I have recently signed up and started flying at PFC and sadly am pretty disappointed with the quality of the setup for
various reasons which I won't go into in detail, although a major one would be the quality of instruction.
It seems to be a high volume and low quality outfit rather than a high quality training school, in my opinion so far.
This is my second career and realistically, am looking to take this down the floatplane / seaplane route,
with a dream job of flying for Whistler Air or something along those lines, rather than becoming a captain at a major airline.
That said, I wouldn't necessarily want to close any doors just yet.
So my question to the forum is, aside from the obvious networking benefits a school the size of PFC brings, what are the
other benefits and advantages of this school over say a smaller one like Pacific Rim Aviation or Glacier Air in Squamish?
I am looking for a solid training environment with quality instructors and don't mind travelling the extra 30 mins to get there
or even paying slightly more for a better foundation into flying.
Any thoughts and opinions would be really appreciated.
Glacier Air, well I've always been made welcome by Collette and co. when I stopped in at Squamish. Never did any training there, so can't comment on that aspect.
As for your goal of flying for Whistler Air - they don't really exist any more, as they are part of Harbour Air. If you want to get on with Harbour Air, you'll need upwards of 1000 hours on floats/"Coastal Experience", etc. If your goal is flying floats as a career, then you should be looking at schools/companies that focus on float training. Fort Langley Air (which now operates out of Pitt Meadows) could be an option, there's also Island Coastal (Pitt as well) - Tom seems to be revered by some and loathed by employees, so... Air Hart out of Kelowna. There's schools on Vancouver Island who do floats as well.
Glacier Air, from my experience, is absolutely fantastic. If you're looking for a school where you'll be treated as a person, and not a number, this is the place to go. It's very much your good, old-fashioned, nice but hard working Canadian flight school. The runway is small (on-par with Langley), and you're in the mountains. Also seconds from the training area. You'll learn to be a good, intuitive pilot - they focus very much on building a good foundation. When you have all that, you can do a XCountry flight to Boundary Bay to get the tower experience too. Glacier even offers acrobatic training.
That said, it is a small school - so be sure to chat with them about instructor availability first. You can do ground school there, or online through Harv's. I unfortunately need to go back after I return from Korea for a research trip - they were in the process of hiring a new flight trainer and the availability just didn't work out. Looking forward to it!
So if the (very quick I should add!) drive up to Squamish doesn't put you off, I highly recommend Glacier!
Their instructors provide incredible VFR training in the mountains (pilotage), Glass G airspace, emergency procedures in tight valleys and rivers, and learning what wind shear is like on short final with a narrow runway.
If you can learn to fly in and out of YSE, you're pretty good to go anywhere. Just get some solid control zone experience and practise reading maps.
PFC isn't great because they're a ways from the practice area and you waste a lot of time getting there and waiting on the ground. I flew there once a few years ago was number 4 in line then flew to Pitt lake for practice then back. Had to circle over Cloverdale for a few minutes before we could even get sequenced. Alot of wasted time at 229 an hour. Coastal might not be bad but i dont know about the instructors. Pitt meadows is getting very busy with alot of planes. Find an instructor you like
In all fairness, if you work for Pac Rim you want it to seem like you're busy - I get that.
Reality is a heck of a lot different. Take today for example, ten in the morning and all the airplanes are still in the hangar(s). Booked solid though, I'm sure.