Deciding where to learn to fly can be a tough decision, and it takes a lot of research to determine the best location and the best school.
Learning to fly is a big investment in time and money with the average PPL Licence costing around £8,000 to £10,000, and taking anywhere from a couple of months to a couple of years. So taking the time to research and visit the schools can be a massive advantage to your progress, your teaching and also the amount you spend.
How I chose where to learn
I live in Horsham, West Sussex, I’m quite fortunate to be between a two different aerodromes, Shoreham and Redhill, both of which have various Flight Training Organisations and schools.
I initially jotted down all the schools at both locations, I ideally wanted one location where I could continue to study for my Commercial Licence. This ruled out a few schools, and left me with two down in Shoreham and a few in Redhill. I automatically discounted Redhill Aerodrome due to its vicinity to Gatwick Airport and the controlled airspace above the aerodrome is very low, meaning you would spend your lesson time flying straight and level to the training area, getting to Redhill for me would also be less convenient. I decided Shoreham would be the better option due to the higher controlled airspace and ease of access. Shoreham also offered the views of the South Coast, the Downs and also my local area.
Once I had decided on Shoreham as my aerodrome of choice, I had to choose between the flying schools. I eventually decided on Sussex Flying Club which has been at Shoreham since 1992, and decided this would be the best option for me as they offered the PPL licence as well as being an Approved Training Organisation for the CPL licence. I emailed them to ask a few questions and they invited me down to check out the school and get my questions answered.
On the Day
I had booked to speak to James who was the Chief Flying Instructor, however when I arrived he was doing a Radio Telephony Test, so instead spoke to another gentleman who was extremely friendly and very informative.
Now a lot of questions got answered as we talked, but going in with a list of questions made sure I got the answers I needed to make my decision. A list of questions I asked was:
- How much does it cost on average?
- What does the cost include?
- What items would I need to purchase?
- Is it self study or ground school?
- How much is the licence?
- Do I need to have a medical before or after starting training?
- What would a typical lesson consist of?
- What additions to the licence could I add? – upgrade to CPL? ME IR? IMC? Night Rating? Instructor rating?
- Can I complete a CPL here?
- Is it the same instructor throughout the training?
- What is aircraft availability like?
- What is the condition of the aircraft?
- What are the exam fees?
- Do I pay if the flight is cancelled?
- Cancelled due weather?
- Cancelled due instructor?
- Cancelled due to me?
- Is maintenance performed here?
- What is your background? Where did you train? How long you been flying?
- What is the airspace like around Shoreham?
- Where is your training area for General Handling?
That is just a condensed list of the questions I went in with, however a lot of these questions were answered when we were talking. Walking out of the Flight School I felt that this would be the best place for me to learn how to fly. After all I have to be happy with where I am learning, as it is me investing, my money, in my learning, so want to be sure it’s somewhere that makes me feel comfortable, is affordable and has a good atmosphere.