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History and Background Knowledge Exam Preparation
Location Knowledge Exams
Equipment Prices/Flight Time
Accommodations Ground Training
Meals Documents to bring
Airline Service Flight Tests
Ground Transportation Scheduling
Study Materials Method of Payment



History and Background: Prairie Air Service, Inc. is a small family business. It all started in 1979 when Herb Pello was a design engineer at Cessna. He happened to be a multi engine instructor and also owned a Piper Apache. When several of his fellow engineers wanted to obtain their multi engine ratings, he started to instruct part time and Prairie Air Service was born. The business was incorporated in 1980, and went full time in 1986. Since that time Prairie Air Service, Inc. has been specializing in advanced flight instruction for multi-engine, multi-engine instructor, and multi engine instrument ratings, as well as ATP certificates. Herb is the principal instructor teaching the above ratings here at Prairie Air Service, Inc. He holds an ATP certificate and has about 22,700 hours, 21,400 multi-engine and 18,500 as instructor. He is also an aeronautical engineer with several years experience in aircraft systems design, holds an A&P mechanic certificate and has also worked as a simulator instructor for Flight Safety International.


As of November, 2002 we have recommended almost 1900 pilots for various multi engine flight tests: 1066 multi-engine ratings, (either add on ratings or multi-engine initial commercial) with a 97% passing rate at the applicants' first attempt, 464 ATP's (95% passing rate), 200 multi engine instrument ratings (94% passing rate), and 150 multi-engine instructors (95% passing rate).


In 1992 Herb, his wife Kathy, and their partners Ed and Bernita Heim founded Benton Airpark, Inc. and purchased the Benton Airport. Since that time Prairie Air Service, Inc., in conjunction with Benton Airpark, Inc. has also been offering single engine flight training for all certificates from private through flight instructor.



Location: (click for pictures) Prairie Air Service operates from Herb and Kathy Pello’s house in a residential development adjacent to the Benton, Kansas airport (click for map). Benton is located about 20 miles north-east of Wichita, and the airport has a 2600 ft. lighted asphalt runway (16/34), and a GPS approach to runway 16. Airport elevation is 1364 ft., pattern altitude is 2200 ft. Runway 16 uses a right hand pattern to avoid overflying the town of Benton on base leg.



Equipment:  The aircraft used for all multi-engine instruction is a Piper PA23-160 "Apache" (click for pictures) which has undergone a Geronimo airframe conversion, as well as installation of a custom instrument panel with an upgraded avionics package (Bendix BX-2000 system with RNAV and an HSD 880 HSI/RMI system, an ARNAV R-40 Loran, and intercom).  

An ATC-610 "flight training device" (click for picture) (that's the official FAA term for a basic simulator) with plotter is used for part of the instrument training.  

An IFR equipped Piper PA28R-180 “Arrow” (with DME and Loran) (click for pictures), an IFR equipped Cessna 172 (with VFR GPS) (click for pictures) and an IFR equipped Cessna 150 (with Loran) (click for pictures) are available for single engine training. The Piper Arrow is used for initial single engine commercial, instrument and flight instructor training, and all three planes are available for rent if you need to accumulate additional flight time toward the FAA experience requirements for the instrument rating or commercial pilot certificate. All single engine flight operations are conducted at the FBO facilities of Benton Airpark, Inc., located at the north end of the airport.  

In addition to the above four planes which are owned by Prairie Air Service, all of the rental airplanes operated by Benton Airpark, Inc. are also available for training, time building or cross country flights. Presently the rental fleet at Benton Airpark consists of an additional 2 Cessna 150s, 1 Cessna 152, 1 Cessna 172 XP and 1 Piper PA28-235 “Cherokee 235”.



Accommodations: (click for pictures) If you come to Prairie Air Service, Inc. from outside the Wichita area and need housing, you may want to stay in one of our guest rooms. We live adjacent to the airport and have 3 guest rooms at our house. Kathy’s parents’ house is immediately next door, and they also have 3 guest rooms available. We also have a 1995 model 35 ft. travel trailer with 2 bedrooms parked next to our house for additional student housing. Due to the concentrated nature of the training most of our out of town customers find staying with us to be the most convenient and least expensive solution. This also allows for maximum flexibility if the schedule changes due to weather or other delays. Our guest rooms and also the trailer are equipped with TVs and VCRs so you can study training videos (click for picture) in the privacy of your own room. We charge $140.00 per week for a room and meals, which also includes the use of our washer and dryer to do your laundry. Three of the rooms have two beds. If you and a friend want to share a room, the cost will be $ 105.00 per week per person. If you prefer to stay at a hotel, there are a large number of hotels of all price ranges in Wichita, about 15 miles away.



Meals:  If you are staying in a guest room or the trailer your meals are included. You will receive a "kitchen check-out" and usually eat cold cereal, toast or microwave pancakes with coffee and orange juice for breakfast. For lunch we carry a large inventory of microwaveable frozen convenience foods in our freezer. Kathy cooks dinner for everybody and our students usually  join us at the table. If you are staying at a hotel in Wichita you'll find numerous restaurants nearby, ranging from McDonald's to top quality establishments.


Airline Service: The nearest airport served by commercial airlines is Wichita Mid Continent (IATA identifier ICT). It is 25 highway miles from our facilities and is served by most major US air carriers (American, Delta, Northwest, United). Recently the discount carriers AirTran and Frontier also started service to Wichita.



Ground Transportation: If you fly here in your own plane you can tie it down in our back yard.   If you are taking the airlines to Wichita either Herb, Kathy, or one of our instructors will try to meet you at Wichita Mid Continent Airport, and drop you off again after completion of your training. If we are unable to pick you up at the airport due to schedule problems you will need to take a cab, the fare for the 28 mile trip is about $40.00. We also have a free courtesy car available for your local transportation needs like going to a doctor for an FAA medical exam, shopping or going to the movies.



Study Materials:  If you'd like to start studying multi engine procedures before you begin your training we'll be glad to send you a copy of our multi engine study guide. It consists of photocopies of the Apache Owner's Manual, a detailed description of all the maneuvers required for the multi engine flight test, copies of several magazine articles and FAA publications on multi-engine safety. The study guide is provided at no additional charge in conjunction with your multi engine flight training. We also have large video library, which includes a set of all King single subject "Take-Off" video tapes, most of the Jeppesen "Flight Time" video tapes, the complete Jeppesen Private, Commercial and IFR video series and the Sporty's Instrument Rating video course. You can watch these tapes free of charge when you are not flying.



Knowledge Exam Preparation: (click for pictures) The following materials are available here to help you study for your knowledge exams: Gleim knowledge test prep books, King Schools Private Pilot, Commercial Pilot,  Instrument Rating, Flight Instructor and ATP (Part 135) knowledge exam video courses and exam review software on the computers in the study room. There is a rental fee of $ 25.00 for the use of a written exam video course and test prep software. If you should require additional ground instruction in preparation for your knowledge exams it will be billed at $30.00/hour.



Knowledge Exams: If you plan to take a two or three day course requiring a knowledge exam, such as ATP,  you need to have the appropriate knowledge exam passed and the results with you when you arrive for your training. If you plan to take one of our longer training programs, such as IFR or commercial, you can either take the necessary knowledge exams before you arrive here for your flight training, or you can prepare for your knowledge exams here and take them at the Lasergrade computer assisted testing facility located at the FBO office at the Benton airport. The fee is $ 80.00.



Prices:  Flight time:  

Aircraft Type



         CFI dual

Piper PA23-160 Apache




Piper PA28R-180 Arrow




Cessna 172 Skyhawk




Cessna 150




ATC 610 Flight Training Device




Due to the recent volatility of fuel costs the above prices are subject to change without notice. The above prices include the applicable sales tax.  





Ground Training, Preflight Briefings, and Oral Exam Preparation:           

Type of Ground Training

        Flat Rate

    Hourly Rate

Multi Engine Rating or ATP



Multi Engine Instructor



Single Engine Commercial



Multi Engine Initial Commercial



Instrument Rating



Refresher Training or any other type ground training



CFI or CFI-I ground training



Note: The above flat rate prices for preflight briefings and oral exam preparation are based on average aptitude. If you should require additional tutoring and ground school it will be billed at $30.00 per hour.



Documents to Bring:  Please be sure to have with you your pilot's certificate, current medical and all of your logbooks, as well as any necessary knowledge exam results. If we have mailed you a study guide, please be sure to bring it with you.  Also be sure to have in your possession a form of identification that incorporates a photograph, typically a driver's license or passport. You will have to present a valid picture ID before you can take your flight test.



Flight Tests:  Private, Multi-engine, IFR, and Commercial:  There are four designated pilot examiners in the area who can administer the necessary flight tests. They are usually available on one or two days' notice, and charge $ 200.00 for a flight test.     


Flight Instructor and ATP:  Two of the local pilot examiners have been designated by the FAA to conduct flight tests for additional instructor ratings and ATP.  They are usually available on one or two days' notice, and the fee is $ 200.00 for an ATP or additional instructor rating flight test.  Initial flight instructor flight tests are conducted free of charge at the Wichita  FAA FSDO.



Scheduling:  At the present time we need about 2 weeks advance notice for multi engine, commercial or ATP training and about 4 weeks notice for instrument or flight instructor training. We do not require any advance deposit when you make your appointment.



Method of Payment: Unless prior arrangement has been made your account is payable in full upon completion of your training. A payment of $ 1000.00 on account is due at the beginning of your training, and again when your account balance has been depleted. If at that time the estimated cost to complete your training is less than $ 1000.00, payment of the estimated cost to completion will be required. Your final balance is due upon completion of your training. We accept cash, personal checks, traveler's checks, cashier's checks or money orders.  We also accept Master Card and Visa.  


Guaranteed Pricing: Prairie Air Service does not offer guaranteed pricing for any flight training programs. Neither do most other flight schools, even those who advertise guaranteed prices. Usually their advertised “guaranteed” price will only entitle the student to a limited number of flight hours, and the student will have to pay extra for any additional training he or she may need. The lower priced “guaranteed ratings” offered by some of our competitors include considerably less flying hours than our training programs. The training packages described below have been developed over 25 years of instructing experience, are based on average student aptitude and progress, and work for about 90% of our customers who are current and active pilots. Students with above average flying skill and aptitude may be able to complete their training at a cost lower than the advertised package price.