What Happens When you Get To Flight School Arizona?

Flight School Arizona

In the past, Sheble’s main flight school was in Kingman, Arizona.  Right now, their only location is at SUN VALLEY AIRPORT in western Arizona.  The airport identifier for Sun Valley is Alpha 20 (A20) and it is located just south of Bullhead City, Arizona (KIFP).  Here’s the sectional chart with the location of the airport…

Flight School Arizona

A20 is a small airport that doesn’t have much going on except for Sheble’s flight school.  There are no rental cars at the airport, fuel is available, but the tiedown space is limited and if you’ve got a shiny new airplane that you don’t want to have a bunch of beginning private pilots try to taxi around, you might be better off leaving your airplane in Bullhead City.

Before I flew down to Sheble’s flight school I reserved a car through enterprise and while they said that it could be delivered, I eventually had to get a ride up to the Bullhead airport to pick up my rental.  If you are flying in and renting a car, save yourself some hassle and land at Bullhead.   Bullhead is only 9nm north of A20, but its about a 20 minute drive.  Bullhead city is the airport that serves Laughlin, Nevada, which is sort of a “mini” Vegas.  Here’s a picture of the hotels across the river from the Bullhead airport (the bridge in the bottom of this picture goes right to the north end of the runway at KIFP)

Laughlin Nevada flight training

Some students stay in the casinos right across the river from the Bullhead airport, but the 15 mile drive back and forth to the airport at Sun Valley is a pain and if you are serious about training (and not partying) you are much better off staying at the Avi Casino.  The Avi Casino is only 5.5 miles from A20, right across the Colorado River, and it is a pretty typical out of the way Indian Casino.  The rooms are super cheap: we paid 23 bucks a night in January, but they can go up to 150 a night during times like spring break.  The hotel is clean, there is a non-smoking wing, and the food is pretty average.  Don’t expect much, but you will get good value.

TIME ZONES.  Pay attention!  The hotel is on pacific standard time, and A20 is on mountain standard time.  If you use your cell phone to tell time, this can be really confusing because the time on your phone switches between MST and PST all the time, depending upon which tower is sending your cell phone a signal.  If you’ve got an iphone you can use the settings to lock the phone on mountain standard time, which is the time zone that Sheble flight school runs on.  The fact that the MST/PST border runs along the Colorado river causes a lot of confusion at Sheble flight school, but if your instructor tells you that he wants to meet at the airport at 6:00 AM, that’s 5:00 AM at the Casino.

Here’s a google map with the layout — most of the practice maneuvers are done over a piece of farmland called “the ranch” which is actually in California, so for this trip you’ll sleep in Nevada, do your ground school in Arizona, and your air work in California.  How fun is that?

sheble aviation flight school

The Avi Casino’s website is www.avicasino.com and the hotel is basically just a concrete block sitting on some Indian land on the banks of the Colorado river.  It’s a good place to get some shut eye, and while we were there the hotel was pretty quiet.  It’s not the Wynn in Las Vegas — it’s basically an average Motel 6 with a casino tacked on.  I’m a bit of a health nut and the choices for food at the Avi were pretty limited but there is good Safeway grocery store between the Avi and the airport.  Here’s a picture of the Avi Casino….

avi casino
I arrived at A20 in my 182 at 3:00 PM on a Sunday and the school was still buzzing.  Students and instructors were returning from long cross countries, ground school was going on, and a student was flying instrument approaches in the simulator.  This is a friendly place.  The hub of the whole activity is the pilot’s lounge which is where you check in, pay your money, and get told what to do.  It’s also the place where most of the hangar flying is done so you can soak up a lot of aviation related knowledge just hanging around with a bunch of other students and instructors.

The thing that really impressed me about Sheble flight school was the work ethic.  Joseph Sheble II (known as senior) and Joseph Sheble the III (known as Jo-Jo — he’s the one who flies the Beech 18 on floats) hire instructors who want to work!  These guys will meet you at the airport before dawn, help you preflight your airplane with a flashlight, get you in the air at sunrise, give you a coffee break and do your ground school, get you back in the air in the afternoon, and then stick you in the simulator if you need it.

If there is a secret to Sheble’s ACCELERATED flight training, its that the days are long and the their instructors work hard.  They shoot for a 1 instructor to 2 student ratio but the schedule is cobbled together on a daily basis depending upon who needs to do what and what airplanes are temporarily off line due to annuals, hundred hours, etc.  They guy that does the schedule is Eddie and if you’ve called Sheble’s flight school on the phone, he’s the one with the Boston accent.  Make friends with Eddie.  He’s the juggler who keeps all the balls in the air, and if there is one thing that you want to do when you are flight training, its FLY!

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Here’s a gallery of a bunch of pictures taken at Sheble’s flight school: A student is pre flighting a Travelair at dawn while another Travelair is starting up in front of the pilot’s lounge.  A couple of students are completing paperwork at the table inside the pilot lounge and someone is talking to Eddie at the window.  A co-pilot with four legs is waiting for his name to be called.

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Here’s another 4 pictures with a view of east side of the pilot’s lounge at dawn, the hangar doors coming up for a days work, a student pilot pushing a 172 back into position, and a venerable travelair waiting for its next pilot.

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