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Old 10-05-2008, 09:40 AM   #11  
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I work at an airport that gets many SFB DCA students, I can say with certainty that over the past two years the students they send to my airport are some of the worst pilots I have ever seen. I saw one who landed so hard the nose gear on the 172 was broke from the airframe. Another student tried 3 times unsuccessfuly to land on a 4 thousand foot runway, eventually she set it down on a 7500 foot runway on her fourth attempt. She landed so hard she thought she bent the main landing gear, and on the taxi in she taxied off the taxiway and nearly took out a taxiway light with the left main. I have my commercial and am currently working on my CFI. I would highly recommend doing your training at the local fbo. It will be cheaper, and with DCA, they may force you to learn the book knowledge but for the most part they don't teach any common sense or how to fly a plane to a level that won't get somebody killed one day. I would NOT recommend DCA under any circumstances whatsoever. Please find a good CFI at a local field or go to any other academy but DCA.
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Old 10-05-2008, 11:23 AM   #12  
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I work at an airport that gets many SFB DCA students, I can say with certainty that over the past two years the students they send to my airport are some of the worst pilots I have ever seen. I saw one who landed so hard the nose gear on the 172 was broke from the airframe. Another student tried 3 times unsuccessfuly to land on a 4 thousand foot runway, eventually she set it down on a 7500 foot runway on her fourth attempt. She landed so hard she thought she bent the main landing gear, and on the taxi in she taxied off the taxiway and nearly took out a taxiway light with the left main. I have my commercial and am currently working on my CFI. I would highly recommend doing your training at the local fbo. It will be cheaper, and with DCA, they may force you to learn the book knowledge but for the most part they don't teach any common sense or how to fly a plane to a level that won't get somebody killed one day. I would NOT recommend DCA under any circumstances whatsoever. Please find a good CFI at a local field or go to any other academy but DCA.

You say for two years you have seen "the worst" pilots ever come from DCA, yet you only have a commercial certificate. Two years ago what credentials did you hold that would allow you to evaluate pilot skill? The original poster was looking for advice, and maybe some experienced reviews. Did you attend DCA? If not, keep your opinions to yourself. I do not work at DCA, but I know many that did. They are not unsafe in any way, and I would be more than happy to fly with any of them, any day.
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Old 10-05-2008, 12:27 PM   #13  
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I went through a large school to get the rest of my ratings and for me I think it was worth it (Instrument through MEI) It took me 4 years at an FBO to get my PPL thanks to deployments and military work in general. That being said, going to a large school should be taken into perspective. I went to a large school because the idea of waiting 4 years to get each of my licenses and ratings while the military continued to deploy me didn't seem like a good option. Getting out and starting a new career so I could take lessons on the weekends and once in a while after work didn't seem like a good option either. Getting out of the military and going to a place where I could just focus on flying and get my ratings quickly made more sense. More money up front, but over all probably about the same financial obligation for me seeing how each time I was deployed I had to start all over again when I got back. So for me a large school worked, and I went there to get all that multi-time.

Now, that being said, some of the best flying I have ever done occurred at an FBO. I had 4 different flight instructors over my 4 years getting that PPL and they each taught me a different aspect about flying. Everything from a former bush pilot, to a career flight instructor, to a former military attack pilot. There is so much more to flying than a large school is going to teach you. When I told some of the career students some of the things I was taught, some of the responses were "I didn't think that was allowed". Schools like ATP, DCA, and FSA will put a large safety net around you. This is not necessarily a good thing. I had about 50 hours of SOLO PIC before I even went to my school (career students there only get the bare minimum they need to get a PPL).

So if I were you I would look at all of your options. If you decide to go to a large school that is fine, but go in knowing there is a lot more to flying than they teach, always be constantly learning and don't believe anyone that tells you there is only one way to do things. Benefits of the large school is quickly getting your licenses, focusing only on flying, flying aircraft that are well maintained and always available, and depending on the school you go to the amount of multi-engine time you receive. FBO advantages are a more personable experience, flying with people from all walks of life, less restrictions on what you can and cannot do, and learning at your own pace (if you fall behind at a big school, they will kick you out, and take more money than they probably should), and a more flexible schedule.

There's more to it than this but I hope it helps

~Wild
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Old 10-05-2008, 12:44 PM   #14  
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You say for two years you have seen "the worst" pilots ever come from DCA, yet you only have a commercial certificate. Two years ago what credentials did you hold that would allow you to evaluate pilot skill? The original poster was looking for advice, and maybe some experienced reviews. Did you attend DCA? If not, keep your opinions to yourself. I do not work at DCA, but I know many that did. They are not unsafe in any way, and I would be more than happy to fly with any of them, any day.
Not unsafe? I have personally seen them total a 172 at my airport and they've come close a few other times. Im just putting in my two cents about the place in the hopes that the original poster gets quality flight training, which in my opinion does not come from SFB DCA, there maybe the few exceptions but on the whole, my experience has not been a good one with regards to their performance.
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Old 10-05-2008, 12:59 PM   #15  
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my experience has not been a good one with regards to their performance.

My point here is that you have no experience with DCA....I have personally seen regionals overrun a runway, majors run into baggage carts, and student pilots bust up airplanes. Does this at all reflect on an airline, or any quality of training? no. People make mistakes, especially inexperienced people. So again, keep your opinions, especially ones that are mere speculation, to yourself.
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Old 10-05-2008, 03:47 PM   #16  
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I like Wild's comment above here. In a nutshell, all students should be researching the heck out of the schools that they have in mind before becoming a student there - whether it be a small mom/pop FBO or the big flight school/university down the road... There WILL be advantages and disadvantages to each one. There also WILL be positive and negative feedback on ALL flight schools, large and small... If a student does not research the school that they choose to learn to fly, then I hope that they know what they are getting themselves into and hope that they get what they are told to get.
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Old 10-05-2008, 06:34 PM   #17  
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Originally Posted by GatorAviator View Post
I work at an airport that gets many SFB DCA students, I can say with certainty that over the past two years the students they send to my airport are some of the worst pilots I have ever seen. I saw one who landed so hard the nose gear on the 172 was broke from the airframe. Another student tried 3 times unsuccessfuly to land on a 4 thousand foot runway, eventually she set it down on a 7500 foot runway on her fourth attempt. She landed so hard she thought she bent the main landing gear, and on the taxi in she taxied off the taxiway and nearly took out a taxiway light with the left main. I have my commercial and am currently working on my CFI. I would highly recommend doing your training at the local fbo. It will be cheaper, and with DCA, they may force you to learn the book knowledge but for the most part they don't teach any common sense or how to fly a plane to a level that won't get somebody killed one day. I would NOT recommend DCA under any circumstances whatsoever. Please find a good CFI at a local field or go to any other academy but DCA.
As an escapee from the DCA farm, I'll say this: there are some terrible pilots training--and even instructing--at DCA. There are also some fantastic ones. The same can be said of almost every school/FBO I've encountered. Are the lousy pilots a higher proportion at DCA? Maybe. I don't know. But because of the sheer volume of training done at DCA, even if the ratio isn't problematic, there will simply be more bad pilots in terms of raw numbers.

If you have some statistics to point to saying that DCA's rate of incidents/accidents per X flight hours is significantly worse than average, please point us towards them. If not, let's stick to the more empirical data telling prospective students to train elsewhere like cost, equipment (I still think the SR-20 is terrible training platform, but maybe that's just me), management, lifestyle, regular training delays, dress code, testimonials from former students, the value, or lack thereof, of an accelerated program in the current climate, etc., etc.
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Old 10-08-2008, 01:35 PM   #18  
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Originally Posted by GatorAviator View Post
I work at an airport that gets many SFB DCA students, I can say with certainty that over the past two years the students they send to my airport are some of the worst pilots I have ever seen. I saw one who landed so hard the nose gear on the 172 was broke from the airframe. Another student tried 3 times unsuccessfuly to land on a 4 thousand foot runway, eventually she set it down on a 7500 foot runway on her fourth attempt. She landed so hard she thought she bent the main landing gear, and on the taxi in she taxied off the taxiway and nearly took out a taxiway light with the left main. I have my commercial and am currently working on my CFI. I would highly recommend doing your training at the local fbo. It will be cheaper, and with DCA, they may force you to learn the book knowledge but for the most part they don't teach any common sense or how to fly a plane to a level that won't get somebody killed one day. I would NOT recommend DCA under any circumstances whatsoever. Please find a good CFI at a local field or go to any other academy but DCA.

Well as a former DCA guy myself who doesnt reccomend them anymore I still find your statement pretty worthless. You come on a board of someone asking for advice to make that statement? I have been to your airport in the past two years so Im one of the worst youve ever seen? I would watch what you say next time.

As for advice do what you think is best for you. We can only offer advice. I went to DCA and it was good training just not worth the price. The FBO I went to for a while had a better instructor for a lot less. We all have to make our own decisions though in the end.
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Old 10-15-2008, 04:34 PM   #19  
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Originally Posted by GatorAviator View Post
I work at an airport that gets many SFB DCA students, I can say with certainty that over the past two years the students they send to my airport are some of the worst pilots I have ever seen. I saw one who landed so hard the nose gear on the 172 was broke from the airframe. Another student tried 3 times unsuccessfuly to land on a 4 thousand foot runway, eventually she set it down on a 7500 foot runway on her fourth attempt. She landed so hard she thought she bent the main landing gear, and on the taxi in she taxied off the taxiway and nearly took out a taxiway light with the left main. I have my commercial and am currently working on my CFI. I would highly recommend doing your training at the local fbo. It will be cheaper, and with DCA, they may force you to learn the book knowledge but for the most part they don't teach any common sense or how to fly a plane to a level that won't get somebody killed one day. I would NOT recommend DCA under any circumstances whatsoever. Please find a good CFI at a local field or go to any other academy but DCA.

Those are the washouts that can't make the cut. Some people just don't have the skill to be a pilot, period. It doesn't matter what school you come from, DCA, ERAU, FSA, American Flyers, etc...

Come on. Do you really think the schools teach students to land that way? Of course not. Be realistic.
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Old 10-15-2008, 08:09 PM   #20  
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Those are the washouts that can't make the cut. Some people just don't have the skill to be a pilot, period. It doesn't matter what school you come from, DCA, ERAU, FSA, American Flyers, etc...

Come on. Do you really think the schools teach students to land that way? Of course not. Be realistic.

Working as a flight instructor at one of those places, I can't agree with you more. Those places don't really look at the perspective students' GPA or Aptitude, either flying or ground training. They just look at your bank account size or loan.
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