AOPA Names Regional Flight School, Instructor Award Winners

The organization recognized six flight schools and six flight instructors as best in their regions.

Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) has recognized dozens of flight schools and instructors, including a list of those it says are the best throughout the U.S.

The organization recognized six flight schools and six flight instructors as best in their regions. The regional award winners were selected from a pool of candidates that included “thousands of submissions” to its 2023 Flight Training Experience Survey, AOPA said. 

“The survey polls student pilots, new pilots, and pilots who are pursuing additional training. AOPA is looking for feedback about the quality of a student’s flight training and flight instruction experience,” AOPA said. “It’s an opportunity for students to highlight where instruction was successful and where flight schools might need to make improvements.”  

From this list, one flight school and one flight instructor will be chosen as the nation’s best, and announced at the upcoming Redbird Migration flight training conference, which will be held April 11-12 at the EAA Education Center in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.  

In addition to the regional winners, the organization also selected 32 flight schools and 65 instructors for distinguished awards.

“Successful flight training is about more than just learning to fly,” Chris Moser, AOPA Foundation senior director of flight training education, said in a statement. “Building a sense of community to support the people who are learning takes the experience to a much higher level where they can excel. This year’s instructors and schools have clearly brought their customers into the pilot community.”

AOPA 2023 Flight Training Experience Regional Winners

Flight Schools 

  • Central Southwest: In the Pattern Flight School and Rentals, Denton, Texas
  • Eastern: NoVa Pilots, Leesburg, Virginia 
  • Great Lakes: Blue Skies Flying Services, Lake in the Hills, Illinois 
  • Northwest Mountain: Ridgeline Aviation, Bozeman, Montana 
  • Southern: MIL2TAP, Goldsboro, North Carolina
  • Western Pacific: Bush Air, Cal-Nev-Ari, Nevada

Flight Instructors 

  • Central Southwest: Bryan Gutraj, Dubuque, Iowa 
  • Eastern: Douglas Auclair, Pawtucket, Rhode Island 
  • Great Lakes: Logan Arlis, West Chicago, Illinois
  • Northwest Mountain: William Dale Crabtree, Everett, Washington 
  • Southern: Brandon Gardner, Orlando, Florida 
  • Western Pacific: William Cole Hickcox, Scottsdale, Arizona 


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