Flight Training Award Winners Celebrated

Redbird Migration hosts ceremony for AOPA’s You Can Fly program.

Flight Training Awards
The national Best Flight Instructor award went to a veteran instructor from North Carolina.Julie Boatman

The Flight Training Award winners for 2019 from AOPA's You Can Fly program have been announced at the ninth annual Redbird Migration flight training conference hosted at Denver Centennial's Wings Over the Rockies Exploration of Flight academy. Those honored were selected via the Flight Training Survey conducted by AOPA that went out earlier this summer.

“You’re out there creating great experiences that create new pilots, and for that we’re very grateful,” said Elizabeth Tennyson, executive director of the You Can Fly program, addressing the hangar full of flight training professionals attending the conference. “And when you serve that community well, you’re serving our entire industry well.”

The awards go to both flight training organizations and to individual flight instructors, both at the regional level, and at the national level—with the six regional winners vying for the single national award. More than 7,000 people responded to the survey, with a total of 1,176 instructors nominated across the country. Creating a personal connection is a key part of delivering a winning customer experience, according to the survey results.

The national Best Flight School award went to AeroVenture Flight Center in Mansfield, Massachusetts, which was singled out for its "transparent, budget-conscious" manner that provided "great value" overall. AeroVenture's flight instructors have been recognized by the survey since 2012.

The top flight instructor in the 2019 survey was Christopher Kreske, chief instructor from MIL2ATP, Inc., in Pikeville, North Carolina, a veteran-owned and operated flight school specializing in military-to-civilian training towards professional pilot careers. Kreske is a vet himself, a retired F-15E pilot who flies for a major airline. MIL2ATP was named the top flight school in the southeast region in 2018.

Chris Moser, AOPA’s senior director of flight training education, asked Kreske if he had any tips or other secrets he would share. “It’s mainly a labor of love…I’ve been blessed with a job that I love…I simply enjoying teaching, even ground academics.” A focus on delivering good training before the student gets into the airplane ran throughout the conference—whether that training took place in study groups, through new ground training materials, or in a flight training device.

The Redbird Migration conference, founded and hosted by Redbird Flight Simulations since 2011, brings together flight training professionals to share best practices and camaraderie, and provide a pulse for the industry—especially of interest now as pilots remain in high demand, and the throughput of new, qualified instructors can hardly keep pace.