Ways Flight Schools Cheat Their Students

Discussion in 'Pilot Training' started by easik, Jan 22, 2018.

  1. easik

    easik Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2017
    Messages:
    228
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    easik
    I recently created a short video on some of the shady things I learned about my training after the fact. My PPL cost almost $30k, more than double what I originally thought and probably even triple the national average. Hope you new students watch out for these things.

     
  2. pigpenracing

    pigpenracing En-Route

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2012
    Messages:
    2,684
    Location:
    Brenham Tx
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    pigpen
    $30,000
    You could have bought a nice 2 seat airplane for $25,000. The extra $5000 would have paid for the instructor and fuel. Then when you were finished you would have a airplane to fly.
     
    Paulie, Kelvin and BarryCooper like this.
  3. BarryCooper

    BarryCooper Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2015
    Messages:
    150
    Location:
    Raymond MS
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    BarryCooper
    Exactly what I did
     
    LDJones, murphey and pigpenracing like this.
  4. 455 Bravo Uniform

    455 Bravo Uniform En-Route

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2015
    Messages:
    4,023
    Location:
    KLAF
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    455 Bravo Uniform
    Thanks for sharing. Not many people open up and share mistakes or lessons learned. Appreciate that.
     
    easik likes this.
  5. farky

    farky Pre-Flight

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2014
    Messages:
    96
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    farky
    I think you should have named the flight school in your video so nobody else gets taken advantage of like you did.
     
    Paulie likes this.
  6. abqtj

    abqtj Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2016
    Messages:
    371
    Location:
    Albuquerque, NM
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    abqtj
    Thanks for posting the vid. I remember coming across a few of your videos middle of last year and liked them also.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
     
    easik likes this.
  7. paflyer

    paflyer Final Approach

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2010
    Messages:
    7,152
    Location:
    PA
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    PAFlyer
    I'm sure that makes him feel better. :eek:
     
    ErikNYC and Skyrys62 like this.
  8. easik

    easik Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2017
    Messages:
    228
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    easik
    Lol it's all behind me now. You live and your learn. Now I just use my experience to educate others.
     
    455 Bravo Uniform likes this.
  9. Half Fast

    Half Fast Final Approach

    Joined:
    May 7, 2016
    Messages:
    6,355
    Location:
    Central Florida
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Half Fast

    Well, now that you know the tricks, you could open your own flight school and get rich...

    He He He He.....
    ;)
     
    Matthew K, mscard88 and RyanB like this.
  10. PPC1052

    PPC1052 En-Route

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2012
    Messages:
    4,966
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    PPC
    I like your video, and your enthusiasm for flying.
     
  11. Tantalum

    Tantalum Final Approach

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2017
    Messages:
    7,600
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    San_Diego_Pilot
    While I agree that the OP spent way too much money on his license, the scenario described seems a little optimistic.. I've never seen a nice turnkey airplane for $25K.. most instructors around charge around $80/hr
     
  12. HAPPYDAN

    HAPPYDAN Pre-Flight

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2017
    Messages:
    73
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    HAPPYDAN
    Your unfortunate experience parallels mine almost perfectly. I do applaud you for exercising the fortitude to stay the course and persevere.
     
  13. Timbeck2

    Timbeck2 Final Approach

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2015
    Messages:
    8,076
    Location:
    Vail, Arizona
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Timbeck2
    Not exactly for me but close. Flight school wanted $135 per hour wet plus $50 for the instructor but the instructor was a friend of mine. He was only getting $15 of the $50. So I bought my own plane and paid him $20 and lunch/breakfast every lesson.
     
  14. James331

    James331 Ejection Handle Pulled

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2014
    Messages:
    20,310
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    James331
    I'll have what professional pilots in his area are having lol
     
  15. Steve Kanefsky

    Steve Kanefsky Pre-Flight

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2018
    Messages:
    62
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    kanefsky
    Some of the things mentioned in the video might not be ideal, but I wouldn't blame the club for deliberately trying to scam you in all those cases. If the weather forecast isn't looking that great, for example, I think it's reasonable to expect you to show up and only allow you to cancel without penalty if the weather actually is too bad to fly at the scheduled time. I've had cases where I thought the weather would be bad but it turned out to be at least MVFR when the actual time came. Another time my instructor and I did some ground school stuff and after an hour or so the weather cleared up enough to at least get in a few laps around the pattern. In other cases we couldn't do exactly what we had originally planned but we went somewhere else or practiced something else. A couple times my instructor even filed an IFR flight plan and we were able to take off IFR and fly somewhere we could operate VFR. It was really cool to get some "flight by reference to instruments" time in my logbook on those occasions :)

    If you can't do exactly what you planned in a lesson it's far from a complete waste of time or money or a "joy ride." I think you just have to account for the fact that you won't be able to practice exactly what you want every single time. I think almost no matter what you're doing you're learning and gaining valuable experience that will make you a better pilot. You're not just building time for your instructor but for yourself as well. The reasons why the instructor benefits from building time apply to you as well, otherwise time wouldn't be one of the main qualifications for a job, for insurance purposes, checkout privileges, etc.

    Sometimes you might be delayed because the previous student didn't get the airplane back in time or maybe there's a sudden maintenance issue that needs to be addressed. I don't think that's much different than being forced to wait past your scheduled time at a doctor's office or wherever. If they scheduled the annual maintenance in conflict with your lesson and then tried to charge you that would be ridiculous of course, but I doubt it was anything like that.

    Regarding the time to solo, someone who solos at 15 hours might not kill themselves most of the time but I really wonder how many people can develop sufficient skill in the fundamentals, steep turns, slow flight, stalls, ground reference maneuvers, radio communications, takeoffs and landings, traffic pattern operations, engine failures and emergency operations, etc. in just 15 hours to really solo safely in case anything goes wrong.

    The one thing I really disagreed with is that you should be able to get your PPL in the minimum number of hours and that you don't really begin learning until after that. IMHO you had better have learned a hell of a lot before you get the PPL or else someone is being very negligent. You may need more hours just because of bad luck with the weather or because you live somewhere that's not ideal for training. It may take you longer to learn everything to practical test standards than the average person (certainly the case for me, and generally for people who start later in life). You may also require more hours if you're working with CFIs that are more strict about making sure you really know your stuff and not just the bare minimum to pass the test.
     
  16. Rory

    Rory Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2017
    Messages:
    151
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Rory
    This is real simple. If a flight school’s plane doesn’t have a working fuel gauge, and doesn’t get it fixed pronto, it’s time to go elsewhere.

    Of course, this assumes one is prepared to insist on, and pay for, a working fuel gauge, an assumption that appears to have been wrong in this case, apparently because a plane with a working fuel gauge cost $150/hr instead of $115/hr.

    I have zero time for this guy’s complaints. But I’ll give him this. He’s yet another small time YouTuber looking for subscribers and views, and this thread is getting him at least a few of the latter.
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2018
    Tantalum likes this.
  17. Tantalum

    Tantalum Final Approach

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2017
    Messages:
    7,600
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    San_Diego_Pilot
    I feel like it's either where I am geographically or something dramatically changed in the last ten years. When I got my private pilot license instructors only charged for the Hobbs rate and the hourly rate was very reasonable.. now they charge for the whole block and the costs are insane
     
  18. Steve Kanefsky

    Steve Kanefsky Pre-Flight

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2018
    Messages:
    62
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    kanefsky
    It's also a good idea to make sure that you choose the school and the type of aircraft such that there's more than one available to train in. Either that or accept the risk that your training schedule may be interrupted if that plane is out of service for whatever reason.
     
  19. mscard88

    mscard88 Touchdown! Greaser!

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2015
    Messages:
    23,226
    Location:
    Alabama
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Mark
    I don't charge for pre and post flight, usually just what we flew. A ground training session I'll charge for that, especially if I have to "force feed" information they should have learned on their own. But I don't have a problem with a CFI charging for their time, be it pre & post, whatever, IF they're training you during that time.
     
    oregonboy109 likes this.
  20. Tantalum

    Tantalum Final Approach

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2017
    Messages:
    7,600
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    San_Diego_Pilot
    That makes sense, and that seems pragmatic.. if I ever instruct I'd adopt something similar. If we fly and then I sit with you for 45 minutes to review it then I'll charge you for that. But I mean, if we fly 1.6 but we booked the plane 2-4 I'm not going to go and charge you for 2 hrs. I *get* that their time is a valuable and you pay them for a service and during that 2-4 time they're not seeing anyone else... but at the same token most students are pretty broke (or close to it) so in the spirit of keeping the aviation dream alive I wouldn't want to be out there just screwing people

    I did a checkout a while back at another club... literally *just* a checkout.. but they charge me 2 hrs for the CFI who flew with me, even though we got maybe 1.1 on the hobbs total. So crazy.
     
  21. Tantalum

    Tantalum Final Approach

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2017
    Messages:
    7,600
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    San_Diego_Pilot
    Costs like that are bonkers. No wonder GA is dying. The real kicker is, the CFI gets $15. What. On. Earth is the club doing with $100 they're making as straight profit?

    God, I would love to start a non for profit club and charge like $80/hr for planes and the instructors are all freelance and charge whatever they want and keep the money. Student buys their own insurance.. and we have a $50 monthly fee. If you flew your planes 600 hrs/year that $80/hr would easily cover the costs... esp if they're your 1970s Archers and Skyhawks with 430's, etc.
     
  22. mryan75

    mryan75 Cleared for Takeoff

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2014
    Messages:
    1,292
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    mryan75
    Maintaining their aircraft, paying hangar, office overhead, insurance, engines crap the bed, inspections, avionics, etc., etc., etc. Where do you get the notion that the $100 is "straight profit"?
     
    dmspilot likes this.
  23. Timbeck2

    Timbeck2 Final Approach

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2015
    Messages:
    8,076
    Location:
    Vail, Arizona
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Timbeck2
    Agreed. The guy that owns the school also owns a few fuel pumps in the area and doesn't have a good reputation with...well, anyone. I go out of my way to buy fuel elsewhere.
     
    Tantalum likes this.
  24. Steve Kanefsky

    Steve Kanefsky Pre-Flight

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2018
    Messages:
    62
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    kanefsky
    All the CFIs I've worked with get paid completely independently of the club (they send bills to me directly). Here in the Bay Area the rate is typically $90-100 per hour. The clubs charge around $185 for a C172 with G1000, and if you train in something like an SR20 then you're talking about $250 and up depending on how new it is (all of these are wet prices). Most of the plane rental money goes to the owner of the plane, which is almost always a member of the club rather than the club itself. The club takes a relatively small part of the rental fee. The owner has to pay for the payments on the plane itself, fuel, insurance, maintenance, etc. etc. and they actually lose money as often as not unless it's a model in pretty high demand that they bought used for a good price.

    At least one of the three clubs I've worked with is actually a 401c(7) nonprofit. I'm not sure about the others but the prices are pretty similar across all of them.
     
  25. dmspilot

    dmspilot En-Route

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2006
    Messages:
    4,479
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Display name:
    Really? 3 out of 4 flight schools are shady? :rolleyes:
     
    SkyDog58 likes this.
  26. dmspilot

    dmspilot En-Route

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2006
    Messages:
    4,479
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Display name:
    I charge $90/hr for a C150. About 100 hours/year and I lost ~ $1000 last year. And that doesn't include the cost of the airplane, which was paid for in cash.
     
  27. pilotrick

    pilotrick Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2016
    Messages:
    105
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    pilotrick
    If you aren't ready to solo you probably aren't ready.
     
    SkyDog58 likes this.
  28. Tantalum

    Tantalum Final Approach

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2017
    Messages:
    7,600
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    San_Diego_Pilot
    thin air

    just kidding.. I've long thought (dreamt? fantasized?) about purchasing my own plane. So I've crunched the numbers a few ways. The "cheapest" plane to get into would be an Archer... so taking that as an example:

    $5.50 fuel cost
    8 gal/hr consumption
    $25K for engine replacement savings
    2000 hours for engine replacement
    $5K for yearly maintenance
    $4K for yearly insurance
    $100/mo for tie down
    500 hrs flown
    $55K cost of airplane (no loan cost, buy outright)
    ...that would work out to roughly $70/hr cost to fly the airplane

    I kept the math simple, but I imagine most places will have costs (I've never seen a club or school that hangers its planes or takes particularly good care of their fleet..).. so if they're really charging $135/hr then I have to assume a big portion of that is going straight to profit.. unless they're $500K G1000 Skyhawks, but that's a complete waste in my book to be flying a 100 knot glass panel airplane (that's flame bait for another time lol)
     
  29. Tantalum

    Tantalum Final Approach

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2017
    Messages:
    7,600
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    San_Diego_Pilot
    therein lies the issue. Around here our club planes are booked solid well in advance, and the planes get *a lot* of use.. if you open the book and tally up the hours the planes really earn their keep flying 30-60 hrs per month. So for my $80/hr club to work you need the hours getting flown

    Which.. to be frank, if you offered mid 70s 172 or an Archer II for rent for $80/hr that would be in the air virtually 24/7 in my neck of the woods

    I'm sorry, but I wouldn't pay $90 to fly a 150.. I'm a tall person and the comfort is worth it to me to fly a little less. I would take 4 hrs in an Archer II at $130/hr much faster than 6 hrs in a 150 at $90/hr

    Psychologically too unless you have people that are hard core aviation obsessed then most people won't spend $90/hr to fly in something that can barely hold two people legit appear tiny on the ramp. My friends that I got licensed with loved being able to take 2-3 friends up for the weekend joyride.. the 150 kind of kills that idea

    *Not meant to be a personal dis, I would love a small plane that I could just poke holes in the sky in after work. But I'm not surprised it didn't make you money
     
    Brad Haggett likes this.
  30. Steve Kanefsky

    Steve Kanefsky Pre-Flight

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2018
    Messages:
    62
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    kanefsky
    I think relatively few rental planes get 500 hours a year, and many of the costs aren't proportional to the number of hours flown. Not having to pay for a loan certainly helps, but then you have to consider the amount you could have earned if you had invested the $55K in the stock market or wherever.
     
    PeterNSteinmetz likes this.
  31. dmspilot

    dmspilot En-Route

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2006
    Messages:
    4,479
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Display name:
    I'd bet the costs of basing an airplane in San Diego would somewhat offset the extra hours flown. And an airplane that flew 500 hrs/year would be a rare bird indeed. That would be 20,000 hours on late 70s/early 80s airframe, if it flew that much since it was built. The only aircraft I am familiar with with that number of hours are work planes such as jump planes, pipeline patrol, etc.

    I didn't ask you to. Not sure how any of this is relevant. There is obviously a market for 150/152s otherwise Cessna wouldn't have built 30,000 of them.
     
  32. Tantalum

    Tantalum Final Approach

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2017
    Messages:
    7,600
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    San_Diego_Pilot
    ^I can dream lol. I'd just love to get more new people into GA to keep this sport/hobby alive. Breaks my heart flying into a new airport and it looks like time stopped in 1960..

    totally hear you, there definitely was (and still is) a demand for it. But I just don't see it getting as much use or "club demand" as a 4 seater would. But you're right, not relevant to the OP's post!
     
  33. dmspilot

    dmspilot En-Route

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2006
    Messages:
    4,479
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Display name:
    And yet you think flight schools are crazy profitable. Your viewpoint seems to be a paradox.
     
  34. Tantalum

    Tantalum Final Approach

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2017
    Messages:
    7,600
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    San_Diego_Pilot
    ^not crazy profitable because the volume isn't there. I could charge $500/hr but if I'm not renting to anyone then it doesn't matter. We've discussed on this board a bunch of times that at the end of the day regardless of #millennial bashing or whatever children-of-the-magenta-line-not-real-pilots it comes down to cost. Wish there was a way to keep the costs down
     
  35. BarryCooper

    BarryCooper Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2015
    Messages:
    150
    Location:
    Raymond MS
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    BarryCooper
    I bought a '70 Cherokee (160 STC) 6600TT 490 SMOH when I had 8 hrs.....3 yrs and 485 hrs later I've bought a tire and a new tach. I guess I did ok
     
    Justin M likes this.
  36. Tantalum

    Tantalum Final Approach

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2017
    Messages:
    7,600
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    San_Diego_Pilot
    For $25G? I'm jealous!
     
    BarryCooper likes this.
  37. dmspilot

    dmspilot En-Route

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2006
    Messages:
    4,479
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Display name:
    The volume isn't there but the planes fly 30-60 hours a month...it seems like you are contradicting yourself.
     
  38. Tantalum

    Tantalum Final Approach

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2017
    Messages:
    7,600
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    San_Diego_Pilot
    Okay, not sure what I said to get under your skin. Planes in our club fly that many hours, and the rates are very reasonable.. I would give a go at $80/hr to see what would happen.

    $90 for a 150. I wouldn't pay it. But many others wouldn't pay $300 for a Cirrus and I do. Different missions and strokes.
     
  39. abqtj

    abqtj Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2016
    Messages:
    371
    Location:
    Albuquerque, NM
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    abqtj
    I pay $140/hr for a 172N with steam gauges...CFI is $55/hr (he gets about half of that apparently, so pretty decent for a normal school).
     
  40. dmspilot

    dmspilot En-Route

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2006
    Messages:
    4,479
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Display name:
    Try it and let us know how it goes. Good luck.

    You said that already. I don't care whether you would be willing to rent my plane or not. I am located on the complete opposite end of the country. But in either case, perhaps I picked a bad example. I am not familiar with any flight schools booking $100/hr in profit. They would be lucky if they are booking $10/hr in profit.