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Who’s the best?

Flight Training Experience Awards announces regional winners

The results of the 2021 annual Flight Training Experience Awards have been tabulated and 42 schools and 100 CFIs have earned a “Distinguished” Award; six schools and six instructors have been tapped as regional winners (see “Regional Winners,” below right). The national winners of the 2021 survey will be announced at Redbird Migration in February.
Flight school professionals attend the 2019 AOPA Flight Training Experience Awards during Redbird Migration at the Wings Over the Rockies museum in Denver, October 16, 2019. Photo by David Tulis.
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The Flight Training Experience Survey and Awards are part of the You Can Fly program, powered by AOPA. You Can Fly is a comprehensive set of initiatives designed to get people flying and keep them flying. The Flight Training Experience Survey and Awards support that effort by recognizing flight schools and instructors that deliver exceptional training experiences.

The survey encourages anyone who has taken flight training in the past 12 months to candidly share their training experiences. Responses are used to measure the overall performance of the respondent’s flight training providers and spotlight areas where they are successful and where they have opportunities to improve. Survey participants include pilots of all experience levels, from new students to those earning advanced ratings or taking a flight review.

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Research findings

AOPA conducted research to determine what makes a good flight training experience. These findings have guided the annual Flight Training Experience Survey and Awards since then:

  • The sheer enjoyment of flying is an important attribute that should be emphasized in flight training.
  • Recreational goals are the most common reason for learning to fly and most students learn outside the Part 141 environment.
  • Students come to the process through referrals and place a premium on personal interaction with the aviation community.
  • The flight instructor’s performance is especially important.
  • Flying and the sense of accomplishment it delivers is a powerful influence that mitigates quality issues and results in an overall positive experience.
  • The notion of an “aviation community” that shares this experience is a key motivator.
  • Value means far more than price. Schools should seek ways to stretch the student’s dollar, offer free or low-cost learning opportunities, and demonstrate they’re billing the student fairly.

Migration Flight Training Conference

February 8 through 9, 2022
Aerospace Center for Excellence, Lakeland, Florida

Redbird Flight Simulations says that over the past 12 years, its annual Migration event has become the leading conference for flight training professionals. Featuring presentations from a wide range of industry leaders and small group breakout sessions tailored to meet the goals of attendees, Migration provides solutions to the real-world problems facing flight training organizations, flight instructors, and their clients.

Julie Walker
Julie Summers Walker
AOPA Senior Features Editor
AOPA Senior Features Editor Julie Summers Walker joined AOPA in 1998. She is a student pilot still working toward her solo.

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