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Things I wish I knew about 43 Air School before going to 43 Air School.

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Things I wish I knew about 43 Air School before going to 43 Air School.

Old 16th Dec 2017, 12:26
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Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Malaysia
Posts: 1
Angel Things I wish I knew about 43 Air School before going to 43 Air School.

A comprehensive 43 Air School Review. Now, I promise that this wouldn’t be a rant, and if you are looking for a TLDR, I’ll say that they have awesome instructors, the flying is great, but the experience is lacking. A budget airline way to get your license, kinda.

First off, I am a 24-year-old student from Asia, and I’ve been to only two other flying schools, namely Flight Training Adelaide, Australia, and Freedom Aviation, in Lynchburg, Virginia. I chose 43 Air School simply because they offered the cheapest PPL course among other reputable air schools in the world. I took a very senior pilot’s advice, and without any prior visit and lack of available in depth reviews of the air school, I took the plunge and signed away 3 months of my life and a lifetime worth of savings to achieve my dreams of being a pilot.

One thing that you need to know about South Africa, especially the Eastern Cape, is that people are really nice, and are more laid back compared to people from Asia or from the larger western cities. It was honestly a culture shock to me when I arrived for orientation the first week and we literally had 4 days out of 7 that were unscheduled, and was pretty much left alone. Now, I’m not trying to complain or anything, but when you are spending upwards of 300 Rand a night, things start to add up (more on that later).

Our first 4 weeks of official training was ground school, where we attended classes with the rest of the intake, which consists of about 20-25 people. I was fortunate to have a great intake, and was able to bond with most of my classmates for the whole course I was there. Your mileage may vary. The ground school instructors are amazing, and we had the privilege of learning from the greatest minds 43 had to offer. Ground school runs from Monday to Friday, but usually only for the first half of the day, from 0830 to 1300. Now, nothing wrong with that, but I wished we could have had full ground school days, and shortened the amount it took. However, some lecturers held additional afternoon classes, if you needed additional help with the coursework.

As soon as ground school is done, the integrated students will sit for an exam which covers all subjects from ground school in one day, and only progress to flying after they pass the exam. For PPL students, we were immediately inducted into the flight line, and started flying as soon as ground school was over. The speed at which a student progresses is up to three factors, weather, instructor, and student.

The weather in Port Alfred is shit, but more on that later. As for instructors, I don’t believe that there are “bad instructors” at 43. There may be instructors that may not be suitable for you, but all instructors at 43 are there to help, and are very skillful pilots with balls of steel. If I had any questions about anything under the sky, I could walk to up any instructor, and ask and most of them will take the time to explain whatever I needed to know. As for students, now there were some really bad students at 43 that did some questionable flying, but if you work hard, and really pester your instructor to fly as much as you can, you will progress quickly through the course. I was always proactive and checked the weather, and looked out for available planes as they get booked really quickly. I had a great instructor that would book my flights 3-4 days in advance, ensuring that I always had a plane to fly.

43 does have a pretty large fleet of Piper planes, about 14-15 Piper Cherokee 140’s, and 10 Piper Cherokee/Archer 180’s, 4 Piper Archer 181’s, 7 Piper Arrow 200/201’s, and 5 Piper Seneca’s when I was there. Do know that as most planes are flown about 30-40 cycles in a day when the weather is good, they are prone to damage and snags are pretty common. So be prepared to see your plane return on a perfectly good day just to see it taxi to the maintenance hanger due to a broken gauge. As there are insufficient planes for the number of students, it’s usually hard to get a replacement last minute.

One big thing about 43 is the weather. Over the months of September and October, half the days were fraught with bad weather, and most of the flying was cancelled. 43 is only equipped with grass runways and taxiways (no PAPI’s BTW), and the surface winds can get pretty narly too. Most days you could get 20G25kts winds and if there is a slight crosswind component, you could possibly be grounded if you are not authorized for the other runways that may favor the winds. On top of that, it pours in Port Alfred. If it rains just a little too much. The runways could get waterlogged, and you could lose 3-4 days of flying even though weather is good. I lost about 2 weeks of flying due to the weather alone and that was quite a bit of money lost in accommodation.

Now all that being said, there are other disappointing aspects of 43 as well. Wifi is severely limited and expensive. There is no unlimited internet, as bandwidth is capped, meaning that you have to pay through the roof just to use the internet on campus. 1GB is 108 Rand, and there are packages that go all the way up to 20GB for 900 Rand. In my opinion, it is a complete rip-off, especially since you only get 4Mbps on the Wi-Fi. Cellular service is not the best on campus either, so don’t expect much from that aspect.

None of the accommodation has any form of climate control. No fan, no AC and heaters are prohibited on campus. So, come prepared with your best blankets for winder and undergarments for summer, as the temperature fluctuation indoors is pretty nasty. I stayed in Port Louis, and the showers were terrible to say the least. Hot water was rarely available and water pressure was too low especially if you have thicker hair.

As for food, it honestly wasn’t good at all. The food served in the cafeteria is usually oily and tasteless. Fries are rarely crispy, anything fried is soggy when served, some meals are completely dry and inedible. Toast is only available during meal hours, and cereal is only available during meal hours. There is a bistro on campus, but food there is only marginally better.

Many of these complaints are campus based, and can be avoided if you move off base. From what I hear, it is much cheaper to get a car and move off base if you plan to stick around for your integrated course. I was only there for a PPL, so I just rough through it and did my course as quickly as possible. All in all, it took me 10 weeks to complete my course, even though I lost a total of 2 weeks due to weather. This is a pretty long post, but I hope it was beneficial for you in making your decision to pursuing a career in flying.

Last edited by nielyee; 17th Dec 2017 at 01:01.
nielyee is offline  
Old 23rd Dec 2017, 12:01
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Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: Dubai
Posts: 30
Thank you for taking time and write this review.
SeGMaN is offline  
Old 27th Dec 2017, 23:31
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Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: Las Vegas
Posts: 61
Very interesting review. I have to ask; how much cheaper was 43 to the competition you mentioned?
Glassos is offline  
Old 9th Sep 2018, 11:27
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Join Date: Sep 2018
Location: Belgium
Posts: 5
Tips before starting your Training in 43

I did my integrated ATPL in 2017 at 43 air school. The school is great and the training quality is really good.
BUT: the accommodation is really bad: small rooms, terrible food, no internet and you share a bathroom with others guys.
Also stuff were stolen despite my door being closed and locked...
In summary: Nice school but, I highly recommend that you live off base (in Port Alfred).




Oscar748 is offline  
Old 9th Sep 2018, 18:53
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Join Date: Apr 2018
Location: Oslo
Posts: 15
Reminds me of the hell im in now hehe.
OlsAconye is offline  
Old 13th May 2019, 17:05
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Join Date: Dec 2018
Location: Switzerland
Posts: 31
Deciding between Progress and 43

Thanks for the review it really helps when deciding about a flight school. Those among us who had to get a degree and save hard for years just to be able to afford a PPL, we canít really risk our money. And kuddos to people like you who help us stay safe !

I wanted to ask you how do they deal with Finance ? I am asking because i see 43 requests upfront payments..Iím guessing this is very risky ?

Kindly advise,

CHEASApilot.
CHEASApilot is offline  
Old 13th May 2019, 17:59
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Join Date: Apr 2018
Location: Oslo
Posts: 15
I got lucky living in Norway after i got tired of eating sand in the Middle East. Apparently the pilot crunch hit Scandinavia also so they started full funding for flight training.
OlsAconye is offline  

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