ABOVE: The school is the product of 13 months of planning

A new flight school at Norwich Airport, Norwich Aviation Centre, has opened its doors; offering a system of ‘Fair Flight Finance’ with no upfront fees.

The school is the brainchild of former Navy Ship’s Captain CEO Robert Clarke and Chief Flight Instructor Captain Howard Barber, who first ‘began discussing the need for change’ back in 2022.

After an initial exchange via text message, Clarke explains how he made the “sensible decision” to end his high paid job (and 20 years of command) to form a flight school, joined by his ex-BA colleague.

It took just 13 months between embarking on the journey to the day of inaugural flight (conducted in August 2023), at which point the school began trading. “It has been quite a struggle for us to initiate this project” explained Clarke, noting not only the ‘lengthy and complex’ legal process for land usage but also referencing ‘significant interference from competitors who didn’t want [the school] to establish [themselves] in the market’.

Citing the current landscape of UK flight schools facing financial instability, a situation faced by organisations of all sizes, Clark and Barber decided – in their own words – to ‘run the school differently’. “There is a consensus that change is overdue,” elaborated Clark. Rather than adopting the ‘old and problematic block booking system,’ Norwich Aviation Centre students pay by the hour after each flight. Additionally, packages (such as the 20-hour Fair Flight Finance system deal) offer bulk-booking discounts with no upfront fees or costs for flying.

“Since opening we have taken on masses of students and we have a good number of private hirers and experience flights coming our way,” concluded Clarke. More information about Norwich Aviation Centre can be found here.