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Plain1 19th Jan 2021 17:05

PPL Training questions (UK)
 
HI all

3 years after I did a taster lesson in a DA20, (CubAir Redhill) and with some luck in saving, I've decided that 2021 will be the year I finally try and get my PPL! But inevitably I have concerns that I'm not doing this properly.

I'll let you guys see my proposed plan, and if anything obvious jumps out as daft can you let me know?

OK, so firstly I know I should do my Class 2 medical check before I start any training. The school I had my taster lesson recommends one based at the same place as them. I assume this doesn't represent a conflict of interests. I'm 42 and in pretty good health, don't drink much, don't smoke, not overweight, regularly sporty, so I don't imagine this to be a problem

Location wise I'm roughly between Biggin Hill and Redhill. Probably closer to BH. But I've heard with it being so busy can result in less time actually flying and a fair amount of sitting and waiting whilst the litany of private jets get priority, so I'm erring towards Redhill. The lesson I had at Cubair was enjoyable, and the instructor seemed good. Though I must admit I was concentrating, so I wasn't very chatty! At Biggin, I see reasonable reviews for EFG, but don't know anyone there. In fact I don't know anyone with a PPL in the real world so I cant ask for recommendations. Also to think about is the surface. BH being paved and Redhill being grass. Is one more favourable to a complete beginner? I've seen the phrase "brakes off to brakes on" Is that a good thing? Or can you end up sat just off a runway for 20mins very easily?

Plane choice. This is where I'm semi open. Cubair use Katana DA20s and EFG go for PA28s. I seriously doubt I will ever go on to do a CPL. But I recall that some of the larger CPL schools prefer DA20s and some lean towards Pipers, so I would like for the training to give me options if I ever find myself in that position. (Or at least not really restrict me) Or does it not really matter in the long term. DA20 obviously has a stick and the PAs have a Yoke. Is there a preference? Is there a snobbery even?

Time Frame
Everything I've read says that you shouldn't go too long between lessons as it's a skill that you need to build on regularly. I was thinking to start in probably April ish and aim to have passed by September-ish Is that a feasible time frame? Too ambitious? Would people recommend booking 3-4-5 hours every 2/3 weeks. TBH I'm sure some people just smash through it in 2 weeks or so, but I'm not looking to rush it. Suggestions welcome. Similarly is there non flight related things I could be looking to start now, books to study etc so that time in the plane is spent learning to fly and not wasted on things I could have done at home. On that note, how much time is prudent for home studies per week?

Contingencies. Again I'm sure some people pass everything first time in the minimum about of time, but I'm human, so I guess there'll be things I don't do perfectly. So based on others experience, how many hours seem normal 50? 60? Obviously there's a cost angle to remember, but if you see headline figure say £15K is that realistic or are you looking at £18-20K when all is said and done? I have seen that others say you shouldn't pre pay for hours. But both schools I've mentioned offer discounts the more you buy, so is there a happy medium there? Say no more than 5 or 10 hours in one go?

Thanks all for reading. Over to you guys to correct the glaring mistakes! :ok:


TheOddOne 19th Jan 2021 19:08

Hi Plain 1,
Welcome!
Firstly, 3 golden rules
1. Never pay up-front for flying training
2. Never pay up-front for flying training
3. Never pay up-front for flying training

Now, the straight choice between Biggin and Redhill. As you say, Biggin benefits from a hard runway, Redhill is grass (mostly!) I'm not sure what's happening about the taxiway, had heard the widening was in dispute. No matter, the issue with the grass at Redhill is mostly about waterlogging in the Winter. You say you're planning on starting in April, when the grass should be OK. As you say, Biggin is really busy with exec. jets. Whilst the big airports like Gatwick are like ghost towns, private jets are still operating so I would imagine Biggin will still be subject to delays.
Stick over yoke? I learned on a stick aircraft, then flew with a yoke, still sometimes fly with a stick. It's good to do both, can't say which is better to start with.
How many hours? Minimum for a PPL is 45, budget for 60. I was 33 when I learned, took me 58. The extra hours are never wasted (well, shouldn't be anyway) Make sure you get something out of every flight.
Book at least one flight a week, 2 if you can. 50% will get cancelled by weather. It'll still take you a year, unless you can invest mid-week time and make 4 bookings a week.
There are 2 popular sets of manuals, AFE and Pooley's. If you want to do some reading ahead of time, buy book one, either one will do. This describes the flying exercises in accordance with the syllabus. If you can find out which syllabus each school uses, then you can get that book. I wouldn't buy any of the other text books just yet, until you've discussed it with your instructor.
If you can, book a taster flight with both locations, so you can see for yourself not only how the airfield operates, but whether or not you're going to get on with the people, especially the instructors.
If I can express a personal opinion, I've done quite a bit of flying from both places (though not recently) and I'd come down on the side of Redhill and Cubair. However, as I said, you REALLY need to meet the folk at each place and see if you'll get on with them.
Good luck and let us know through these pages how you get on.
TOO

MaxR 20th Jan 2021 05:18

You already know that you like Cubair - decision made.

Book as often as you can, plan to lose half of those booked.

Never pay more upfront for flying than you can afford to lose.

Don't worry about how long it takes, it takes as long as it takes, it's all flying. You're going to be paying to fly once you have your licence, what's the difference?

Remember to enjoy it.

rudestuff 20th Jan 2021 08:30

What is your end goal? If you're thinking about ever going commercial (and having a 20 year career at a pilot ahead of you) then definitely get a class one medical sooner rather than later.

As for flying, go for the PA28 - it's not expensive but will save you money in the long run.
As others have said - it takes as long as it takes: if you are getting into flying as a hobby, you'll continue flying after your PPL, so hours don't matter. If you're getting a PPL as a stepping stone to a CPL, you'll still need to build hours afterwards, so again (to a point) hours don't matter. The number of hours for your PPL is a matter of ego only.

With that said, and not wanting to start any arguments - it should be easy to get a PPL in 45 hours if you follow some simple rules (which you won't!):

1. Get the exams out of the way before you go flying. With them out of the way you can have an uninterrupted course of flying with only weather and maintenance getting in the way. You want to be flying 5 times a week if possible. So do it in summer. Or Florida.

2. Learn everything about the aircraft before you get in it. Know the POH and checklists off by heart and when you need them.

3. Don't plan on learning anything in the aircraft - you should get in knowing what you're going to be doing. That's where a good brief is with its weight in gold. Use the time in the aircraft to watch the demo then practice, that's all your brain will have capacity to do.

4. Chair-fly every day. This is the best piece of advice you'll ever get and it's free. Your instructor is simply looking for you to demonstrate competency in each maneuver: if you forget to put the carb heat on, or do a checklist on downwind - you'll have to do that maneuver again. You give yourself the best chance of getting it right sooner if you chair fly and turn up prepared.

5. Learn in a 4 seater. Pick a buddy to learn with and back-seat as many of each others flights as you can.
You will learn as much if not more from the back seat watching someone else struggle as you will from the front - because the pressure is off and you have spare capacity. You'll have much more exposure to radio calls, traffic patterns and especially navigation and area familiarity. For free.

tolip1 20th Jan 2021 09:17

I would just like to echo the point about backseating a friend's lessons, you will absorb so much more whilst you aren't sweating in the front in the circuit.

MrAverage 20th Jan 2021 09:31

EFG, great school but severely hampered by Biggin management including circuit and student solo restrictions and heavy landing fees.

Redhill regularly waterlogged and unusable, but don't forget to include Redhill Aviation in your search if you're determined to go there. They have a longstanding and envious reputation.

You have many other airfield options if you are mobile, lots within an hour or so. Commuting cost is peanuts compared to the cost of flying. Following any training event and it's debrief, you will self debrief for some time after anyway and some of this can be done on the way home.

Unless you're very blessed it'll likely be 55 to 60 hours and:

Don't pay upfront!


mikehallam 20th Jan 2021 16:38

Don't be negative about your talents.

I was 32 when as a motorcycle rider & working far away from home I first decided to have a go at flying,
Then had to break the learning sequence between Sydney Aus. and U.K. Shoreham Sussex - it took some 15 months (lowish finances) and just under 40 hrs to GFT.

Heard about the PFA - now LAA - and shared ownership initially got me into the fun side of light a/c ownership; I have stayed PPL ever since,
Radio licence wasn't necessary or done legally till much later.
As for Nav. well with the magic of GPS & mapped screens nowadays it should be easier really !

Jan Olieslagers 20th Jan 2021 17:53

Decide for yourself what you want the PPL for. As a goal by itself, the PPL has little value over "lower" licenses. Its main advantage is that one can add to it: CPL, IFR, night flying.

Duchess_Driver 20th Jan 2021 23:29

I drive to BH a few times a year for various reasons from the Heathrow area. On average, and not pushing it, I leave about an hour and a quarter and am rarely over an hour. So, starting from BH in that time you could be at Fairoaks or Rochester and probably Headcorn as well and probably many other ‘smaller’ fields. Damyns Hall in enemy territory might be an option?

Think about the type of flying you want to do - why a PPL and not LAPL / NPPL(A) / Microlight and then move up if necessary. Wherever and whatever you choose, pop in and have a chat and get the feel for it - where are you comfortable and who are you comfortable with?

Plain1 4th Feb 2021 20:01

Thanks everyone for the responses. Loads of great info to digest.



Originally Posted by TheOddOne (Post 10971479)
...
1. Never pay up-front for flying training
2. Never pay up-front for flying training
3. Never pay up-front for flying training



...


50% will get cancelled by weather


Originally Posted by MaxR (Post 10971730)

Book as often as you can, plan to lose half of those booked.

Never pay more upfront for flying than you can afford to lose..


Originally Posted by MrAverage (Post 10971872)
Don't pay upfront!

I am confused here. My expectation is that if I pre book say 10 lessons to get a cheaper rate, then why would cancellations outside my control mean I might lose them? Weather is weather, maintenance of aircraft is not my fault. If I don't turn up, I'd expect to lose out, but is there something I'm missing about the way flight schools operate?


Originally Posted by rudestuff (Post 10971805)
What is your end goal? If you're thinking about ever going commercial (and having a 20 year career at a pilot ahead of you) then definitely get a class one medical sooner rather than later.

I think a lot of people have this dream to become a professional. But I cant see myself in the position of having the funding to go to that. (Euromillions win aside :ok:) But the option to add extra parts to any licence over time has significant appeal on a personal level.


Originally Posted by rudestuff (Post 10971805)

As for flying, go for the PA28 - it's not expensive but will save you money in the long run.

3. Don't plan on learning anything in the aircraft - you should get in knowing what you're going to be doing. That's where a good brief is with its weight in gold. Use the time in the aircraft to watch the demo then practice, that's all your brain will have capacity to do.

4. Chair-fly every day. This is the best piece of advice you'll ever get and it's free. Your instructor is simply looking for you to demonstrate competency in each manoeuvre: if you forget to put the carb heat on, or do a checklist on downwind - you'll have to do that manoeuvre again. You give yourself the best chance of getting it right sooner if you chair fly and turn up prepared.

5. Learn in a 4 seater. Pick a buddy to learn with and back-seat as many of each others flights as you can.
You will learn as much if not more from the back seat watching someone else struggle as you will from the front - because the pressure is off and you have spare capacity. You'll have much more exposure to radio calls, traffic patterns and especially navigation and area familiarity. For free.

Like the idea of back seat observation. Do many schools encourage this or help people find others to do this with if you don't know anyone personally?




Originally Posted by TheOddOne (Post 10971479)
...
Book at least one flight a week, 2 if you can.. It'll still take you a year, unless you can invest mid-week time and make 4 bookings a week.
There are 2 popular sets of manuals, AFE and Pooley's. If you want to do some reading ahead of time, buy book one, either one will do. This describes the flying exercises in accordance with the syllabus. If you can find out which syllabus each school uses, then you can get that book. I wouldn't buy any of the other text books just yet, until you've discussed it with your instructor.

Honestly, I don't think I'll be able to do 4 bookings a week. But I'll investigate 2 per week. Especially during the summer, when presumably it's possible to fly in the early evening daylight hours.


Originally Posted by MrAverage (Post 10971872)
... but don't forget to include Redhill Aviation in your search if you're determined to go there. They have a longstanding and envious reputation.

You have many other airfield options if you are mobile, lots within an hour or so. Commuting cost is peanuts compared to the cost of flying. Following any training event and it's debrief, you will self debrief for some time after anyway and some of this can be done on the way home.

I'm open to options regarding locations :) But tbh I'm mentally discounting Biggin due to the extra traffic as much as anything. There's a vid on Youtube of someone going to BH and even they were delayed landing due to the congestion which makes me think the stories are true.

Which brings me to


Originally Posted by Duchess_Driver (Post 10972390)
...you could be at Fairoaks...

I don't know why, but I always assumed Fairoaks was a) Grass and b) Helicopters only.

But clearly Flysynergy.com operate Pipers from there so they are definitely on my list. Especially since I work closer to there than I do to Redhill. Meaning flying after work would be an option. I would guess very few schools would allow lessons to start at 6am during the week, but maybe I'm wrong.

Thanks again everyone

MrAverage 5th Feb 2021 09:00

Plain1

Most flying clubs and schools are limited companies. They've been going bust owing people significant amounts of money since long before I started and will continue to do so. Just like airlines.
Many, but not all (there are some who protect your money) rely on your £5k to pay some outstanding bills in order to stay afloat.

You can ask me how I know in a PM if you wish.

cjhants 5th Feb 2021 12:27

Some good advice from above replies. Just a few words on the katana. Did some hours early on in my training 17 years ago. Loved the aircraft and the great visibility. Only transferred to a PA28 due to lack of availability on the katana. Advantage vs PA28 or C152 is the c/s or wobbly prop. Hours spent training on this type will qualify you for other complex aircraft in the future should you wish to fly one. The katana is a slippery aircraft compared to most other trainers, and the skill needed to control speed on approach is IMO a useful extra tool to have. If you can nail the approach in a katana, you will find a PA28 easy.

jan99 6th Feb 2021 15:36

I learned in a Thielert diesel DA40. Learning while making trips with a coffee break in the middle for changing student places was relaxed with very useful opportunity for learning while in the 'supervisory' backseat. Requires that neither the CFI nor either student is on a tight schedule.

n5296s 7th Feb 2021 01:58

My 2¢ for what it's worth. I learned in the US so not directly comparable, at one of the busiest small airports in the world (Palo Alto) - on a fine Saturday morning, being number 5 to land is common.

First, it really doesn't matter what you learn on (within reason - there are people who have learned in a Pitts, but that doesn't make it a good idea). You'd be amazed at how easy the transition is from low wing to high wing, or yoke to stick, or whatever, once you've established a basic skill level. I learned on a 172, with odd lessons in a 152. Not long after I transitioned to a 182, then my own TR182, with odd flights in a PA28, SR20 and Robin. It takes about five minutes to stop noticing the different controls. While learning stick to one type, but afterwards you'll transition easily enough. (Low wing to/from high wing takes a bit of practice, but no biggie - you'll nail it in an hour).

The ONLY hard thing in flying is landing. (There are lots of things that SEEM hard, but landing well takes a lot of practice). So while learning, you need to do it as often as possible. That rules out Biggin - and PAO too, for intensive pattern work we would bop over to one of the less busy fields in the area. (Fond memories of my tailwheel checkout, 13 landings in 30 minutes on a calm day at Byron where we flew dog-leg turns at each end of the runway). My only times at Redhill have been in a heli, and I don't think I've ever seen a fixed wing movement there! - always waterlogged.

Bosi72 11th Feb 2021 00:27

Follow the steps below (in that particular order):

1. get your class 2 medical
2. study and pass ppl theory
3. go flying

Any other order may incur unnecessary costs.
Good luck!

​​​​​

rudestuff 11th Feb 2021 04:55


Originally Posted by n5296s (Post 10985242)
The ONLY hard thing in flying is landing.

The best advice I ever had about landing was from Douglas Adams in the Hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy: "The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss."

rudestuff 11th Feb 2021 04:55


Originally Posted by Bosi72 (Post 10988163)
Follow the steps below (in that particular order):

1. get your class 2 medical
2. study and pass ppl theory
3. go flying

Any other order may incur unnecessary costs.
Good luck!

​​​​​

Can't beat that advice..

Dave Gittins 11th Feb 2021 12:30

I fly at Cubair, have done for about 10 years. Do it because they are a good friendly bunch, who genuinely want people to learn and enjoy themselves. I'm more of a friend than a customer.

I have had a PPL a long long time and fly their PA-28. I used to fly the DA40-180 and will again when it's available. The Cub is also an option but one I've never followed. I've only flown a DA-20 once, just have a preference for the PA-28 as most of my time is on various models of Cherokee/Warrior/Archer and 172s.

I don't have an issue with the wet boggy grass because there are hard taxiways and a slightly challenging piece of taxiway known as RWY 25/08 (look in the AIP or on the Redhill Aerodrome web site) used when the grass is too wet and soft. It generally works fine but being narrow is a bit cross wind limited. Normal crap visibility is more of a constraint than the soft airfield.

I last flew in December and am just waiting for Covid to allow me to fly again. I am quite happy there.

white light 11th Feb 2021 13:51

Rudestuff
Some great advice there, especially about the armchair flying & the backseating

Fly-by-Wife 11th Feb 2021 18:58


Originally Posted by rudestuff (Post 10988234)
The best advice I ever had about landing was from Douglas Adams in the Hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy: "The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss."

I've posted that here a few times in the past along the lines of "landing is aiming at the ground but missing for as long as possible".


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