“I had dreamed of becoming a Private Pilot since I was a kid. I met Michael Phillips when I was in my late 50’s. I went to him to determine if it was reasonable for me to finally pursue my lifelong dream. In my career, I had met many people who loved their chosen fields and pursued it with passion. I must admit that I have never met anyone with the love and passion for a pursuit as Michael has for flying and teaching. I was able to reach my goal of becoming a private pilot. Michael then gave me counsel as I purchased an airplane and helped me greatly in transitioning to the faster and more advanced aircraft. When it came time to get my IFR, there was no question that Michael should be my instructor. Thanks to Michael, I am not only instrument rated, but I am a much more competent, and confident pilot.

Michael is not only a truly gifted Master CFI, but he is a wonderful Teacher who genuinely cares about the people/pilots who he assists in enjoying the wonder of flight. I cannot imagine anyone having as much ability and passion to teach pilots, no matter how unique their background or circumstances.”
– Frank McDowell
Carmel, California

— In the Simulator
“When Michael first suggested a recurrency lesson using a flight simulator, I was a skeptical. How could a simulator be better than actual “stick time” in the airplane? You can call me a former skeptic.

Although the lesson was originally scheduled to be a “hybrid” lesson, starting in the simulator and ending in the airplane, I was so impressed by the realism of the simulator that I quickly realized that I was gaining a lot more experience on the ground than I would be up in the sky. Michael was able to very quickly challenge me with tough IFR missions. The physiological reactions I experienced with each simulated approach were no different than I would have had in the airplane. The best part is that Michael would challenge me with the most difficult approaches, one right after the other. In my entire experience training for my instrument rating, I got to shoot one approach down to minimums. In one short lesson in the simulator I was able to do multiple approaches to minimums. There is simply no way to get the same type of training in an airplane as you can in a simulator.

If you haven’t been in a simulator, or even if you have been in one in the past, but haven’t experienced that latest incarnation, I would strongly recommend that take the simulator for a test flight. Frankly, there’s a reason the airlines use simulators for training their pilots. Having now experienced simulator training myself, I understand why. The simulator can provide every GA pilot with life-like (and even beyond life-like) flying experiences that will make him a better, safer pilot.”
Craig Wiblemo

“Michael Phillips is a passionate instructor. Within minutes of meeting him, it’s obvious that Michael loves aviation: being around pilots, being in airplanes, teaching others what he knows, learning new skills and techniques, developing training concepts, and promoting safety. These traits tend to be in short supply among instructors, and it’s indeed refreshing to be around the energy and enthusiasm he exudes. I’ve interacted with Michael on many levels over the years, including flying with him, and so it is with pleasure that I provide this testimonial.”
– Rich Stowell
2006 National CFI of the Year

“Take it from someone who evaluates teachers for a living. Michael is an amazing flight instructor. Like all good instructors, Michael brings both enthusiasm and passion to his classroom, which in this case, is the cockpit. Throughout my flight training experience, Michael consistently demonstrated his natural teaching instincts. Like all good teachers, he knew when I wasn’t pushing myself hard enough and he knew when I was pushing myself too hard. He effortlessly adapts his instructional style to each and every situation throughout a lesson.

In the end, with Michael’s expert knowledge and instruction, I gained the experience, skills and confidence to know that every flight is going to be successful. I couldn’t ask for more than that from flight instructor”.
– Craig Wiblemo

I had the opportunity to fly with Paul Needels and guide him through the process of earning his Private Pilot Certificate and then on the his Instrument rating. He prepared this short narrative to share his thoughts about his experience and what you need to consider when selecting a flight instructor should you be interested in learning how to fly or moving on to an advanced rating. I sincerely appreciate Paul’s kind words and I feel that his message about what you should consider when selecting a flight instructor is worth sharing.
Paul Needels – Selecting a Flight Instructor
Chemistry, compatibility, competence and teaching style are critical to success.

“Michael, when we first met I’m certain you had no idea of the challenge before you in order for me to return to flying. I had experienced flying in the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s logging time in Cubs and Taylor Craft to 172’s, 185’s, T-34, Barron and Mooney’s ending up with a 231 before I stopped flying.
I came to you after a twenty year lapse between airplanes. My new plane was a 2007 Columbia 400 with the full Garmin glass panel. I should add that I was 73 years old at that time.
You were a certified Columbia instructor and along with extensive instruction experience, exhibited the patience and understanding necessary to work with me. This was not a routine learning or teaching experience. The flying and engine management came back to me without difficulty. It was in the area of navigation, ATC changes and the glass panel that your expertise proved invaluable while working with someone my age. We had a wonderful experience and it will continue during my recurrent training with you in the future.”

– Bill Randall

“I have flown for 32 years, am a member of NAFI, and a psychologist and educator, so my standards are extremely high when it comes to instruction. Quite simply, Michael Phillips is a powerful voice in the aviation field. His compassionate and well thought out approach to life is mirrored in the cockpit. Fly with Michael, and you have found the antidote to mediocrity. He knows how stressful learning to fly can be, and has the unique ability to teach within the cockpit and in life. When inspiration and information come together, transformation occurs, and this is how Michael teaches. He can make you aware of your options in all situations, and trains in a manner where safety is paramount. In short, he brings an experience to your world and could change it forever. Be encouraged, inspired, and helped– call Michael.”
-Dr. Lee Jampolsky

“Michael, tanks (sic) for blasting away at me from the right seat. Professors aren’t used to Marine Platoon Leaders-and I recognize that there really aren’t any ex-Marines-but you were exactly what was needed by this professor more used to libraries and committee meetings. You were-and are-exactly what I needed in this complicated process of learning to fly. More, you’ve become a good friend”.
-Michael O’Connell
Santa Barbara, California

Every once in a while the perfect solution comes your way. Sometimes you know it when it is happening and other times you discover it after the fact. Regardless of when the realization occurs, the pleasure of the observation gives you a warm feeling of satisfaction and, hopefully, becomes a welcome addition to your treasure chest of memories!

Michael Phillips gifted me with a perfect solution while acting as my transition instructor/pilot for a Columbia 400 I recently purchased. His professionalism, thoroughness, confident attitude and knowledge of the airplane was evident from my first conversation with him and the initial materials he gave me. This coupled with my first flights allowed me to quickly grasp critical skills. At the end of the 2nd day, I was very surprised at how much we had accomplished with what seemed to be little stress and effort.

Scenario based training is a big part of Michael’s approach and is a huge confidence builder.The mental stimulation is so much more rewarding than the usual rote skill work offered by many instructors.

Michael proved to be just what ‘My Doctor would have ordered’. Michael was focused on my task and adaptive to change due to a variety of factors. His enthusiasm and obvious joy in his chosen vocation (fly and teach) made the entire experience a highly memorable time in my life.
-Paul Herrington
Memphis, TN

It is with great pleasure that I share my profound experience as one of Michael Phillips’ private pilot students.

When I first became interested in flying I flew with a couple of instructors, but I didn’t feel that they were a good match for me. The day that I met Michael I was inspired to become a confident and competent private pilot. He exudes confidence and is the most grounded mentor I have ever had the privilege of knowing.

It is obvious that Michael has a passion for teaching. Personally, I considered myself a tough case. I am a busy professional, with little time for extracurricular activities and I am dyslexic, which requires more time than average to learn and retain material. Oh yes, I’m a perfectionist and a control freak as well, which makes it extra challenging in the cockpit! Michael’s teaching techniques were not only effective, but they got me out of my head and in the present moment, where every pilot should be at all times. Michael also motivated me to question my priorities and make a commitment to becoming a private pilot. His directness, honesty, and integrity would motivate anyone who has an authentic desire to learn. Because of Michael’s patience and commitment to me, I succeeded in obtaining my pilot’s license. The bonus was that I became more effective in every other part of my life by being blessed with his wisdom and guidance. Thank you.
Dr. Desiree Crusade

Michael Phillips is a true professional and has a passion for aviation…his passion along with his commitment to his students gives you the tools you need to Learn How to Fly. His thorough and up-to-date mastery of tools used in today’s aviation are second to none. There is no doubt that I am a better pilot today because of the skills that Michael taught me and I now have a solid base to expand upon. Another benefit is that I now have a fellow pilot and trusted friend to make this journey down the road of aviation a lot more enjoyable. Now I have the passion…Thank you Michael.
-Michael Zazzera
Salinas, CA
Private Pilot – 07/19/2004

One day I had a wild idea to learn to fly. But I was old (50-something) and I was a girl. I never thought in a million years anyone would really give me a chance. In walked Michael Phillips. Throaty voiced, wearing slippery shoes with little leather tassels. I thought he was merely humoring the moment. We went on a discovery flight. He said he was like Saint Jude the patron saint of lost and hopeless causes. For the next 18 months, day by day, flight by flight, Michael endured and adapted to the convoluted, emotional learning curve that I brought with me. Some days I’d glance over to the right seat in the cockpit and see his eyes closed, hands in prayer pose, fingertips holding up his chin. Are you praying, Michael? I had asked. Reflecting, he barely whispered. We flew on. The process continued. He never gave up on me or balked at the challenge. Michael surpassed sainthood and earned the indelible title of Zen Flight Master. And in the same spirit, I will forever be a Pilot.
– Paula Gail (and Stella)