Learning to fly, or thinking of learning? Post your questions, comments and experiences here

Moderator: AndyR

By Will1v
#1711463
Hi there,

I’ve started training for the PPL last year in Toussus le Noble. I did around 20 hours there, with many interruptions (because of the weather and because I live in London) so things didn’t go as well as I’d hoped.

I’d like to carry on in London but I’m not sure where to go.

My criteria would be:
- as close as possible to Clapham Junction (ideally reachable by train, but I might arrange for a car if need be)
- with a hard runway so that I don’t depend even more on wet weather and swamped runways
- busy is fine; I used to fly at Toussus le Noble which is pretty busy and I’d rather be comfortable in busy airports so that I can go wherever I fancy
- with a control tower for the same reasons as above

From what I’ve seen, you pay for each touch’n’go: is that correct? That must get really expensive when you’re training to fly circuit patterns...

In France you have flying school which are pretty expensive and aero clubs where can you can learn to fly for a much less expensive fee. Is there the equivalent in the UK?

Any advice and answers most welcome!
#1711469
Whilst I've never been a student there, I fly for fun from White Waltham, and think that you'd find that ticks all of your boxes admirably - West London Aero Club is a short taxi ride from Maidenhead station, very busy, with a big and well regarded school. Waltham has a grass runway, but it's well drained - it maybe closes for five days in the year due to runway surface issues.

Another possibility would be Booker Aviation at Wycombe Air Park. Not so "clubby", but similarly busy and well run. That would be a short bus or taxi ride from Hugh Wycombe Station.

I've not been there for a bit, but also look at Denham. Last I was there it was certainly a good airfield and school - I've just not been there for a few years.

You'll find very few places like French Aero Clubs in the UK - basically everywhere teaching flying is commercial.

Re: paying for each landing, it depends upon the airport. You certainly don't do that at White Waltham, but I've been to other airports (Cranfield or Shoreham, just to name two) where that is indeed the norm.

G
By TopCat
#1711473
Redhill would be closest to Clapham by train. Then three miles by road. No hard runway, though, and a reputation for waterlogging.

From Clapham to White Waltham is a PITA by train. You'd have to get across London to Paddington first and then head towards Slough, or alternatively Clapham to Reading direct and change there for Maidenhead. Either of those is about 90 minutes each way.

I have to get to White Waltham by public transport a couple of times a year - I go to Windsor (on the same line as CLJ) and get a taxi (20 quid) from there. Still takes about an hour but still preferable to going via Maidenhead. Not sure I'd fancy the taxi quite as much if I had to do it every week for months though!
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By WelshRichy
#1711530
TopCat wrote:Redhill would be closest to Clapham by train. Then three miles by road. No hard runway, though, and a reputation for waterlogging.


I've never been to Redhill but don't they have a straight section of taxiway they use as a runway when the grass runways are too waterlogged? Or is this not available for students?
By Will1v
#1711644
Thank you for your very useful answers.

Here’s a recap that might help others, along with my own homework (which I’ll update as I get more info):

- Redhill:
— grass runway
— 35 minutes ride on the train from CJ but then you need to catch a taxi (or a bit less than 20 minutes cycling), which isn’t ideal (unless I take a bicycle on the train, if that’s allowed)
— Redhill aviation offers a 45h PPL package at £6,900 but that doesn’t include landing and circuit fees (£16.50 and £6.50; that’s probably an extra grand...)

- White Waltham:
— grass runway but not often waterlogged
— 1h10 by car from CJ
— not convenient by train

- Wycombe Air Park:
— hard runway
— 1h10 by car from CJ
— not convenient by train

- Denham:
— hard runway
— 1h by train to Denham Golf Club station then 7 min by taxi (or 10 minutes cycling)
— 1h by car

- Biggin Hill:
— hard runway
— aren’t they getting rid of schools?
— perhaps too busy, mainly big aircraft
— 1h by car
— 1h10 by train
— £47 landing fee

- Fairoaks Airport:
— hard runway
— 1h by car from CJ
— 20 minutes train to Woking, then 15 minutes by taxi (or cycling according to Google maps?)
— London Transport Flying Club: roughly £9,000 (£315 ground exam + 45hx£190 = £8,550 flying)

So all of those are doable by car.
Among those reachable by train, all of them will require either a taxi or cycling. Taxi both ways adds quite a bit to the overall price... not sure that cycling is a good idea.

All those options look nice (although rather eye watering compared to what you pay in France).

Any further recommendations on airfields (probably not many left) or clubs/schools most welcome. I’ll try to see if there are any airfields further down south (Sussex?) that I could get to in under an hour train ride, if that helps with the costs.

Also, how do things usually work if you want to rent a plane for a weekend or a week to go and travel, once you’ve got your PPL? In France, I think the general rule is that you need to pay at least a couple of hours per day.
Last edited by Will1v on Mon Aug 12, 2019 9:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
#1711647
Redhill has an unlicensed 500m runway which is used when the grass runways are waterlogged, when the wind direction cooperates. I learned with Cubair there (and continue to hire with them) and can recommend them.

Ask any prospective school about the availability of planes/instructors for the time slot you're going to be booking. I.e. if you're only free on a Saturday afternoon, can they accommodate that?
T67M, VictoryRoll liked this
#1711649
Your summary seems about right.

Very few schools are happy with you taking aeroplanes away for the day - expect if you do to be paying a minimum of 3-4hrs rental per day. It's why so many of us join syndicates in this country.

G
#1711651
Will1v wrote:not sure that cycling is a good idea.


Seems ok to me. You're not in London. :D

This gives 12 mins from Woking station to LTFC.

https://www.google.co.uk/maps/dir/Woking+Station,+Woking/51.347538,-0.5638094/@51.3361915,-0.5925638,13z/data=!4m9!4m8!1m5!1m1!1s0x4875d826a38d2fa7:0x54b3c4fcddd61457!2m2!1d-0.5570289!2d51.3182502!1m0!3e1

Will1v wrote:I’ll try to see if there are any airfields further down south (Sussex?) that I could get to in under an hour train ride, if that helps with the costs.


Sussex is more expensive - Goodwood or Shoreham...

Will1v wrote:Also, how do things usually work if you want to rent a plane for a weekend or a week to go and travel, once you’ve got your PPL? In France, I think the general rule is that you need to pay at least a couple of hours per day.


Renting for a weekend may be a little ambitious, depending on the school/club, as that's their busy time for aeroplane use, with training, people going for lunch, etc. If you can find one, it's normally about a 3 hour minimum per day away.

What people who want to do more than local flights tend to do is to buy a share in something, the smaller the group the better for availability for longer periods but the more money it'll cost. Best (for availability anyway) is a group of one... :D
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By T67M
#1711660
Each flying school is a bit different when it comes to longer trips. I work at Cubair at Redhill where weekend trips on the "training" fleet of Katana aircraft is discouraged (but still possible), however there is also a fleet of larger aircraft (Diamond Star, Warrior) where the rules are a lot more flexible.
By Will1v
#1712354
I've had an answer from a flying school in Biggin Hill; prices are high and landing fees almost reach £50. Clearly way over my budget.

T67M wrote:Each flying school is a bit different when it comes to longer trips. I work at Cubair at Redhill where weekend trips on the "training" fleet of Katana aircraft is discouraged (but still possible), however there is also a fleet of larger aircraft (Diamond Star, Warrior) where the rules are a lot more flexible.


Thanks, that's good to know. I might pop over one weekend to know more.

cjrpaterson wrote:Ask any prospective school about the availability of planes/instructors for the time slot you're going to be booking. I.e. if you're only free on a Saturday afternoon, can they accommodate that?


Good point. I'd be looking for early Saturday mornings.

@Genghis the Engineer @Paul_Sengupta: thanks for the clarification. Very different from France where people mostly use planes from their aero-club (I think). I wish I could afford a plane of my own! In the meantime, I'll look into syndicates and might give it a try in a few years (if you know of a good website explaining how that works, how much they typically cost, etc, I'd be much interested).
#1712360
Have a look at the shares section on here, on http://ukga.com, on https://afors.com/, etc. You'll see various aircraft in various places for various costs. It includes a purchase price for the share, then a monthly cost which should cover the fixed costs of the aeroplane, parking/hangarage, insurance, annual inspection, etc, then an hourly cost which should cover the day to day running of the aeroplane including fuel (unless a "dry" rate is specified which doesn't include fuel), oil, engine wear, 50 hour checks, etc.

A maintenance fund, sometimes called an engine fund, should build up with the hours flown.

Anyway, don't worry about that until you finish your PPL unless you want to see what sort of things are available.

If you don't want the commitment of a share, you can still, as you say, rent from your local club, but you have to put up with varying availability.
By Will1v
#1712365
Paul_Sengupta wrote:Anyway, don't worry about that until you finish your PPL unless you want to see what sort of things are available.


No exactly, I won’t be buying into anything before having flown with my PPL for at least a year or two (if I can ever afford it).

I’ll have a look at the websites you’ve suggested and dream a bit :)
By SamC
#1714046
I'd say LTFC is a good shout and probably the best bet in terms of everything you want

slightly left field, Daymns Hall is very close to upminster so from clapham juntion you have a few changes, ie victoria, then tube to upminster then v short taxi or try and cycle

it is grass but no real drainage problem. no tower but then you wont be sat on the grass for ages waiting to taxi or take off. tiger club membership needed which £250 but no landing fee's and its tail dragger only. (difference to tricle would be quite simple later) but you do have an interesting selection of mounts to choose from.