Two students tell Pilot about their different flight training experiences

Prospective students searching for their ideal training course are presented with a Chinese banquet of options. Do they choose an integrated or modular programme? Do they study in the UK or abroad? Are they better suited to a large or small organisation? Pilot speaks to two students about their different experiences.

Marcus Brenchley, 27, is studying for an EASA Airline Transport Pilots Licence (ATPL) at Flying Time Aviation in Shoreham, while Allan Duboux, 26, chose to do a FAA Part 141 Commercial Pilots Licence (CPL) at the Academy of Aviation in Long Island, New York. Although both students are taking integrated courses, their schools’ approaches differ. Whilst Marcus’s course includes classroom-based theory lessons, students on Allan’s are required to study ground school elements in their own time. He says: “There’s a CD that I can put in my computer, so I can train myself whenever I want ? at six in the morning, at four in the afternoon. I’m very busy on the side, I’m also an actor, so this course is packaged in a way that helps me out. If you need a ground school you can have an hour or two hours with your instructor in a classroom.”

While Allan applied for a course that would work around his job, Marcus opted for one that he could absorb himself in: “It is a very intense, thorough course that allows the information to remain ‘on my fingertips’. Another factor is that it gives you a better focus, there are no distractions from a job run side-by-side as this is not possible, so all of your energy goes in to the course alone.”

But finding the ideal school took time, he says: “Finding the available courses is as easy as Googling ‘integrated ATPL course UK’. The tricky part comes when trying to pick a school. Visits to the schools are essential. They will all give you the ability to gain the same qualification, what differs is the price, scheduling (how many hours a week flying you get), which helps you work out your living budget. Less flying per week means a longer course, which increases the cost. My main factor was a personnel reason; Flying Time Aviation’s staff were more personable; I did not feel like a number. All staff members know me and vice versa and I have a much greater access to them on a daily basis.”

Allan, who hails from Switzerland, decided to study in America. “I was looking for something professional that was close to Manhattan, New York. Here you have three major airports, so the airspace is packed,” he says. “When I had my first solo flight, I had a Gulfstream behind me and a Boeing 737-300 up ahead.”

Though learning at a busy airport means that students quickly become used to professional radio services, it also brings a number of challenges. “Sometimes it’s overwhelming when you’re not used to it,” says Allan, “I remember I had to stop speaking because there’s so many people joining. You have to be very careful.”

One thing that both students agree on is that commercial flight training is incredibly rewarding. Marcus says: “The course is fantastic, thorough and challenging, in both the flying side and theory. If you put the effort in you get the best result out.”

He adds: “If you have the enthusiasm and love for aviation, then go for it. It’s a fantastic career, one which you will never get bored of. Just make sure you are certain you are ready to put 100 percent into it, and that you are going to stay with it for the rest of your working life ? it’s an expensive course!”

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