Flight School Scams

Want To Become a Pilot? Beware Flight School Scams!

flight school scams

Going to flight school to become a pilot can be one of the best experiences in a person’s lifetime, that is of course, so long as you find a reputable, honest, established, and accredited FAA approved flight training institution.

If you have been considering going to flight school to become a pilot, you need to understand that there are many flight schools and aviation academy’s that operate “shady” businesses. These unscrupulous flight schools use a wide range of deceptive business practices to prey on unsuspecting people interested in going to flight school to receive their FAA pilot certificate.

Common Flight School Scams-

1- Contract Inflation, Hidden charges– This is the most basic and lowest type of flight school fraud if that’s what you even what to call it. A lot of flight schools will end up over billing or adding additional billing items to your final tuition costs for items, classes, services that were not included in your original tuition bill or agreement, sometimes this is an accident and sometimes it is intentional. Most of the time a student pilot can simply reduce their chances of going to a sub standard flight school by conducting a little research on the flight school itself. Read reviews, check FAA cand business credentials, take a tour of the pilot training facilities, check out the aircraft, meet the CFI’s, and ask the proper questions to find out exactly what is included and what is not included in the main flight school tuition fees.

2- Flight School Student Loans- Paying for flight school with a student loan is not necessarily a bad idea so long as you have done your research on the flight school you want to attend along with the student loan company that you plan on using. If everything checks out and you receive a good student loan package and rate, go for it! Just be aware of smaller, lesser known student loan companies and predatory financial institutions.

3- Upfront Payment/Deposit Stealing- This type of fraud is nothing new in terms of how it works. Basically, a student puts down a cash deposit towards their flight training with a supposed flight school or individual certified flight instructor. The flight school or certified flight instructor then simply disappears with the student pilot(s) money, never to be heard from again.

4- New School Opens, Then Closes Months Later- This type of pilot school fraud is similar to the example in number 3, it is just a little more of an elaborate drawn out process. A flight school that appears to be established- has a training facility, several pilot training aircraft, a flight simulator, office and classes, a couple instructors, and some student pilots. The flight school reaches a certain threshold of students and their deposits or complete tuition payments. The flight school remains in operation for a short amount of time and then proceeds to take all of the new student pilot tuition deposits and payments, and then proceeds to close down the business. What is even more frustrating is that shortly after the scam flight school steals everyone’s money and closes, shortly thereafter, another pilot academy opens right back up under a new name and under “different” ownership.

5- Federal Student Loan and GI Bill fraud- This type of flight school scam involves the flight school administrators over-leveraging the federal student loan program and GI Bill program for military veterans. Read about this type of flight school scam that involved the flight school owners and employees being enrolled in their own flight school just to keep GI Bill required student attendance ratio to veteran student ratio compliant as to receive federal VA flight school funding  http://dcourier.com/main.asp?SectionID=1&SubsectionID=1&ArticleID=122518

6- Immigration / US Visa Fraud- This type of fraud involves the flight school owners using “doctored” US visa papers (usually involving Form I-20) to entice international students to sign up and send deposits that they will never see again. Sometimes this practice is used on student pilots in country that need to extend their stay for flight training or are the US Visa is used as a means of threatening student pilots to pay more for additional random ”surcharges”, as the flight school can have the student’s visa rejected at any time.

Read more about immigration fraud and flight school scams in the news- http://www.foxnews.com/us/2010/05/25/ice-busts-flight-school-massive-visa-fraud-scheme/

7- Insurance Scam Scare Tactics- All legitimate and established flight schools in the USA have to carry some sort of business insurance and usually aircraft insurance as well. The way this scam works is if a student pilot breaks something or has a small accident, the flight school owner will try and make the student pilot pay for any and all damages incurred. The flight school’s insurance company will cover just about any and all damages caused by a student, faculty, staff, etc. This type of scam is usually used on international students by using threats and scare tactics to extort more money out of the student pilot and their families.

8- International Pilot Student Scam- This category is fairly broad and can include some or all of the aforementioned examples listed above. There are a lot of flight schools out there that market specifically to people interested in becoming pilots that are located in countries all over the world. These scandalous flight schools and their admission specialists target and recruit in countries where there is a need for professional commercial pilots as they know that once they get them enrolled, they can start chipping away at the student’s bank accounts and family’s life savings. Once again, international student pilots are usually the ones whom experience the biggest problems as they are not aware of how “everything” works in the US.

Read about one flight school in California that was just recently closed down and left about 30 student pilots without flight training, housing, and US Visa’s-


Go To an Established FAA Flight School-

The purpose of this report was to inform all would be pilots or pilots looking for additional pilot training to be aware of the many different types of fight school scams that are out there. With a little bit of research and use of common sense, most of these students could have saved their money and themselves from falling victim to these scandalous, deceptive, and downright dubious flight training schools and their thieving owner/operators.

As there are several different ways to receive your pilot training- flight school, certified flight instructor, aviation college; the trick is to finding an honest, established, and reputable flight school where they care about how their pilots truly perform while flying- before, during, and after graduating from their flight school’s pilot training programs.

About Our 15 Year Veteran US Flight School-

Our FAA approved, accredited, and accelerated flight school, Epic Flight Academy, trains aspiring pilots from all across the world. We have successfully trained and graduated thousands of student pilots with their- private pilot license, commercial pilot license, certified flight instructor certificates, type ratings, and airline transport pilot training. Our prestigious pilot school offers over 40 state of the art aircraft for pilot training- single engine aircraft and multi-engine aircraft- Cessna’s, Seminole’s, and Diamond DA-42 aircraft. Our FAA commercial flight school has an ample supply of over 30+ multi-rated professional certified flight instructors as to make sure there is no downtime for a student pilot that wants to log additional flight training hours. Epic Flight Academy operates out of the Jack Bolt Municipal Airport in New Smyrna Beach, FL, located just minutes away from the beach.

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How to choose a flight school

Interested in Becoming a Private Pilot(PPL) or Commercial Airline Pilot (CPL) ?


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Step 1- Due Diligence

Research reputable and established pilot schools and flight schools for comparison.

Obtain a list of FAA approved Flight Schools that can possibly fit your needs

It’s always good to have a list of at least 5 flight schools to pick from when deciding on which one to go to in order to get your pilot license… Ask for all relevant information from each Flight school, such as-  the school’s regulations, enrollment and admissions procedures, the actual flight training, the aircraft or fleet of aircraft you are to be training in, safety measures, flight instructors credentials and training experience, and their specific Flight school training procedures for the different types of pilot licenses and pilot training courses available.

Flight Schools

In short, each Flight School in your list should provide all the relevant information you need to picture exactly what they offer. Once you have the information submitted to you in form of a catalogs, it’s time you visit the schools to ascertain the claims. Here are a few things you can consider:

(a) Does the school offer additional benefits such as accommodation, financial aid, plus other trainings that are relevant to your pilot career?


(b) Does the school have a reputation in form of how long they’ve been into business?


(c) How are their goals and objective matching your needs?


(d) How has the school prioritized their Flight Trainings?


(e) Who are the people who train, what is the number of people who have enrolled, plus what exactly are the credentials?


(f) What facilities does the school has at the Airport, in terms of instruments and control towers?


(g) What are the regulations and safety policies of the school in question?


Take a visit to the flight schools you are interested in enrolling with –

You’ll want to meet the school’s Chief Flight Instructor or their assistant to ask questions. The questions you’ll ask must be very genuine. For example, you’d want to know the following:

(a) The people who schedule lessons.

(b) If flight checks are given to check your progress during training.

(c) What are the insurance requirements of the school? How do they handle liabilities or collision policies? In case you are required to pay for anything, why is that so and how much should you pay?

(d) How many instructors are available to train student? The acceptable ratio is 1 instructor per 4 or 5 students who practice full time. However, 1 instructor can serve up to 10 students who practice part time.

(e) Who’s the person that keeps records? You don’t want to pay to repeat trainings when they don’t reflect anywhere in the records.

(f) And finally, what if weather changes abruptly or an unexpected maintenance problem occurs? Who is responsible for rescheduling lessons in case these things happen?

Commercial Airline Pilot Training Program to Commercial Pilot Career Placement

If you are interested in becoming a commercial airline pilot there is additional criteria for obtaining an FAA commercial pilot license and/or  EASA commercial pilot license. Please take notice of our infograph below on the process of our commercial airline pilot school and pilot career placement program.

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Choosing a Pilot Flight School That Best Suits Your Wants and Needs-

Click here to find out more on how to choose a flight school properly…

and a read A bit more on how to choose the best pilot school that fits your particular needs, situation, and personal circumstances; in short the most accommodating choice- how to choose a pilot school