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

Moderator: AndyR

I did my FAA PPL(H) in Florida over a period of four months (Nov-Feb) making 5 separate trips from the UK. After receiving my FAA PPL(H) which allowed me to self-fly-hire here in UK, I then did the extra training needed for my JAA PPL(H) over the following three months (5 hrs instrument-awareness training and prep training for check ride).

As for the written exams, I knocked them out straight away. I sat and passed the single FAA exam on my first full day there and completed all (8 separate) JAA ground exams in a two-week period.

As another post above notes, I agree with both immersing yourself in the flying and doing the exams upfront.

I wouldn’t worry about the “where” you train, the most important choice is the “who” you are sitting next to during your training. His or her guidance/words will stay in your head for the remainder of your flying.
T6Harvard liked this
User avatar
By GrahamB
I did my first twelve or so hours during January to late March back in the early 90's. I passed most of my ground exams during this period.

I then took two weeks off work and went from soloing on the first Saturday morning to completion in another thirty hours two weeks later. It being springtime in Wales, I was lucky with the weather and lost four days due to that and instructor days off.

I learn best by total immersion, but that doesn't suit everyone's learning style nor circumstances.
I found that part of the answer to the question is how you are going to do the ground schooling. I seem to remember that being a notional 100 hours. So if you have limited spare time, bear in mind you will need to dedicate a certain amount of this ground schooling. It makes sense not to be held back from flying by needing to pass and exam. Options for this included dedicated full time courses (typically only a few days) to self-study from books. I opted for the latter and needed to read the books at least twice to take everything in - so this took a significant amount of time. Of course, passing exams and understanding the theory are not the same thing and question banks allow the former without the latter, but the larger range of questions on the new online exams might change this a bit.

You can start reading/learning before the practical side. Some subjects (Air Law, meteorology) need no practical experience. For some people some practical experience makes it much easier to understand (e.g. Nav). In that case, progressing through the theory at the same rate of practical is useful.

Personally, I flew once a week most weeks, with a couple of multi-week gaps for illness and holidays. I then had about a 3 month period of continually cancelling my cross-country qualifier due to bad weather, but I did squeeze it in just before lockdown. In the run up to my first solo, flying twice a week was very useful. Generally speaking, the more often you fly, the fewer hours you will need teaching.
T6Harvard liked this
User avatar
By neilmurg
I did find that when I managed to fly twice in a week I made better progress, as the learning from the previous lesson was still fresh.
However, I am, according to my Google Home Mini an 'old fart' other experiences may differ
At the other end of the spectrum, I did my PPL training (many years ago, via a Flying Scholarship) in just over 3 weeks, flying more or less every day, often twice a day. The concentrated effort suited me. When I did my IMC rating twenty years ago I also did it in a concentrated 3-day period of flying, test on the 4th. And ditto my IR a few years ago, also over a 3 or 4-day period.

It's horses for courses, obviously. Personally I like to try and leave my other work and other commitments at the door if I can and to concentrate flat-out on the flying. I find that I learn best that way.
GrahamB liked this
User avatar
By VRB_20kt
So - to summarise:

Everyone is different and has different circumstances. Some people completed in a matter of weeks, others took literally years. Flying frequently when you're not tired is likely to deliver speedy improvement, but many have constraints that require a more measured approach. If you train in the UK you are almost certain to lose some bookings to the weather. It's quite likely that you'll also lose bookings to tech and to instructor availability. It's fair to say it can be frustrating at times and also hard work.

With the right instructor(s) sitting next to you, you will have a glorious time. Very few get the chance to fly themselves - it is a fantastic privilege. Enjoy it!
You seem to be in a hurry to get your licence.
As you say you have family members to cover your work shifts I would guess a family business and not short of a few shillings.
What are your plans after the licence? If you continue to fly very regularly and very often then fine, your skill will remain, and improve.
If it is just to get the licence to tick a box in your achievement list and then rent an aircraft for an hour every two months just to remain current and legal, then it may not be worth the rushed effort.
What kind of flying do you visualise? Buy your own aircraft and take family on long trips? Buy your own or buy a share with others and go off on your own for an hour or so boring holes in the sky for the fun of it? Or plan for hours or days and then rent something for a big occasion?
Either 1 or 2 May be worth the hurry but not 3, make the learning experience part of the enjoyment rather than just a quick blip in the process.
However, in answer to the question.
Once a week minimum should keep you progressing without too much “revision” between learning., without overloading the brain in the early stages.
Good luck in joining the poverty stricken privileged aviation community! :D :D
T6Harvard liked this
By Crash one
GrahamB wrote:The OP has indicated in another thread that he is looking towards a career as a pilot.

In that case an intensive total immersion course somewhere where the weather will play ball. Up as far as an IR at least.
By Fellsteruk
Had 3 months off back end of last year was nervous flying about but actually most was 2nd nature forgotten some stuff but I could still do most of the stuff I have learnt since I’d started.

Now after lockdown will be a 4 month gap for me just as I was trying to tackle circuits.

I have been flying every other week but due to weather often once a month and I’ve never forgotten or had to redo bits.

That said my school is open next week but their only PA28 is out for annual imap I have to wait till August, when I got back I intend to do an hour a week to get my circuits nails and get past my solo after that it’s nav so I’ll likely drop back to one or two a month