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London PPL Flight School

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London PPL Flight School

Old 1st Jun 2021, 22:43
  #1 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jun 2021
Location: London
Posts: 2
London PPL Flight School

​Hello!

Apologies, I have searched and can see this topic has come up before, but not recently and not with the specific fields I have in mind.

I'm based in West London and am considering finally taking the leap and doing my PPL as a long time avgeek (not considering a career at this point, just as a hobby and life experience). I recently did a discovery flight with Flight Training London at Elstree and enjoyed it, however its not actually the closest field to me, with both Denham and White Waltham a bit closer by car that would make them an easier logistical choice over the long term. I know there is also a couple of different schools based at Elstree so overall there's a few different options there as well as others I maybe haven't even considered.

In terms of cost they aren't miles apart and I think I would need to do a more detailed comparison to get the full picture, although The Pilot Centre at Denham seems cheapest. White Waltham seems like it has a really nice community around it as well as training available on tail draggers and aerobatics, but it only has grass strips which I guess would be an issue after significant amounts of rain(?). All the schools have a couple of different aircraft available for training, and as I'm 6'3" I'm not sure if I will be able to manage in the standard 152.

To summarise some questions after the above background information:

* Does anyone have any experience at any of the above airfields/flight schools and have feedback on their own experience?

* Is there any other key factors I need to consider in terms of choosing the right flight school?

* Is it common practice to take a lesson at a couple of different places to help choose a location and instructor you're comfortable with?

Thanks in advance anyone who can give some advice!
pizzafly is offline  
Old 2nd Jun 2021, 05:05
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Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Down at the sharp pointy end, where all the weather is made.
Age: 72
Posts: 1,599
* Is it common practice to take a lesson at a couple of different places to help choose a location and instructor you're comfortable with?
It is certainly recommended practice. Make sure you keep a note of the flight details as it should all count towards your total.

My personal recommendation would be The Pilot Centre at Denham. I'd suggest you ask to sit in the C152 and get their assessment of whether or not you can safely operate it at your height. If not, you will easily fit in the C172 or the PA28 (unless you are also over a certain weight).
I'm 6'2" and 15 stone and routinely fly a C150.

White Waltham has a buzzing social scene, but not everyone 'fits in'.

TOO
TheOddOne is offline  
Old 2nd Jun 2021, 08:20
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Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Surrey, England
Posts: 730
Hi Pizzafly,

I hung up my headset for the last time in 2008, so my information may well not be up to date. But I can still offer some useful advice at least. First of all, the advice we give to all newbies; never, never, never pay up front. Flying clubs and flight schools operate on a wafer-thin profit margin and go bust commonly and without warning. You can then have a long and nail-biting wait to get your money back - if indeed you do get it back. So if you see a good looking deal for x number of flight hours, or more particularly an entire PPL course, at a significantly lower price than paying hour-by-hour, don't take it unless: -
  • you are absolutely satisfied that the club/flight school is solvent and
  • you are absolutely happy flying there. It is not uncommon for people to become dissatisfied with the service they receive from one club and wish to move to a different club. You can't do this if all your money has been paid to one outfit.
Likewise, in some places you may be offered a complete study kit for your ground-school studies. It will take the form of a cheap pilot case full of the complete range of text books, a whizz wheel, and a ruler. All the books will be from the same series. It is much better to buy your text books as you need them and be able to choose the book you like from a selection rather than buy a job-lot of books from one source. (In my time the books offered in the kits were the Trevor Thom series which were written in a most turgid writing style).

Don't go to one club because it is a shorter drive to get there. The club twenty minutes further away might be a very much better club.

Received wisdom suggests that when choosing a school/club you should go there and have a trial lesson. I disagree with this. In my experience, they will be out to impress you and you will have your trial lesson with the Chief Flying Instructor - who will be excellent. However, once you've joined the club and report for your first lesson, you will be introduced to a different instructor, who may - or may not - be as good.

Don't be tempted, by lower flying rates, to join a small club with only a couple of aeroplanes. I joined one once (situated well within the area of your interest,) and found that one day I was available, I had the money, the weather was excellent, the aeroplane was available, but no instructor! The club only had two instructors, one of whom did not teach PPL at all and the other was a part-timer who also instructed at another club miles away. Furthermore, you only needed to have one aeroplane 'go tech' and half the club's fleet was down!

Both White Waltham and The Pilot Centre at Denham were excellent in the days when I was flying. I flew from Denham myself. Of the two White Waltham, had by far the best club-house and thus the best social scene though it was always very expensive. The Pilot Centre did not have a clubhouse and so was not as 'social' as WW. However it was very well run, had good instructors, and had a decent fleet of well-maintained aeroplanes.

Well that's my two penneth,

Good luck Kid,

Broomstick.
BroomstickPilot is offline  
Old 2nd Jun 2021, 22:10
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Join Date: Jun 2021
Location: London
Posts: 2
Thanks for taking the time to reply. Really useful feedback.

I think next step seems to be to just try at each school and see which one I get the best impression from along with the other logistical factors - what other things should I be looking out for?

Or should I just start somewhere without making it obvious I'm "in the market" choosing between schools so I get a representative experience?

Denham is the most convenient probably so if it seems good there it could be a great option.


pizzafly is offline  
Old 3rd Jun 2021, 11:28
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Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Surrey, England
Posts: 730
Hi Pizzafly,

Just a few final words. Many people looking to start the PPL gain the impression that it is a 45hr course. It isn't!

45 hrs is the legal minimum hrs in which you are permitted to qualify. Most people take substantially longer. More like 70 or 80 hours for someone with reasonable flying aptitude who flies at intervals of no more than a few days. Remember, unflyable weather can add to the interval between lessons.

Many people take much longer, especially those who can only afford to pay for a lesson per fortnight or longer.

If you can, be prepared to book twice as many lessons as you really want; you will find you will be unable to fly on half of them owing to bad weather; (this is the UK after all).

There is also a tendency for people to choose to learn to fly in the summer months, often regarding flying as a summer recreation. They then find themselves in difficulty getting lessons in a busy club where everybody and his dog wants to fly all at the same time. Remember also that in the UK we have a 'returning polar maritime' climate with a rainfall maximum in the high summer months.

Once in the air in summer, all too often you find yourself flying in what looks like a fog, where you can only see the ground immediately below you, or else on a sunny day being thrown around by turbulence under fair-weather cumulus cloud, all of which makes learning to fly and navigate at the same time very difficult.

In the autumn and winter, the atmosphere is much more stable; flying is smooth. The only downside to winter flying is shorter daylight hours.

Good luck Kid,

Broomstick.
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