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Definition of "largest" for the purpose of this question: the greatest number of flight operations per year on average.

What is the largest flight school in the United States that does not offer a degree?

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  • $\begingroup$ Is this essentially "what is the biggest part 141 flight school" or what are you looking for? $\endgroup$ – Ron Beyer Apr 10 at 0:17
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    $\begingroup$ Probably the US Air Force, unless you're excluding that. $\endgroup$ – user71659 Apr 10 at 0:27
  • $\begingroup$ I would like to confirm that I am excluding all military academies. The scope is for-profit institutions that are open to the general public. $\endgroup$ – Ryan Mortensen Apr 10 at 1:24
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    $\begingroup$ @RonBeyer I am not concerned about part 141 vs. 61. Public colleges that offer 4-year degrees can operate as either. If you want to know my personal motivation for asking the question, it is because I am not interested in a program that requires college enrollment to participate in a flight training program, but I also want something that has volume and regular experience providing successful training. $\endgroup$ – Ryan Mortensen Apr 10 at 1:27
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According to Wikipedia, "ATP Flight School ... is the largest flight training company in the United States."

However, volume does not necessarily mean quality, and the focus of ATP and other big-name flight schools seems to be on students who want an airline career—and pushing them through the training as quickly (and profitably) as they can. If that doesn't meet your goals, or you don't have large amounts of both time and money available to dedicate to it, you are probably better served going another route.

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  • $\begingroup$ Good answer. I will just add that while ATP may be the largest nationwide COMPANY, their actual footprint at my local airport is quite small compared to two other flight schools at the same field. (they have just 1 or 2 planes vs more than a dozen) There are plenty of high quality single site flight schools around the country to choose from, I wish the OP the best of luck finding a good fit. $\endgroup$ – Michael Hall Apr 10 at 21:53
  • $\begingroup$ @MichaelHall I think ATP has 3 or 4 planes at mine, making them the smallest school on the field&,mdash;yet by far the most expensive. I'm sure they're great if you can afford $50k+ to go from zero to ATPL in a month, but that isn't the norm. $\endgroup$ – StephenS Apr 10 at 23:18
  • $\begingroup$ @StephenS when I saw this answer last night I realized I did not take into consideration franchise operations. I had not considered it, but I was actually thinking of the largest single brick and mortar operation. I wouldn't go to ATP because all of their advertising screams "give me all of your money", and they advertise heavily for people with 0 experience rather than added rating or recurrent training. I just don't want to be stuck with the weekend warrior who has never had a student who has passed a checkride before or someone who was hired as a reward for spending $50K. $\endgroup$ – Ryan Mortensen Apr 11 at 0:11
  • $\begingroup$ If that's your concern, I would suggest the large schools are the ones you want to stay away from. You want a CFI that does it because they enjoy teaching, not to build (or bill) hours, and those tend to go independent or run small flying clubs. Word of mouth is the best way to find a good one near you, or at least who to avoid, as unhelpful an answer as that may be. $\endgroup$ – StephenS Apr 11 at 0:30
  • $\begingroup$ I don't want to start an extended discussion, and I understand what you mean, but I have mixed feelings on that. I'll put it this way: the next CFI I hire will go through a job interview. The smallest and the largest, I would avoid. A happy medium may be best. There's an island in the Chesapeake bay where they speak middle-english. That happens when people are isolated into small groups. $\endgroup$ – Ryan Mortensen Apr 11 at 4:15

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