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Panshanger? Or somewhere else?

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Panshanger? Or somewhere else?

Old 30th Jun 2010, 10:17
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Panshanger? Or somewhere else?

There is a good chance that I will be working Mon-Fri in Welwyn Garden City for at least 3 months. I am currently considering whether to continue learning where I am at weekends, or effectively move and continue learning weekday evenings at North London Flying School at Panshanger, or "somewhere else".

Can I ask for the panel's opinion on said airfield? What is that school like?

My current instructor told me something about the CFI there, and suggested if I go anywhere, go to Denham. And avoid Elstree, especially Cabair like the plague, unless I want to be ripped off, etc.

I'm going up to WGC on Friday so I will look around Panshanger then, but in the meantime.... your opinions?

Thanks as always,
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Old 30th Jun 2010, 11:55
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Be sure to check out Panshanger - it's a lovely strip.

I learnt to fly at Denham with Cabair, and am now based at Panshanger, but have had experiences at all of the airfields you mention and it's easily my favourite.

Once you accept that this is a fun airfield run on a passion for flying rather than making money, you can easily forgive the best-effort RT and sporadic reception staffing! Sure, the owner can be a bit bananas with his sense of humour, but he means well and you can't knock his skills as a CFI! The restaurant, facilities, maintenance and atmosphere are all superb.

Drop me a PM if you have any specific questions, or indeed want to be shown around on Friday...
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Old 30th Jun 2010, 12:56
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Driving from Welwyn to Denham in the evenings might be a bit soul-destroying especially considering how busy the M25 is with the widening roadworks. Although, it's usually at a standstill clockwise, anticlockwise flows a bit better.
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Old 30th Jun 2010, 14:45
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agreed - the drive down (A1 - M25) is murder in the evenings. But the weather is nice.

and sorry, can't agree with whoever said that about cabair elstree. i use them and they're great, i dont understand why they get knocked so often. they may be a bit more expensive but at least they won't disappear up their own arses like loads of smaller schools have, i'd pay a small premium for that.
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Old 30th Jun 2010, 16:56
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Nice long grass runway and has always seemed friendly enough when I've flown over from Elstree. If you're in Welwyn anyway I would have said it would be ideal! No experience of the school.
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Old 30th Jun 2010, 17:46
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I'm currently learning at Panshanger and from my own experience have only good things to say about the school, the instructors, the aircraft and the general friendliness of the place.

I agree that some people might find the CFI on first encounter a bit loud and maybe even rude, but once you meet him a few times you find he is actually a pretty nice guy that just wants the best for his members and instructors.

The level of training is very good and I think this is helped that in the 9 months that I have been learning I have always had the same instructor, rather than some of the stories you read where people seem to get a different instructor every couple of months, in fact all of the instructor team are the same ones that were there when I started which must show they are generally happy.

The aircraft they use all seem to be in good condition and I have never had any problems with lessons being cancelled due to the aircraft being double booked, not available, being serviced etc.. with the only reason for cancellations being weather, and when this happens my instructor always make a point of calling first to save a wasted journey.

I also like the fact that once when the weather was not suitable for the exercise we wanted to perform which was a Navigation, but it was OK for circuits, the instructor said, 'I don't think you really need to waste your money doing another session on circuits, so maybe we should not fly', which I am sure in many other schools the instructor would have possibly been under pressure to take the student up for the circuits as long as it was safe even if it was not in the student interest to do this ?

The reason I went to Panshanger rather than Elstree was because I wanted more of a club atmosphere, as the reason that I am learning to fly is purely for recreation rather than a career. I did find when I visited Elstree that it seemed to be run much more as a business with more emphasis on getting people trained and then move on to the next person rather than having any club atmosphere where I felt I could just pop along after I had my PPL to have a cup of tea and talk planes. Don't get me wrong I don't have any problem with Cabair running their business like this as it seems a very professional company, it is just not what I was looking for.

All in all I find Panshanger fits what I am looking for in a flying school.
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Old 1st Jul 2010, 00:06
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I agree that some people might find the CFI on first encounter a bit loud and maybe even rude, but once you meet him a few times you find he is actually a pretty nice guy that just wants the best for his members and instructors.
Living nearby Panshanger was the obvious choice when I wanted to do my IMC. My enquiry in the clubhouse was met with unforgivable rudeness by said CFI. I was extremely embarrassed by him in front of a number of instructors and students etc. I never got to meet him a few times so assume he is not a nice guy - I have never been back. Did rating elsewhere and very satisfied.
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Old 1st Jul 2010, 10:36
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Thanks for all the replies and PMs - it certainly seems that people's experiences of Panshanger are quite varied!

Herts_sc - you have a PM.

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Old 1st Jul 2010, 10:57
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Can't speak for Panshangar as i've never been. Elstree is fine if you go to Firecrest rather than Cabair. PM me for more info.
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Old 1st Jul 2010, 11:36
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I fly from Panshangar from time to time (though I didnt train there, so actually it's taken a whil to catch up on who's who). It's a nice setting (I like the way people jst come and watch the planes at weekends), good cafe, and they are working at building the club atmosphere. Instructors are as good as I've found anywhere, planes are OK (if a bit cosmetically shabby, same anywhere really). Maintenance is on site, which avoids a lot of tech problems. One nice thing is that you dont have to fly for miles to avoid controlled airspace and get to a training area. The CFI ? Definitely a 'personality' !.... but he's not 'in your face' the whole time so you can avoid him if you want. I dont mind the sporadic radio coverage (it's 'radio' service after all), though the instructors will reply to calls as and when they can.
My only dislike... there's usually no-one around on reception, and I have to wait for an instructor to arrive (usually with student in tow) to do paperwork, answer questions, pay bills, etc.
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Old 1st Jul 2010, 18:01
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If you are based at Welwyn, Panshanger is probably the best option. If you don't drive, I believe a cab would be the only wa

The comments I've read in the past about Panshanger are generally negative.
I am doing my PPL there, the atmosphere at the airfield is very relaxed, but the flying and teaching is taken seriously and quite professionally I can say.

The Piper fleet is kept and maintained well, and hourly training rates are pretty competitive. I've also had the same instructor since I started and all of them are very friendly and helpful. Herts_sc put it very well, the school feels like they truly have passion for flying as oppose to taking your credit card details.

The radio as mentioned is A/G, so don't always expect a reply straight away, 8/10 times you will get airfield info/radio check.

One minor dislike is during busy times the instructors seem to do a lot of multitasking at the reception which can delay you a bit.

The food is expensive, but very tasty. ( I believe you get discount with membership)

I am not saying Cabair is a bad training organization (CPL/ATPL courses seem excellent), but if you want to qualify for a PPL with out spending a lot more than needed, NLFS would probably be a better option.
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Old 2nd Jul 2010, 14:38
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Used to instruct there about a decade ago and it was great!
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Old 2nd Jul 2010, 14:55
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Henlow is not far up the road from WGC and is excellent.
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Old 6th Jul 2010, 22:44
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My experience of customer service at Panshanger has been really poor. Try Firecrest at Elstree for friendly (but efficient) customer service and good value. Plus they seem to have long-stay career instructors and not a string of young chaps building hours so they can become airline pilots. Pilot Centre at Denham is also good.
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Old 17th Dec 2010, 14:01
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Firecrest at Elstree

Not a bad little outfit, the aircraft are all Cessnas and they have some experienced instructors.The CEO is a dynamic chap with a good feel for GA.
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