and older students going elsewhere? Could it be that they know better then Pan Am's slick marketing? Or am I just becoming an bitter old man for advocating the tried and proven path?
I think you're focused on only one part of the picture. I'm an Army Aviator with 1,140 TT of which 540 is civilian fixed wing time (> 70 MEFW). I'll be getting out of the service in the next six months and Pan Am, though definitely pricey, may be a great route for someone like me. I already have my Comm/Inst./ME rating, but with the way the industry is right now and the stigma associated with us "Rotorheads", it's tough to get ahead and find a decent job enroute to the regionals. CFI'ing is fine, but with the time and commitment to the armed services that many of us have put in, the real life experiences we endure all over the world, and the excellent training received c/o Uncle Sam, I do not consider the possibility of attending somewhere like Pan Am to be "the quick path."
Now to answer some of your questions as they relate to me, just another guy trying to make it:
1) How many students at Pan Am are over thirty years old? I turn 30 next week.
2) How many students at Pan Am have college degrees? 4 yr. degree from West Point (not quite a "gotta have it now", quickie education), not to mention a bit rougher than the "tried and proven path" of CFI'ing. I spent 4 years while I was there getting my PPL, yes 4 years, on the two or so weekends I got out of the gates each semester.
3) Why are all the college grads and older students going elsewhere? Obviously I wouldn't be one of them.
4) Could it be that they know better then Pan Am's slick marketing? Or am I just becoming an bitter old man for advocating the tried and proven path? Possibly...........
Wiggums, I'm not looking at getting into any bashing contest or stupid remarks; I simply want to let you and others know that there are other routes to get to what we all dream about. I'm tired of reading over and over that the only "tried and true" method is to CFI. There are many of us who have expended much blood, sweat, and tears, both figuratively and literally, on our path to that goal, and oh by the way, serving our nation as well. I love it and think it's one of the most honorable things any of us can do. I challenge others on this board to think about that. I will look to continue my service in the Air National Guard and pursue an airline career simultaneously. If that means I go to Pan Am, pay $7,000, receive an excellent ground school education, get to fly 30 hours of a full motion CRJ, and be that much more proficient in an aircraft I'm not familiar with, then so be it. And if they want to give me my money back later if they can't help me find a job, then that's just that much better.
I would jump at the chance to fly for an excellent organization like Airnet. I have spoken at length to both Mr. Craig Washka (Dir. of Pilot Recruiting at Airnet) and Mr. Rob Brantner (Dir. of Tng. at Pan Am, a former Army Aviator I might add). They are both fine, upstanding individuals. Airnet is a top notch company and the pilots that fly there are extremely happy. If I put down some of my hard earned money (not Daddy's as many people believe about those who attend Schools like Pan Am) and receive a great education, fly well maintained aircraft, and "only end up at Airnet" as some seem to belabor, I would consider it a blessing and a great training opportunity everyday! As long as we all remember that we are all always learning every time we climb into that cockpit, we'll be ok.
I will stop my rambling and let you folks ponder just one other pilot's aspect on this issue. Turtlboy, I admire your ability to post what you did in the face of certain criticism, but then again, a little criticism and friendly advice makes us all better pilots and better people. Good luck to everyone and may we all see one another in the air, (preferably at FL330)!!
for what it's worth, my class, that just went through at airnet had 4 pan am guys. three from phoenix and one from ft pierce, who by the way were all great guys. they all had negative things to say about the ace program. none of them were in the ace program.
one of the guys knew the director of the ace program (or some director of something) quite well and asked him for a letter or rec. the director said no because he wasn't in the ace program. that's fine, but the director uses this guys name to sell the program to other prospective students by saying "hey look, this guy just got hired, blah blah blah"
there will be no new classes for three to six months. i guess they are still interviewing. i jumpseated with a guy who just interviewed and he said airnet was only interviewing schools they have have agreements with pan am, riddle, wrightway, and osu.