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01-13-2007, 07:31 AM
Can anyone recommend some good places in Tampa Fl to get a Private Pilot License? I don't mean that i can't find a place to do it, i'm just looking for a place that people personally can recommend and have had good experiences.

Also, what are some of the things i should be looking for in the school, instructor and what kind of questions should i ask.

What are big no-nos in a place?

01-13-2007, 09:16 AM
I haven't been in FL for a while, but here are some general thoughts...

Flight training operations tend to be disorganized, shady, or down-right crooked. With a few exceptions, those involved in general aviation flight training are either new to the industry and inexperienced, or are unable to get an airline or good corporate flying job...

1) Expect to deal with inexperienced, disfunctional, or crooked people.

2) The best you can probably hope for in a flight school is well-intentioned, but slightly disorganized with reasonable prices.

3) The best way to avoid crooks is to get REALLY educated on general aviation (the internet can help) before you go talk to any schools. Act kind of stupid about the industry, and see if they lie to you a lot. If so, walk away. Note: GA flight schools are often mis-informed about the airline industry (since they never got that far) so do not expect them to have accurate info about the airline business.

4) Since I think you're looking at going beyond the private level, you might want to look for schools that:

a) Do CFI Training
b) Hire their own CFI graduates
c) Do multi-engine training

5) Make absolutely certain that you talk to some instructors and students to get the real low-down. You might be able to catch them on the ramp before you talk to the sales guy...they will probably be brutally honest.

6) Some schools (usually larger) will have airplanes with new paint-jobs...this is a complete waste of money and is only done to sucker in students who don't know any better. Almost all flight training aircraft are old and beat long as they maintained per the FAA rules they should be safe. Some schools actually have brand-new airplanes...this is nice, but they might want to charge you a LOT of money. You gain no benefit from learning in new airplanes if they cost twice as much. Kind of like your driver's license...did you learn in a chevy lumina or a ferrari?

7) Be suspicious of schools that look really high-dollar and slick...the economics of flight training don't support that, so they are probably going to try and rip you off.

8) You should be able to PVT, IR, COM, ME, CFI, CFII, MEI certs for $35-45K and get it all done in 8 months or less (full time). Be suspicious if they want more time or money. Make sure you understand what is NOT included in the price...there often many "extras" that you have to buy on your own.

9) You probably want to use a part 91 program and avoid part 141 training programs...these will require that you sit through a LOT of classroom training. This training will be taught by an entry-level CFI making 10/hr, but you will probably be charged $50/hr...big rip-off in most cases.

01-13-2007, 11:50 AM
8 months is rather quick for someone working full time. If your willing to devote yourself to some kind of training academy where you fly almost's good. If you have a 40 hour per week job, and can only afford and have the time to fly once or twice a week...then it's going to take you longer. I don't know your current situation. It shouldn't cost you anywhere near 45K unless your doing all your training in a multi. All my training is multi, and it's only 39K. Use the cheapest plane you have...seriously, you don't need a brand spankin new 172SP with G1000 if your doing your private. If they have a 152 on field, go with's always cheaper, and will always be my fav. trainer. It's what a used...then after your checkride, get checked out in bigger and better toys.

Otherwise, Rick hit it. Talking to instructors and students are definitely a good way to figure out the real low down on the school. Also, once you do get started...if your not happy with your training...switch instructors. Your the paying customer, and it's your training...not all CFI teaching techniques work for all students. Get what you pay for.

As for the Tampa area, I'll have to look up some old buddies of mine. I always liked the older guys who are retired...they usually had some off the wall advice that part 141 just can't get you. It's too structured, and isn't really practical. I found that part 141 doesn't train you for real world situations, as much as it does by a syllabus...which is fine if you just want the rating...and it's seemed to work for many years. But it's just me...I liked 61. The only major difference with 141 is the time for the commercial, and it waives the 50hr cross country requirement for the instrument. This is definitely good if your looking to hurry up and get a's much nicer to get paid to fly, rather than spend 100/hr to fly those extra hours. Just a thought.

I'll get back with you on some names.

01-13-2007, 01:56 PM
I'm not looking for a full time school. I know that almost all the smaller airports around Tampa will train you for your Private and beyond.

I work full time and i go to school full time.

At this point, i'm just trying to find the right school to get my private. I'm aiming to have the hours and all the training done about the same time i finish this semester for college. (about May)

I figure once i deal with instructors and owners while i'm getting my Private i will learn enough to know where i want to get my Instrumental and Multi.

Thanks for all the great advice.

Thomas S.

01-14-2007, 01:14 AM
If you like the CFI you have for your private, and s/he has their CFII and's not a bad idea to stay with them for your instrument commercial and multi...

01-14-2007, 07:41 AM
From all the places (and there are a tone of places) around Tampa/ St. Pete to get your PPL i narrowed it down to two. I will try to make an appointment for next week or so to go by and check them out.

Atlas Aviation - Cessna Pilot Center (good or bad), Convenient Location for me, beautyful area to fly (close to downtown, over the bay), from looking at the online info, training should happen in a 172 or 182. They also hosted AOPA Expo in 2005 and willl/ should again in 2009 (they must be doing something right)

Leading Edge Aviation - Cheap Plane rental rates ($62 for 152), easy for me to get to (right next to the interstate)

Is it better to get the first 40 - 50 hours in one of the newer planes (more electronics) or in one of the older planes (minimum instruments) or a real good mix of both. Am i tied to one model during training, or can i mix it up between 152, 172, 182, Piper Warrior.

01-14-2007, 09:23 AM
You aren't technically tied to one, however definitely pick one and stick to one. It'll really help you learn systems, and get comfortable with the airplane. Switching from plane to plane can be a huge hassle, and will only cost you more money in the long run. During your checkride you'll get asked questions on systems, V speeds, emergency procedures, etc...and if your trying to fumble through your nervousness to sort out the many different planes you've flown along the way to remember what Vso may have a problem. Last thing you want is for the examiner to pull your engine, and you can't remember best glide...:-D

As for the electronics v. analog gauges...I'm all for analog. Others may disagree, and that's fine. But I do not see ANY reason why a student pilot should be flying something with a G1000 in it. For one, it's expensive...two I don't believe you'll get the same training from focusing on using a PF/MFD all the time, and only using the analogs for backup. I'm not saying glass is bad, I personally hate it, but for training purposes I'd use what your going to find around most FBO's...and keep the price of learning down for now. Once you get your certificate...then start exploring other airplanes. It's much more affordable to fly 40 hours in a 152, v. 40 hours in a 172SP (talking double the price in some locations our 152 is 57/hr, 172SP is 110)...when you could do 40hours in the 152 to earn your wings, then get some training in a 172SP later.

However, again like I said, that's just how I feel about glass because I do have time in both types. Glass is nice once you fully understand the basics. But if anything, seriously stay with the same airplane.

Leading Edge is nice...and 62/hr is a good price for a 152. I'd check them out. Not too familiar with either place. Brooksville is the closest place that I've ever really flown from steadily. I did most of my training up north in the middle of the DC ADIZ though.

01-14-2007, 09:38 AM
You don't need GPS and all that stuff to do your private. It will only add more time because you're going to need to be proficient with all of it. Remember, time=money. The private is about flying the plane and knowing your environment. It's not about systems management and button pushing which is what you get in TAA aircraft.

The analog vs. glass arguement is moot. They each have a different purpose. I've trained students in both, and there's a lot more to learn with the glass. As a result, I would start with the steam gauges. Single pilot IFR with bad WX in the area? Give me glass (with wx datalink).

This will all change in time as it's getting nearly impossible to buy a single engine aircraft that doesn't have a glass cockpit. Presently, a 20 year cessna or piper that is well maintained will fly as well as a brand new one for significantly less money.

01-16-2007, 01:18 PM
Leading Edge is pretty good...I'm from Ruskin, and rented there a few times to take my dad flying. I don't know much about their instruction...all I did was a rental checkout. At that time, they had a good selection, and you could choose from anything from a 152 to a 172SP depending on your needs and budget. VDF is a nice little airport as well...practice area is close to the east, and Tampa's airspace is close to the west if you want some busier ATC practice.


02-11-2007, 02:29 PM
I did all my flight training over at Bay Air Flying....which is the only flight school at the Albert Whitted airport (KSPG) It's right across from the pier (downtown st. pete)
Very good flight school and have the best prices in the bay.