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Not your everyday intro flightNot your everyday intro flight

In the Dec. 15, 2015, issue of Flight School Business you met the Allen family, who own and operate AeroVenture Institute Flight Training Center in Southbridge, Massachusetts. AeroVenture was named Best Flight School of 2015 in AOPA’s Flight Training Excellence Awards.

The family atmosphere that the flight school fosters among its customers has won the Allens a loyal clientele. But another successful program at AeroVenture deserves a closer look.

Almost every student pilot starts with an introductory flight. Thousands of people every year walk away from that flight and never come back. AeroVenture wanted to offer a better introduction to flying, so it developed the Top Gun package.

For somewhere between $600 and $800, new students get three hours of ground and simulator instruction and two hours in the airplane. They also walk away with a T-shirt with a unique call sign, a logbook, a photo, and a completion certificate. For an additional $25 per flight, AeroVenture will record the lessons with a GoPro Hero3.

AeroVenture Chief Executive Officer George Allen says it’s a way for students to dive in without making a commitment, and it gives them a chance to test-drive their instructor and see if the flight school is a good fit.

AeroVenture’s website clearly lays out the syllabus for each lesson, ensuring that customers know what they’re going to learn.

Despite its significant cost as compared to an intro flight, Allen told Flight Training Editor Ian J. Twombly that the Top Gun package vastly outsells the traditional one-hour intro, and the conversion to full-time student is higher.

Is there a takeaway here for your introductory flights? While many flight schools treat intro flights as an afterthought or a kind of necessary nuisance, AeroVenture’s approach takes the experience to a higher level (pardon the pun), while providing a lot of value to the prospective student.

Jill W. Tallman is editor of Flight School Business.

Jill W. Tallman

Jill W. Tallman

AOPA Technical Editor
AOPA Technical Editor Jill W. Tallman is an instrument-rated private pilot who owns a Piper Cherokee 140.

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