Pilot training | flight school

 Pilot training series, article 1.

 If you've decided to get your pilot's license you probably have your reasons.

Some people want to learn to fly to be able to control an airplane to fly on long trips and holidays and don't want to be tied down by ever tightening bureaucracy, the adversity of constant inspections and restrictions from police officers. Such a person will gain a huge amount of freedom, but they need to do a lot to do so, including a good knowledge of aviation English, and they also need enough pilot skill, knowledge and time (article as I built the stol plane, with economic speed 250km/h, home made conversion engine and home made conversion in-flight adjustable propeller) or many resources to make such a move. The minimum pilot license to fly in Europe around the Czech Republic and in many countries is an ultralight pilot license. Some countries will not recognize an ultralight pilot license and insist on a PPL or LAPL. Slightly better than a UL pilot license is a LAPL( limited to PPL with 4 people on board and aircraft weight) and the best is a PPL( private pilot license limited to 8 people and aircraft weight up to 5700kg ) or CPL( commercial pilot license) license. Such pilots can then also benefit from IFR training where they can fly in clouds. For ultralight aircraft flying in clouds is not possible there you have to fly above the clouds with visibility and the possibility to glide to the ground!

Others would like to become a full time pilot and would like to fly for people whether as a transport pilot with passengers or cargo (ATPL pilot licence). Some will settle for a commercial pilot's license ( CPL) and then either be a freelance pilot, or an aero club pilot in their spare time, or a full time or part time employed pilot, or a contract pilot with a company doing sightseeing flights, banner towing, throwing out bait for rabid foxes, mosquito bothering, liming, or powdering, or firefighting. Such people are the true workhorses of aviation. These pilots hold at least a CPL license and their conscious actions, if their health, finances and family relationships allow it, lead to obtaining an ATPL (transport pilot license), which is still a distance away in the form of at least 60 000 EUR  in type for a transport aircraft and many hours earned and flown, including further and not so easy studies. Their job is the heart of each and every one of them, it is wonderful job, but often tiring and very complex. Often for the love of flying they have to do many jobs, including minor repairs to their machines or surrounding fixtures. Flying itself then accounts for about one tenth to one fifth of their total work, including the time-consuming travel to work.

Some would like to know the blissful feeling of flying over people's heads and seeing the world and its problems as small - as small as they can be. Many pilots become detached from earthly concerns and devote their full attention to piloting the aircraft, navigation, and takeoffs and landings, which consume all their brain capacity so that there is no time or space for thoughts from other environments, such as work or family troubles. That's amazing too! These pilots usually are satisfied with an ultralight pilot's license and fly sport and recreationally in reasonable weather. Sometimes these pilots mature and buy or lease a relaxed airplane and fly between friends around the country (cross county flights) for visits and occasionally even try some navigation competition.

I have also known a few "pilots" in training who needed to prove something in their personal lives, they are indistinguishable from others at first. At some point, around their first solo flights, they realize, they are able to fly on their own and have therefore accomplished what they wanted to. They realised they were as good as anyone else! Unfortunately, after this realization, their interest in flying declines and eventually fades. Anyway, I keep my fingers crossed for them because they have done what they wanted to do and their next life will be all the better, especially if they take on bigger challenges.

If you are self-assessed and know what draws you to flying and what you would like to do, you can look for a flight school that would be suitable for you.

Many people - many opinions, and most importantly different interests and the profits that come from it! Everyone will argue that their way or flight school is much better. Let's talk about commercial schools and even aero clubs. I have tried to be as objective as possible, so you will find the worse and the better of each school.

You are the ones who decide. Search well!

A school that flies general aviation (GA) and ultralight (ULL) aircraft will hook you as a totally ignorant beginner student into general aviation aircraft for PPL pilot training with the understanding that you then have opportunities to grow professionally as an airman. That may be true, but at two to four times the expense you have to  xpend than if you did your first training in an ultralight. Specifically, the ratio is 150,000 to 220,000,-CZK for a Private Pilot Licence (PPL) versus 45,000 to 60,000,-CZK for Ultralight Training (UL). The variance in the amounts depends on many variables, which will be discussed later in the series. For now, we'll settle for just a few: it depends on the instructor's ability to teach you quickly, the student's preparation and consistency, the aircraft's performance and limits, the weather, and more.

The school operator knows very well that if he " docked" you into a PPL license you will get about two to three times the net profit per pilot in training than if you were flying an ultralight pilot training in an ultralight. He will argue that ultralights are fragile and absolutely unsuitable for flying anywhere, further than around a smokestack. He will claim that ultralights are unreliable and garage built and things like that, often mentioning that they can develop serious defects and not infrequently. He will say that this may not be the case with all types as the ultralight category is very broad from aircraft to aircraft, that are the same as the GA aircraft for example the serial produced aircraft in the thousands of units Tecnam P 2002 Sierra, to sport flying machines like the Sluka and its two-seat version Letov ST-4 Aztek produced in tens of units to machines produced in the workshop with automotive engine conversions. He no longer tells you that you can't land and take off anywhere with larger GA aircraft unless they are built for it and allowed by the manual and operator's permission. You certainly can't land a Cessna 150 and 152 to 182, a Zlin 42 to 43, and a Piper Cherokee on your patch of land behind your house in the middle of nowhere. You can't even use the entire network of Ultralight  landing and take-off fields, and you certainly can't fly "any other fields" Such a flight school won't tell you that flying GA aircraft (unless you have a powerful machine in the form of a powered Maule, or powered Piper Cub) is limited to airports, and that is a very limiting restriction! The owner or operator or instructor at the flight school where the PPL training is done will of course lure you into a nicely padded four, six or more seat GA aircraft saying that you can take the whole family across the Alps to the sea, not mentioning that you can't climb above turbulence on the way because the engine power without a turbocharger won't allow it and that wives are usually afraid to fly in a small aircraft because it throws and they certainly won't let the kids in! You can't even use the entire network of Ultralight surfaces, and youse certainly can't fly "any other surfaces" Such a flight school won't tell you that flying GA aircraft (unless you have a powerful machine in the form of a Maule, or Piper Cub) is limited to airports, and that is a very limiting restriction! The owner or operator or instructor at the flight school where the PPL training is done will of course lure you into a nicely padded four or more seat GA aircraft saying that you can take the whole family across the Alps to the sea, not mentioning that you can't climb above turbulence on the way because the engine power without a turbocharger won't allow it and that wives are usually afraid to fly in a small aircraft because it throws and they certainly won't let the kids in! Later on you yourself will find out bitterly that there is no one to carry in a four-seater plane after all, because if you can you usually can't get a second, third or fourth passenger. It is very difficult to fully occupy the plane and share the cost of the flight with others. It's almost a part time job if it's to work long term. The amount of friends who have friends will quickly run out. You are not allowed to do any repairs on GA aircraft yourself, all maintenance is done by certified service or credentialed technicians. Service and parts are very expensive because they are certified, which should guarantee a low probability of failure and possible problems with low or high temperatures, fuel delivery, installation quality and similar issues. It is not surprising then that the students you have seen proudly signing up for PPL training and having flown and completed all of it in a Cessna then at the same school continue to fly UL aircraft because their wallets no longer allow them to splurge unnecessarily and they themselves humbly understand that for the same amount of money they are flying two and a half to four times as many hours, especially if they prepay by the tens..

A flight school that flies only ultralights and would allow you to train as an ultralight pilot will convince you that you really don't need a PPL, that you can fly ultralights abroad just as well, and you can land almost anywhere at an ultralight airport. So you won't have to pay overpriced fees for fuel, handling and lighting use and other unnecessary things. They will point out to you that the GA schools that PPL will be flying with have Zlins, Cesnas and Pipers in their portfolio and that these are old aircraft, they are actually mostly imported crap from the US to Europe- because the maintenance is different there, they are cheaper, they are 40 years old or more, very often after several engine and interior overhauls and you have no idea who has been tinkering. They can claim that the likelihood of a malfunction in such GA machines is similar or greater than the most modern ultralights they have in their portfolio right now, not to mention that their production factory built aircraft with Rotax 912  or Rotax 915 fly similarly fast and are much more powerful relative to weight and can land anywhere, i.e. on" any other surface" that is neither an airport nor a surface for Sport Flying machines (SLZ - czech term) . An ultralight school operator will make a third to half as little on you as a GA school operator - that's a fact. Another fundamental fact is that as a ULL pilot you will spend far less money in your learning to fly and acquiring skills even if you really can't do it at all, as a flight hour in a Ultralight aircraft is usually around 1800 to 2500,-CZK depending on the type of ultralight aircraft and the airport and services used, compared to around 3500 to 5000,-CZK, but sometimes much more per flight or even engine hour (we will discuss the types of hourly payments later) for GA aircraft. It must also be taken into account that training in GA aircraft for a PPL license is much more difficult and takes much longer and includes more hours in the syllabus that must be flown. A certain reduction in the number of required hours of flying according to the syllabus is the limited LAPL license. The owner of an ultralight flight school will tell you, in other words, that if you are not 100% determined to become a transport pilot and you want to fly for fun and sport - or recreational and even long-distance, you just need an ultralight pilot license. The choice is then yours as to which ultralight aircraft you fly at what speed. For example, there is the extremely comfortable and wide all-metal ultralight Bristell with a cruising speed of around 180km/h and little more. The narrow Stream or VL3 Evolution are much faster composite planes flying up to 300km/h. Ultralights can be maintained or repaired by you under the supervision of an LAA technician. You can even build an ultralight aircraft (even a very fast one) completely by yourself. There are also kits for many types of aircraft. You can make your own engine for it- most often a conversion of a car engine, or buy a tried and tested aircraft engine. So you can get to flying, including your plane, for an incredibly low price.

Aero club flying has its own specifics and hierarchy that you must honor and follow. Aero clubs usually don't have, and by the way they operate, can't have more of the latest new machines or a new flotilla of aircraft. They are happy if they have one new or newer aircraft and a few very old ones. Their aircraft are generally underpowered and must meet the best requirements of all aero clubs members. Many times I have encountered objections that a high performance aircraft is not necessary. When we have discussed this, we have always concluded that probably not for aero clubs. After all, if they only fly on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays, including holidays, and some exceptionally on vacations, they can use a low-performance aircraft for instruction at times and in weather conditions that are suitable for flying just such an aircraft. However, a related issue is that many aero club training students, at worst, stand on the apron from 8 AM onwards, waiting for deserving aero club members to fly just what they need to in that aircraft, nobody does over lunch, then it is too convective, hot and windy, so there is no chance fly until the evening. In the evening, the heat storm is coming in from the heat, so they lock the planes back up nicely in the hangar, declare the flying day over and go party at the bar. The students didn't actually fly, or briefly in the late afternoon. It's like hearing, "You've got the only service available."

At best, the waiting students had the idea at 8am that they could do some work for the Aero Club, or far more likely, someone organized them and then they did some part-time work for the Aero Club. Here they cleaned and painted runway markings, there a tractor, sometimes they cut the grass and brush around the area and then went flying. The aero club is actually very "friendly" and unless you were doing some kind of job on the property or for the benefit of the aero club, you spent time with others and certainly talked about flying and its techniques... I see the advantage of aero club flying as undeniable in the fact that you can go on part-time jobs. Brigades can be interesting because you work in a group of like-minded people, or so you think. You get into a sort of work routine. You can, and in fact you only have to, fly aero club planes to earn a part-time income. If you are a poor student this can be a really great opportunity for you to fly on a plane and make great friends and maybe even your first love at the same time. Another advantage of an aero club is that they have built, or are building, facilities for their pilots and cross-country pilots, so they usually have some beds to sleep in, a clubhouse where you can study flying theory by the fireplace, and lots of opportunities for part-time jobs - if you show the aero club guys that you'll put in the work.

That kind of "buddy" attitude in a commercial flight school, where the client comes to spend his currency for the "best possible service" is just not possible!

From the point of view of the school owner and indeed the instructor in the aero club, everyone has "their" truth and their point of view. So it is specifically up to you to evaluate the information provided or get your own, everyone has different abilities and different needs, everyone works differently with the time available for flying.

Filip Zejda - instruktor, owner and mechanic at Letecká škola vysočina s.r.o.


V roce 2014 jsme se umístili na skvělém druhém místě v anketě "Letecká škola roku" ve kategorii škol věnujících se výcviku pilotů ultralehkých letadel.



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