Oli went to LA to do his PPL training in late 2006. Like many of us that train in the UK he’d started and stopped due to the weather and lack of funds. So, when he’d saved up enough to get out to the USA to complete his training he took the plunge and went to California. The decision to go the Los Angeles was made easy by the fact that he had family out there so he could save on accommodation costs.
Prior to making his decision as to which flying school to go to, Oli used the Pprune and Flyer forums to do his research. He eventually chose Angel City Flyers at Long Beach Airport in Los Angeles. They didn’t offer training for a stand alone JAA PPL license so he went down the FAA PPL route. Oli’s research had lead him to believe that the FAA PPL would be acceptable to use back here in the UK, allowing you to rent aircraft and buy into syndicates. However, when he returned to the UK he found a lot of resistance to using the FAA license. As a result, he’s now converting his FAA Airman’s Certificate to a JAA PPL.
Prior to going to the US Oli had completed about 35 hours of flight training in the UK and actually done the ground school exams twice. One of the key reasons that he chose ACF was that they were flexible about how much of the UK syllabus they would count towards the US license. The hours completed in the UK do count towards the US license and so the school should really take the into account.
Quality of aircraft was another criteria for choosing Angel City Flyers. Oli mentioned another school on the same airport whose aircraft, he thought, weren’t up to scratch whereas ACF use modern Diamond DA40 aircraft fitted with glass cockpits. Availablity also was never an issue unlike at some of the other big flying schools, often used by UK students.
As a student, Oli had the same instructor throughout his training which, he says, is a definite bonus and is something you should check before selecting your flight school.
At the time Oli says he was paying approx $165-$170 per hour which, although a premium over other flying schools, he thought was money well spent.
He was billed after having flown for a few hours and Oli recommends not paying for your flying up front if at all possible.
Although he can’t remember the fine detail of applying for his visa to fly in the US he does remember that it was not easy and, if he had known how much of a problem it was going to be, he might not have chosen to learn to fly in America. The process involves actually travelling down to the US embassy in London and waiting for an interview; and this is in addition to the great volume of paperwork that you have to complete.
Angel City Flyers operate at Long Beach Airport in California which is also home to UK Flight Training. Oli says that he did actually consider UKFT but was put off by the ‘bad press’ that they receive on the various flying forums. Again, the advice is do your research before you do any flight training in the US and speak to people, like Oli, that have first hand experience of flying in America.
Oli’s view of flight training in the US is that it is much more practically oriented and there is a much more positive attitude towards flying. He also found that the radio telephony is completely different between the UK and the US, with the US being much more informal than here.
As part of the FAA PPL there is just one ground school exam and an in-depth oral exam in order to get your certificate. If you were to come back to the UK with the FAA PPL, Oli says that if you have less than 100 hrs, you would have to take all of the JAA ground school exams in order to convert your license to a JAA PPL. If you have more than 100 hours, you would only have to take your air law, human performance and the RT exams.
Although you are issued with you FAA license immediately upon completion of your training, Oli didn’t allow any time to go flying in the US but he would advise anyone to try and take the opportunity to go touring for a few days in order to consolidate your training.
Having struggled to fly G-reg aircraft back here in the UK on his FAA certificate, Oli is now converting his license to a JAA PPL.
Once he has his JAA PPL, Oli is considering getting his IMC rating over here or going to the US to get an FAA Instrument Rating.