A missed trick
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.