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FREDERICK, Md. – The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) is pleased to announce its fourth annual Flight Training Excellence Awards to top flight schools and flight instructors ranked by more than 7,100 flight students in AOPA’s Flight Training Excellence Poll.

Based on those poll results, AOPA recognized Aeroventure Institute (Southbridge, Mass.) as the 2015 Best Flight School and Todd Shellnutt (Atlanta, Ga.) as the 2015 Best Flight Instructor. Ten additional flight schools and 10 other instructors were judged to be “Outstanding” by their students.

The Student’s Choice Award was given to the flight school that received the highest number of positive nominations, and for the fourth year in a row, Aviation Adventures was the recipient. This year’s President’s Choice Award winner, Paragon Flight (Fort Myers, Fla.), was selected by AOPA President Mark Baker for significant and innovative contributions to the flight training community. AOPA also released an Honor Roll of 23 flight schools and 45 flight instructors, all of which demonstrated a high standard of accomplishment and received at least five nominations.

“All of us here at AOPA are proud and excited to recognize this year's winners,” said Chris Moser, AOPA’s manager of flight training initiatives. “The Flight Training Excellence Awards were created to recognize best practices in flight training—excellent customer service, quality education, community development, and sharing knowledge. The feedback from this year's poll makes it clear that the winners are providing high quality and effective training for their students.”

The 2015 awards were drawn from flight students and pilots who voluntarily reviewed their flight training experience last summer through an AOPA online poll. The process yielded an evaluation of 788 different flight schools and 1,533 individual flight instructors.

The award winners will be recognized in a ceremony at AOPA Headquarters in Frederick, Md., on Dec. 2.


Best Flight School

  • AeroVenture Institute (Southbridge, Mass.)

President's Choice

  • Paragon Flight Training (Fort Myers, Fla.)

Student's Choice

  • Aviation Adventures (Manassas, Va.)

Outstanding Flight Schools

  • Andover Flight Academy (Andover Airport, N.J.)
  • Blue Skies Flying Services & Pilot Shop (Chicago/Lake In The Hills, Ill.)
  • Chesapeake Sport Pilot (Stevensville, Md.)
  • Holladay Aviation (Jacksonville, Fla.)
  • Jetexe Aviation Academy (Sacramento, Calif.)
  • Orlandi Flight Center (Blairstown, N.J.)
  • Superior Flight School, Inc. (Atlanta, Ga.)
  • Valley Aviation Inc. (Wilkes-Barre, Penn.)
  • Western Air Flight Academy (Denver, Colo.)
  • Wings of Carolina Flying Club (Sanford, N.C.)         


Best Flight Instructor

  • Todd Shellnutt (Atlanta, Ga.)

Outstanding Flight Instructors

  • Jim Ader (Chicago/Waukegan, Ill.)
  • William Allen (Southbridge, Mass.)
  • Raymond De Haan (Leesburg, Va.)
  • Jim Fellers (Chicago/Lake In The Hills, Ill.)
  • Kayla Harder (Fort Myers, Fla.)
  • Jeff Lipton (Denver, Colo.)
  • Jay Nabors (Sanford, N.C.)
  • Geoffrey Orlandi (Blairstown, N.J.)
  • Jason Schappert (Dunnellon, Fla.)
  • Spencer Watson (Washington, D.C.)

For 2015, AOPA introduced a sweepstakes that offered prizes to poll participants. Generous donations from Jeppesen and Sporty’s resulted in the following winning participants:

  • David Kramer (Saratoga, Calif.) - Sporty's iPad Bag
  • Reid Gagner (Fargo, N.D.) - Sporty's iPad Bag
  • Jed Topham (Henderson, Nev.) - David Clark Headset
  • Otis Key (Denver, Colo.) - Jepp Private Pilot Kit


Since 1939, AOPA has protected the freedom to fly for thousands of pilots, aircraft owners and aviation enthusiasts. AOPA is the world’s largest aviation member association, with representatives based in Frederick, Md., Washington, D.C., Wichita, Kans., and seven regions across the United States. AOPA provides member services that range from advocacy at the federal, state, and local levels to legal services, flight planning products, safety programs and award-winning media. To learn more, visit

AOPA Communications staff

Topics: Flight Training, AOPA, Pilot Training and Certification

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