(June 2011) A lot of pilots have heard the name American Flyers. After all, the company has been in business for more than 60 years. But not every pilot knows that the company has grown to the point that it today can provide just about every kind of flight training imaginable to just about every kind of pilot — from aspiring airline pilots to private pilot hopefuls. American Flyers prides itself on having a course to fit the bill. In the past few years, the school has come up with new programs that lower the cost of its flight training substantially. And while the flight training market has been tough these past few years, American Flyers has made significant investments in developing new courseware and other innovative training-related products.
American Flyers opened its doors in 1939 and pioneered the use of simulators.
“The big difference at American Flyers is that we teach on the ground and practice in the air,” says American Flyers CEO Don Harrington, who has been involved in pilot education for 45 years. “If airlines use simulators to train pilots flying 300 people around, why shouldn’t we?”
Most simulator training at American Flyers has been conducted in simulators produced by its sister company, SimPro, but there is also a Boeing 737 flight training device available for airline transition training.
Harrington acquired the school in 1980 through a company called Aviation Training Enterprises — a name that was dropped in favor of American Flyers. Through the years, the school has grown by acquiring several flight schools around the country.
The main focuses of the school have been to decrease the cost and time of becoming a licensed pilot and to increase the number of student pilots who complete their training, a number Harrington claims is about 50 percent nationwide but as high as 95 percent at American Flyers.
Taking advantage of advancements in computer technology, specifically in the video game industry, that have occurred over the past six or seven years, Michael Bliss, chairman of the American Flyers National Safety Board, developed an integrated system that uses the Internet and simulators to improve the way American Flyers teaches students who are pursuing private and instrument ratings. The three-layer system combines flight training, ground training and new computer software developed by Bliss through SimPro, called the Flying Professor Courseware (FPC). More on that in a bit.
Students can choose to do the flight training portion of the program at any of American Flyers’ eight locations or, if one is not available within close range, at a local flight school. The ground portion is completed using a newly developed, printed learning guide combined with a website: hangar66.net.