AeroVenture Flight Center, of Mansfield Municipal Airport in Mansfield, Massachusetts, and MIL2ATP flight instructor Christopher Kreske, from Wayne Executive Jetport in Goldsboro, North Carolina, were recognized by AOPA for their achievements during the Redbird Migration Flight Training Conference at the Wings Over the Rockies Exploration of Flight museum in Englewood, Colorado.
Students complimented AeroVenture instructors for their dedicated and innovative approach to flight training. Clients also said the overall ambiance provided a “very positive, encouraging environment” while a “young fleet” of aircraft made learning attractive. Family members and school owners George (CEO), Bill (CFI and dad), and Debra Allen (marketing vice president and mom) were recognized as “some of the finest people you will ever meet,” said one respondent. The school was named AOPA’s Best Flight School in 2015 when students said the family-run flight school’s relaxed atmosphere made them feel at home.
“I think it’s really hyper-customer focus, treating everybody right—like they’re special and not just a number coming through,” George Allen said during the event. “What comes across is that warm, welcoming family environment—not just our family but the whole general aviation family. At the same time, they are getting a structured, professional education. Balancing those two things carefully makes a very positive environment” for flight students.
Flight instructor Kreske founded MIL2ATP, a veteran-owned and -operated flight school, to help military pilots transition to the airlines. An approach to flight training that is rooted in military service instilled confidence in his students and pushed them to persevere, they said. He was cited time and again for keeping students focused and for believing in them. One student wrote that Kreske “clearly set high expectations” for performance, but displayed “uncanny patience and thoughtful criticism” when needed, with an “incredible knack” for recognizing a learning opportunity.
The 2019 Flight Training Experience Survey received 7,585 complete responses. From that feedback, 972 flight schools and 1,876 flight instructors were reviewed by their customers. Awards were chosen for standout schools and for instructors with at least five independent reviews and consistently superior ratings.
Customers highlighted educational quality, customer service, information sharing, and community among the 51 distinguished flight schools and 53 distinguished instructors who comprised the top one-third of their region. A committee of industry experts awarded the top-scoring flight school and instructor in each of six regions—Eastern, Southern, Great Lakes, Central Southwest, Northwest Mountain, and Western Pacific. A seventh award was presented to the national award winners.
“Your students are the future of our community, and when you serve them well, you serve us all,” said AOPA You Can Fly Executive Director Elizabeth Tennyson. “Without great CFIs and flight schools, there would be no pilots. You teach, you motivate, you inspire. And for every would-be pilot who walks through the door, you make the difference between dreaming and doing.”
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