Real Answers from Real Pilots

ATP IWA vs Scottsdale

(Jonah Wessel) #1

So it looks that I am going to be heading out to Arizona for flight training in mid-June. I’m still mulling over my loan options, but i’m leaning towards Wells Fargo. Anyways, I’ve noticed that there are two locations in the PHX area. I saw a post a few weeks ago on this site discussing whether IWA or SDL is the best option. I currently live in Cleveland, OH and have flown in and out of some fairly busy airports without issue as a Private Pilot. I’m not really one that is frazzled by managing frequencies and reading back instructions. In fact, I prefer towered airports for the most part. However, part of me thinks that SDL might be a better training choice only because there are less distractions, shorter taxis, and less things to worry about while training in a very fast-paced environment. What do ya’ll think?


Hey Jonah,

First of all, either way you go you will not be disappointed, both locations are excellent. Now strictly from my personal point of view, I would recommend KIWA for a few reasons.
KIWA, like you already know, is much busier and more complex than KSDL. In my opinion, you will benefit much more from the challenges that you have at KIWA.
Second, the facilities at KIWA are on a larger scale. The main maintenance facility for the west coast is located there and the fleet is much bigger. This means less chance of having a lesson cancelled due to maintenance or scheduling.
Third, the amount of students is much larger at KIWA. There are always study groups to meet up with at the training center and people around to ask questions.
Fourth, the student housing is about a 7 minute drive from KIWA. I assume you will be staying there since you say you are from Ohio. KSDL does not have its own student housing and the drive from Mesa is about 35-45 minutes without traffic (not recommended!).

Again, this is my personal opinion. Both locations are great and will get you to the same point in the same amount of time, you need to make the decision based on your own needs.

If you want any specific details, feel free to ask.


(Jonah Wessel) #3

I appreciate the quick response. I didn’t realize there isn’t a housing option in SDL. Based just on that, I think IWA is probably the better choice. Thanks again!

(Jonah Wessel) #4

I know you attended the PHX location. How manageable was the study at ATP? Did you find yourself studying hard every single day, including weekends? I am prepared to study 24 hours a day if needed, but I’m just curious if you found any down time during training. I’ve heard some mixed reviews on this. Some say it isn’t that difficult of a program if you stay focused. Others say it is near impossible to get through. Also, did you stay in the student housing? Seems like living with other students will help in terms of helping one another with the workload. Thanks!



Yarden is much more familiar with the AZ locations than I am but as he said I’m sure either location would be fine. That said I’m a big fan of busier airports for training. It’s great you’ve gotten comfortable with communications while a Private pilot but frankly you can never get too much exposure or practice. One of the biggest challenges many new Regional pilots is dealing with the radios while multitasking the other responsibilities. Just something to keep in mind.




Just to chime in on this one. I too was told it’s study 24/7 and I believe if you go in with that mind set you’ll be fine. The reality is the program while rigorous is very doable if your disciplined. After class (flying, sim, ground) I’d go home, study, take my quizzes have dinner and often found myself with some down time. After some reading, TV whatever I’d get a good nights rest. Thing is at the housing there are plenty of people and many looked at it like it was college dorm life and would be up partying, watching the late game or playing Xbox. Well those guys got real good at Grand Theft Auto and their fantasy leagues didn’t suffer but the pilot training sure did. Flight training isn’t cheap and it really blew my mind how casual some people looked at it? If you go in with a good attitude and work hard you’ll do well and even find it really wasn’t that bad at all.




The majority of the studying in this program is done independently. You will have a set homework schedule and study assignments before and after every event (flight/sim/ground) that will include reading, watching videos, flight planning, quizzes, etc. It is definitely manageable, and would even agree with you that it is not difficult if you stay focused.

I lived in housing as a student and I found it very beneficial since I lived and breathed aviation even when I wasn’t at the training center. In my apartment we were 6 roommates, all at different stages in the program. I really liked it because I could both ask the more advanced guys for help with my studying, and also prepare for CFI school by helping the newer guys out with theirs.
On top of all that, the apartment complex had a volleyball court by the pool and we would all get together and have cookouts once or twice a week, so that added a lot to the whole experience. Helps to blow off some steam :slight_smile:


(Jonah Wessel) #8

Thanks for the response. I’m kind of one that prepares for the worst and hopes for the best. That said, I expect it to be difficult but doable. The thing i’m struggling with right now is how to prepare for training study wise with training still over 6 months out. I try to look at aviation articles fairly regularly, as well as brush up on some regs, look over some of the FOI and ATP Flight Training Supplements. Only thing about this is the whole “Principle of Disuse” thing. When I apply head knowledge to actual flying, it is very easy for me to retain knowledge. I’ve kind of reasoned that I should keep my aviation knowledge fresh to some extent, but not kill myself with rote memory and flashcards just yet, as I will end up being forced to relearn information.

(Jonah Wessel) #9

Gotcha, was it by chance the San Montego apartment complex? I know that is the one they currently offer. Seems like a decent gig.


That’s the one :slight_smile:


Jonah don’t go nuts now. WAYYYYY too early. If I were you I’d relax for a while, spend some QT with family and friends because once you get to ATP those times will be gone for a while. I would recommend banging out some or all of the writtens prior to getting there. That definitely will lighten the work load. ATP will reimburse you for the test fees but not the study material. Once you get closer to your start date (and the financing is in place) you can request and maybe get the material early. Other than that relax.




I found the studying to be very manageable. I certainly studies every day, but not all day. I found time for regular walks in a nearby park and for meals out from time to time. I did have a roommate, but I am more of a fan of studying by myself than studying in a group.




I want to agree with Adam here. Finish as many of the writtens as possible while you are waiting for your start date. You will be really glad that you did when you are able to have time for other things during your training.



I agree also on the writtens.