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

Moderator: AndyR

By purplefish

I'm completely new to this but just wanted some help and advice really. I have a big interest in planes and for my 40th birthday last year my friend bought me a voucher for a trial lesson. I was nervous about it to start with but then thought great. I followed all the rules on the paperwork and booked my lesson within the 3 months of getting the voucher. I rang the flight centre the morning of my flight and it was cancelled due to the weather. I re-booked and my second lesson was also cancelled due to weather. I re-booked again for the third time and this time I got a call from the flight centre to say they would have to cancel as the plane's engine had to be repaired as the found metal in it! (cessna 150) also to be told that it was lucky it made it back to the airfield!!!
I was quite worried about flying in this now but it was re-booked for a 4th time! This time I actually made it to the flight centre only to be greeted with the pilot, his wife and kids. Not at all friendly or welcoming. Not good for a nervous me!!
I had no pre-flight briefing and when we walked over to the plane his wife showed me how to get in and I was told not to put my weight on the back of the seat as it was a bit dodgy!! I'm getting bad vibes by this point. The pilot and his wife had already had a slight disagreement in front of me about running late. When the pilot got into the plane next to me he didn't introduce himself and said it was up to me if I wanted to fly!!! It took us over an hour to get there by car, I couldn't believe it, so unprofessional and why was it up to me? I said I hadn't done this before. He mentioned the plane slightly rocking in the wind on the ground and I was to multiply that by 10 up in the air! Also my head would get thrown about and it wouldn't be enjoyable at all.
I was put off completely at this and after he said again that it was up to me I decided to quit.
Overall It didn't seem right to me, unprofessional and as if he didn't want to take me on the flight. Not sure if they'll give a refund but I really don't want to go with them at all. Any opinions?
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By Rob P
Hello Purplefish and welcome.

Unfortunately you posted this in the wrong part of the forum so it may not receive the attention it deserves until a moderator gets to move it to the ' GA' or 'Students' section. But meanwhile, here are my thoughts.

You have had a lucky escape. Many here took a trial flight that went really well and now lead a life of penury spending every available bit of disposable income feeding our habit. Be grateful.

But, more seriously your post raises a number of issues. Weather cancellation? Welcome to Light Aviation. For most of us it is something we do for leisure so tend to cancel quite a few planned outings because the weather would make it less enjoyable. I guess the flight school you had your voucher from could be said to be looking after the 'first time flyer' by not wishing to expose them to the rougher end of the weather for flying. We have had a patchy summer, but it certainly seems you have had bad luck with your dates.

There can be no criticism of a school cancelling a flight for serviceability issues. Training aircraft lead a hard life, but their condition is closely monitored, not least by the instructors who are the people most at risk from any problem. Totally correct that if any technical issue crops up that aircraft will not be flown until it is seen and fixed by a licensed engineer.

The rest of your experience is lamentable. Decent flight schools around the country are desperate to encourage as many of their 'voucher redemptions' to turn into PPL students as possible. You have frankly found a bad one.

Two suggestions

1) Name the school. We need to know as we are often asked for recommends by new students. It will also give them the chance to put their side of the story should they be readers of this forum.

2) Tell us the general area where you live. You might be pleasantly surprised by what then transpires.

If you love flying there is no greater hobby. On behalf of all aviators I apologise for what appears to have been a very poor introduction to our world.

Rob P
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By Tall_Guy_In_a_PA28
I suspect on your last attempt the instructor was explaining (badly) that the flight would be safe and legal to conduct, but due to turbulence that may not be obvious on the ground you may not want to waste your voucher. You did the right thing and took the hint and the instructor was correct to give you the option, but clearly needs to brush up on his people skills.

My first attempt at a trial lesson followed a similar pattern - lesson after lesson cancelled due to weather. I gave up and it was five years before I started again and completed the PPL course over one long summer with only 1 or 2 cancellations. I regret those wasted years now.

If your voucher is part of a national scheme then investigate alternative flying clubs in your area.
By purplefish
Thanks for the feedback. I won't be taking it up as a hobby it was a one off birthday gift. There probably aren more schools in Norfolk but I believe this one is the only one where I can use the voucher. Not sure if they give refunds.
First visit to a flying club are extremely important. I remember going to a local club when I was 17--didn"t have much cash--the nasty snooty receptionist asked --can you REALLy afford it in a horrible patronising way.It really put me off and was some years later that I got involved and got my licence.
At my club we encourage young people to join as social members--they dont have to fly to be a member. Only wish i"d found a club like this when I was 17.
Your treatment sounds abysmal--there must be other clubs around--go along to them--get a feel of the place and ask for social membership--good way to decide if you want to invest in a licence.
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I would not go back to that school. Weather cancellations are inevitable, and the aircraft going tech is not that unusual, but there should always be a briefing and you should not be deciding if it is a good day to fly - that is definitely the instructor's job!
Last edited by QSD on Thu Sep 12, 2013 5:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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By PeteSpencer
What a shameful experience:

Do I understand you are from near Norfolk/East Anglia?

You have a PM:

I have a slight suggestion.

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By cloudhopper
I suspect i know the school you mention. I've sent you a pm with a suggestion.
By purplefish
Hiya, just checked my emails. No email received as yet.

Hi purple--messages seem to be stuck in outbox--if you could send me your phone number will give you a buzz--unless 2nd attempt also in the ether
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By Keef
PMs stay in the outbox, ROG, until they are read.

I suspect purplefish is looking for e-mails while you've sent him a PM.