viernes, 12 de noviembre de 2010

Just sharing my experience! by Kai Steinbach

(Artículo de opinión - Article d'opinió).

Just sharing my experience ... when I decided that I wanted to start my PPL-A training, I checked the flying schools around where I live - Barcelona:

1. In El Prat it is not allowed to do Visual Flights, hence it has no PPL flying schools. Instead it has a big zone around it, where small planes cannot enter - this zone basically goes from Mataró to Sitges, and even beyond those towns any small plane must stay below a certain altitude, in order to not mess with the commercial airliners. Too bad.

2. Sabadell is the closest airport for General Aviation, about 30 minute in car from where I live. It is famous for some troubles with the people living around it, which like to complain about the noise levels and had some restrictions imposed, for example on EFATO training ("engine failure after take off"). There are 5 flight schools, but some of them provide only the advanced training to upcoming commercial pilots. The Sabadell Airclub does PPL-A training, and has a very impressive fleet, but is more expensive when compared to Reus. With so many pilots, Sabadell is a very busy little airport.

3. Igualada is 45 minutes drive from where I live, and a tiny airstrip in between some hills, with a school that has only 1 or 2 planes, I believe. With regards to being busy - it is the complete contrary to Sabadell. Sadly it has no fuel available, hence for fueling you will have to fly to Sabadell - that really put me off. :( Furthermore Igualada itself is not a controlled airport, hence you don't learn the Radio communication skills like you would on a controlled airport.

4. Reus is the airport furthest away that I included in my research - about 1 hour by car. On advertisement RAC Reus is a little less obvious than other schools in Catalunya. For example in the magazine "Aviación general y deportiva" there are 3 advertisments from TopFly, and several other schools (including ULM only) are in the register at the back, but the RAC Reus is not included there. So you have to find it first ;) When I did, I loved it from the start. Compared to Sabadell, the Reus airport is not even half as busy. It has a runway about 3 times as long as Sabadell or Igualada, which means there is more security for engine failures or human mistakes during starts and landings. With regards restrictions, instead of the big Barcelona no-entry zone, Reus has direct access to the Mediterranean sea, part of it still covered by the airport's control zone. Unlike Igualada, it has fuel and is controlled. There are few residential areas directly adjacent to the airport. The cities Reus and Tarragona are a few miles out. For the normal approach, you fly around 1 village called Constanti, but the rest of the traffic pattern has just some fields and motorways underneath. It's funny that you share the airport with the occasional Ryanair, and in the summer month there are a few more holiday airliners - which will always take priority over General Aviation traffic. Yet, I had hours in Reus where the tower told me to continue touch and go's "at my own discretion" ;) And I was thinking how different the flight training must be when you are based on a very busy airport. Yet Reus will give you the occasional funny situation, where you taxi in your little Cessna, and the plane ahead is a Boeing, and behind you an Airbus waits in line :) ... that's something you would never have in Sabadell or Igualada.

The RAC Reus crew was always very professional with me. I started flight training and ground school in parallel around January, and the hardest part for me was the Spanish - all 9 written exams are available in Spanish only :(. Once I started doing both the flying and the Radio contact inside the plane, I switched that to English. Middle of May I had my first Solo flight - by that time I had 23 hours with instructor and 140 landings in my log book. By the end of July I did my Solo Triangle to Huesca and Lleida. On the 24th October I had my practical exam and got certified for my JAR-PPL (A). Since I work full time and can only fly on Weekends, it was really important that my flight school has time for me when I need it - and RAC Reus has been incredible helpful with that. I'm sure if you have more time available, you can go through all the practical training in a month or two. For my own availability, doing it in 9 months was still pretty impressive.

For anyone checking out Flight Schools around Barcelona, I hope this write-up is useful.

Cheers,

Kai Steinbach

* Note: The Aeroclub de Reus does not have to share the comments herein. Is not responsible for the opinions expressed by their members and / or collaborators.

Aeroclub de Reus
E.mail: racreus@racreus.com
Phone: +34 977 771911
Website: www.racreus.com