Aloft Aviation Review; How does this Flight School compare?

So, you want to be a pilot? Choosing a flight training school that fits is crucial. This Aloft Aviation review has the questions you should be asking.

With over 1000 flight training organizations in the USA, you can be forgiven for being a little confused as to which one to choose. In this review, we are going to go deep on Aloft Aviation to see how they stack up.

When choosing any flight training school, there are many considerations, and this article is about drilling down on what to look for in a flight training school as well as preparing you for the journey. Aloft Aviation straight up has the advantage of being on a ‘reliever airport’ which means you are training away from the busy major airport. This simply means more bang for buck in your training.

Whether Aloft Aviation is a fit for you will ultimately come down to ‘the vibe’. Go and find out if the students and instructor staff are happy as that is a great indicator of the experience you will have. Do not think a smaller school means it is lesser, it can bring more personalized attention. I cannot make the decision for you, but if this area of the USA suits you, then Aloft Aviation should be on your shortlist.

The Good

  • Option of PAYG
  • Wide range of Instructor experience
  • Inclusive success 7/23 women 30%
  • In house pilot shop
  • Solid aircraft types C172
  • Exposure to Cirrus technology
  • Less holding time being under 4000’ CTA step
  • Close to CTA for exposure and confidence
  • Edge of town so less noise complaints
  • One stop shop – all licensing available
  • GI BILL access for veterans
  • Aloft Advantage Membership

The Bad

  • Minnesota weather disruption
  • Cold!
  • Possibility of single flying school bias
  • Minimum charge of 3-4 hours when flown off site more than 24 hours
  • Less access to pay later funding as it’s not a university

Verdict: Aloft Aviation’s list of advantages outweighs the disadvantages. For those who are in the region or don’t mind cold weather, this could be a great option to look into.

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Aloft Aviation review
With their many positive reviews, Aloft Aviation is worth considering when looking for a flight school

Who are Aloft Aviation?

Aloft Aviation took flight in 2020 to meet the demand of the anticipated pilot shortage in the USA and abroad. Aloft Aviation is proudly veteran owned laying an experience foundation that not only feels good but brings with it a sense of safety and security.

Any person with a dream to fly can learn to fly with the Part 61 accredited Aloft Aviation from Private Pilot right up to becoming an airline pilot and all the ratings needed in between. Their mission is for trainees to build solid aviation skills and develop confidence and are in the process of attaining Part 141 status to be able to accept GI BILL students.

Aloft Aviation also presents as an inclusive training organisation with a snapshot of newly rated pilots around 30% female, way above average for aviation globally. One of their instructors has a 100% success rate for trainees passing their check rides. To rate a flying training organisation, it is also important to see progression and Aloft Aviation boasts that many of their instructors move onto exciting jobs in the aviation industry.

Where are they based? 

Aloft Aviation is based at Airlake Airport in Lakeville, Minnesota approximately 15 nautical miles away from South St. Paul Municipal Airport, Fleming Field with an airport code of KSGS. Ironically, Fleming Field is named after a Navy pilot from World War II who was recognised for great aerial battles during the war. The location is conveniently close to Minneapolis but far enough away for better air traffic flow.

How long has Aloft aviation been around? 

Aloft Aviation commenced operations in 2020, a tough time in the world and the fact that they survived during this time is a credit to them.

What kind of aircraft do they use for flight training? 

The list of aircraft types available to learn to fly on and hire is solid yet varied. For ab initio training the main fleet of aircraft is the Cessna 172 with the option of Piper Warrior. For multi engine training the choice is the Grumman Cougar sporting Lycoming engines.

Most of Aloft Aviation’s airplanes are fitted out with the latest avionics, a benefit of having one of the team members with expertise in G1000 avionics.

Grumman cougar
The Grumman Cougar is used for multi engine training

What kind of flight training do they offer? 

Aloft Aviation is a one stop shop when it comes to flight training. As a person off the street, it is possible to show up, take your first discovery flight (which means you get to take the controls legally!) and find out if aviation is really for you. From this point, the progression is available, and the typical process looks like this:

Private Pilot Licence>Commercial Pilots Licence>Instrument Rating>Multi Engine Rating.

At the end of this process, you then qualify to be able to commence a Flight Instructor Rating which Aloft Aviation also provides.

What’s involved in their flight training? 

This is a great question and should be asked before you start, especially if you do not have a lot of aviation background in your family or close connections. You do not just walk in and shazam you have your licences. It will take commitment and discipline from you.

Aviation theory needs to be studied and exams completed as you progress through your flying training sequences. This can be quite an isolating time if your mates are out partying, and you need to get your subjects done. Aloft Aviation encourages creating a study plan and sticking to it. It is a good idea to find other trainees to connect with to help keep each other on track.

How long do their courses take? 

The time for each element of Aloft Aviation’s flight training courses will vary depending on how often you are able to fly and how well you are progressing through the aviation theory and tests. It is normal to miss out on a test at least once in a flying career, put it down to experience, and although confronting, the worst of this is the extra time it adds to completing training.

CASE STUDIES:

Private Pilot License: where the pilot only flies on weekends = 3 to 6 months to complete.

The Works: (CPL + Instrument Rating + Multi Engine Rating + Flight Instructor Rating) where pilot is full time training = 12 to 24 months

Of course, this varies even further depending on weather and ability to get flying!

Piper warrior light aircraft
They have a piper warrior to try out

How much do their courses cost?

This is where you might need to be sitting down to read further! Aviation is renowned for requiring a high investment up front for the win later when you make it to airlines. If you are flying privately, warning, this is an expensive and addictive activity! If your goal is to fly commercially, Aloft Aviation is fairly standard in pricing with the advantage of being a regional airport meaning you get more bang for buck in time saving waiting to take off. So that is good.

Aloft Aviation offer pay-as-you-go which means pay after each lesson, or you can receive a discount on aircraft rental for the Pre-Pay-Pilot-Program. If you choose the latter option, my advice is not to make these payments too high, limit them to USD$5000 per go. This gains you the discount but limits your risk. Aloft Aviation also offers Aloft Advantage Membership where you pay a nonrefundable one-time fee of $500 and earn $15 off an hour for all aircraft rentals for as long as you rent with them.

The pricing below are estimates and will vary depending on how often you fly, how timely your aviation theory is completed, which aircraft type you elect to learn on and of course any repeats.

Commercial Pilots License USD$75 000-100 000 (includes PPL)

Instrument Rating USD$15 000

Multi Engine Rating USD$5000

Flight Instructor Rating USD$5 000

Total for your heart to handle … USD $100 000 – $125 000.

(Please note, it is not imperative that you get a Flight Instructors Rating, however it is often a great way to get your first job and start building hours.)

Advantages of completing flight training through Aloft Aviation:

  • Option of PAYG
  • Wide range of Instructor experience
  • Inclusive success 7/23 women 30%
  • In house pilot shop
  • Solid aircraft types C172
  • Exposure to Cirrus technology
  • Less holding time being under 4000’ CTA step
  • Close to CTA for exposure and confidence
  • Edge of town so less noise complaints
  • One stop shop – all licensing available
  • GI BILL access for veterans
  • Aloft Advantage Membership

Disadvantages of completing flight training through Aloft Aviation:

  • Minnesota weather disruption
  • Cold!
  • Possibility of single flying school bias
  • Minimum charge of 3-4 hours when flown off site more than 24 hours
  • Less access to pay later funding as it’s not a university

How does Aloft aviation compare with other flight schools?

Aloft Aviation’s presence online demonstrates a healthy flow of pilots reaching first solo and getting their ratings. This is usually a sign that something is going right. Their facilities include classrooms and hangar which are collocated, have plenty of parking and easy taxi to the runway.

I have not been able to find any negative reviews so all in all feels that for a small flight training school, it stacks up. Although I cannot find any partnership with airlines specifically, it does seem that students and instructors move on. This tells me that the quality of candidate is marketable.

The next step if you were interested is to go and talk to current students, chat to the flight instructors, see if the admin team are friendly and trust your gut. You can also check them out on Facebook where Aloft Aviation receives 5-star reviews.

How do you enrol in Aloft aviation flight school? 

Enrolling in Aloft Aviation flight school is as easy as making a phone call. The first step is to book a discovery flight, and this can be done online or via phone. I always feel speaking to a human is the way to go so you can explain your goals and find out if they have availability of instructors.

Cessna in flight
Aloft has a range of Cessnas to train in

Conclusion

Aloft Aviation’s list of advantages outweighs the disadvantages. This is a good sign and worth being on your list however at the end of the day it needs to be a feasible option for you. Could you live in Lakeville, MN? Once you filter out those basics, the flight school options can be decidedly similar and can lead to confusion. For a flight school with multiple locations across the USA you can look into ATP flight school.

The best thing to do is get on the phone or get in the car and go and speak to the humans that run it. You need to feel that you are supported and encouraged as there will be challenges on this journey. As an example of choice, my son walked into 10 flight training schools at an airport and chose the one where the experienced pilot sat him down and gave him the time. They listened to his specific goals and the rest just fell into place.

Never underestimate your gut feeling and embrace it as you will use it when you are flying to keep you safe. Make it your business to be aware of it even at the flight school choosing time.

Aloft Aviation may be the one!

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