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New pilot questions... Again!


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Hi All, 

Before I start, I would rather hear from students and not instructors if possible.

After four years of looking I am finally looking to take the plunge and get training in the coming months. 

As with all new pilots comes the dilemma of where is best to train. There is so much conflicting opinion from instructors. 'don't train in the UK, it will take ages' and then 'don't train abroad, training is no good and you don't get UK experience'. 

 It's melting my mind a bit, places like Portugal are more expensive, but great weather wise. The UK is an hour's drive to the site and the weather is changeable, but you get as much training as you need to pass. 

I'm not on an endless budget, but also want to be flying within a reasonable time frame! 

So - £1350 for the UK, endless lessons and then use of site until confident. 

Or - £2400 for abroad, get hopefully as much experience as possible, and then not so much support when home. 

 

I will have the use of a farm and also a private airfield when I am happy to fly on my own. 

 

Apologies for the repeat, I have looked at all the other threads, which seem to be more fighting over quality of instruction.

 

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I trained with Skyschool in Spain and it was £1600 for 2 lots of 6 days (4 years ago). I didn't need support after training as I live too far away from any possible help.....but I did talk to my instructor a few times after returning home for help with issues. Key to me was to have completed full training programme and feel confident to fly on my own. It took me 10 days to pass the course, but has 2 bad weather days, so only just made it in the 2 weeks. I then did the next 50 flights on my own, with just the Paramotor Bible for help! Skyschool now do UK, Spain, Potugal, Italy and UAE.

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Don't assume training abroad will guarantee you good weather and a completed course. It isn't just rain you need to think about, it can often just be too windy or thermic. Or it might be lovely. But you won't know until you're there.

And I certainly wouldn't think about training in the summer months in Spain or similar. 

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....but the summer in Spain, on the beach, is the best time. There is usually a lovely sea breeze of about 3 to 8 mph. I never had any rain, just too much wind for learning on a couple of days. Obviously inland is not good as you can't fly between about 11am and 7pm, as it is way too thermic. I have landed at 11.30 am and struggled. In the south of Spain it hardly ever rains, maybe 4 or 5 days a year.

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My personal experience is that if you train abroad on a fixed time period (1 or 2 weeks) you'll get signed off anyway whether you have done enough or not. There seems to be a lot of evidence to support that, including a quite blunt thread on here a year or so ago. There are clearly too many commercial pressures to sign everyone off at the end of the week. In the UK, you get signed off when you are ready, and move at your own pace. DISCLAIMER: As with everything, I'm sure there are good schools and bad schools everywhere.

The UK is clearly the better/safer option IMO, but it can be a logistical challenge for a lot of people, even without the weather. It can literally take years.

I think there is a real market for training schools that offer a combination of both options. Even though I can see it must be difficult to cover off both options with one school, surely it must be possible with partnerships.

I'm far from an expert but I'd say running a groundhandling/hops school out in Spain then returning to the UK to do your actual flying would be ideal. Surely the UK schools must know people who'd be happy to move out to Spain and run a GH school on their behalf?

Then when they get back to the UK they can just rattle through the flights, completing what you need to get signed off.

 

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Skyschool do courses abroad and in the UK in the summer months so if you needed follow up instruction then its available in Wiltshire.

I trained with Skyschool 10 years ago and kept my ground handling up to speed and did not need any follow up instruction. Skyschool also have loads of training videos out now so good to review when you cant fly or your launches are not perfect!

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Thanks for all the replies. 

I was thinking that it would be good to do a week abroad and then the test here. But that would be close to £2700 to train rather than £1350 here. Would be great to see schools offer the best of both.

Also mixed opinions on practising kiting. I have a friend who is an experienced paraglider pilot and has a ground handling wing. Would you suggest kiting practice under his tuition? Or leave it to the Paramotor instructors when taking lessons. 

 

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Learning to kite will only help.

The issue with learning to paraglide first is that instead of leaning forward at take-off, for ppg we stand up as straight as possible - so the engine thrust pushes back. Many a pilot have found how face-plant works when bending forward too much and applying full power....my flight 4 ended up face down!

So when learning to kite, once you have the wing up and are running forward, make sure you get used to being upright.

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7 hours ago, paraflyer17 said:

My personal experience is that if you train abroad on a fixed time period (1 or 2 weeks) you'll get signed off anyway whether you have done enough or not. There seems to be a lot of evidence to support that, including a quite blunt thread on here a year or so ago. There are clearly too many commercial pressures to sign everyone off at the end of the week. In the UK, you get signed off when you are ready, and move at your own pace. DISCLAIMER: As with everything, I'm sure there are good schools and bad schools everywhere.

The UK is clearly the better/safer option IMO, but it can be a logistical challenge for a lot of people, even without the weather. It can literally take years.

I think there is a real market for training schools that offer a combination of both options. Even though I can see it must be difficult to cover off both options with one school, surely it must be possible with partnerships.

I'm far from an expert but I'd say running a groundhandling/hops school out in Spain then returning to the UK to do your actual flying would be ideal. Surely the UK schools must know people who'd be happy to move out to Spain and run a GH school on their behalf?

Then when they get back to the UK they can just rattle through the flights, completing what you need to get signed off.

 

Hmm, uk and abroad you say, I've been doing it for a while, it works really well 

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On 14/01/2021 at 17:55, Flyer122 said:

 It's melting my mind a bit, places like Portugal are more expensive, but great weather wise. The UK is an hour's drive to the site and the weather is changeable, but you get as much training as you need to pass. 

 

If you are being trained in the UK you will learn a lot about our "changeable" weather and won't waste hours driving on unflyable days, your instructor here will have an eye on that. There is something about learning in the environment that you will be going solo that's a strong factor for staying here. That said, a lovely sea breeze on a beach in Portugal sounds very inviting.

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Not all training overseas is on a beach, but the beach really has some great benefits! When training on a beach with a sea breeze we were able to fly, even as learners with more wind than would be ok inland (because hardly any turbulence or gusting). Strong, but laminar wind actually makes training easier as take offs and landing are slower, plus you also get used to kiting in more wind. Then you need to learn kiting and flying in more turbulent wind. Lucky for me, my training in Spain also included inland flying on airfields. I will also add that learning nil wind launch on a very hot evening.......you have to run like a gazelle! Back in the UK, learning to fly on my own I just initially picked days when the wind was ok for me. Slowly, practice and confidence builds and more gusting becomes ok. 

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