My situation: I have a JAA PPL licence and about 500 hours total time, but have not flown for just under 3 years as I've been living abroad where there is little or no private flying. I also have a FAA Part 61.75 license with an FAA instrument rating, but obviously my BFR has expired.
I have some time available this spring which I would like to use to go to the US, do some refresher training to get current, and I thought I might as well use the opportunity to get a freestanding FAA Private license so my current one won't invalidate when my JAA licence becomes EASA. I will have about a week spare in the US, which I think should be plenty of time as long as I have access to aircraft and instructor.
So - I'm looking for a suitable flying school to use. It doesn't have to be Florida, although Florida is convenient to get to and the weather is reliable. I've done a whole lot of internet research here and elsewhere but much of the information seems out of date so I wonder if anyone has some recent experience or view they can share, either public or private. Obviously, as I will need a visa the school will need to be SEVIS approved to issue the paperwork. Cost is not the overriding factor - I would rather have good quality instruction, modern and well maintained aircraft and good aircraft availability than rock bottom price. If the school is JAA approved this is useful as I can also get my JAA licence current but that is not essential.
I'm fully aware of the M1 visa and TSA requirements, and also that I need to get FAA and JAA medicals sorted before I can fly, and that it makes sense to get the written out of the way before I go...
this is my first post on this forum so here it goes:
I've just come back from doing my FAA PPL in Miami (out of KTMB).
I used a company called Silver express based at KTMB. They are using some fairly old warrior aircraft and a newer 172. I choose them because it is an owner run business and didn't appear to be that much of a pilot factory.
As with everything, a few things that weren't that great but on balance i would recommend them. Instructors worked early mornings and late nights to get me through the check ride.
I used an ipad app called aviation knowledge to get me through the written - seemed to work well would recommend that for the £6 it cost.
Costs were good $102 p/h wet for at warrior and i think $112 p/h for the 172. I'm now considering going further (instrument etc) and would go back.
I got the TSA bit done before traveling - a lady in oxford did the finger prints, this saved some time and i also used a man called Dr Ian Perry for the FAA medical he's based near Middlewalop, i would absolutely recommend him as i had a difficult medical (i didn't bother with the CAA medical as preexisting conditions made it to much of a challenge).
Chandler Air Service in Arizona... BA fly direct from LHR most (if not all) days. They are SEVIS approved, frequently deal with foreigners etc and the scenery/weather beats Florida hands-down. They offer quality instruction in a variety of aircraft.
So go there = problem solved.
I can also recommend a FAA/EASA AME at Staverton airport who is very reasonably priced and will do both medicals in the same visit.
Should you want a Flight Review or IPC done here in the UK (in Northern England) by a FAA CFI/II in a C150/C172 at reasonable rates, PM me.
Try looking away from the usual suspects like FLA or CAL as these people see all the Europeans coming over and the prices tend to firm up as they find out what flying costs in Europe.
I got a very good deal near Detroit, the area west of Detroit Metro has a few small airports were the costs are very much based on what the locals expect to pay........ Not what the europan tourists are happy to pay.
Thanks for the suggestions. I have gone for Skystead at Naples, partly as they have G1000 equipped Diamonds so I can get some time with glass cockpits and also on advice from a friend. I'm booked up for early March and just going through the I-20 / TSA / visa bureaucracy. Appointment at the Embassy set for next Wednesday....