Twin Cities flight training?

Discussion in 'Pilot Training' started by FriedPickles, Sep 20, 2019.

  1. FriedPickles

    FriedPickles Filing Flight Plan

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    Hello all,

    I'm a 30-hour student who just moved from Lafayette, IN, to the Twin Cities, living on the north side of Minneapolis. My flight training is currently on pause due to a deferred medical (I applied for it over a year ago and I've been fighting with the FAA ever since, but that's a tangent I don't need to get into right now), but I'm desperately longing to get back in the air after not having flown for a few months. I'm sure you understand.

    My question is this: does anyone know of good flight schools nearby (MIC, FCM, SGS, 21D, etc) or have any opinions on or experience with any of them? I've done a fair amount of looking and it seems like I'd be paying significantly more per hour than I was at LAF, which is definitely difficult while also paying rent, etc, on a minimum-wage job, but I'm determined to keep flying. If anyone knows the area or can point me in the right direction, that'd be much appreciated.

    One thing I've learned so far in my training (and part of why I was dissatisfied with my experiences at LAF) is that I really dislike "pilot factory" style flight schools, where the entire focus is on getting to the next rating and building hours, eventually leading to airlines/commercial, etc. I felt like it wasn't teaching me what I wanted to learn. That's not to say the instruction is lacking, far from it, it's just focused significantly more on training future-thrust-lever-pushers while I'm more interested in GA flying, specifically experimental and vintage. With that in mind, I'm really hoping to find somewhere where the training is more than just the procedures needed to fly the airplane, actually learning practices to improve safety and proficiency, preferably from people who are as in love with flying small planes as I am rather than just instructors building hours and dreaming of flying large jets. If there are any schools in the area that train in tailwheel aircraft, that'd be incredible! I found a school at SYN that has a couple, but I haven't gotten a response to any emails and the 45-minute drive wouldn't exactly be easy.

    Anyway, I apologize for the information overload there. If anyone out there has any wisdom or advice for me, it'd be greatly appreciated.


    TL;DR: Does anyone know any good flight schools in/near Minneapolis?

    Also, new to the forum. If I'm posting in the wrong place or if this has already been answered, please let me know.
     
  2. champ driver

    champ driver Line Up and Wait

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    What, you got something against Anoka County, KANE?
    Sorry I don't have any first hand knowledge about any of the schools anymore.
    There is a school at Buffalo, KCFE.
    Stanton would be more in line with fun flying and taildraggers, but like you said, it's a long drive.
    I'm based at ANE.
    http://www.tcflighttraining.com/
     
  3. FriedPickles

    FriedPickles Filing Flight Plan

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    Sorry, forgot ANE was nearby! I was going from memory for what I've looked at. I'm thinking I might need to contact a few of the local schools and shop around a bit. One thing I'm concerned about is when they don't have any prices for rental/instructor listed...


    Edit: accidentally posted unfinished. Early morning, fumbly fingers.
     
  4. champ driver

    champ driver Line Up and Wait

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    When you talk to the schools, and especially the flight instructor, explain to them your goals and that you aren't looking for a career in aviation. Possibly an older/wiser instructor might be something to look for.
    Usually flight training is a little less expensive the farther you go from the big city.
    So you probably should stay away from a Cirrus and find something more like a simple Skyhawk or Warrior. Yes, do some shopping around for prices and planes. If I had my Champ flying I could give you a ride.
     
  5. FriedPickles

    FriedPickles Filing Flight Plan

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    Thanks for the advice! That's pretty much my plan, mostly looking for full-time instructors who do this as a career rather than someone just trying to get to that golden 1500-hour mark.

    I have zero interest in flying a Cirrus, both because they are so expensive and because I don't personally think the automation and all-glass cockpit would actually train someone to be a good pilot (more just learning how to fly THAT plane rather than learning to fly). All my training so far has been in a 172P, so I'm looking more for that. Might switch to a 152 because of the lower cost, but I'll see what I can find.
     
  6. champ driver

    champ driver Line Up and Wait

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    The Cessna 152 is a good solid plane, relatively cheap to operate, if you can find one without a million hours on it. Learned in a Cessna 150, and taught in the 152.
     
  7. FriedPickles

    FriedPickles Filing Flight Plan

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    I definitely agree that they're good airplanes, but my experience has been that they're also cramped and underpowered. The lower cost is definitely nice, though!
     
  8. FriedPickles

    FriedPickles Filing Flight Plan

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    Admittedly, that experience has only been a 45-minute demo flight. Might give it another shot. I'm still dreaming of finishing my training in a tailwheel, but a 152 would be a good option too.
     
  9. DogoPilot

    DogoPilot Filing Flight Plan

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    You can look into Club Cherokee based out of Crystal. There are a few instructors in the club and they have six planes. Definitely cheaper than most rentals around this area and they have a Warrior, 2 Archers (one at 21D), Dakota, Arrow, and Saratoga.

    21D (Lake Elmo Aero) has a 152, Warrior, 172 (maybe 2), and SR20. I think and their rental rates are on the low end for the metro area but I'll admit I've only rented from them and Thunderbird, so pretty small sample size.
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2019
  10. champ driver

    champ driver Line Up and Wait

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    I didn't think about it earlier, there's Gateway Flying Club at ANE way down on the south end of the field.
    I don't know much about them or if a club works for you, they're just a few hangars down from me.

    https://gatewayflyingclub.weebly.com/
     
  11. Kristin

    Kristin Cleared for Takeoff

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    I would second the thought of checking out the flying clubs. You will likely find the best rates there. I don't have current information on any of them, though am in the process of moving back to ANE. I would check out South St. Paul and Lake Elmo for the cheaper rates closer to the city.
     
  12. Sinistar

    Sinistar Pattern Altitude

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    So far, for flight schools in the Twin Cities I have heard the most positive reviews from Air Trek North which is located down in Lakeville and might still have a spot at Flying Cloud.

    In Flight (Flying Cloud) seems big enough to always have planes and instruction going on all the time so probably not much worry over instructor or airplane availability. I believe they are the most expensive in the Twin Cities.

    Thunderbird out of Flying Cloud and Crystal is probably second to In Flight for number of instructors and planes. They are also a 141 school. They are just a bit cheaper than In Flight.

    POA's very own @Loren runs Hummingbird also at Flying Cloud. It's a bit smaller than the other two but he is a very highly recommended instructor. I think they fly Jabiru..not sure though.

    I think the club in Flying Cloud has a huge waiting list.

    If you search the Minneapolis craigslist for aviation or Cessna you'll always see the Anoka flying clubs listed.

    Unfortunately, CFI and aircraft rental rates seem to be rather high around here. It's not uncommon for an hour with an instructor and a Archer/172 to run over $230/hr or more. Getting into a club can really lower the costs around here.
     
  13. Kristin

    Kristin Cleared for Takeoff

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    From what I can tell, Air Trek is mainly in South St. Paul. That airport has the advantage of not being under the control and taxation of the metropolitan airports commission.

    I think that is likely the best option. It also brings the value of community and one can probably obtain opportunities to fly with other people and potentially even fly their planes or find someone who is not flying as much and would be willing to take in a partner.

    It is amazing how much things have changed in the 30 years I have been out of the area and a little weird to be coming back to the airport where I got my private 40 years ago. Back then, there were seven flight schools on ANE.
     
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  14. StevieTimes

    StevieTimes Line Up and Wait

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  15. champ driver

    champ driver Line Up and Wait

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    If I may ask, where did you do your training and flying at ANE?
    I started training at Northland Aviation back in 1970, finished at Arrowhead Airways and worked there too.
     
  16. Sinistar

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    Wow, I figured for sure they were under the MAC like all the rest under the Bravo. Training at Flemming would be good. Right downtown, under the low part of the bravo and forget what you're doing for like 1 minute and your in Downtown St.Paul delta airspace.

    The main reason I mentioned AirTrek North at Air Lake (Lakeville) is that I parked right in front of their building about a month ago. Had a few 182's out front which isn't the norm for training down here but I think they do a lot of Amphib training to.

    My wife did all her ratings, training at KANE with the exception of PPL at KFCM. KANE is her favorite. Seems like its not much of a training airport now.
     
  17. champ driver

    champ driver Line Up and Wait

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    I think I know who your wife is, is it Kari, and she owned a Chief?
     
  18. Sinistar

    Sinistar Pattern Altitude

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    Yep! Still misses the Chief. If we ever buy a hangar big enough for two I'm buying it back for her.