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Support your local Airport

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Well-known member
May 12, 2002
I just want to tell everyone out there whos going to a "Pilot Factory" that they are bogus. I am talking about the Pan Am's and such. They are a rip-off and no fun. Please do not mistake these for the 4 years Aeronautical colleges.

If you are not going to Aviation college then, support your local FBO. I have been around both sides and let me tell you that local airports and hanging with the 'ol boys will lend much more experience than the others will with the CFI's who have only taught, and flown in one environment. I do believe AOPA supports small airports also for a reason.

I hope everyone realizes the importance of small airports to the survival of aviation. Those pilot factories do not keep aviation alive, we at the small airport do.

Please pass this info to your fellow aviators. And good flying for everyone!
In otherwords... Stop going to walmart and shop at Trader Joe's? I can appreciate the sentiments, but nothing you do will ever put Walmart out of business. They offer a product that everybody wants with a satisfying end result.
One should consider the networking opportunities stemming from occupying an FBO day-in and day-out. Jobs can drop into your lap.
I do not attend one of these "pilot factories", but there are networking opprotunities there as well. Just a little info, networking opprotunities can be found beyond the boundaries of the airport...the possibilities are endless.....


The oppurtunites are great at the small airports. I don't think you need to ever compare walmart to these "pilot factories". Only if they offered great stuff at low low low prices. Na these are more like mmmm, going to Walmart with Macy's prices.

I am not trying to put the others out of business just saying that local airports need the business now.

Thats where it started and thats where it matters. No use in paying tons of money for single engine flying when you can save and get better insight at a small FBO.

Think about your roots!

It's a wonderful sentiment, but it lacks a business plan.

I live near a small local airport, I work there part-time, I park my airplane there, I buy gas there when the price is cheaper than the competion nearby.

I got my Private, Instr, Commercial and Multi at a "local" FBO. But then, I wanted my CFI ratings - all of them. Started seeing the ads for the "factories" as you call them. So I went to the local Chief CFI and said here's what I want to do - get my CFI, II and MEI between now (August) and December. After much hemming and hawing, I got the following answers:

1.) We don't have a CFI right now who is qualified to sign off other CFI's and I'm too busy.
2.) The weather is going to get terrible.
3.) The guy at FSDO doesn't "like" me.
4.) I can't guarantee that schedule.

So I went to COMAIR in Orlando. For $9,000 which I would have gladly spent with my local FBO, I got:

1.) A curriculum and schedule that included all the ground school, simulators, flight training and even predicted phase checks and test dates.
2.) Three dedicated CFI's for each of the three tickets.
3.) A guarantee that if I held my end of the bargain and studied hard and kept with phase checks that I would leave in 60 days with the tickets in hand for the price paid.
4.) Dependable weather and aircraft.

The "factory" in this case delivered. Sure there are complaints about the cost and the rigid contracts, etc. but I and a number of other folks are getting what they pay for. A lot of the FBO's and especially those in the North East can be down right frustrating with schedules, weather, CFI turnover, small aircraft fleet, etc. It just hurts when you have a motivated student with the means to afford a certain quality level and the local business can't deliver.

I would hate to see my local airport close - but I can't suddenly wave a magic wand and make laws of economics disappear. Customers will seek the product they want at the price they want. A lot of folks in aviation don't understand that concept.

MY local airport is business stupid when they should be business saavy. They have an overpriced product but they deliver it like we live in some farm district rather than in a Mid-Atlantic suburban setting. People are pulling up in Lexus and Audis looking for flying lessons and we are delivering 1975 airplanes operated out of a 40 year old building that hasn't had a paint job or new furniture in the same period.

Contrast that to two FBO's in different directions down the interstate. One is on a grass field, operating out of an old farm house and charges rock bottom prices for everything from gas to GPS units. Business is booming. The other direction has an FBO with 7 new Cessna airplanes, fresh from the factory. New paint, new showrooms. $125/hr for the plane, $40/hour for instruction. Business is booming there too.

Of the three airports, we deliver the best physical location to the major metro area.

So I will support lots of local airports, but the bell is ringing for a lot of these airports to get smart, to get lean, and to start attracting attention. I want bang for the buck! You just can't charge me an arm and a leg because you exist. I want a product that meets my needs at a price I can afford. Its financial management 101 - supply and demand - you can't force the issue.
Because I was still working a full time job, the local FBO was for me. No scholarship (some of you remember my post about that....) no money from Mom and Dad, etc.

When it came to the CFI training, the pilot factory would have finished my training in less than a third of the time I spent at home, given me the opportunity to almost double my instruction given, and perhaps other opportunities. My local FBO was filled with political intrigue, favoritism, and back stabbing. If this had been the case in a larger group, I would have had a better chance of avoiding the shrapnel.

Now, the saving grace.

After I was laid off, I went out for a beer with one of the jet pilots on the field. We went back to the FBO, and sat around talking. Two guys showed up to buy charts, and I was introduced. I was given a name and a number to call, and I faxed a resume. Three months later, I was called for the Lear job.

Because, perhaps..........I was there in the right place at the right time.
I agree with Skippy

I have to agree with Skippy. A long time ago I wanted to get my ATP and MEI while on winter break from College. I wanted to do this while hanging with my girlfriend in Panama City, FL. At that time Sowell Aviation was the big operator there and advertised nationally while little ole Bay Aviation across the way was a distant second. I went to Sowell first and asked about a program and how much it would cost. They were quite high, wanting about ten hours instruction for the ATP and another bunch for the MEI. So I went to Bay Aviation and talked to their chief instructor. Before he would make a commitment on how much time it would take he wanted to see how I flew. Fair enough, we went and did a few approaches in a Cessna 172 after which he said it would take about 6 hours prep time in an Aztec for both rides. We ended up doing it in 4.4 hours saving me about $2000 off of the high offer from Sowell.

Additionally your instruction is only as good as the instructor. So even the brand name schools have a hard time keeping the quality level uniformly high.

Thanks for the support of the small guys. We gotta try to keep GA alive right now. Stay strong and support your local airport.
Oh yeah

Not a lot of people get their ratings at a local FBO especially the CFI, so getting your CFI at a small airport will increase your chances of landing a job locally. I have seen it happen numerous times.

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