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Flight Training at Thunderbird Aviation: What to Expect

Are you searching for an exciting, rewarding new hobby or career path? Then learning to fly may be for you. For those interested in such an experience, flying lessons will satisfy your thrill-seeking urges while challenging you in new ways. In Minnesota, there are a wide variety of pilot training programs that you might be considering. One organization that offers such programs is Thunderbird Aviation. However, your flight instructor can make or break your success as an aspiring pilot. As such, let’s take a look at Thunderbird Aviation so you can make a more informed decision as to whether or not it’s the school for you.

About Thunderbird Aviation

Similar to how the folkloric Thunderbird represents persistence, Thunderbird Aviation has been a Twin Cities mainstay among aircraft maintenance shops, fixed-base operators (FBOs) and flight schools for decades. This organization was founded in 1962 by WWII veteran Albert Grazini, who developed a passion for aviation while serving in Europe. He shared that passion with flying enthusiasts in Minneapolis/St. Paul when he created Thunderbird Aviation. Originally, the organization focused on FBO services, while expanding later into maintenance and training, as well. That was long ago, but the company continued forward over the years, eventually earning acknowledgement as one of the oldest aviation operations in the Midwest. Today, Thunderbird Aviation is more than a FBO, with a recent expansion to another location — in addition to occupying space in Crystal Airport, they opened a second facility at Flying Cloud Airport. Additional services include fueling, charter, brokerage and sales.

Thunderbird Aviation Contact Information 

Located in Flying Cloud Airport (KFCM)

14091 Pioneer Trail

Eden Prairie, MN 55347

(952) 941-1212


Located in Crystal Airport (KMIC)

5800 Crystal Airport Road

Crystal, MN 55429

(763) 533-4162

Thunderbird Flight Training Programs

Thunderbird’s flight training courses include both FAA Part 141 and Part 61 options. Part 61 is generally preferred among those looking for a personalized experience, as it allows a more flexible curriculum. You can also expect to attend ground school at either KMIC or KFCM, where you’ll learn the necessary information to pass required certification exams. In addition to basic private pilot certification, commercial options and other more complex ratings, students can choose a more traditional college experience by working with a Thunderbird partner, Academy College Flight School.

Available Flight Certifications, Ratings & Endorsements

  • Private Pilot (PPL) 
  • Commercial Pilot (CPL)
  • Instrument Rating (IR)
  • Certified Flight Instructor (CFI)
  • Certified Flight Instructor – Instrument (CFII)
  • Multi-Engine Flight Instructor (MEI)

Costs of Flight Training at Thunderbird Aviation 

In order to take lessons at Thunderbird Aviation, you’ll have to pay a series of fees for instructor time, plane rental and supplies. Costs are broken down below: 


Flight School Item Cost
Private Pilot Training $75 per hour
Advanced Pilot Training $85 per hour
Multi-engine Pilot Training $95 per hour
Private Pilot Supplies $600

Type of Trainer Airplanes

Thunderbird Aviation has a variety of trainer airplanes in their fleet, including several Piper and Cessna models. See the individual aircraft and a price breakdown below:


Plane Cost
Piper Warrior PA-28 $140 per hour
Piper Archer PA-28 $150 per hour
Piper Arrow PA-28 $180 per hour
Piper Seminole PA-44 $275 per hour
Cessna 172 $165 per hour

About Thunderbird’s Chief Flight Instructor

Thunderbird Aviation’s small crew of flight instructors is led by chief flight instructor, Fred Nauer. As an Air Force veteran and ex-airline officer, Nauer has since shifted his focus to teaching. He has taught at high school, community college and university level aviation classes and offers both ground and flight instruction.

Are you looking for a fresh approach to flight training?

Get in touch with Inflight Pilot Training today to see how we can help you achieve your dream of flying through efficient, effective and affordable training. Whether you’re searching for a new hobby, career path or simply want to try something new, we’ll give you the skill to soar the skies.  With accelerated programs, traditional private pilot training and more complex endorsements of all types, our experienced team of CFIs develop personalized lesson plans to ensure your success — now and into the future. Let us help you learn the power of flight, just as we’ve done for countless aspiring pilots around Minnesota.

If you’re interested in learning more about Inflight programs, contact us today or call (952) 698-3000.