As I posted about two weeks ago, I’ve visited two flying clubs near me recently, over the past few days and weeks I’ve been weighing up the pros and cons of each.
Bristol Aero Club operate out of Kemble (EGBP) which is about an hour’s drive from my home. They are a “not for profit” flying club which means they concentrate on flying socially and therefore have very attractive training rates. Being based at Kemble means they don’t have any landing fees either. You have to do a lot of landings in the “circuit bashing” stage of learning to fly, resulting in a considerable saving over learning to fly at other airfields. However, as Kemble is geared so much towards General Aviation (GA) it is a very busy airfield, with light aircraft taking off and landing every few minutes.
The Bristol and Wessex Aeroplane Club operate out of Bristol International Airport (EGGD) which is about a 20 minute drive from my home. Being a commercial airport in controlled airspace means all General Aviation (GA) flights have to give way to the big jets. This can sometimes mean a considerable wait for takeoff or landing clearances, which may involve holding short of the runway before takeoff, or flying in circles near the end of the runway when waiting to land, all this can add to the cost of learning to fly.
However, learning to fly in controlled airspace has its advantages with radio communication being a major one. You need special clearance to enter or leave controlled airspace, If you have to do this every time you fly because your base aerodrome is located in controlled airspace you’re much more likely to be able to cope with other aerodromes located in controlled airspace. If you harbour any ambitions to be a professional pilot then this may be very relevant.
In the end I chose The Bristol and Wessex Aeroplane Club, when I added up the cost of driving to and from Kemble verses Bristol International Airport the price difference between the two club’s training rates was a lot closer. Bristol’s still a bit more expensive, but not enough to justify the additional traveling time required for every lesson. If I lived closer to Kemble then perhaps the maths would have been different. I also liked the idea of learning to fly at a comercial airport, but this is a purely emotional point, not a logical one.
So I drove over to the club and spoke with the staff there again just to make sure I was happy with my decision. Once convinced (like that took much time!) I bough their PPL Starter Pack which gave me 5 hours of flying time as well as the first book in the Air Pilot’s Manual range, Flying Training, along with the Syllabus and Student Record of Training and a Pilot Flying Log Book as well as 12 months membership to the club. I also booked my first lesson, Sunday 28th June, bring on the next blog post…