A whole hour’s BBC documentary dedicated to the Sea King… Good on you The Beeb!
I was enjoying one of those rare moments I get to just surf the net, when I came across this:
I, as a newbie at least, was seriously impressed. For those that don’t know, that is how to land a helicopter in the event of an engine failure.
Sent this by a work collegue, I was always going to like it. Mountains, snowboarding, to loves of mine, but it was the slow motion shots and maneuvers that the various helicopters in this video that impressed me most:
I’d heard from Marcel at Aerolink that Top Fly had financial difficulties, although I was willing to put this down to bad mouthing the competition. I thought I would at least see what they offered.
I popped into see them in their rather impressive looking glass fronted building, but the chap who I needed to speak to was out on lunch. Instead of waiting I said I’d pop back in later in the week.
When I did, I found the place deserted, with what appeared to be a large group of smokers hanging around in the car park. It turns out that this group of smokers were the staff of Top Fly who were on strike. I was amazed to discover that they hadn’t been paid for the last four months, and were therefore going on strike for the rest of the month.
So there it was confirmed, big financial problems… Won’t be touching that place with a barge pole. Do, however spare a thought for the staff who will undoubtedly not have a job for much longer and will have to fight very hard to get what they are already owed.
Third stop on my tour of the local flight schools was AeroLink, also based in Sabadell Airport, they offer flight training for fixed wing and rotary both private and commercial as well as offering cabin crew training. They also run Aeronautical course at the local university.
Welcomed by a very friendly chap called Marcel we spent well over an hour talking about the course, the school, flying and, oddly enough, cars. Put two petrol heads together in the same room, and there is little to stop them talking all day… One of the non car related facts I garnered was that the JAR PPL is not only valid for the whole of Europe but the commonwealth as well. Travelling and flying in Australia and NZ? Yes please!
Marcel is clearly a good sales man, as I left this place with a very good feeling about them. As well as the private course they run the full commercial course and are one of few schools to offer this in the modular approach which is so common in the UK. This would allow me to work towards my commercial licence without having to go at it full time.
A lot of the commercial licence is done in association with Taf Helicopters with the offer of working as a co-pilot during the summer’s forest fire fighting season.
I was surprised to learn that 5 hour the 45 hours ‘flight’ time were actually done in a simulator. I wasn’t aware that these would count towards the actual required flight time, but apparently so. In theory this keeps the costs down, but I can’t help but feel at this stage as many hours as possible in the air is the best way to go.
The theory course does seem more comprehensive than what the other schools offer, with 170 hours of classes, possibly because I’d find myself in a classroom full of students who are working directly towards their commercial license. The classes take place, either from 09:00 to 13:30 or 17:00 to 21:00 Monday to Friday and last 10 weeks.
The price structure is very simple, with one price for the whole course which includes the theory, course books which they can get for me in English, 40 hours flight time, 5 hours simulator time and all landing fees included.
Prices: exempt from IVA
My next visit was to Aeroclub Barcelona Sabadell, based very conveniently in Sabadell. I’d not given this any thought before, but as a club, their prime objective is to provide aircraft for their members use. No business profit agenda keeps their costs down.
It took two weeks for them to arrange a time for me to come in and see them, and then when I did the lady who greeted me was clearly not in a very good mood, and told me to wait for the instructor who was running late. Once the instructor turned up we had an uncomfortable few moments when he wondered what I wanted, when all I wanted to know about was the course. He assumed that the staff upstairs would have filled me in. They did, but only once he took me back upstairs after discussing the practical side of the course with me (why they couldn’t have done that while I was waiting for the instructor to turn up I don’t know).
Initial frustrations aside, this does seem like a good option. The 120 hours of theory classes are taught in groups, with courses starting at various intervals throughout the year. There is the option of the two month course of studying Monday to Thursday 6pm till 9pm or the three month weekend course of 5pm to 9pm Saturday and Sunday. Actual flight time is arranged with the instructor as and when.
There is a membership fee to join the club which is an astounding €900, although they do offer a 50% discount to all students, and then there is a monthly fee of €43. As a member of the club after completing the course I could then hire helicopters as and when I want / can afford to.
There is the added bonus of the social aspect that comes with the club. Useful for someone who has just moved to a new city.
|Club Membership (50% discount)
|Theory classes including course books
|45 hours flight time
Prices include IVA.
There is a monthly club membership fee of €43.