When Tailwheels Etc. students recommended this Lakeland, Fla., accelerated flight school for a Flight Training Initiative Award, the dozens of comments had a theme: “Excellent.” “Outstanding.” “Excellent instructors.” “Outstanding training.”
Opened in 2004 (initially at Winter Haven, Fla.), the family-owned business specializes in accelerated training, and owner John Amundsen says the school sees many, many “finish-up” students who have tried—and tried—to complete a pilot certificate elsewhere and come perilously close to dropping out. Tailwheels gets the job done—so well that the school has a number of repeat customers who return for additional ratings and certificates. The school offers private through multiengine certificates and ratings, offers tailwheel endorsements and training in a Lake Amphibian, and even has a Stearman on the line for those who crave the open-cockpit experience.
Fun and attention to customers’ needs are primary themes. “It has to be fun for the student,” says Amundsen. “If it’s not fun for them, they’re gonna quit.” For example, Tailwheels fosters the sense of community that pilots crave by hosting weekly cookouts. And there are no epaulets to be seen on any of the flight instructors. It’s hot in Florida, so they’re permitted to wear shorts and T-shirts.
Training takeaway: Tailwheels, Etc. is one of the original modern sources of the two-week private pilot training program. It forms the bedrock of the school’s offerings. Learn more about it here.