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What former students SAY

Don't take it from me, listen to what former students say about their experience.

My flight training experience was more than likely a little different than the average flight training student. It all started on that brisk November morning in 2012, as my dad I met David for the first time and took N916SE to the sky. As soon as we were airborne, I fell in love and knew that this is what I wanted to do for a career. Once we landed, I immediately scheduled my next lesson with David and that was it, I started my training. I tried to fly as often as I possibly could with time and money being the only factors from preventing me from continuing, as I would have liked. I flew for about the next 8 months and it was now time for me to solo.

I scheduled my appointment with Dr. Serrato in October of 2013 and was ready to receive my medical and solo. As some of you know, I am a 15-year cancer survivor. As Dr. Serrato reviewed my file, he decided to send my application off to Oklahoma City, OK to get the FAA to approve. I waited until January of 2014 until I got a certified letter in the mail from the FAA. The FAA had denied my medical certificate application due to my cancer history and requested a psychological evaluation. My heart was shattered and I felt like closing my flight books and calling it quits. With some much-needed motivation from David and my parents, I started to save up for this test, which cost $1,500. I took the test in June of 2015 and passed with the same scores as a B747 captain. I received my medical in the mail in August of 2015. I couldn't have been happier, however, I knew I had a lot of work to do. I called David that very moment and began flying again and soloed a month later on September 13th, 2015.

I quickly completed all my cross-country flights and with a couple of bumps in the road, I met all the requirements for my certificate in December of 2015. It was now time to begin the checkride prep. I flew and flew with David and we both agreed I was ready. After changing my checkride date three times due to weather, I flew to Prattville, AL and met the examiner. I was one of David’s first students to fly to the checkride by myself since the date had changed so many times and David was unable to take time off of work. The checkride went great. David made sure I was well prepared for it.

I still cannot believe that I am finished with my private pilot’s license. It is now time for instrument flying! Flying with David was by far one of the best things I have done. He was the spark that started my burning passion for aviation. He has shown me many things aviation related as well as some excellent life skills that I use each and every day. Thanks again, David. It’s been a great journey.


Erik H.
Certified January 2016

My experience with having David Hall as my flight instructor is slightly different than most of his students. This is mainly due to the fact that my son, while in high school, got his Private Pilots certificate in 2014 while under David’s wing. When we met David for the first time in May 2014, he came highly recommended already. As parents, we wanted to make sure we trusted the person that was going to teach our son the needed skills to master flight. After that first meeting, my wife and I felt confident that David was the person who we could trust to teach our son to safely fly.
In January 2016, I decided it was my turn to try to learn to fly, and David was the only choice for me. Growing up in a family of pilots, I am now the 17th, I felt confident that I had absorbed all there was to know about flying. After the first lesson, I cannot express how wrong I was. I could never had imagined, how much there was to learn- airport traffic procedures, communications do’s and don’ts, airspace, regulations, flight planning, weather and the all-important airplane and its systems. Not to mention, how to fly the airplane.

I remember telling my wife after each lesson, how much I had learned in that lesson and amazed how much more there is to flying… The pace we kept was challenging and never dull. The balance, between class time and actual flying time was good and it all came together in May 2016 when David stepped out and told me to go fly pattern on my own. I remember looking at him, and wondering if he was crazy! I had to believe that he thought I was ready, which gave me the boost of confidence I needed. Even though, I had landed with David between 50 – 60 times in practice, the first to time solo was totally different and a unique experience, like no other. I kept hearing David repeat in my head: GUMPS, Altitude, Distance, abeam the numbers, “click”, 45 degrees to the numbers, “click”, reduce speed (click) to 80, wings level, look at the sight picture, aim or the numbers,.. don’t let her land, protect the nose. It wasn’t pretty, but WOW… I just landed an airplane by myself!! I was now a Pilot or so I thought…

A few day’s later while trying to repeat the successes of the week before, I learned one of the more important lessons, of my training experience. P factor is real and has to be tamed! If not, you can end up off the runway and on the wrong taxi way. David was flying pattern with another student that morning, he looked down and wondered how the heck I got to be where I was at the airport. The next day David got me up in the pattern again, and got my confidence back where it was before, where it needed to be.
Over the next few month, I leaned how much more there was to learn, weather, cross country planning, air space, charts and that darn E6B. While at the same time continuing to fly with David and fly the pattern time every chance I could get. Next came the first solo cross country trip. I was amazed that I could fly to Eufaula, Al. and return safely. I was even more amazed that it took me 3 hours of planning for a 1 hour round trip. Best of all when I calculated TOC and time to waypoints, I was accurate and could really navigate from this. That was very COOL! What I learned over the next couple months was that there is a reason behind everything that David puts you through. My skills were improving as well as my confidence.

I knew the date was getting near when David told me to get the Private Pilot Practical Test Standard book. When I got it, it felt like David asked me every question in the book, but in reality I think we only covered the first 10 pages, in over 2 hours. After several frowns and multiple “better write that down”, I knew where the conversation was going. This was check ride prep… but was I ready??

In the last two weeks, David and I flew a great deal, making sure that I knew the material, but also to make sure I knew the procedures… we practiced them all..diversions, stalls, steep turns, emergency descents, forward slips, go-arounds, slow flight, short field, soft field take off and landings to name just a few. I think I learned more about “controlling” the plane in the last few weeks than I did in flying in it the 12 months before. This practice was really a confidence boost for me. I also learned, to slow down, think and then do!

Finally, I had “demonstrated” all the required maneuvers to a level of proficiency that David required. He signed me off for my check ride, but was I really ready?? At least David thought so...
On Sunday we headed off for Prattville for my check ride, my biggest fear was putting in all the work, the time... the MONEY and not being successful. I was pretty confident in my ability to fly the plane and I felt I knew most of the material that would be covered in the verbal.
Once Jeff, the examiner, went through my log book and the maintenance records on the plane, we started the verbal portion of the exam. David went to lunch.
I did well enough on the verbal. I knew much of the material from heart, but stumbled through some of the questions, using my FAR/AIM and notes as reference when needed and then Jeff said get your stuff and let’s go flying. Whew.., passed step 1.
The flying portion was almost what I expected- take off according to your flight plan, do the diversion to Selma, once the other field was in sight, we performed the turns (ground reference and steep) and stalls. Check, check, check.. I was not perfect, but I knew how to perform them and most importantly..control the airplane. We then used Selma to for the remaining landings and takeoffs. Finally, Jeff said take me back to Prattville. Using David’s advice, once you perform a maneuver throw it out of you head and think of the next. I did this literally after the diversion, so my chart, E6B and rule were all laying on the back seat of the plane. This was the first major mistake of the day!! I did not think ahead and anticipate I that would need them again. Lucky, using the resources at hand, Jeff, I asked for the chart, did some dead reckoning for my second diversion of the day and successfully brought man and machine back to Prattville.
Jeff’s hand was the first one I shook as a “Pilot”, David Hall’s was second.
I am proud to be number 17 in my family number 23 on David’s wall. But proudest of accomplishing a goal that I have been chasing since I was child and being able to go fly with my son.. who will now be teaching his dad to become a better pilot.
Reflections of this overall experience:
I have more respect for my wife’s grandfather who flew a C-47 from California to Australia during WWII. How did those guys do that without ForeFlight and the modern tools we have at our disposal today? Absolutely amazing to imagine what that was like.
Trust your instructor. David is a much better judge of one’s capabilities than own. I had to believe that when my son initially soloed as wellas with myself.
You will hate flight planning and the E6B. Why use it when you have an IPAD? Why spend hours on something that you can do in 20 seconds. Because it makes you better! You learn what is required and it keeps you thinking of every step… and if you don’t you will never pass the check ride.

Some of the things that you will need to remember include: As PIC you are to use all the resources available to you.Use your VOR to determine your radial and location, use the examiner in the right seat to grab stuff off the back seat. Your memory is a resource repeat David’s words out loud to yourself in each procedure:GUMPS, Speed, Heading, Altitude, distance, speed will kill you, trim is your buddy..David was with me on my entire check ride.

Each procedure has a purpose, learn them, you will be tested on them. Luckily for me, David Hall was my instructor. I know the student in Prattville who did his check ride flying right before me on Sunday is wishing he had David as well... He will be returning on another Sunday to demonstrate his forward slip, something he did not learn from his instructor.

When you get in the plane with your examiner, is when you begin the transition from student to hopeful pilot. It the first time you have a passenger, and you are PIC. Remember to brief your passenger on the plane and safety and Emergency procedures, ..E,F& G.
You’re not expected to be perfect.You’re demonstrating a level of competency and an ability to think. Your examiner will try to make you think about what you are doing. For example: when you’re at 1200 ft on the north side of the field and you’re told to land, which requires you to be on a left pattern approaching from the south. You need to determine how to safely fly over mid field at minimum of 500 ft above TPA and enter the pattern properly.
Remember that you will likely do your check ride on an uncontrolled field., so practice your calls and know when to make them.
Read you FAR/AIM. Understand some of the regulations better. The examiner wants to see your depth of knowledge.
Aviation is a big club, but still relatively few members. Everyone wants you to be successful- fellow pilots, the very patient controllers in the tower (the mother birds who will watch your every circuit in the pattern, put up with your bad radio calls and bad landings), the line guys, mechanic and your examiner. Everyone is there so that you can have a successful and safe flight.
Flying is a commitment that takes time away from family and other activities. This would not have been possible for me without the support of my wonderful, loving and generous wife!  

Michael H. Sr.
Certified  - February 2017

KEN S.

If I had to relate David to anything, he would be the best restaurant in town that no one knows about. You hear about him through word of mouth, or a small flyer, and must trust the testimony of guys like me. No matter how you hear about him, passing up his instruction or going to any other instructor in the area would be a mistake.

I wasn’t sure what to expect in my first lesson. I knew I was nervous, but I wanted more than anything to do well and to learn as much as I could, as quickly as I could. I don’t think I ate the morning of my first lesson, mostly due to sheer excitement…. This was a mistake. We went up when most VFR pilots decide to stay grounded. There were 13 knot winds gusting to 18. It was a bumpy, wild ride and it made me sick. I didn’t want to admit it at the time, but I felt terrible when we landed. First, from concentrating so intently on the instruments, and secondly, from knowing it would be at least a couple days until I could get back in the aircraft again. It was the start of a bug, and it only continues to get stronger.

David is a dedicated, safe pilot who’s only goal is to create more safe airmen in general aviation. He’s strict, and expects you to strive for excellence in the aircraft. He will continually push you beyond your comfort zone. I think this aspect is what makes David’s pilots some of the safest in the area. He will continue to challenge you to think and plan and mitigate while you fly. If you ever find yourself relaxing behind the controls, you’re likely forgetting to do something. David encourages his pilots to continually assess their position and improve their situational awareness.

This mentality is prevalent daily. His daily emails attempt to provide real life examples of pilots who cut corners or fail to exercise prudent risk mitigation techniques.

David understands that life may get in the way on you on your journey to become a private pilot. He will encourage you to progress, and will always find the time when you’re able to get back into the seat.

The first time you come back, you will get discouraged. I couldn’t believe how much I had regressed after my son was born, and I was only able to fly twice in two months. David quickly gets you back to speed quickly and continues to challenge you as a pilot.

The week I took the oral exam and check ride thought I would fail. Miserably. Maintenance issues with 87269 three days before meant I would have to refamiliarize myself with 7852N. I trained with David for 4 hours the day before the test. He had the aircraft mechanic pre-heat the engine at 5:45 AM the day of the test to overcome the frigid cold temperatures. We flew for an hour and a half the morning of the test. He thought I was ready. I disagreed. He was right. He’s always right. His training took over the morning of the test. All the phrases, the attention to detail, and the strict adherence to the standard come together and made the test seem insignificant. In fact, I couldn’t believe how easy it seemed while I was executing the test. It was all due to David and his program.
Now, my testimonial might not mean much. But the fact that 25+ pilots have taken the time to write a testimonial about his methods should be an indicator. He provides the most comprehensive training available out of Columbus, and likely the Southeast.

Oh, and it’s the most reasonably priced. How can you beat that?
Here’s to smooth skies and a fresh certificate. I’ll see you guys in the pattern.
- Ken S.
Certified: January 7, 2018 

Thomas H
Certified Oct 7, 2018

It is a custom for David's students to write a testimonial after they earn their private pilot certificate, so here's mine.
First, a little about myself and my interest in flying. I have been an "airplane nut" since I was a little kid. God gave me the flying gene, simply put. Airplanes always fascinated me because I wondered why such a large and heavy machine can leave the ground and fly like a bird when everything else falls, and thought to myself how I'd like to fly one. When I turned 16, I wasted no time contacting a local CFI because that was the minimum age - I hadn't even finished learning to drive a car yet, and here I am trying to fly a plane. That didn't work out because I simply couldn't afford it. That is why I didn't start my training in college, either. I did finally start while I was in the Army, but had to stop since it so pricey (that flight school was more expensive than in Columbus). Which, to be fair, it was more a lack of focus and proper financial priorities on my part than it was about the cost. Then a few more years went by. I had become a little older and a little wiser, and in so doing realized what I really want out of life and what I want my priorities for myself to *really* be. So that is when I came down to the airport and got David's contact info. Here we go again...third time's a charm!
He sent me a list of items to buy (headset, logbook, etc.) and when I had them, we did our first lesson. David starts flying you from day 1, no waiting until you pass the written test like some CFIs require. That is an awesome approach because you start learning immediately - understanding stuff on paper for the written test is one thing, but actually flying the plane is a whole 'nother animal. Your brain will be constantly overloaded and you'll have no idea what is going on. However, as the lessons continue, you'll understand it more and David will give you more and more control of the plane as your skills develop. You'll also be doing ground school and exam prep along the way. (David does not wait until towards the end of the training to do "exam prep;" he starts getting you ready for them on day 1.) The lessons can be tough, because David is throwing a lot at you once. Every so often, you'll think that flying is not for you.
One reason for that could be because David is teaching you something over and over and you can't get it right (like when I was having issues constantly coming too fast when landing). It could also be the stress of all the multi-tasking involved, especially during traffic pattern work - takeoff, land, climb, descend, operate a bunch of buttons and levers, talk with air traffic control, don't let the wind blow you too far or close to the runway, scan for traffic, maintain the correct airspeed, and listen to David, all at the same time. Trust me, there was one lesson where, in all seriousness, I had my mind made up I was going to quit. This is just too much for me. The funny part of that is that was the same lesson as my first solo. So just remember: thinking that flying a plane is too hard is just a normal part of the learning curve!
When you're ready, you'll do your first solo. I soloed after about 20 hours and David had me well prepared for it, too. By the time I soloed, David had already given me a lot of training with not only pattern work (of course), but also with cross country flights, emergency procedures, and talking to air traffic control. He also had given me a lot of ground school training and had me complete a rather lengthy pre-solo written test. He didn't just give me barely enough training to make it through the traffic pattern and send me on my way. I had a very solid foundation under me first. That is also true for my cross country solo flights. On those, he went with me first so when I did go alone, I knew what to expect.
As far as what the instruction is like while in the cockpit, David's methods really work. When dealing with students, he is very even-keeled and laid back. He never once got frustrated with me. He knows that having to repeat something 100 times is sometimes what it takes, and if the student starts falling apart, he will just take the controls back, review what happened, then let the student have the controls again when ready. Even when I was the one who became highly frustrated, he kept his calm and relaxed demeanor. Trust me, he can tell you about a few choice words I've yelled at him with my hand gripping the top of the instrument panel for dear life! (He was doing something with the plane that I thought was very dangerous, but wasn't.) Now, I look back on it laughing. He also has catchy sayings that help to remember certain things. One example is saying "black square, you are there." That means if you're on the ground and see a B inside a black square, then you're on taxiway Bravo. There is also my personal favorite of him saying "pull it to your titties Thomas! Pull it to your titties!" That means to keep slowly pulling the control yoke to you when you're landing and have come over the runway, because it pulls the nose up so the main gear touch first. Another thing I like is that he will be candid with you about your progress. Whether you are doing well or doing poorly, you'll always know exactly where you stand. Lastly, he does not waste a second of your time. From start to finish, he keeps the lesson moving forward because he knows that flight training is expensive and he wants you to get your money's worth. So when you show up for a lesson, be prepared to work and be put through the wringer. David will throw a lot at you at once and yes it can be brutal, but you'll come out of it a better and safer pilot, which is what you're paying for. So in all, David does his job extremely well.
My final topic is going over a few keys to success that I have learned. #1: make sure that you are studying outside of the lessons. David will do a great job instructing you, but you will still have to do your part by keeping up with the reading. This will make a world of difference in preparing for the written and oral exams. It also helps to rehearse things like radio calls and maneuvers while sitting at the table at home. One thing I did in particular was to take pictures of all the flight controls with my iPad. I then set up my iPad on the table, pulled up a picture of the instrument panel, and practiced the diversion steps over and over and over again until they were second nature. That helped me nail my diversion on my checkride. You can even spend time making little cheat cards on how to do maneuvers. I had mine out during my checkride (you're allowed to) and they helped me not miss any steps. #2: take the written exam at the end of the training. That way, the exam material is nothing new to you. Also, take the Rick Yandle exam prep class first. For an extra $285, you will get a 3 day class (with one-on-one instruction if need be) on the exam topics, then on the last day, take the actual exam at his school. Doing it this way is how I got a 92 on my exam, so it really works. #3: learn to have the "predator instinct" as I call it. That means you always have positive control of the airplane and the situation. The golden rule of flying (aside from looking good) is always to fly the airplane. When all else fails, just fly the airplane. So you've got to make sure that airplane absolutely never does anything you don't want it to do, regardless of wind or turbulence or whatever. You've got to always have that little airplane by the throat. The predator instinct also means identifying your shortcomings and working on them aggressively. As I wrote earlier, one of mine was landing too fast (other issues with them, too). So, I rented our plane one day without David here (I was post-solo at the time), and went up and worked on landings over and over because I was not having these rusty landings anymore. Lastly, it means being very thorough with your weather/terrain analysis before you fly. It will help you not be caught off guard by things such as bad weather or a runway closure at your destination. My final bit of advice is #4: stay focused during setbacks. There will be setbacks, some small and some big. One small setback could be bad weather that forces you to reschedule. A bigger one could be a deferred medical (the FAA is slow) or financial. When setbacks occur, just don't lose sight of your flight training and simply come back to it when you can. David will knock the rust off of you, and you'll pick up where you left off. Because of my setbacks, this journey of becoming a pilot has taken me over two years! So it goes to show that when life gets in the way, focus and patience is what will ultimately see you through.
So in closing, working with David Hall is an excellent opportunity for anyone wanting to become a pilot, and I hope that my testimony will be a huge help towards you being successful and getting the most out of your time and money. See you in the pattern.