It's been a while since I used it, but here's what I remember...
A flight school must be approved by the state. Part 141 implies, but doesn't guarantee approval. In theory, a Part 61 school could be approved, but I don't know of any.
Unless things have changed since 1993(the first time I used my benefits), you must apply for benefits for each training course. I had to apply for the benefits for my CFII and MEI seperately.
Start with the 141 schools in your area. If you don't like what you find, keep looking. American Flyers in Addison, TX is where I used my benefits. I haven't seen any of their ads recently but I believe all their locations are approved for GI Bill. Quantico MCAS was approved.
The best GI benifit, wham bam, flight training place is St Charles flying service in ST Louis. I know a bunch of people who have used them, they know how to work the system, and are a rare place that lets you solo in a Dutchess after only 25 hours in it. Check them out. They are the best bang for your buck. You can also get a sallie mae loan to finance the rest of what the VA does not cover.
Try Mazzei Flying Service in Fresno, CA. Part 141, VA approved, guaranteed in writing to complete all of your training for a fixed cost, been around for 50+ years, same owner for the past 25 years. They'll do a great job for you. BTW, if you get your AMEL with them they will rent you the a/c solo as soon as your certificate is signed (about 10 hours total). Their logic is that if they signed you off for your ride you must be qualified to fly the plane or else you don't get signed off. They've been around long enough and are good enough at what they do that their insurance company agrees with them.
the absolute best place is any military flying club. I used my VA benefits at a navy flying club. dirt cheap prices, no taxes, instruction was usually from a military pilot mostly helo guys trying to get fixed wing time. When I went for my multi-engine rating i did it in a Baron for $145 an hour and was able to take trips on my own as soon as i passed my checkride with about 15 hours. there are additional rules you have to follow especially if you fly off the military airfield.
The problem for me and military flying clubs is that I'm stationed in Germany and that limits my options quite a bit. Do Aero clubs typically allow members / students who are separated from Active Duty and / or in the Guard? Maybe when my Active Duty stint is over and I'm back in the states I can utilize an aero club. Also, does the VA still only pay 60% when flying with a military flying club? Thanks.
IMHO military aero clubs are the worst place to knock out ratings. First of all it is tied to the military, so lots of red tape and bs. Many of the IPs at those places are retired military guys, not hungry enough to fly their asses off. Not the fastest way to get things knocked out, and a pain in the ass even to be a renter there. A lot less hassle at mom and pop FBOs to rent.
I can't speak for aero clubs OCONUS, but CONUS-based aero clubs should let Reserve/NG in as associate members. That's how I did things at Quantico MCAS. A NCO in my last ARNG unit is active in the WPAFB flying club.
I was typing you a responce and spell checking it and lost the message, send me a PM with a phoe number and I will call you and answer a lot of questions for you. I used my VA to get me up to my ATP. I have all three cfi's and two ground instructor ratings. Dont rush into a flight school. try this link
also look at the VA web site to get the real story. www.va.gov
Any flying club is only as good as its members. I am sure that you will get a lot of extra quality training and advice at a club. And for anyone looking into using ALLATPS for training I will ask the chief instructor in JAX on monday it think they just got there 141 cert so pepole can do add ons.
The reply about a lot of red tape at military aero clubs was correct, but, old airplanes maintained to military standards means one less thing to worry about. The prices are low, the fuel is lower than on civilian fields, you must find the instructor you "mesh" with, and yes, the time may be longer, but, worth it. If you are not retired, a reservist, civil service worker or family member of all mentioned, join the Civil Air Patrol. You do not have to go to meetings only pay your annual dues. Plus, you can fly single-engine aircraft for the lowest rates anywhere (only pay the fuel). And, because CAP requires you to maintain proficiency levels, there are some tax benefits to being in CAP and flying to maintain proficiency (check with your tax advisor). One thing I did not like about military aero clubs was the requirement to attend the monthly safety/information meetings. I lived more than an hour from my last club and they always met at 5 p.m., not during the early evening. Because of work, that put a strain on my attendance (and if you missed three in a row you were suspended from flying until the club mgr. cleared you).