Given the amount of money involved, picking the right flight school is a pretty important decision. So what needs to be considered?
Is it close by? How much time does it take to get there? Making a lot of trips, the time soon adds up, and what if the lesson is cancelled due to weather or any other reason? You’ll be pretty hacked off if you’ve driven an hour only to find you can’t fly and have to turn home again. You also want to be fresh, and alert for the lessons, which is something you wont be after sitting in traffic for 40 minutes.
Do you get on with the staff and the instructors at the flight school? Make a point of meeting them before signing up. You’ll be spending a lot of time with them, so if there are personality clashes, it might be worth looking elsewhere.
The busier the airport, the more time you’ll have to spend waiting around for other traffic to get out of your way. Landing taxes will probably be more expensive too. That said, if you go somewhere too quiet, you won’t get the benefit of controlled air space and interacting with other air traffic.
Can you refuel at the flight school, or do you have to taxi over to the airports fuel pumps to get fuel, thus using up valuable lesson time? What about maintenance? Does the school have a maintenance hanger, how many helicopters do they have? Will you have to put your classes on hold while the school’s only helicopter is off somewhere else being serviced? Does the school have a simulator? Learning on a simulator can save on costly hours in the air.
This is of course a big one, but don’t just go on the hourly rate. What about landing taxes, accommodation (if required), transport getting there, your time? Do the school charge for the theory lessons? Weight it all up before making a decision based on cost.
One option for bringing the cost down is to learn abroad where it can be a lot cheaper. In the US you could do an intensive course in four weeks, pay for you accommodation and return flights for less than it costs just to get the PPL(H) in the UK.
Personally, I’ll be avoiding this route, as cramming so much into such a short period of time is tiring and not efficient. It took me over a week to absorb everything I was shown in my first 2 hours flying. On an intensive, you don’t have the time to absorb fully what you’ve learnt one day, before more is thrown at you the next.
Besides, the cheap hours in the US can be saved for hour building once you’ve got your PPL.
where am I going to sign up? By having just moved to Spain the choice of flight schools available to me has just been drastically reduced. Time to do some research to see what my options are.