Q & A

Q. How many hours flying does it really take to get a PPL or LAPL?

A. We won’t fob you off with the “piece of string” response but will attempt to answer straightforwardly!

For starters, please recognise that we are training our students to be competent and capable pilots, not processing them into licence holders in the shortest possible time. A good sign of success is that we are happy for them to take one of our aircraft flying with passengers on completion of their training!

Achieving this standard within the 30 hours minimum required for a LAPL is, realistically, improbable – though not necessarily impossible. The 45hr PPL is certainly achievable by an able, enthusiastic and hard-working student with good availability for maximum continuity of training.

It has to be admitted that the 45-50 hour PPL is normally the province of the young! That should not deter the older student – recently a 73 year old gained his PPL with us with great competence.

It should be borne in mind that though the ground exams are the same for LAPL and PPL and the flight training syllabus pretty similar, on completion of training the LAPL pilot is required to have flown 10 hours solo before carrying passengers.

Q. Very few flying schools use Robins for training. Why is that?

A. Actually many schools train on Robins, most of them in mainland Europe – especially in France, where they have been the premier training aircraft for many years. However, modern Robin DR400s like ours are extremely expensive to buy in comparison with elderly Pipers and Cessnas which are in much more plentiful supply and the common currency of many schools in the UK. Also hangarage is considerably more costly here than elsewhere in Europe, leading many UK schools to leave their aircraft exposed to the elements outdoors all the time. We are fortunate to have the resources for a fleet of top quality aircraft and our own hangar to provide a far more aircraft-friendly environment.

Q. Some schools I have looked at show modern glossy aeroplanes in their publicity but the aeroplanes they actually fly are completely different and very disappointing when you see them in the flesh. Yours look pretty glossy too, but are they the actual ones your school trains pilots in?

A. Yes, definitely – with us what you see is what you get! The Robins in our pics all are (or have been) our training aircraft. You may also notice a bright yellow Beechcraft Bonanza featuring occasionally in our pics. That is not a training aircraft but is sometimes used as the (200mph!) “school bus” on fly-outs carrying members between their Robin flights.

Q. I see that you do no commercial flying training. I am intending to become an airline pilot so would I not do better to start my training at a school which can take me all the way through private, commercial and instrument training?

A. Depending on your exact intentions, our answer lies in the range “Not necessarily” to “Definitely not”!

Even if you plan to go for a fully integrated course towards a frozen ATPL, you will almost certainly find at least some initial training with us very helpful. If nothing else, it will put you in a far better position to weigh up whether or not to commit a huge sum to an integrated course and to make that decision with knowledge and confidence. Our students who have gone this route have also found the thoroughness and diversity of our training valuable, both for initial interviews plus their subsequent training and for securing an airline job at the end of it.

If you plan to go the “modular” route, in any event you will have to build some flying hours between getting your PPL and embarking on your commercial training. So it will almost certainly pay you to choose the best school available for the crucial first stage and only decide on your commercial school after building sufficient experience to choose the most appropriate one and evaluate that properly.

Once you have gained your licence, the Robin Flying Group offers excellent opportunities for hour building and continuing to broaden your experience. Professional pilots have remarked on how much their experience with the RFG contributed to their success in getting a flying job.

Q. I really enjoyed my trial flight but am not able to get a flying medical. Is there any way that I can do some more flying with you (with an instructor of course)?

A. Yes, absolutely! You can join as a normal student member and fly with an instructor. We have some student pilots who have no intention of ever getting a licence but just love flying and participating in fly-outs or taking an instructor on trips of their own choosing.

Q. How many hours will it take to my first solo?

A. Please excuse our saying so, but this may not be a sensible question to ask – your first solo should be a really satisfying event which you will probably remember for ever – ideally for all the right reasons!

There are no points for soloing early in your training and a lot of good sense in deferring it until you are properly ready. It is alarming to see how ill-prepared some students at some schools are on their first solos. For instance, a vital prerequisite should be for the student to have practised landing (with instructor) at another airfield before their first solo, in case the home airfield suddenly becomes unusable while the student is airborne. Many schools overlook such forethought which may be fine if all goes to plan, but what if not?

Q. Can I pay for each lesson individually on the day instead of paying for a block?

A. Sorry – no. Our block system is well-proven as an effective means of minimising administrative costs and keeping down flying charges. That contributes to our ability to offer superior aircraft at lower cost than other schools.

Q. Do you have a price for paying up front for the whole course?

A. No! We would definitely advise strongly against paying in advance for the whole course under almost all circumstances.

Q. If I pay for a £2000 block and change my mind about learning to fly after 2 or 3 hours can I get a refund?

A. Yes, subject to any landings and the hours you have flown being charged at the rate appropriate to their quantity. So 2 or 3 hours would be charged at the £500 block rate, 8 hours at the £1000 rate etc.

Q. What is the difference between Exeter Flying School and the Robin Flying Group

A. Not at lot nowadays – same management, ownership, aircraft and charges! Historically the RFG was only for qualified pilots, offering no ab initio training, which was subsequently introduced by EFS using RFG aircraft. Interaction between the two elements is now virtually seamless.