A missed trick

Pilot - - Airmail - Ian Howlett, So­ham, Cambs

There is some­thing sur­pris­ingly amiss in gen­eral avi­a­tion flight train­ing. I passed my PPL in Au­gust 2017, af­ter spend­ing a fun sum­mer learn­ing at the ex­cel­lent Cam­bridge Aero Club. How­ever, I found that af­ter pass­ing the PPL there was no ob­vi­ous and struc­tured choice of what I should do next. Should I do night fly­ing? An in­stru­ment rat­ing? Fly­ing into farm strips looks fun, but my land­ings prob­a­bly aren’t pre­cise enough yet!

When learn­ing the pi­ano, there is a struc­tured pro­gres­sion through the grades, from the ba­sic skills through to more ad­vanced work, where con­sid­er­able at­ten­tion is given to the or­der in which skills should be de­vel­oped and per­fected. The grades rep­re­sent fairly short steps, each of which looks achiev­able and not too daunt­ing. Car driv­ers who pass their test are given the op­tion of Pass Plus, which gives them a struc­tured course on the next set of skills to mas­ter.

Yet for pi­lots, noth­ing seems to have be­come es­tab­lished as the next clear step when the PPL is com­pleted. The CAA’S ‘PROUD’ ini­tia­tive, launched in July 2015, doesn’t ap­pear to have taken off. AOPA has its Wings Award scheme, but this doesn’t pro­vide struc­tured guid­ance ei­ther. Per­haps the Ul­ti­mate High Ad­vanced PPL Syl­labus is the clos­est thing we cur­rently have.

Cam­bridge Aero Club has just re­leased a ‘New Hori­zons’ pro­gramme, which fo­cusses on tak­ing freshly-minted PPLS to new air­fields and teach­ing fur­ther nav­i­ga­tion tech­niques, which is a struc­tured step in the right di­rec­tion. Since there are only around 30,000 pri­vate pi­lots in the UK, I’d have thought that more fly­ing clubs with an eye on their rev­enues would take this ob­vi­ous step to keep pi­lots en­gaged and ac­tively work­ing to­wards their next qual­i­fi­ca­tion, on a clear de­vel­op­ment path, rather than let­ting their li­cence lapse and hav­ing them walk out the door, never to re­turn.

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