The San Carlos Flight Center and Conor Dancy are the best flight school and instructor in the country, as voted on by students as part of AOPA’s second annual Flight Training Excellence Awards. The winners were celebrated during an event held just prior to AOPA Aviation Summit on Oct. 9 in Fort Worth, Texas.
This year more than 3,500 customers told AOPA about their flight training experiences in a poll that addressed everything from a school or instructor’s initial impression to how much that training provider made the student feel included in the larger aviation community.
The San Carlos Flight Center is based at the San Carlos Airport in California. The school won because of its superb customer service, innovative and engaging community events, and excellent quality of training. What makes the win even more impressive is that it was established less than two years ago. Owner Dan Dyer had been involved with other schools and said he learned from those experiences where the training experience usually falls short. He took that knowledge to the San Carlos Flight Center, where he now runs a school that students describe as committed to safety and fun in aviation. Dyer says the school’s atmosphere is more like a flying club than a flight school, with FAA seminars, group fly-outs, and a personal connection with students. Students agreed that the mantra, “safety, community, adventure,” is present in everything the school does.
For Conor Dancy, winner of the award for best flight instructor, success is all about passion. Dancy’s students described him as passionate about not only flying, but teaching as well. One student said he could tell that Dancy loves what he does. Though young, he is seen as experienced and mature beyond his age and remains committed to flight instructing.
Dancy teaches at Aviation Adventures in Leesburg, Va. That school was given the Student’s Choice Award for having the most poll completions, and its owner, Bob Hepp, was selected as the winner of this year’s President’s Choice Award for his service to the flight training industry. Hepp has worked with AOPA on an effort to get lapsed pilots back in the air.
You can read more about the winners in an upcoming issue of Flight Training magazine.