Flight Training Excellence Award finalists named

The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) has selected 12 flight training professionals and 11 flight schools as finalists in its annual Flight Training Awards. A winner in each category will be named next month at the AOPA Aviation Summit 2013 in Fort Worth, Texas.

The 2013 awards are drawn from 3,375 respondents who voluntarily reviewed their flight training experience through an AOPA online poll. The process yielded an evaluation of 508 different flight schools and 956 individual flight instructors, according to AOPA officials.

Based on the poll results, AOPA will name a best flight school and best flight instructor from the finalists listed below. The winners will be announced at the AOPA Flight Training Summit in Fort Worth, Texas on Oct. 9, just a day before the launch of AOPA Aviation Summit.

All finalists will be recognized as an “Outstanding Flight School” or “Outstanding Flight Instructor” and be presented with a plaque.

“Enormous congratulations are due to all the finalists,” said Shannon Yeager, vice president of AOPA’s Center to Advance the Pilot Community. “We created these awards to highlight the best the flight training industry has to offer, and it was clear from the customer reviews that every one of these schools and instructors are operating at an outstanding level of quality and service.”

To select the award winners, AOPA invited those who have taken flight training within the last 24 months to complete the Flight Training Excellence Poll. Each participant could nominate no more than one flight school and one flight instructor.

The online poll was conducted from April 10 to Aug. 9, using a process that contains several safeguards to ensure fair competition, according to AOPA officials. It consisted of 39 survey questions designed to measure the overall performance of a flight school or flight instructor through the eyes of their customers. The results were then scored and averaged. Four questions that required free response answers were scored by AOPA employee-panelists who were unaware of the identity of the school or instructor being judged.

In addition to the shortlist of 23 finalists, AOPA also released an Honor Roll of 87 flight schools and 69 flight instructors, all of which demonstrated a high standard of accomplishment by achieving an average score of 70% or more.

Outstanding Flight School Finalists

  • Aviation Adventures, Manassas Regional Airport, Manassas, Va.;
  • Panorama Flight Services Inc., Westchester County Airport, White Plains, N.Y.;
  • Rochester Aviation, Skyhaven Airport, Rochester, N.H.;
  • Riverside Flight Academy, Riverside Municipal Airport, Riverside, Calif.;
  • San Carlos Flight Center, San Carlos Airport, San Carlos, Calif.;
  • Sporty’s Flight Center, Clermont County Airport, Batavia, Ohio;
  • Summit Aviation, Inc., Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport, Bozeman, Mont.;
  • The Flight School, Inc., Weiser Air Park, Cypress, Texas;
  • Valley Aviation, Wilkes-Barre Wyoming Valley Airport, Wilkes-Barre, Pa.;
  • Western Air Flight Academy, Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport, Broomfield, Colo.; and
  • Worcester Regional Flight Academy, Worcester Regional Airport, Worcester, Mass.

 Outstanding Flight Instructor Finalists

  • Dileep Anne, Front Range Airport, Watkins, Colo;
  • Conor Dancy, Leesburg Executive Airport, Leesburg, Va.;
  • Ray de Haan, Leesburg Executive Airport;
  • Kelby Ferwerda, Skyhaven Airport, Rochester, N.H.;
  • Eric Florence, Warrenton-Fauquier Airport, Warrenton, Va.;
  • Christopher Freeze, Metropolitan Oakland International Airport, Oakland, Calif.;
  • Michael Gilbert, Leesburg Executive Airport;
  • Bob Hepp, Manassas Regional Airport, Manassas, Va.;
  • Randall Holliday, Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport, Bozeman, Mont.;
  • Robert Keleti, Republic Airport, East Farmingdale, N.Y.;
  • Buchanan Smith, Leesburg Executive Airport; and
  • Brent Tuchler, Manassas Regional Airport.


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