Advice on Flight School around Vancouver Area

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Learner
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Advice on Flight School around Vancouver Area

Post by Learner »

Hello Experts,

I am interested in joining a flight school to get a PPL. I have done some research on the flight school in the area but i am very confused as to which one is the best around?

The prices and the hours vary from school to school as well, so its hard to get a cost estimate and the number of hours a student requires get PPL

I am looking for doing it in evenings and weekends. Please advice and suggest a school?

Regards,

Learner
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gaamin
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Re: Advice on Flight School around Vancouver Area

Post by gaamin »

Welcome on these forums. I'm no expert, but I'll still give my two cents.

Do you just want to get a PPL (the booklet)? Or would you go the extra mile to become a good pilot?

There are quite a few schools "in the Vancouver area". How far do you want to go? Lower Mainland only? Squamish? Vancouver Island?
I encourage you to go and visit each of them to see the facility and equipment, take the time to talk to the CFI, the owner, some PPL students and if possible some already licenced (either post-PPL who are training towards Night or Multi or Float or CPL, or just renters or owners who still come once they obtained their licence).
If possible, go sit at one session of the ground school for the short-listed schools that would allow you to. This might be a good opportunity to meet the crowd you'll share aircrafts with, it will also give you a good idea of how students in general feel about their training.

The airports that have flights schools in the lower mainland are Pitt Meadows, Langley, Boundary Bay.

Some people on these forums (myself included) work at some of these schools. Take our advice with a grain of salt. I think the one I work for is the best, other instructors probably think the same about their own school.

Anyway :
- NEVER PUT MONEY ON ACCOUNT
- in terms of costs, compare what is comparable : hourly rate including fuel surcharge if any, overall cost of ground school including books; what is hard to quantify is how talented/efficient you are at studying, and how talented/efficient the school is at teaching, both of which will have a much bigger impact on your training costs
- depending on your timeframe and availability, some other relevant points might include : opening hours, availability of aircrafts/instructors, presence of aircraft maintenance organisation as part of the same company, time and location of ground school, how busy the airport is, how close it is to the practice areas

Some schools you could visit :
Pitt Meadows
- Pacific Rim Aviation (that's where I work, of course I put it first :) )
Langley
- Langley Flying School
- Skyquest
Boundary Bay
- Sea Land Air
- Canadian Flight Centre
- Pacific Flying Club
- Pacific Professional Flight Training
Squamish
- Glacier Air
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Last edited by gaamin on Sun Feb 06, 2011 9:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Joe1981
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Re: Advice on Flight School around Vancouver Area

Post by Joe1981 »

The above post gives great advice. You'll likely find all the schools are the same or close to each other in terms of costs. If one school seems significantly less, they are likely not including all the costs you'll be facing. Absolutely go and visit the ones you are considering. I suggest you budget about $10,000 - 12,000 for a PPL. If you're looking to evenings and weekends, you'll want to be sure there are instructors and aircraft available at your preferred times and that the groundschool schedules fit your preferences. A student that does not require significant remedial flights should expect to flight test after 40 hours dual and about 15 hours solo but I've heard the national average is higher. The hours to flight test will depend on how often you are flying (too much time between flights can add to final cost) and your preparation. I would ignore any postings that overly recommend or criticize a school. Talk to people at the schools, get a good feel for the place and choose an airport convenient to you. Like all industries, there are good schools, better schools and some others.
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appilot
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Re: Advice on Flight School around Vancouver Area

Post by appilot »

Welcome Learner!

Gaamin gave some really great advice.

Though I haven't looked around much at other schools in the Vancouver area, I have been to some in different areas of the country and can tell you that Pacific Rim Aviation Academy at Pitt Meadows is the best I've seen. (just happens to be where Gaamin teaches)
Friendly, honest people, really well maintained planes and an all around excellent learning environment.

But be sure to check things out for yourself and don't be afraid to ask questions! Something you'll learn quickly; most pilots are happy to talk about anything related to the industry and share a story or two so they won't mind questions. :D

Good luck!
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moocow
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Re: Advice on Flight School around Vancouver Area

Post by moocow »

Sealand Air may cost you a bit more because of the Diamond they are flying. However, the additional cost may not be too much since they don't have fuel surcharge tagged on top of your bill at the end of the day. I prefer SLA's approach since I don't like paying blind. I haven't used SLA yet but I plan to recurrent with them this year.

I found Pacific Rim to be a nice outfit despite the fact I only racked up less than 10 hours dual with them. Their planes are always clean and nicely put away in hangars. Pitt Meadows is way closer to the two practice areas than Boundary Bay. However, I don't really like flying high wings due to poor access to the fuel tanks and electric flaps. I got my PPL with CFC on Cherokees.
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MichaelP
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Re: Advice on Flight School around Vancouver Area

Post by MichaelP »

I haven't used SLA yet but I plan to recurrent with them this year.
I look forward to seeing you.

Price is not everything... What really counts is your relationship with your instructor so I too would recommend you look around the schools, perhaps take a couple of fam flights, and decide whether you get along with the personalities there.

I agree Pacific Rim is doing a fine job, Chris has put his heart and soul into it and it shows.

Don't forget Jeanette out at Chilliwack as well.

The number of hours it takes to complete a PPL depends upon your own efforts, and the guidance of your instructor. (Your instructor's own guidance from the Chief Flying Instructor has a bearing on this too).
Regardless of the school, if a student works hard at it the licence can be achieved in a reasonable time and at a reasonable cost.

Be prepared to change instructors and even to change schools if you do not feel your progress is good enough. There's been plenty of this happening at Boundary Bay in recent times.
Be careful what you listen to... I had one person phone and say that his instructor said we put the student straight into the circuit... No we don't, we put a student through the proper Transport Canada approved sequence as every other certified school has to. There are a lot of rumours and there's a lot of mis-information here so I warn you to be careful with what you hear... If it doesn't sound right, it probably isn't.
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loopa
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Re: Advice on Flight School around Vancouver Area

Post by loopa »

Pacific Rim Aviation Academy with a heart beat. Alex Denham is a Top Notch CFI, and is backed up by Chris who knows how to run a clean, professional, and customer oriented business.

Good Luck!
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Big Pistons Forever
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Re: Advice on Flight School around Vancouver Area

Post by Big Pistons Forever »

If posters are going to plug a school I think they have a moral obligation to declare if they work there.......
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5x5
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Re: Advice on Flight School around Vancouver Area

Post by 5x5 »

Greetings Learner,

first off, there is no one overall "best" in flight training. Each school will have its good points and its bad points and even those will vary by customer since best is a subjective judgement. The type of plane (high wing/low wing, newer/older, etc) isn't the most important factor, the way the school will treat you and respond to your individual needs is.

The important thing is that the school you choose is suited best to you. And you won't find that out from visiting websites or getting responses on the internet containing someone else's opinion. It's a good start, but the most valuable thing you do is put in some legwork.

Start by realizing that getting a PPL evenings and weekends will likely result in you being involved in training for at least a year. And probably renting a plane for a long time after that. Obviously this is only a hobby for you and family life, weather, work, other interests are going to get in the way and your training will take longer than you think at the start. Certainly a strong focus and dedication can shorten the time, but better to be realistic than disappointed. And the elapsed time isn't the real issue.

The point is that you will be involved with whichever school you select for a considerable amount of time, years and years potentially. Since every day you go there will take at least 3 - 4 hours out of your day (2 hour booking plus commute), it winds up being a large number of hours. So start by checking out schools that are closest to where you live. You can't short-circuit the 2 hour training slot but the commute will be much more convenient. If you don't find a suitable one then by all means go to other airports, but why not be practical? As your training proceeds, convenience and time are going to become major factors.

By checking out I don't mean a phone call and getting other people's opinions, I mean going to the schools personally. Drop in and see how they respond. IF you call ahead for an appointment they will be primed and likely have someone set up to give the best impression possible. By dropping in unannounced you get to see the real-time flavour of their customer focus. If you're ignored or given the short shrift then proceed with caution. Any school worth its salt should make the effort to properly welcome and spend time with potential new customers.

After the tour, hang around a bit unescorted. Most schools have a lounge or area where people wait between flights. If you're so inclined, just strike up conversation with anyone else around. Pilots and pilots in training typically love to talk. Just tell them you like airplanes and are hanging out as someday you'd like to get a pilot's licence and just like being around airports. Listen to the conversation around you and get a feel for the atmosphere that you won't necessarily get in a guided tour. This is best to do on a sunny day when things are busier and there are going to be more people coming and going. Notice the interaction between the staff and the students. Is it the kind of environment you can see yourself being part of?

It will take a few hours at each prospective school, but as I said above you're going to be investing a serious amount of time over the next few years and a little bit of time up front will help make a more satisfying decision overall.

All the best at whichever school you choose and happy flying.
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MichaelP
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Re: Advice on Flight School around Vancouver Area

Post by MichaelP »

Start by realizing that getting a PPL evenings and weekends will likely result in you being involved in training for at least a year.
This is subjective too... It depends upon how much reading you're willing to put in on your own.
We learn to fly on the ground and experience it in the air.
Reading combined with flying stimulates the imagination, dreams are made from imagination, and reality is made from dreams.
After each flight in an aeroplane the student should spend as much time in his/her favourite chair and simulate that flight again in the mind. "How can I improve on what I did today?"
Reading is good preparation prior to every flight, and the flight itself will be confirmation or correction or both.

I did my PPL in 7 months and 45 flying hours over a Devon winter. I took the train to Exeter and walked six miles to the airport. I usually got a ride home. I could only fly on the weekends and often the weather was foul, but I turned up at the flying club regardless... Be there; even having a cup of tea and chatting can be instructive as well as entertaining.
It should not necessarily take you a year to do your PPL.
Start now and it should be quicker, we're approaching Spring.

No student progresses except by his/her own efforts, but having a good relationship with those who facilitate your learning is very important.
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5x5
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Re: Advice on Flight School around Vancouver Area

Post by 5x5 »

Michael, there was another thread recently where someone was talking about quoting one line out of context. I quantified my statement referencing 1 year with the word "likely" because that's the norm for weekend flyers. I also added the line
5x5 wrote:Certainly a strong focus and dedication can shorten the time, but better to be realistic than disappointed.
which I'm glad you support.

And of course I'm always glad to give you one more opportunity to tell us all how tough you had it and how you overcame your challenges with such magnificence.
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Being stupid around airplanes is a capital offence and nature is a hanging judge!

“It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so.”
Mark Twain

MichaelP
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Re: Advice on Flight School around Vancouver Area

Post by MichaelP »

And of course I'm always glad to give you one more opportunity to tell us all how tough you had it and how you overcame your challenges with such magnificence.
My trials and torments are nothing compared to what they could have been if I was born in Yorkshire.
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westcoasting
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Re: Advice on Flight School around Vancouver Area

Post by westcoasting »

fly out of PITT at boundary bay you will spend half your time and money trying to get back in the circuit
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