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PPL Training in Florida - an honest View

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PPL Training in Florida - an honest View

Old 17th Nov 2009, 23:19
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PPL Training in Florida - an honest View

Here is an honest view of a 3 week PPL course in America.
There are a lot of opinionated people in these forums. The people who say that if you are learning to fly, do it in the country you are going to fly in. The people who say you dont get any "weather" in Florida. The people who say the standard of training in Florida is not as good.
Well, having come back recently from the States after completing my PPL, i would like to share my experiences with those of you who plan to go to America to train. I am not affiliated with any training school. My views expressed in this post are unbiased.
I got my inheritance early as my Dad has Alzheimers and he always wanted me to go off and achieve my dreams. I have always wanted to fly so what better way to spend some of the inheritance than by doing my PPL.
I decided to go to the States for an adventure. 5000 miles from home on my own, meeting a new bunch of people doing something i love. Perfect! As mentioned previously, alot of people expressed their negative opinions.
However, one good piece of advice was to visit the schools first. Not so easy when you are across the Atlantic. Luckily i went to Florida for a holiday prior to training so i managed to look at a few schools. OBA (now EASA) and EFT. Its all well and good looking at the pretty pictures on flashy websites but you cant get a good "feel" for the place untill you visit in person. I appreciate this is not always possible, but i was lucky to be able to. I chose EFT. The deciding factor was the reviews as found in these forums. (do a search!) and also google the schools to see what reviews appear.
So, upon my return to the UK, i started my application. After going through the rigmarole of the visa application etc, i got accepted by EFT and by the U.S government.
The day of departure arrived and i boarded the 777 at Heathrow. I had a nice shower from the air-con duct courtesy of BA (but thats another story!)
After 9 hours of rubbish food, i landed at MCO. i was met by the deputy CFI and taken to Fort Pierce to begin training.
The accommodation was average but comfortable and is shared between 4 other students. you get your own room with bathroom. Now, enough of the sales pitch - the houses are as i said "average." if you want 5 star, dont live in the shared houses. Having said that, they are very cheap in comparison to a hotel and only 2 minutes from the school. Its also nice sharing with other students as they can help you with any training questions you have and you make friends quicker.
The aircraft fleet were good. Saying that, i only flew the PA28'S. They were in good condition and i had no problems with availability or maintenance.
The standard of training was excellent. I went to EFT with less than an hour logged and within 6 days i went solo and passed the skills test in a further 14 days. I think aslong as you put the work in and are seen to be doing so, EFT will bend over backwards to help you. If you need any help there is always somebody about to help. If you want to moan, there's always somebody to listen.
The weather was good most of the time. Now, for those of you who say there is no weather in Florida - how about the thunderstorms and fast moving rain showers?! On my skills test, the METAR said cloud at 3000. By the time i got airborne 10 mins later - heavy showers with cloud at 1300feet. Time for an early nav diversion!
On my 4th day of training we were on the tail end of a thunderstorm. Cut throttle with full forward pressure and still climbing in the up draughts. Thats weather! Flying in Florida gives you a feeling of how quickly weather can change and how important proper precise planning will prevent poor performance (see what i did there!)
Now the downsides. No busy airspace! I am spending time with an instructor to get used to the different classes of airspace. The only other downside is the relaxed RT. great when you are learning as its less pressure but not so good when you come back to the UK! again, spending time with an instructor here will bring me up to speed.
Cost was always a factor. including flights and visa costs, i saved 2000. i will say no more!
3 weeks was a hard slog and it is in no way easy. There is a lot of studying to pass the 7 exams and it is very tiring. Dont go out to Florida with the illusion that it is a holiday. If you go with that attitude, you will not get anything from the experience.
I met some great people during my time at EFT so if any of you are reading this, thanks for making it a great experience.
I would recommend going to the States to learn. Go and meet loads of new friends and go for the experience (theres that word again!).
Happy flying!
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Old 18th Nov 2009, 03:54
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Join Date: Oct 2009
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Thanks a lot, well appreciated
We do need people like you, who are really motivated & are always think positive about their future.
Well said & presented
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Old 18th Nov 2009, 08:57
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Sounds like you had the right attitude to wards the training, get your head down, get the exams done and enjoy the flying.

When I was at Oba 2006 the people that got stuck in and focused on the task at hand didn't seem to have any issues getting the course done. Funnily enough though the ones that treated it like a holiday were the same people that struggled the squeeze it all in.

My advice to anyone going to Florida for their PPL is to do the ground exams before you go. It may cost you a bit more to do this but you will be able to relax more and focus on the flying while you are out there.
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Old 18th Nov 2009, 10:28
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I will second what Moona said. If i had my time again, i would have done all of my exams before i left the UK. I did 2 exams before i left and a lot of studying. Buy the books atleast a few months in advance to get a "grounding" knowledge and it may also be a good idea to have atleast an hour in the air to put all of the theory into a practical scenario. It helps!
I think alot of people forget about the other stuff you need to learn. BUMFICHH, HASELL etc. oh, and emergency check lists! A lot of work in a short period of time!
Do your homework and you will achieve what you set out to achieve!
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Old 18th Nov 2009, 14:13
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Hi Destinationsky, I'm glad you had a good experience in the states. Just out of curiosity do EFT actually own the PA28's? It's just that a few years ago I heard they were renting their c172's from a flight school across the ramp, has things changed now?
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Old 18th Nov 2009, 20:40
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I think they still share with Ari Ben Aviator. Although the PA28'S were parked at the EFT ramp all of the time. Im not sure who own the aircraft to be honest!
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Old 19th Nov 2009, 12:39
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Im not sure who own the aircraft to be honest!
You could of course grab a tail number from your logbook and check against the a/c register...
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Old 19th Nov 2009, 14:45
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Ari Ben Aviator own the aircraft!
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Old 19th Nov 2009, 19:39
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So Destinationsky, all in all whats the ball park cost of the course? You mentioned you saved 2k. I've always been one for "Fly in the UK, Learn in the UK" but lets face it two grand is two grand!!

Cheers
Ryan
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Old 19th Nov 2009, 19:57
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Flying in the US is so much nicer than flying in the UK, it really is a no-brainer!
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Old 19th Nov 2009, 20:13
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Oh well then if its 'nicer'.....
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Old 19th Nov 2009, 20:26
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Well, 'learning in the country you plan to fly in' only really makes sense if you only intend to fly in one country; if that's what you want to do in a country as small as Britain, then I guess it makes sense. Personally, I can't think of anything more dull.

If you actually intend to use an airplane to travel, then I don't think it makes much difference where you learn, and you might as well do it in a country that actually appreciates GA a little, rather than the European hatred of anything a bit out of the mainstream!

Good weather, much friendlier people (in general), low costs, free landings, must I go on? I have flown hundreds of hours both in the USA and Europe, and have not found anything at all that Europe does better.

I got my JAR PPL in the USA, and found that flying in the UK and beyond was not appreciably different; certainly not enough that it required hours with an instructor, or anything more than revising the different RT procedures from the Trevor Thom book.

I'd love to hear, though, why you think there are advantages to learning to fly in the UK (apart from 'not able to afford the lump sum for a USA trip)?
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Old 19th Nov 2009, 20:52
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My dear Katamarino. To be fair your original post;

(Flying in the US is so much nicer than flying in the UK, it really is a no-brainer!)

was a touch idiotic and open to interpretation (though I think that was your intention?), so here you go...

I never said to I intend to use an airplane to travel - but thank you for clarifying my intentions, my wife will appreciate it! May I also say that I have never flown in the US (though lived in FL for 2 years) never mined trained there so I am not qualified to speak for it. I have trained (am training?) in the UK and my reasons for flying here are quite simple. I work here. I live here. I will fly here for the foreseeable future. I live in Ireland and as such I am fortunate to have all sorts or areas to fly in/over, including mountains, lakes, valleys, across to the UK and beyond should my heart desire. Incidentally I am also fortunate enough to know some very nice fiendly people, in fact, i've not met anyone with whom I could not chat for hours. I suggest you have been unlucky in that regard as that is not the GA environment I know!

You mention good weather, we have some in the UK/Ireland also, unfortunately it is not as consistent with the US. However, one day during my PFL training I was fortunate enough to contend with the crosswind gusts in excess of 30knts. Unfortunately unlike most US airfields, we only have one runway to choose from so I was forced into crosswind approaches, whilst cloud dodging after doing a PFL in the rain. (Do you think I got value for money that day)?

Low costs? Hands down

Free landings? (seriously?) most clubs/schools enjoy this privilege here also (at their home airport).

So there you have my humble reasons or what I can see as advantages of learning to fly in the UK (although I can afford to go to the US if I decided that was best for me) Personally, I can't think of anything more dull.

PS
Britain is not small in 152... its a no-brainer!

Cheers
Ryan
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Old 19th Nov 2009, 21:24
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Well, if you just intend to bimble around within a few hours or so of your home base, that's fair enough! But as you have never flown in the USA, I don't seriously think you can call my comment idiotic ; try it, you'll love it, and see where I am coming from.

As for the free landings comment (and yes, of the hundreds of US airports I have visited, only 1 had a landing fee - parking fees might be $3 a day, at the majority of mid-size airports, and free at most unattended ones); do you only ever land at home base? If so, it's a valid point; I'm glad you get pleasure from that kind of flying, as I certainly can't imagine just doing that! I've met plenty of great people in the UK and Europe when flying; but only in the US have I been invited to stay at people's homes after a single meeting, and been left people's cars with keys in the ignition after meeting them at the airfield, just in case we need to go somewhere that night! People in the Europe are normally civil, and often friendly, but rarely anywhere near that warm or welcoming. It's just a different culture.

The joy of flying, for me, is that I can jump in the plane, and an hour's flying can take me from Rotterdam to the UK, or France, or Belgium, or Germany. Can't do that in a car!

Ultimately, I guess as long as we're both enjoying our flying and keeping GA going, so much the better! But to get back to the original thread; I can recommend wholeheartedly doing a PPL in the USA. If you then come back and fly in Britain, then you're getting experience in two different environments and systems, and doubling your experience can hardly be a bad thing, can it?
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Old 19th Nov 2009, 21:33
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Can i just make my intentions clear and feel free to refer to my first post.
I didnt open this thread to be the referee in slagging matches. Quite the opposite. I began this thread to offer my opinion on learning to fly in the States as opposed to here in the UK with the intention of others then offering their opinions on the matter. NOT, i hasten to add, for people to start playing down others views. An opinion is an opinion and regardless of whether you agree or not, please respect what other people say.

Chobito, i have no idea about the ATPL course as i have yet to do it.

EIflyer - Chobito probably wrote about his graduation or whatever it was due to his culture or maybe he is just proud? i dunno but im sure its a culture thing - please respect it.

Ryan5252 - i paid $8000 for the training. inc flights + visa, that works out to be 5800ish. My local clubs are approaching 8k.

I loved flying in the US. The people are friendlier. No PPR required, no landing fees at any airports (except the large ones im sure!) no wearing a hi-viz to cover somebody else's backside, cheap fuel and did i mention nicer people?!
on the flip side, i love flying in this country too. the scenery is much nicer with hills and other geographical features which Florida lacks.
I have every intention in going back there to do more flying.
I felt that flying in the States was good experience. i have more of an understanding of other nationalities airspace and how it can differ to our own. Its all adding to my knowledge and greater and wider knowledge can only be a good thing!?
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Old 19th Nov 2009, 21:35
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I have stated from the outset that I have never flown in the US. I feel that I am better adapted to learn at home as this will form the base of my flying life. This is my views and will differ from others, not that I do not accept other views (which are more often than not more experienced). There are pro's & con's to this never ending debate and as such it will continue unending unless things significantly change at home or abroad.

As I said I spent 2 years in Florida in my teenage years and return regularly as I have close family out there. Let me get my PPL first and I will take a flying holiday as im sure the change would be great, for a while. I am more than happy with my flying experience to date and I hope I am lucky enough to build on this over the coming years. Until then im not ready to jump through the hoops of the TSA, Uncle Sam or anyone else for that matter. Yet.

Cheers,
Ryan
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Old 19th Nov 2009, 21:55
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I would have loved to do my PPL here but i am impatient and wanted to do it quickly without the hassle of waiting for acceptable weather!
America was right for me at the time and i do not regret choosing to go there to do my training. The 2k i saved can now be invested into building hours before i embark on the ATPL/CPL.
I had fun. I had some good experiences. I passed my skills test and i met some great people. As far as im concerned - Mission accomplished!
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Old 19th Nov 2009, 22:10
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Ryan,

I had the same attitude as you before my horizons were broadened. Did my PPL in Ireland and afterwards went to the U.S.
If I had to do my PPL again I would choose the U.S.
All the above posts by others explain why perfectly.
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Old 20th Nov 2009, 09:25
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I've done the Grosvenor Square trip twice this year for company work. Both times I waited in excess of three hours for an interview of less than 60 seconds. Either my interview technique is spot on or the fortune we pay our lawyers for paperwork preparation is worth it. The bureaucracy is indeed mind blowing but is not a reflection of the friendliness of the natives when you get there.
I got my licence in Florida but my previous licence was obtained in the UK. The difference was immeasurable. Yes I did get bad weather, cold fronts cross winds and haze from fires forcing me to use VORs for Nav, something I rarely used in the UK. The school I went to (now defunct) was 100% committed to getting folk through their exams. The aircraft they used were not the best but the atmosphere for studying was perfect as the original poster found, too.
I am equally sure there are bad schools in the States and research and personal recommendation is essential. If you are prepared to study hard and fly twice a day then its a no brainer. You will get your PPL in 4 weeks rather than a year and a half. Plus you get to send the wife and kids to Disneyworld so everyone is happy.
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Old 20th Nov 2009, 18:54
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Hoops?
You will find that the hoops you refer to are far greater on the UK side than on the US side...
When applying for example for a FAR 61.75 certificate, it is they - the CAA who rip you off some 30+ quid simply to divulge the information to the FAA - who charge zero for doing the actual work involved.

TSA hoops - are negligible and pretty much completed online. Just turn up with your fingers to get the dabs done.

Visa application - hardly rocket science but yes it does require a trip and a stand in line at Grosvenor Sq.

As with most things in life, you get out of it - what you are prepared to put in.
I would not have to do any of the above if I continue to fly at home, so to me I regard completing those all above steps as 'jumping through hoops'. As I have said, I am content with my flying at present. This will change down the line and I will look to broaden my horizons when the time comes. I may or may not decide to do this with Uncle Sam but I will make a rational decision considering many variables.
Don't get me wrong, I am open to reasonable persuasion and would consider doing a significant amount of flying anywhere if the circumstances were favorable.

Cheers
Ryan
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