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OT: Some advice on PPL Training

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I hope you dont mind the OT post folks.I've spent far too long dreaming about it, so this year I've decided to (at last) start my PPL training here in the UK. (Glasgow, Scotland to be exact).I have a choice of some local flight schools and have narrowed the choice down to 2. I'm not sure which to go with and would appreciate any insight or advice from the many pilots I know frequent this forum.Choice 1 is a flying school based at Glasgow's regional airport. The airport is busy, landing fee's are higher and from what I know, light aircraft (understandably) very much take 2nd place to commercial traffic. I dont think light aircraft circuits are allowed.The school uses Tomahawks.Choice 2 is from a smaller airfield. Landing fees are less, circuits allowed but there perhaps wouldnt be the same chance from the start for more demanding RT training and getting used to flying in and around more controlled airspace (does this matter!?).The school uses Diamond Katana's.Despite the landing fee difference, both schools charge about the same per hour for tuition.Which would you choose? Any advantage of learning in a Katana over a Tomahawk or vice-versa!? Better to learn at a small "no tower" airport or go for the regional airport and "get used to" the other traffic and restictions?Any and all advice gladly received! :-)Thanks in advanceJim

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I'd personally go whatever is the cheapest route.I trained at a busy class c airport-and at first while a student felt more uncomfortable going to uncontrolled fields. I have a friend that trained at an uncontrolled field and always felt uncomfortable going to class d and above airports. However, experience irons this out-and as long as you hit a variety of all in your training I don't think it really matters.I think the big thing is to get as much variety in your training as you can-as long as you visit a multitude of airports it won't really matter where you train out of-but the price may end up being quite different at the end.I did my primary training at a flying club-the planes were pretty warn, and the instructors were old retired guys doing it for fun. The instruction was great -as they were doing it for fun and not on a time clock, and the old beat up planes had their quirks and taught me a lot.By contrast, my daughter went to a slick, flight school with all the props, brand new aircraft, and lots of extras like high cost cd rom ground school. In the end I don't think she got trained any better than I did-but she did pay about 3x the amount to get her license (I should say I paid 3 times the amount :-eek) ....IMHO.http://members.telocity.com/~geof43/Geofdog2.jpg

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The cheaper school sounds better. RT procedures can always be practiced with your CFI or with some a CD program that is available, think it's called Comm1 or something like that. Good luck

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Jim,I did my PPL (USA) at a controlled airport that had alot of business jet traffic. I was almost always the guy who had to extend (downwind) to allow for the jet traffic. I didn't really mind, I got to see some cool jets and may be gained a full 2/10th's of an hour for my logbook. I had wanted to learn at a controlled field, to gain the experience talking to the various ground frequencies and playing with the big boys.If I had it to do over again, I'd probably do the same thing. I feel comfortable among the jets. My flight training did not cost as much as I had planned on at the time.But nowadays, cost is definitely an option to look at. My two cents (US;not sure of the transfer rates to shillings): go with the small field. 1. Less Cost 2. Don't miss out on all the hangar flying and the camraderie pilots at the smaller fields get.See if both schools will let you take one flight with a prospective instructor. My instructor was great, I missed her when she left.Regards,

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Normally I'd vote for the busier airport, so that you won't be intimidated later, but there's busy and then there's busy.I train at Boeing Field in Seattle, which has lots of business jets, cargo planes, and (of course) Boeing jet flights. But it is also very friendly for general aviation. By contrast, Seattle-Tacoma doesn't have any flight schools and with good reason; there's almost never a lull in the heavy iron traffic. Some of the top 30 US airports have active GA training, like Phoenix Sky Harbor and Honolulu. A lot depends on the weather and runway configurations.Not sure what Glasgow is like but if circuit training isn't allowed I'd take the hint & stay away. There will be times when you'll want to practice a lot of landings in quick succession.All things being equal I'd take the Tomahawk over the Katana, since bumps from the wind are probably less noticeable, but the condition of the planes are a bigger factor. The Katana is likely to be newer.Best of luck to you; you're in for a fun challenge!

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Hmmm...difficult choice...I think I would choose the smaller airport, the Katana is a nice aircraft, also,you've got a problem if you can't practice patterns at the large airport...You might have to burn time and fuel (= money ) waiting for the big jets to taxi, take-off and land.All things considered, I'd go for the small airport :-) Twister

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I am no pilot, but hey, take the small one. Katanas are cool, so why not. :-)@Geof: >(I should say I paid 3 times the amount :-eek)LOL :-lol! *grin*Etienne :-wave

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Thanks for taking the time to reply and for the advice folks - much appreciated.I called the smaller airfield today (it's called Cumbernauld) and arranged a Trial Lesson. Even from my telephonce call I was impressed. Woman I spoke to was very friendly and when I mentioned I had some gliding experience she immediately suggested that she book me in a Katana instead of the usual C150, as I'd probably find it more akin to a glider in handling.So my adventure starts on 26th January and I'm looking forward to it. I'm 43 now and it's only taken me some 25 years to get round to it since I first got bitten by the flying bug! :-lolOh and Geof, if you're looking to sponsor someone to the tune of 3 x your training costs again - I'm your man!! ;-)

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Good luck, and better start saving money before that intro lesson :-lolI'm determined to go ahead with training here in the Netherlands as soon as I can afford it (was planning for this summer but financial trouble got in the way of that :-( ;(8 so I'm having to postpone.Been waiting for a chance to start since the day I first saw an aircraft 25 years or so ago :-rotor

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Good luck to all our cadets !If you guys are really determined and prepared to invest a great deal of efforts (and money...) into this, there's no doubt that you will succeed.Roughly a third of the guys and gals that began flight training with me completed the training.I guess the rest we're not motivated enough and were not aware that getting a license would involve so much learning...Just to let you know, I sold my brand new car and settled for a garbage bin on wheels to finance a part of my training ;(8 (the costs ran higher than I initially estimated).I guess I also would have sold the house and the dog in order to achieve my flying dream...that's how bad I wanted it !All the bestTwister

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Good luck in your training! Last June, I was in exactly your position. I was 39 and had decided to pursue the lifelong dream of flight. I just earned my private certificate a few days ago and feel great about it. Keep at it and you will succeed eventually.Here is some unsolicited advice from one middle-aged novice enthusiast to another.First, it doesn't hurt to go into it with some strategy to manage and contain your expenses. If you are on a pay-as-you-go basis you will find costs are spaced unevenly over the course of your training. If the UK system is anythink like the US, there will probably be (relatively speaking) "cheaper" phases after you solo and finish your required dual instruction. But there will also be phases when expenses peak, such as the period when you are getting ready to solo and again as you prepare for your exams. If you are of modest means like me, it helps to anticipate those higher costs and deal with them. Also remember that many of the costs are hidden ones. Your flight school will have a certain incentive to quote you optimistic figures at the outset, but you will almost certainly spend more. Take into account things like supplies, literature, magazines, gas and mileage on your vehicle, and the opportunity costs of your time.Second, don't neglect the ground study part. I observed a lot of fellow students during my training. The ones who were lazy about cracking their books were also the ones who were messing around, procratinating, wasting time and moneny, and probably drifting away without ever finishing. At the same time, it's expensive and unnecessary to spend too much time on ground school with your instructor. Study as much as possible on your own.Third, watch your instructor very closely and decide whether or not this is a pilot you want to emulate. Most instructors in this country are young pilots with limited experience. Some of them frankly have a youthful indifference to risk that we middle-aged people can't afford. Some of them are careful and some careless, and those qualities will rub off on you. I initially flew with a couple of instructors then chose the one that struck me as having the most mature, safety-conscious attitude and good judgement. I auditioned the other but did not choose him because he neglected to call for a pre-flight weather briefing and missed several checklists during our initial flight. Later I heard one of that instructor's solo student nearly had to make an off-field landing because he forgot to switch fuel tanks during flight. Why do you suppose?I also faced the choice of smaller and larger airports. In the end, I trained at a very busy and complex GA airport (PWK) underneath the Chicago Class B, just a few miles from O'Hare. My airport had a constant stream of business jets and you had to be aware of your position at all times in order to avoid climbing or drifting into O'Hare airspace. There is also a steady stream of jet traffic converging on the Northbrook VOR (OBK) eight miles north, not far from our practice area.It was a fairly hostile environment in which to learn. There's no doubt it cost me extra time and money training there, as opposed to a more relaxed untowered airport. I'm sure I spent hundreds of dollars just holding short of runways! That said, I would do the same thing again. It has given me a lot of confidence in dealing with airspace, controllers and following instructions. I also like to think my sitational and traffic awareness is sharper for the experience. On the other hand, if you can't practice in the pattern at your large airport then that's a deal-buster. If your weather is anything like ours, there will be many marginal VFR days when you only choices are stay in the pattern or don't fly at all.Good luck!

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Hi JimWelcome to the world of real flying :)I'd personally choose choice number 2, seeing as the landing fees are cheaper i'd try to get into the frame of mind that the more you can save, the better for the long run.You don't need to worry about whether you'll be getting challenging RT training or whether your flying in controlled airspace, you will be put through these paces as progress through the course.I'm just approaching the end of my PPL and i'm planning on going to flying school soon to take my CPL/IR/Multi - maybe in UK or abroad; i'm planning on going to a few seminars to get an idea of what flying college life is all about.I fly a PA 38/ Piper Tomahawk at Shoreham - South coast, UK. I've done all my flight revision at home, with no ground school, been achieving high pass rate first time. I'm now onto A/c technical and only 3 more minor exams to go - got the worst over and done with :DI'm finishing off all the exams soon, so that i can do the remaining 15 hours in one block (i'm looking forward to cross country - Controlled Airspace and loads of RT ie. London ATC) - i'd advise maybe you should consider doing this; it helps keep costs to a minimum. Once you progress onto cross country you will be flying to new airspace and you will also be landing at other airports (busy or not).Shoreham consists of Approach/Tower ATC, so i'm gaining constant RT skills all the time and it's busy enough down here just being in the circuits.Up north there, you don't have the density in traffic as we do down here, so flying around some busy areas might be of some help once in while - as soon as you can handle the other tasks and challenges of flight.I can't comment on the Diamond Katana seeing as i don't know the a/c type or it's characteristics, but the Tomahawk is a good a/c which provides excellent visibility all around during flight, and also the extra room for tall people like myself.I wish you good luck in your flyingWill

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Geof, Greg, Jim, frantzy, Etienne, Jeroen, Twister, Ray & WillThank you all for the words of advice and encouragement!!You probably dont realise how much it means to me! When you think (or dream) about doing something for as long as I have, you begin to have doubts. Can I really afford it? Is is the "sensible" thing to do? Am I too old? These and many other thoughts and doubts!I hope you realise that you are all culpable in this ;)Were it not for the boundless enthusiasm and plain love of flying I have witnessed from people like yourselves on this forum, I probably would never have got beyond the dreaming stage and no doubt regretted it later in life!Final decision was made easy when my wife simply smiled when I told her of my plans to reduce our bank account to near zero and said "It's your life's ambition...you cant put a price on that!"I hope you all dont mind if I ask for more advice along the way!Thanks againJim

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