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My experience at Ben Aviator College in Ft. Pierce, FL

Discussion in 'Collegiate Aviation' started by tomdaniels27, Jan 11, 2011.

  1. Gonzo

    Gonzo Well-Known Member

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    No Bill, your post (and most of your past posts) come off as sharing your experience. Dwe post came off like a sales posts. It isn't like Mike hasn't done it in the past. As time passes I don't know if I would call my time at Ari-Ben good or bad, and I think Nick would say the same thing. I had fun and meet some great people. But at the time there was a big accountability issue and it stated with Mike. That is why a lot of us find it hard that anything is different about the school. I was under the times in the outlines that Mike gave me and over the cost. Mike answer to this was to blame my CFI (One of the best CFI at the school at the time) and barred him from flying with me.
  2. RPM

    RPM Well-Known Member

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    It's funny how people are saying everything has changed, It sounds like absolutely NOTHING has changed from 6-7 yrs ago.. same crap going on, only on a larger scale now.. and at a much higher price. I had a lot of fun there and got my ratings and multi time.. but the operation is a complete joke and you have to be VERY motivated to get things done quickly and on time, by that I mean you have to do EVERYTHING yourself and get in peoples face and force the issue on a daily basis.. I just decided to go to ATP to avoid waiting another 6 months for my MEI like everyone else was doing.. the planes break a lot because they fly a lot obviously.. Mike is flat out a professional Liar.. anybody that doesn't believe that is completely naive...

    ..saying that, I still don't know of a better place to go back then for the price, I'm glad I went I guess, met some lifelong friends..
  3. dwe213

    dwe213 Well-Known Member

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    Gonzo--I'm sorry that my writing facts about the school and writing about my experiences as a current student sounds like a sales pitch to you. Mike "did" nothing to control my writing. And he still doesn't--not even telepathically. Like Bill, I've simply enjoyed my time here and write about it. But it's more entertaining to read the vague flaming attacks and whining that is so prevalent here on JC. :insane:

    For guys in this thread to toss vague accusations about how the school was 4-6+ years ago is useless: "NOTHING has changed", complete joke, same crap, professional lier, planes break, accountability issue, completely naive, etc." If you have something specific to complain about, then let's hear it and address it.

    Here's some specific facts about Aviator: There are an average of 80 flights that go out each day, FAA Designated Examiners conduct multiple check-rides daily in Aviator planes, there are about 190 students here now, 26 planes are now active on the flight line, there are six current 2-year instructors out of a total of about 40 instructors, there is housing on the field (single bedrooms), there is a two-year accredited College located on campus, maintenance is done on-site, about a dozen instructors have been hired at Regional airlines since I arrived in January, there is a full-time Dispatcher, and there no charge for pre and post-flight ground instruction.

    Any potential students reading this thread who are interested in attending a flight school--go visit every school in which you're interested! While Bill was my first contact (on JC) and spoke well about the program here, I visited several flight schools in Florida before deciding to come to Aviator--meeting current students and instructors, back-seating on instructional flights, and seeing the general atmosphere at several flights school was immensely helpful.

    I don't care where you get your training, but it would be nice if you ended up at a place you liked, and didn't end up disgruntled, writing frustrated posts years and years later on JC. :beer:
  4. Gonzo

    Gonzo Well-Known Member

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    dwe you do know in the past Mike has ask and or paid people to make post about the school?

    Also to say the school has no down said also makes you come off like a paid poster.

    I have no doubt that what Bill's post on here is mostly true but I also know what Nick and I and many others post on here to also be true. Maybe Mike has changed but seeing how 4-6 years later he is still holding peoples money and not giving it back I doubt it.
  5. subpilot

    subpilot Squawking 7600

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    DWE,
    This is where you lose most people here. This is not the type of stuff that a true, honest review of an individual's personal experience normally has in it. These are facts that management would emphasize. How do you even know these numbers if you are just a normal student. Maybe you are being honest in the fact that you have zero influence/coaching to write your post but you have a marketing-type writing style and use facts that would normally not be readily available or apparent to the average customer.

    If what you say is all true then my overall comment is that you are in the wrong field of business. You need to focus on marketing. You'd be a natural at it!
  6. dwe213

    dwe213 Well-Known Member

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    Gonzo, no, I don't know anything about people being paid to post on JC. I don't care about it either. I'm here to share my experiences at Aviator http://www.aviator.edu/ as an MEI student.

    Gonzo, I never wrote that "the school has no down." That's your invention. Of course there are things that could be improved here, just like at any flight school. But they are extraneous to training.

    Perhaps you want a laundry list? :pop: Planes not cleaned out after flights, VOR checks not done regularly when planes return from time-building, afternoon thunderstorms, some potential-student calls not returned promptly. Those are my gripes. But weighed against the low prices, the free pre and post flight ground instruction, the excellent ground classes, and the chance to instruct in twins after only a couple months in singles, these things are irrelevant.

    Gonzo, can you post a specific example of Mike "holding peoples' money and not giving it back to them"? I know that students who leave early are given refunds because I have seen the "refund" files in the offices here. Contrast this practice with ATP's of hitting you with a big fee if you don't complete their program--go read their fine print.

    Subpilot, dude, it's not hard to count the number of planes on the ramp, and to hear about instructors being hired by Regionals--word spreads quickly with each hiring! When I was checking our flight schools I asked how many students are here, and as an MEI student now I am familiar with the number of 2-year instructors because I need one to teach me. Any other questions? :)

    Your claim that I'm dishonest begs for an example. I've got a B.A. and am actually capable of writing independently. If you simply don't like that I'm posting facts, sharing my experience or not writing in some other style that you prefer, that's cool. But to infer that I'm dishonest without backing it up ridiculous.
  7. Gonzo

    Gonzo Well-Known Member

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    In the past Mike has paid people to post good things about the school. So do you see why we (The JC community) sometimes take a hard look at post about the school? Also you should care because I think it says a lot about the kind of person Mike really is.

    This is not a good thing. CFI's should get paid for the work they do.

    I know of no fewer then 5 people on JC that have money on account, that the school will not give back. Also Ari-Ben also has fees if you don't complete the program.

    I think it is great you got what you wanted out of Ari-Ben but that doesn't mean other people didn't leave with a bad experience.
  8. dwe213

    dwe213 Well-Known Member

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    I like that there is no charge for ground instruction because it fosters an environment that's more conducive to learning. Students are free to ask questions without concern of the clock and instructors are more willing to help others who have questions--unconstrained by a billable student. I've been part of many small group studies where we consulted with various instructors when questions arose that we couldn't answer.

    Gonzo, If you really know 5 people that Aviator screwed then PM me with those names and I'll talk with Mike and get those refunds processed. I've found Mike to be a man of his word, and to go out of his way to help other students. Just last night a student accidentally left his medical in copy room that was locked by 6pm. The student contacted Mike after hours, and Mike made arrangements to get the copy room opened--which made possible the student's night flight a few hours later.
  9. drunkenbeagle

    drunkenbeagle Gang Member

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    I dont care for my time being given away for free, so i am not sure that is actually a good thing at all.

    I've never met a CFI that won't answer a one-off question anyway, or you could just use google, or ask here...

    Anyway, never been there, so I have no opinion about anything. I do know Gonzo personally to be a reasonable individual, he was there, and his observations are as credible as anyone else's.

    Compared to what I've heard about other large flight schools, he wasn't saying anything particularly negative - just that you get what you pay for.
  10. John Grier

    John Grier Well-Known Member

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    I was there only a few months ago and it sucked! All my room mates felt the same as I did. The DPEs do call that place the junkyard. I heard a DPE gave an MEI check ride just a couple months ago there and said it was worse he ever did. He said he wouldn't have even gave him a multi private...the guy could not fly plane. You can do the research and read what other say about Aviator.

    That's past... I'm moving forward. I just landed a job at 315 hours total time.
  11. Gonzo

    Gonzo Well-Known Member

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    I like how you passed right over this part of my post.

    As a CFI you like to work for free? Is your time not worth something.

    Now I am 99% you are being ask or paid to post here. Do you really expect be to believe that some student will just walk in and get Mike to give back money he has been holding for 4-6 years? Don't you think they have tried to get the money back? Also I am sure it was real hard for Mike to call and get someone to go unlock a room. Is Mike's bitch boy Josh still working there.
  12. Johnny Beau Bekkestad

    Johnny Beau Bekkestad Well-Known Member

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    Ok, this is going to be my first reply ever at Jet career so i will probably get flamed as a socket puppet... ;)
    But i am publishing my really name, i am not hiding behind any pseudonyms etc. And yes i am also partially employed by the school, sometimes i do pick up/drop of students to their airports. So i've met a few of you.
    Anyhow, i am a student at the school, been here almost a year now. I am actually in the same class as David, dwe213.
    I will try to explain how i reason, when it came to my initial selection of flight school and up to today.
    1. First of all, you show me a flight school, or any company, that is 100% perfect, and i will show you a liar.
    2. What is good for me will not be good for everyone else. Now observe i said everyone, with that i mean you will NEVER have 100% customer satisfaction.
    3. Is it possible that the people bashing the school here are just a part of that small marginal of unsatisfied customer, or are they a part of a large group of people that are not happy with a specific company?
    4. Why are the people unhappy? Is it because they failed with the goals or is it because the company struggled to assist them meet their goals. Now this i believe is one of the most important factors. Since i came here i've seen people drop out because they were just not meant to be pilots. I strongly believe that every flight school should have some kind of entry test and psychological test to see if this career is for them. So that they do not spend their money in vain.
    5. Who is responsible for my success? Me or my instructor?
    6. What is my goals? How prepared am i to meet them. Is this something i really want to do?
    7. What if i really really want to be a pilot, but i am struggling to get there because for the love of god i do not get how xxx thing works?
    etc etc...

    These were some of the questions that bothered me before i decided. And i tried to answer them responsibly.
    And i came to the following conclusions.
    1- Aviator was by far the cheapest school i managed to locate, especially when you look into what kind of experience you get. I have about 270 hours right now and about 210 of them is on a multi engine.
    2. I AM RESPONSIBLE FOR MY OWN SUCCESS... What i mean by that is that when i got here, i busted my a$$ hitting the books, the PHAK is one boooring book, i tell you that. While i was studying my roommates were partying. When i got my ppl at 40 hours they were wondering why they didn't. Me and another guy from class decided to study together, from 7AM to about 7PM every day. Both of us +35years old, so we've done the bars and "ports" before... ;)
    3. I did all my licenses on minimum hours and i must say i was fortunate to have an instructor that cared about teaching me, even though he did not get paid. I saw a port earlier by someone who said that he did not believe that CFI's should work for free, that is true, but i do not believe that they should try to "milk" their students too. You can get it done in minimums, but if you go to ANY school planning to do so you are setting yourself up for disappointment.
    4. Since i stared flying here in may of last year, i can still calculate the number of days i could not fly, due to plane problems, one my 10 fingers. So i cannot agree that the planes are down all the time. Now, we have X amount of planes as David said, they are being flown EVERY day, ALL DAY long so they will have to have their 100hour inspection about 2-3 weeks. That is just as it is, perhaps the school needs to buy more planes. But i can also say that i did my 100 hours of time building in just over 2 weeks. I did 2 trips from florida to arizona to visit my girlfriend. I've spoken to some timebuilders that complain about it taking too long and then they tell me they dont want to make longer flight than 3-4 hours a night. My first flight to arizona got close to getting canceled, what happened was that i had booked the plane 2 weeks ahead of time, trying to anticipate how much the plane would be flown and when it would get out of 100 hours. For whatever reason just a couple of days before my flight i realized that i would not be able to take the plane since it had not been flown enough to be taken out for its 50 hour AD and i needed it for more than it had left. So i spoke to Mike, Pierre and the chief of maintenance and they actually did the AD ahead of time getting it ready for me.

    I dont know if my babbling is making any sense, but i will try to summarize.
    Do your own due diligence.
    Do not trust everything you read on a forum, since most people have their own personal agenda. Many claim that David is getting paid by Mike, i dont know, David says he is not and i would have to take his word for that. But i would also like to stress that some people might also have their own agenda when it comes to bashing.
    David brought up a valid point, try to visit all the schools on your list and decide on which you believe is the best for YOU! Whatever i or anyone else say should not have any more value than just being a trigger to investigate further if that school is the right school for you.
    Make sure that this is really want you want to do. Learning to fly will not be cheap, most people will put themselves in dept for the rest of their lives, i sure will.
    And when you visit a school ask to speak to instructors, students, go for a backseat flight and visit the maintenance hanger etc..

    Whatever you do, good luck and fly safe
    /Johnny
  13. subpilot

    subpilot Squawking 7600

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    Johnny,
    Very good post! You described your personal experience at the school and it sounds like everything has worked out great for you. Good luck going forward with everything.

    DWE,
    Do you see the difference between Johnny's style and yours? You throw in facts and other comments that make it sound like you are giving us all a sales pitch vice a personal experience. My early remark on you not being honest had nothing to do with your content but rather it was refering to the question on if you were a marketing pigeon or not.

    Either way, I think we have been this horse dead. I am passing the stick over to you if you care to keep using it.
  14. subpilot

    subpilot Squawking 7600

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    I think we have beaten this dead horse.



    I found out I can't edit post from tapatalk, lol.
  15. CommPilot76

    CommPilot76 New Member

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    Yes I am still here, and if you would like you can email me the names of the 5 people who Aviator still owes money to and i will be happy to follow up with it, and get the accounts cleared up. josh.kalbow@aviator.edu

    It's good to see that you have nothing better to do then talk old smack about Aviator
  16. elmetal

    elmetal Ain't nobody got time for that

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    Here's a suggestion for a business that doesn't want smack talk to happen about them:

    DON'T BE SLEAZY AND BAD TO YOUR CUSTOMERBASE
  17. RPM

    RPM Well-Known Member

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    There is no vague accusations, its all true and has been covered in hundreds and hundreds of posts on this website. I'm not getting into it again. LOOK IT UP. Why would people that have been here and been around a long time make this stuff up? It is of absolutely no benefit to us to do so..

    I guess you weren't around for the lawsuit threats from Mike about the factual internet posts on here either.. That was fun times at the school.. Nothing has changed, I still know people with close ties to the place and they all say the same thing.. You know, Aviator use to be a paid sponsor on this site with its own separate forum until all the problems started and Doug got rid of them.. I remember Mike "demanding" all negative posts be removed because he was a paid sponsor.. and then there was all the "paid false advertising claims" by the brand new members.. eerily similar to now..

    Funny how all these glowing reviews come from people with a couple posts "same as before" and some statistics that no normal student would have..

    and most of the people who actually attended the school, went through the entire program AND worked there as CFI's are claimed to be making this stuff up.. hmmmm.. whatever man. If anyone wants to know the whole truth about the place they can look it up in the old posts.. back when we had our own separate forum on here there was LOTS of posts from students/CFI's telling the WHOLE truth about Mike and the school.

    Hey, I never said Don't go there.. It has it's benefits along with the negatives.. but do your research, thoroughly.. It's not for everybody and there are risks.. I got my ratings, my multi time and got the hell out, but I definitely did get lied to and lost some money and time along the way with the BS they pull..
  18. drunkenbeagle

    drunkenbeagle Gang Member

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    That does strike me as odd too, doesn't it. As a non-manager, I could care less how many instructors work anywhere, or how many flights go up a day. I just ran the numbers on this thread in Excel. Not counting Bill, who we all know, the cummulative post count defending Aviotor: 102. The count of those who are critical in some way? 14,551 (not counting myself - never been there, I have no opinion.)

    For what it is worth, I've flown at lots of FBOs/schools. The best one I've used has meticulously maintained aircraft, they don't take money up front (a bill in the mail monthly), reimburse actual fuel costs, and I've never been unable to get a scheduled plane due to MX. Not mentioning names, 'cause this ain't an advertisement. (But anyone that knows me knows where I am talking about.)
  19. dwe213

    dwe213 Well-Known Member

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    Well, it looks like the whiny, disgruntled students from many years ago and the students who left Aviator because of behavioral problems win! The post numbers are vastly in their favor, so Aviator must be an awful place. :clap:

    Unfortunately, this thread typifies flight school reviews on JC: Someone writes something positive about their experience and then vague accusations--in this case mostly from years ago--quickly surface from guys who have hundreds and thousands of posts on JC. Nothing specific, current and factual is mentioned, just the implication of darkness and danger lurking for those that dare to go forth.

    New posters are intimated as fraudulent, employees are called "bitch" boy and other rude names, exuberant and experiential posts are derided as obviously untrue because they lack the required contrasting negativity, and accusations of dishonesty and paid media writers are quickly launched.

    No wonder it's difficult for prospective students to get useful information about flight schools on JC--because most students who are happy at their flight schools don't bother to write about them; they're too busy studying and flying to bother wading through the muck and mud-slinging that is so prevalent here.

    Having been screwed at two previous flight schools, I enjoy sharing my experiences--hoping to help others to avoid expensive, time-consuming and heart-breaking flight training mistakes that I made. If anyone wants to talk with an actual, current student at Aviator, please feel free to give me a call on my cell at 607-351-2191 anytime or email me at dwe213@yahoo.com. I'll be glad to put you in touch with other current students at Aviator, too. But the bottom line is: go visit any place in which you are seriously interested before putting down any money!

    I'm done with this thread. :D
  20. elmetal

    elmetal Ain't nobody got time for that

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    hmmm... by your standards there should be oh I don't know, 0 posts then with negativity towards ariben right? Because it's such a good school the students were too busy studying and flying to post online right?

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