AOPA Recognizes Excellence in Flight Training through 2023 Flight Training Experience Regional Winners

Of the thousands of submissions AOPA received for the 2023 Flight Training Experience Survey, six flight schools and six flight instructors have been tapped as the best in their region.

In addition to the regional winners, 32 flight schools and 65 instructors have earned distinguished awards. 

From the regional winners, one flight school and one flight instructor will be recognized as the nation’s best, announced at Redbird Migration, a flight training conference hosted April 11 and 12 at the EAA Education Center in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. 

The survey polls student pilots, new pilots, and pilots who are pursuing additional training. AOPA is looking for feedback about the quality of a student’s flight training and flight instruction experience. It’s an opportunity for students to highlight where instruction was successful and where flight schools might need to make improvements. 

“Successful flight training is about more than just learning to fly. Building a sense of community to support the people who are learning takes the experience to a much higher level where they can excel. This year’s instructors and schools have clearly brought their customers into the pilot community,” said AOPA Foundation Senior Director of Flight Training Education Chris Moser.

Performance is evaluated in four key factors: educational quality, customer focus, community, and information sharing. The flight schools and instructors ranked the highest are awarded as the best in their region, with survey scores adjusted using statistical measures so smaller flight schools remain competitive. Schools and instructors are given access to a customer feedback report of survey results so that they can celebrate positive feedback and address constructive criticism. 

The AOPA You Can Fly team has been sourcing feedback and awarding excellence in flight training since 2012. You Can Fly is an umbrella program entirely funded by charitable donations to the AOPA Foundation and dedicated to building the pilot community—creating programs for flying clubs, rusty pilots, and high school students who need support with their aviation goals. 


Flight Schools

Central Southwest In the Pattern Flight School and Rentals, Denton, Texas

Eastern NoVa Pilots, Leesburg, Va.

Great Lakes  Blue Skies Flying Services, Lake in the Hills, Ill.

Northwest Mountain Ridgeline Aviation, Bozeman, Mont.

Southern  MIL2TAP, Goldsboro, N.C.

Western Pacific Bush Air, Cal-Nev-Ari, Nev.

Flight Instructors

Central Southwest Bryan Gutraj, Dubuque, Iowa

Eastern Douglas Auclair, Pawtucket, R.I.

Great Lakes  Logan Arlis, West Chicago, Ill.

Northwest Mountain William Dale Crabtree, Everett, Wash.

Southern  Brandon Gardner, Orlando, Fla.

Western Pacific William Cole Hickcox, Scottsdale, Ariz.