Real Answers from Real Pilots

Recommended PPL programs

(Kirill Solodchenko) #1

Hello All,

I have recently consulted with an ATP rep regarding the airline pilot program. Upon advising her that I wish to minimize my time being unemployed, she advised me to obtain my PPL through the third party prior to starting the 6 months program with ATP. Upon researching AOPA for a listing of California, Bay Area flight schools I have come up with the following listing. Does anyone have any recommendations or advice on how I should select the best program?

|Hayward|CA|California Airways||Hayward Executive Airport|
|Hayward|CA|Flying Vikings, Inc.||Hayward Executive Airport|
|Hayward|CA|Hayward Flight||Hayward Executive Airport|
|Hayward|CA|JATO Aviation||Hayward Executive Airport|
|Hayward|CA|Pacific Helicopters||Hayward Executive Airport|

|Livermore|CA|ATP Flight School (800-ALL-ATPS)||Livermore Municipal Airport|
|Livermore|CA|Attitude Aviation, Inc.||Livermore Municipal Airport|
|Livermore|CA|JATO Aviation||Livermore Municipal Airport|
|Livermore|CA|Red Sky Aviation, LLC||Livermore Municipal Airport|

|Oakland|CA|Oakland Flyers, LLC||Metropolitan Oakland International Airport|

|Palo Alto|CA|Advanced Flyers||Palo Alto Airport|
|Palo Alto|CA|Advantage Aviation Inc.||Palo Alto Airport|
|Palo Alto|CA|JATO Aviation||Palo Alto Airport|
|Palo Alto|CA|Max G Aviation||Palo Alto Airport|
|Palo Alto|CA|Stanford Flying Club - Flight School||Palo Alto Airport|
|Palo Alto|CA|Sundance Flying Club, Inc||Palo Alto Airport|
|Palo Alto|CA|West Valley Flying Club||Palo Alto Airport|

|San Carlos|CA|Fly Bay Area - Flight Training||San Carlos Airport|
|San Carlos|CA|JATO Aviation||San Carlos Airport|
|San Carlos|CA|San Carlos Flight Center||San Carlos Airport|
|SAN CARLOS|CA|West Valley Flying Club||San Carlos Airport|

|San Jose|CA|Trade Winds Aviation||Palo Alto Airport|

|WALNUT CREEK|CA|NRI Flying Club, Inc.||Buchanan Field|

I have read some horror stories regarding mom and pop flight schools and wish to avoid these potential outcomes?

Any feedback would be highly appreciated.



Check out the FAQ section for a list of questions to ask each school. Hopefully that will at least get you pointed in the right direction.


(Tory) #3


This is impossible for us to answer. I instructed at ATP HWD (now LIV) and SAC. I’ve heard of a couple of the schools on your list, but I know nothing about them. You need to do your homework on these schools and determine which one is best for you on your own. There’s a checklist in the FAQ section to help you.


(Tom Tolento) #4


I will throw my opinion in here as I literally just went the route you are thinking and “paid” for it. I wanted to get my finances in order prior to starting ATP as it is a large investment and decided to get my PPL at a mom and pop flight school in the mean time.

I started Nov 2017, Solo’d May 2018 (after 2 months of horrible weather), got my XCs out of the way by Sept (after a month of bad weather and a month of waiting for the Chief Flight Instructor to be available) and just completed my check ride Feb 4th (after the plane I was flying got sold and I had to transition to a new cockpit, and plane along with fighting other students for time with the now only C172).

While I was able to get my finances in order it was a bigger price than money that I paid. People like Sergey and “Peter” which you will see on other threads were on the forum when I started looking into ATP and they are now completed or finishing everything up and I only have my PPL to speak of and still have 6 months of ATP to complete.

While you will save 3 months of no employment if your goal is to get to the airlines as soon as possible it can be very time consuming to get your PPL at a mom and pop school as the CFIs are usually part time, will put their life ahead of the part time gig and getting availability with the chief flight instructor for progress checks and the Weather is the biggest thing that tends to increase your time.

If you can take your time getting your PPL it is an ok route to take as you will have more time to put away money while you get your PPL but just wanted to put in my 2 cents as I see people looking at schools and getting caught up with getting quoted prices for the FAA Minimums (40 hrs) or that you can get it completed in mere months (as long as weather, the CFI, the plane, and the DPE are all on your side).


(Aaron Levy) #5

Tom makes a good point, but on the other hand if you do your research and choose a good mom and pop flight school it can easily be done. I did my private in 10 weeks and instrument in 6.5.