Flight Schools and Training Ratings, building hours, airmanship, CFI topics

Long story

Old 10-03-2007, 10:19 PM
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Default Long story

Story time!!!

I have been lurking for a while and decided it was time to get semi-productive.

Let me share a little story about my experience in the alternate universe known as ATP Las Vegas. Ill mention the ATP alumni that I saw at SMF and what a “great” CFI he was in an ongoing regional post.

Las Vegas is hot!! What struck me the most was that there were fat tourists every where, and yet there was a 24 hour fitness upstairs from the baggage pick up area at LAS. So after a Mr. Toads wild ride in the P.O.S. rental car, myself and a fellow student get to the ATP Vegas office at VGT. Get sent to a 2 star casino hotel and had the best night of sleep of the entire trip. Upon walking back in the door of the office I was greeted by a 2 year CFI that looked as if his face was permanently frozen in a totally clueless and retarded look (he later saves my butt). So after slapping down 5 bucks each we get keys to the fabulous condo Del ATP. What a freaking dump this place was, strange stains on all the carpets with a huge dark one by the door, dusty, musty, moldy, and this was the front room, pretty much Martha Stuart would have had a heart attack. So after I unpacked I went and checked out the bathroom. Now ill make sure the browns win the super bowl as long as the rim is clean. But the toilet, if not the entire bathroom, was covered in strange substances and different colored molds. But it was home and close to the airport so I figured “hey, 2 weeks and Im outta here!” Boy was I wrong.

Day 1 –Frank Mr. Red Jumpsuit
Frank Varsalona runs the CFI show at ATPS Vegas, and what a p***k he is. The first day was the usual, what is your name, where you from, then a slide show where he introduced himself and on his very own personal slide. He informed us that he almost had “FIVE THOUSAND HOURS” in the piper Seminole. First day covered FOI and a pretest. But at the end of the day I was introduced to his very famous saying, (ahem) “YUM YUM”.

Day 2- YUM YUM
Frank likes to pick a student out of the class and make his life a living hell. I forget the guys name, but he became franks favorite play thing. Always correcting him, always making this guy look like an idiot (which this guy actually was). The entire class also found out that frank not only had a Mooney, but a Mooooooooonnney (and say this fast) TSIO-540. Apparently this Mooney had a strange STC out for, the sound it made. Which wasn’t a typical airplane sound; sounded more like a MMMMMEEEEEOOOOOOOOOOWWWW. This was also the day in which the local FSDO released the check ride schedule for the area, and upon assignment you were given a gouge, a slap on the ass, and told may the force be with you. All my friends got the easy check pilots, I was given Jim” Im going to fail you because not can I, not only will I, but I want to” a (last name deleted). This guy was apparently the devil, darth vader, the CEO form mesa (JO I think), and the worst STD possible. I mean the guy was EVIL!!!!! No one had seen him in 3 months. When you are assigned him, the local ATP staff just gets you paper work in order to kick you out, and not even Jesus can save your soul from this guy. Did I mention it was 115 degrees in Vegas that day!

Day 3- Son of a B…..
Had my first flight that day, in the middle of the day with…….oh lets call him beamer boy! This guy just got his CFI’s and was teaching us how to teach. But this guy couldn’t teach a child to fly a friggin kite!!!! And he always had this clueless look on his face, kind of like his face decided to make the duh look but his mouth didn’t get the memo. This guy was a total wrench bag (not sure if I can say tool?)(mod edit: you can say tool as long as your not naming names). More on him later, because the entire day I was told that the JIM ride was the hardest ride of all time. So I was told Jim just fails people, so there’s really nothing you can work on that he likes, cause he doesn’t like you, as of the day he found out you were assigned to him. Great, but I decided to press on.

Day 4 – Droolers
This day is the dreaded endorsements day, and if frank didn’t like how you interpreted the 61-65e, you could kiss your check ride good bye causing he wasn’t going to sign you off. He told us that he had a morphine drip in his caddy (sounded like daddy but I dismissed it), and if we were droolers (at this point he put his finger to the side of his mouth and then dragged it down off his chin) he was going to hook it up and we would all be sent home CFI rating less. But we passed. Then the greatest thing happened. Mr. Franks B***** had a glass of water that he faithfully brought to class every day (full of water of course) and on this day frank slammed his fist on the desk and sent water every where. Then in true typical point-dexter, pencil neck style, Franks B***** looked up and nasally said “what did u do that for” the look frank gave him made you almost feel sorry for the poor guy, I swear I saw steam coming out franks ears and rage in his eyes. You never tell frank he is wrong, because he is the one that tells tower that the taxi and runway lights are still on when he flies at 8 in the morning!!!! Anyways this guy didn’t last long. Not Because of frank, but because he was on a single engine approach at 1500agl, in 100 degree weather, 3 to 5 mile final, and he dropped the gear and the flaps! The CFI that was with him crapped himself when he corrected by pitch up to maintain altitude instead of bringing his gear and flaps up! So he was asked to leave as soon as the CFI saved himself. Didn’t even taxi back and shut down to tell him, as soon as they were clear of the active they had a talk. The dude didn’t even care, shrugged his shoulders and said ok. Weird.

Day 5- Hell and beyond
The last day was just assigning those with certain CFI’s extra ground school (ME). And that was it for the ground portion. In the nice condo/apartment we lived in a cleaning lady came through, and then a AC guy who about wet himself cleaning out the vents, and replacing the non existent filter. The cool about this place was the fact that with the AC on you could see the dust jet stream circulating the apartment.

The weekend leading to the second week was all study, The ATP instructors tend to troll around the new and old strip looking for people. And if they find you, you’re done. Well to make this long story short. The cops came at least 3 times a week and my 2 week stay took me 4 weeks. First I wasn’t ready and they had to reschedule, then it was going to be that following week. Then, due to the living conditions, I got sick. So here I am in my 3rd week of hell in North Vegas (or Las Vegas Compton as we called it). And due to the fact that my 8710 had a small correctable error on it, Frank did not sign me off and simply handed it back to me and walked out the door. I was livid!!! So after moaning and complaining I was told I was going to be sent home the day before my check ride. Yet I still have flight time and ground time remaining to help prep for my check ride. Then I tell you fellows, god intervened. ATP has students go on these jet rides in ATPs Ce-525 in order to get a high altitude and high performance rating. And the owner himself, Jim the Vice Pres, the other vice pres Phil Cooper, and the owner’s son JD, were all on board. As the jet passed through VGT to make a fuel stop, it was decided that since I didn’t have the chance to go on my jet ride yet, that the jet would take me to the RAL ATP location in which I would fly commercial back to Sacramento. Well after getting picked up in VGT and flown to the ATP DVT location and spent the night. Then the next morning I got the chance to fly the jet to RAL. I was sitting up form with Phil on the radios and I manning the autopilot (crossing restrictions are a pain!). Phil then asked me, “So how did your CFI’s go?”, so I told him I was being sent home and no one could really tell me why, just that “well frank didn’t sign you off.” And then they walk away. So I then told Jim who was the mover and shaker of the bunch and to make a long story short he called the before mentioned retarded, clueless looking CFI, and low and behold, he was told that I was sick and had a Jim check ride, and other BS, and I got back into CFI school. Had my initial check ride with the greatest DPE ever (he made fun of me and told me everyone I was wearing pink panties when I didn’t want to fly in the hot gusting to 25 knot weather.) and I earned my initial CFI-AMEL.

To sum this up, ATP was a horrible experience for me. It was my fellow students and some of the instructors that helped me get through. My ten month program took close to 13 months, because they would start and stop me on a constant basis, and to become a 90 day student would have cost an extra five grand! ATP is a pilot factory with a majority of students being self-entitled nitwits. There are some great CFI’s there but they are so rare! As for Beamer Boy, in my training records he writes how I became confused and totally disoriented when he failed my engine at 200 ft on T/O, then I busted Nellis class Bravo and he had to take controls and do my single engine pattern and landing, then we flew out to a practice area, then back to VGT. This is exactly what didn’t happen!! This guy is one of the worst CFI’s I’ve ever dealt with!!!! In short I have to many people to thank that helped me, Dave, Paul, my little spoon scott, and the man myth and legend Eric R, and lastly the two good CFI’s at VGT Paul and Jessie! Hope those beers were tasty boys.

Lastly im not a grammar expert, so please bear with me. If anyone wants to look this over they can. I don’t care. But this post is meant to be a warning. ATP can get you done quickly, but don’t be on the ten month program. And you’ll save money by going with an FBO. You just won’t get that sweet multi time. So beware the ATP cool aid. It looks good by tastes like crap. ATP is like beer goggles, when it’s all over you can’t believe what you just did, and how much money you just spent.

Last edited by de727ups; 10-04-2007 at 11:40 AM. Reason: Examiners last name removed, tool clarification
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Old 10-04-2007, 03:32 AM
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Wow, thanks for the heads-up. I'll definitely keep that in mind, seeing as that I already have a great FBO close to home & the closest ATP school is in Trenton.
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Old 10-04-2007, 04:37 AM
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Oh gawd, LAFF is going to blow a gasket, HA!!!

I love it, very nice and predictably true story. Thing is we all pay some dues somewhere and somehow as we climb up that ladder. Hopefully for you this will be the low spot in your career, and you can use this experience to make others better.

Fly safe, glad you got your rating, good luck in your future!!
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Old 10-04-2007, 06:28 AM
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This kind of feedback is great to see...the large chain schools can exhibit quit a variation in quality between their various local branches. It mostly depends on the local honcho.
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Old 10-04-2007, 08:48 AM
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Wow, it sounds like if the Civil War ever hit the united states again, those guys would make a perfect mercenary air force.
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Old 10-04-2007, 11:48 AM
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This seems very similar to a thread at JC several months ago....

I'm not a big fan of the 90 day program or the ATP koolaid drinkers. There are many other ways to spend less money and get better training. It may take you a bit longer to get your ratings, but that's actually a good thing.
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Old 10-04-2007, 01:33 PM
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I don't believe a word of it...Where are the other ATP horror stories? Oh....Oh....That's right - 99%+ are success stories. There is always one disgruntled student in every lot.

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Old 10-04-2007, 01:57 PM
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Originally Posted by LAfrequentflyer
I don't believe a word of it...Where are the other ATP horror stories? Oh....Oh....That's right - 99%+ are success stories. There is always one disgruntled student in every lot.

Like the three out of four ATPers in my groundschool that washed out? I think they're too busy working three jobs to try and pay off their massive debt to post here.

My favorite is the one on their "honor roll" or whatever they call it. Sure he got hired, but he was only there for about a month.
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Old 10-04-2007, 05:19 PM
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Hey LAFF, You haven’t been to ATPs CFI School yet have you? I mean I haven’t even mentioned the kid that got busted for doing a barrel roll and getting it on film! Nor the crying break down a lot of us had at the local Vegas Albertsons, but you have to experience to understand it

Have you been to ATP yet? I’m not trying to flame, just curious.

And some people do make it through; they luck out and have the right timing with the right instructors. Some just can’t take it and drop out. I was luck enough to have a few great instructors (Dave "No ****" Sherlock, Ryan "Frisky" Frisco to name a few) that flew me until I couldn’t take it anymore.

Last edited by exerauflyboy5; 10-04-2007 at 05:33 PM.
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Old 10-04-2007, 05:34 PM
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Originally Posted by LAfrequentflyer
I don't believe a word of it...Where are the other ATP horror stories? Oh....Oh....That's right - 99%+ are success stories. There is always one disgruntled student in every lot.

You obviously havent been here yet!!!
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