So, after confirmation from my wife it was time to start thinking about where to train.
Since I was introduced to Bladeslapper, one of the topics on my radar was members' opinions on training schools (now there's a can of worms). Everyone seems to have an opinion here, from the positive to the scathing. While I originally didn't think it would be a simple task, it has turned out to be a rather difficult one (from my own personal point of view). Now depending on where you live the choices available can be light on (even harder for prosepctives outside main city/regional centres or in states / territories that are lacking in this field) or spoiled for choice.
I live in the Sydney basin, and due to current work and family commitments, find myself having to choose from those in and around that area. As others have said on the topic, YOU need to fully investigate (ie pre-flight / no. and quality of instructors / de-brief / costs / extras / approach to theory / capacity / past students / where you think you're headed and where they're headed etc etc) what the schools offer YOU and how comfortable YOU feel - couldn't agree more. Everyone has bias, whether good or bad, founded or unfounded and with my approach it was, web-based searching (some sites could do with a bit of updating), phone calls, emailing others (outside the scope of the school), having a couple of TIF's and a good couple of face to face chats with the CFI's. I then stepped back, actually re-read notes (I typed up a review after each TIF and chat, with positives and negatives, what was discussed and what was learned from the experience (hey I found it was a good way to start my learning of effects of controls!). I might also add here after my TIFs, I went back to work and I couldn't wipe the smile off my face - hovering doesn't look easy though ).
It was interesting to note that from my investigations there was a proportion of people who chose a school after just 1 chat and TIF (my sample may be statistically misleading here). Each to there own and if people can choose after that - go for it, I'm just saying that you shouldn't a) be necessarily in a hurry or b) worried that you've short-listed a whole bunch of schools. Some people who have the time and flexibility to go outside where they live should and have more homework than I did). It would be interesting for someone to come up with a scoring / evaluation model (like in a tender assessment) to aid in the process but I'm not sure what weighting you would put on "being comfortable".
I found each person with whom I spoke, to be genuine...and this was my biggest problem...all the schools had attributes that made me feel it would be a good place to train. At the end of the day I had to go with my gut feeling -> time will tell if I have made the correct decision. I know that with the right attitude and application, I will study and train to be a good, safe pilot. With flexibility and open communication between student, instructor/s and the school itself, the ultimate goal will be achieved.
I have intentionally not used any names here (some people I have PM'd for advise so the dots may eventually be joined down the line), but I sincerely appreciated my chance to chat with each CFI, it has already added to my experience talking and being around others with whom I share the passion of flying helicopters (or in my case wanting to fly a helicopter). I hope that, even though I'm a late bloomer, they still saw the twinkle (not sure if that's the right term to use here) in my eye when I said... "I want to learn to fly a helicopter". I can't wait for my first lesson!
What I've got to fill out how many forms, CASA charge how much for that?, I've got to do what for the Class 1 and the box of theory books weighs 17 kgs ...
Until next time...
Follow choppernut on his journey to CPL(H).
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