Go Back  PPRuNe Forums > Non-Airline Forums > Private Flying
Reload this Page >

PPL schools near South London (is distance an issue?)

Private Flying LAA/BMAA/BGA/BPA The sheer pleasure of flight.

PPL schools near South London (is distance an issue?)

Old 8th Mar 2011, 16:08
  #1 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Sparta
Posts: 8
Arrow PPL schools near South London (is distance an issue?)

Having visited many schools nearest to me, the nearest being Biggin Hill (15 miles away), best for ease of location, but also the most expensive, I wanted to get your thoughts-

How important is it to be close to your school's location?

Taking into account mileage/travel/traffic/costs/tiredness/lesson cancellations etc as well as keeping in mind quality and price of PPL training.

I did visit Stapleford (20 Miles) cheapest, not so great PPL fleet, but the journey there is less a distance issue and more a challenge one, via Elephant & Castle/Peckham and East London.

Airways FC Booker (some 35 miles away) but ideal for quality aircraft, school and airfield, but that M40 trek, could it play with energy levels on arrival for a lesson?

Your views would be appreciated.
Ikarusleftwing is offline  
Old 8th Mar 2011, 19:11
  #2 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: EBZH
Posts: 2,467
The main disadvantage of a distant aerodrome is that more things can change while you are getting there. Only last week I left home in perfect flying weather for my a/d just over an hour's ride away, only to hear my instructor cancel the flight due to excessive wind and turbulence when I arrived. And right he must have been at 18 knots coming in just over a hill.
Not wanting to repeat the experience, I cancelled today's flight when I saw ever increasing wind speeds in the METAR's - and probably lost a valuable hour of fine flying in beautiful early spring weather.

So yes it is a good thing to be close to your home field. OTOH my previous place was only 45 minutes driving away, but its circuit twice as large, and training often interrupted by paradrop ("everyone leave the traffic circuit until all down") , or , worse, undisciplined helo trainers.

I think your first aim should be a place where you feel good while training in the circuit. For me, this requires good discipline most of all, and fair economy as a secondary point.
Jan Olieslagers is online now  
Old 8th Mar 2011, 21:04
  #3 (permalink)  
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: London
Posts: 305
Where do you live? The information would help us make suggestions.

I did my training at Headcorn. It took me an hour on the train, each way. I used the time to study my books, so it wasn't dead time.

A good relationship with your instructor will help. With mine, I had an agreement that where there was a clear need to cancel the flight due to weather, he'd call me before my travel. It was rare that I got to the aerodrome and the lesson was cancelled.
jollyrog is offline  
Old 9th Mar 2011, 18:21
  #4 (permalink)  
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: uk
Posts: 3
Well, I only registered on this useful site today (though I've been reading it for some time) with the intention of asking a question about flying in the Southeast and someone has got in before me! I am not looking for a PPL provider, rather a flying club.

I don't mean to hijack the Ikarusleftwing's thread - merely bump it back up and tack on some similar thoughts/concerns.

I live in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, and have been trying to decide between Headcorn, Biggin Hill or further afield.

In my case, Biggin Hill is a little further than Headcorn, but it takes less time due to motorway route getting there. Biggin Hill also has a tarmac runway versus grass at Headcorn - is this worth bearing in mind for any reason?

To make things more confusing Biggin Hill has 4 flying schools. Some schools have Piper Warriors, some have Cessna 152's and others have various other planes. I've also been informed that due to it's altitude, relative to other airfields in the South, it has a higher chance of been covered in cloud. True?

I also know an airline pilot who has a share in a plane at Shoreham, but surely this is too far from me, even if it means the possibility of cheaper flying and casual guidance ('lessons')

Once qualified, I will certainly try to go on club trips etc, especially over to France, so would it be more worthwhile choosing an airfield closer to the coast? Biggin Hill is quite a way from the sea, whilst Headcorn and Shoreham are closer.

So, considerations for me are:

- distance
- price
- microclimate?
- aircraft type
- trips to France
- flying with nice people!

The only variable that doesn't matter so much is that I will be doing my PPL abroad, so I guess instruction is less important for me than it could be. I will be looking to join a flying club before or after my PPL is completed, subject to all of the above factors.

Yes, it's certainly confusing!

Happy to be of no help at all,

Natureboy99 is offline  
Old 9th Mar 2011, 21:36
  #5 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: England & Scotland
Age: 59
Posts: 1,347
Even more to consider...

Biggin Hill more expensive but concrete strip with IMC capabilities.

A grass strip is cheaper but you lose flight time when it is waterlogged.

Higher airfields more often in cloud. Airfields in a natural bowl - more fog / mist

Biggin far from the coast? Not at 120 kts
John R81 is offline  
Old 9th Mar 2011, 22:01
  #6 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Hotel this week, hotel next week, home whenever...
Posts: 1,287
Denham is acessible with ease from Central London and The Pilot Centre offer well maintained, presentable aircraft and quality training. It's a 15 minute walk from the station, or a 5 minute taxi ride if you're rich.

You don't want too much of a trek though...try to arrive fresh and focussed wherever you chose to learn. Difficult, arduous journeys should be avoided.


Duchess_Driver is offline  
Old 9th Mar 2011, 22:11
  #7 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: London
Age: 47
Posts: 585
I think that the single most important consideration is finding a good instructor.
julian_storey is offline  
Old 9th Mar 2011, 22:12
  #8 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: New Zealand
Posts: 336
I can give the guys at Denham the thumbs up :-) nice place loads of fun airspace, getting souht/SE can involve some routing around Heathrow and London CTA

they also have a few Cirrus aircraft based there! (provate but there are syndicate shares available)

Nice easy VRP's too.

FlyingKiwi_73 is offline  
Old 9th Mar 2011, 22:39
  #9 (permalink)  
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: UK
Posts: 63
I'm with Julian - your choice of instructor will be a far more significant factor.
mur007 is offline  
Old 11th Mar 2011, 07:02
  #10 (permalink)  
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: Hong Kong SAR
Age: 76
Posts: 290
Take a look at Rochester, Kent.
CISTRS is offline  
Old 11th Mar 2011, 08:02
  #11 (permalink)  
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: uk
Posts: 3
Thanks CISTRS,

Did you do some training there, or perhaps someone you know? For some reason, I never even thought of Rochester, through it is a little further than Biggin Hill from me.

In the end, I'll have to drive around and take a look at all of these, but any information in advance is helpful,

Natureboy99 is offline  
Old 11th Mar 2011, 11:07
  #12 (permalink)  
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: Midlands
Posts: 2,361
I am not from with your area but when I was facing a similar problem I visited all the local possibilities and spend some time drinking coffee, talking to instructors and watching what was going on. I then had trial flights at two places before making my final decision. I was amazed at the variance in approach over the different airfields and schools/clubs.

A grass airfield that is well drained is likely to be open 99% of the year. Ask how often it is waterlogged, some times it is an issue, but mostly it is urban myth

A PPL is a big investment and time spent in recognisance is never wasted.

Are you planning to be a recreational flyer, or do you have commercial aspirations?

Good luck and enjoy it.

Rod1 is offline  
Old 11th Mar 2011, 13:55
  #13 (permalink)  
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: UK
Posts: 97
Redhill may also be worth considering. Grass airfield, but with a tarmac perimeter track which can be used by pilots in the winter, (subject to a suitable 'check out' ). Under an hour from Tunbridge Wells.
I Love Flying is offline  
Old 11th Mar 2011, 13:59
  #14 (permalink)  
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Near ACORN, UK
Posts: 145

You and I come from the same neck of the woods (I went to school in Tunbridge Wells) and I did my PPL at Headcorn. I too was torn between Biggin Hill and Headcorn and chose Headcorn in part due to the atmosphere at the flying club. I've spent many summer days just watching whats going on and talking to people there. I think many of the things you are looking for can be found there (good range of aircraft and friendly people etc). On a personal level, I prefer being at a smaller aerodrome, with lots going on, right in the heart of Kent.

You're right that you need to go and have a look at all these place for yourself - only you can make this decision so look around and see what you prefer. PM me if you want more info on Headcorn etc because I really enjoy the place!
Morris542 is offline  
Old 11th Mar 2011, 18:16
  #15 (permalink)  
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: uk
Posts: 3
Hey folks,

Thanks for the useful information. I'll certainly check headcorn out - my wife used to jump out of perfectly good planes there (before she met me, I'll add). I've only been to the area once, to feed big cats at WHF, but the airspace was busy with R22's, skydivers, PPL flyers etc - well, it was a brilliant sunny day straight after a winter of cr4p.

I'll also check Redhill and Rochester out.

In response to Rod1, no commercial aspirations for me. I'm only just on the wrinkle-free side of 40 and have hungry mouths to feed. I just want to get my PPL to scratch an itch that's been there for 20 years, wait for an old relative to pop their clogs, then buy a Vans RV6 for coastline flights and trips to France!

Again, apologies to the original poster for somewhat of a thread hijack, but hopefully you're getting as much useful info as I am!

Natureboy99 is offline  
Old 12th Mar 2011, 02:32
  #16 (permalink)  
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: Hong Kong SAR
Age: 76
Posts: 290
When I am back in Blighty, I live very close to Rochester. Interesting mix of light aircraft on a grass airfield. Actually - only flew out of there on one occasion.
The journey to the field and club ambiance are important - so advise you check out all viable options.
CISTRS is offline  

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us Archive Advertising Cookie Policy Privacy Statement Terms of Service

Copyright 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.