Getting jerked around by a flight school or am I the jerk?

Discussion in 'Pilot Training' started by guzziguy, Dec 17, 2020.

  1. guzziguy

    guzziguy Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Me: 500+ hour owner/pilot, PPL. Flown across the country a couple times and a decent amount of real world flying experience.

    It's time to get my IR. I'm ready and I've put it off for far too long. I've taken TWO ground schools but haven't taken the written yet since I wasn't sure when I could start the flight training. I have a good handle on the academics, though of course, I need to polish that knowledge.

    Here's the situation:
    In starting with the local ma & pa flight school, I told them I had four basic requirements for my training:
    1) Train in my own aircraft
    2) lessons twice a week after work to keep the schedule short and fast
    3) That they have and follow a syllabus and
    4) stick with the same instructor for my training.
    They said no problem to all of my requests though training in my own plane carried with it a slight up-charge to which I said no problem.

    Here's where it gets interesting:
    Insurance requires that the CFII have 10 hours in type (Arrow). As it turns out, I was told that only two people at the school had this requirement met: the owner herself and a single CFII, "Joe."
    So, she assigned "Joe" to be my IR instructor.

    They have a BATD available and they use it throughout the syllabus. But I told them that there's no real reason to use the simulator since my operating costs for the plane is about the same for the simulator. They told me that they preferred to use the sim in the early lessons since it provides opportunity to hit 'pause' and explain concepts, etc. I said, "ok, fine." (They are the instructors after all...)

    Lesson 1: Tracking VORs, straight and level, etc.
    The BATD glitched at least 4 times causing the instructor to reboot it and killing I don't know how much time. Not only this, but because the sim is a sim and not a real plane, getting a 'feel' for how it performed was impossible and took even more time.
    With no inputs at all it would spontaneously climb/descend 2,000 fpm and I spent an inordinate amount of time just trying to 'learn' how to fly the sim. This was not simulating anything but a severely damaged airplane!
    I told "Joe" that I didn't want to waste time on a sim that constantly glitched and that I would get more out of just going and FLYING; with every minute wasted passes, I'm watching $$ fly out the window.
    He said, 'well, we really want to use the sim since we can pause, etc.' All I could think was, "who needs a pause button when you can chat and discuss the lesson while it's constantly booting up over and over?"

    Lesson 2: Tracking VORs, DME arcs, etc.
    More glitch problems killing more time. More time wasted watching me wrestling the sim to behave.

    Then this:
    Earlier this week, "Joe" mentioned to me that the school typically schedules CFI's in a morning/evening regime: he is normally the 'day' instructor and "Milton," another CFII, was the afternoon instructor. "Joe" said that since my lessons are in the afternoon, and that the sim can be taught by anyone, he was going to schedule my sims with "Milton" instead of him and, "would that be ok?"
    I told him no, that was NOT ok. My only REAL requirement before I began was that I stay with one single instructor; that it was 'company policy' that "Milton" teach the sim since he is the afternoon guy wasn't my issue. I don't want to be tossed from instructor to instructor.
    "Joe" said, "ok, well, I'll talk to the owner to see what we can organize."
    "Great, thanks Joe for understanding."

    This morning, the owner calls me to say that they were going to switch me to "Milton" for the sim work since anyone can teach the sim part, "would that be ok?"
    I reiterated to him that no, that was not ok. "Ok," he says, "let me call you back."

    10 minutes later, he calls me back to say, "guess what? It turns out that "Milton" DOES have Arrow time!"
    "Oh he does? Because last I heard only you and "Joe" had Arrow time."
    "Yeah, turns out he does."
    "Well, if he has Arrow time, then we can switch Milton to be my permanent instructor, right? Problem solved"
    "Great!" he said. "I'll set it up."

    Later today, I met "Milton" for the first time. Nice enough kid. I took him out to see the Arrow before we got started so he knew what we'd be flying in.
    He hopped in and said, "wow, this is in great condition"
    "Thanks, it's been quite the project"
    "How fast does it usually go?"

    ?... Yeah, I thought so...?

    So, I responded, "Oh, it's not the 200 hp model, so only about 135 mph."
    Then I continued, "So, tell me, Milton, what kind of Arrow time do you have?"
    "Oh, not arrows. My time is in Archers. PA28's. Cherokees, Archers, that kind of stuff..."
    "Is that so?" I ask. "Well, you know, this might be a problem since the insurance company requires ARROW time"
    Milton responds, "well, if it IS an issue, you and I can do the sim work and then, when we're done, you can go and fly with Joe."

    Oh really? Isn't that the EXACT SITUATION I wanted to avoid and made clear on day 1???

    I am pretty done with them now. The fact that they are ok with lying to me about the CFII's arrow time tells me everything I need to know, but then to insist on their day guy/afternoon guy scheduling system against what the customer specifically requested is just beyond the pale.

    Then this:
    Adding insult to injury, I said to "Milton,"
    "So, if insurance says you are able to be my permanent instructor, I want to do lessons twice a week after work in the evening and I can be here as early as 3:30."

    His response? "Oh, that's going to be difficult, my evenings are pretty tied up, but I can squeeze you in at 6 maybe once a week"

    ARE YOU KIDDING ME????

    Not only did the flight school lie to me about their instructor's experience,
    Not only did the flight school not be able to meet to my single most important requirement,
    But now I have to give up on my schedule too?

    Talking it out with my CFI cousin, he told me his easiest money he ever made was the sim time since he didn't NEED the hours (Both milton and joe are 1000+ hr instructors, as young as they are), and he loved the ease of instructing on the sim.

    I also slowly realized that a school was NOT what I was really looking for; I was really looking for a Yoda instructor; a one-on-one teacher who does it because he loves it, not because he's part of some school marking time waiting to go to the airlines after the WU-FLU is over with. I really think the experience I am looking for can't be found at a flight school.

    Am I being too hard on them or am I justified in my frustration?
     
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  2. X3 Skier

    X3 Skier En-Route PoA Supporter

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    Your money, your rules. Move on, say I.

    Cheers
     
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  3. KeepWatch

    KeepWatch Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I'd like to know what the owner says when you lay all this out beginning to end like you did on this post. Giving the owner the benefit of the doubt, maybe she has only viewed each deviation from your requirements as a single concession. Maybe the owner honestly thought Milton's time was Arrow instead of Archer. When you layout all of it, perhaps you'll get a sincere apology.

    Also, you mentioned the owner as a he and a she. Two owners? Maybe a communication problem?
     
  4. Tarheelpilot

    Tarheelpilot En-Route

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    Sounds like you are not happy with them... time to move on.
     
  5. PaulS

    PaulS Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Nah, you're fine, move on. Sometimes you get what you pay for.
     
  6. rk911

    rk911 Line Up and Wait PoA Supporter

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    +1. your boots were made for walkin'.
     
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  7. kath

    kath Administrator Management Council Member

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    “Sticking with one instructor for the whole thing” is a great condition in spirit — a spirit which they’re clearly missing — but is a condition that may be unfulfillable in the future for reasons beyond their control. You can’t contractually bind your instructor to not get sick, or have their evenings free forever, or not take an airline job after some months, etc. Sometimes things change. Just something to keep in mind as you move forward and look for someone new.
     
  8. sarangan

    sarangan Cleared for Takeoff

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    I don't think they are trying to screw you, they just don't seem to have their act together. It is definitely a bad sign. Don't sink more money into them. Find an independent retired instructor. There are plenty of them who would love to do this sort of stuff, which is way more interesting than primary student instruction. The hard part is finding them. You could look through the AOPA or Gleim CFI listings.
     
  9. schmookeeg

    schmookeeg Administrator Management Council Member PoA Supporter

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    That writeup made my blood boil. I'd love to defend the school as a former flight-school owner myself, but that hayseed operation is terrible and needs to be fired.

    Perhaps one of the bigger airports in the area has their ish together?
     
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  10. 455 Bravo Uniform

    455 Bravo Uniform En-Route

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    You’re looking for a CFI-I, not a flight school. Blame yourself for being too accommodating. Execute your next move and be done with it.
     
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  11. TommyG

    TommyG Pattern Altitude

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    Why are you going to any flight school for a CFI to teach in your own plane? The school is charging you more money that you don’t need to pay, or you pay that same rate to a CFI. do some searching, you will most likely find an independent instructor out there. He might charge you the same rate, maybe more. But at least he doesn’t have a third party dictating how he teaches.
     
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  12. Low Level Flyer

    Low Level Flyer Filing Flight Plan

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    Like TommyG said. Get an independent instructor and explain what you’re looking for. Cuts out the middle man and prob saves money. Shouldn’t be too hard to find a CFII with Arrow time.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  13. bflynn

    bflynn Final Approach

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    You’re not the jerk. You’ve been very clear from the start and they lied to you.

    Dump them with prejudice. They are not earning your money.
     
  14. midlifeflyer

    midlifeflyer Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Agreed. Here's the deal. It's not about bad intent or screwing around. There are definitely exceptions, but flight schools have their ways of doing things and when you work for them as an instructor or go through them for certificate or rating training, you fit into their mold. And the CFI's commitment is divided.

    It can work great. Or not. But unless the school had facilities which provide a training advantage (like a working BATD) you are generally better off with a good independent.
     
  15. TrueCourse

    TrueCourse Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Sounds like your expectations were fine and clear but you’ve been trying to work with a school that is not capable of accommodating. They do better serving the flexible, “sure, that’s fine”, student that accommodates the schools schedule and capabilities. You need a higher volume, fully staffed school. Or, a mom and pop that meets your expectations without issue. Time to move on because trying to fix this probably will most likely not work.
     
  16. RussR

    RussR Pattern Altitude

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    While I agree with all the comments above, I have a question about the insurance part - are you reading the policy accurately? In my experience, requiring an instructor to have a certain amount of time in type usually only applies if they will be acting as PIC, which is typically only for pre-Private training (or adding a multiengine rating or something like that). After that, you're acting as the PIC, so anybody can sit in the right seat, whether they're teaching you or not.

    And if the concern is "but I wouldn't be able to act as PIC in actual IMC", that's not much of a real problem anyway, since likely you'll do at least 10 hours of simulated IMC flight before entering the clouds, at which point the CFI would have 10 hours in the model.

    I have many different models in my logbook where I had zero time in type before conducting training (typically instrument currency or new avionics training, stuff where you don't need to be a type expert). Perfectly insurable, not a loophole.
     
  17. Jim Carpenter

    Jim Carpenter Pre-takeoff checklist

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    ......and, another thing; DME arcs on Lesson 2? Even VOR tracking at lesson 1 or 2 seems out of the norm for the usual syllabus.
     
  18. luvflyin

    luvflyin Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    About the sim. Talk to them (assuming you still might want to salvage your relationship with them) about it. I ran into the same problem with sims. Time on my dime dealing with it not working right and a CFI charging his time while he was learning how to use it, it was a new model sim to him. I negotiated with the FBO about the sim. I called the CFI on what he did and he knocked some time off. I never called him again. He was independent of the FBO. That something in his character allowed him to do it in the first place was a no go with him. And the completely unrealistic feel of the controls I hated. I was getting an IPC, not initial training but I had returned to flying after about 25 years off, so it was a factor. I was using the Sim to learn GPS. Doing ‘buttonology’ (click, click, click.....click, enter, repeat four more times) while trying to fly the plane which felt to me like it’s controls where turning to mush was very difficult. I just quit using the sim. Doesn’t solve your problem with them though if they are inflexible about demanding you get sim time first though. Anyway, hope it all works out for you.
     
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  19. Deelee

    Deelee Cleared for Takeoff

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    Drop that flight school like it's hot. Even if they didn't have ill intentions, you are off to a really bad start with them. You need to feel comfortable with the school/CFII.

    :yeahthat: You have your own aircraft. I would find an independent CFII who can work with you in your airplane on your schedule. A good one will have a syllabus and stick to it. As far as simulators go - I didn't use one. I wanted to learn it all in my plane from start to finish. And it really helped.

    Not sure if this is an option, but there are some courses you can take where you basically go for 7 or 10 days and at the end you have your rating. If you are on the east coast, I recommend OBX Flight (http://obxflight.com). I did not go with them, but the emails and conversations I had with Scott and Lisa were fantastic. They were so helpful and knowledgeable. Heck, they even sent to me their training materials even though I didn't go with them. Lisa said, "Hope this stuff helps you out in your training." Never asked for a dime. Others on this forum have used them and can attest, as well. Anyway, long story short, they seem like a really great option if you can spare the seven days, I think it would be worth it.

    Good luck!
     
  20. KeepWatch

    KeepWatch Pre-takeoff checklist

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    With the right setup and instructor, SIMs can be an excellent training tool especially for approaches. The number of approaches you can perform in a given amount of time is greatly increased.
     
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  21. frfly172

    frfly172 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    You made an agreement on What you expected, and it seems they’ve broken all your requests. Time to find another school, or private instructor since you have your own airplane. The sim seems to be draining your budget.
     
  22. Hang 4

    Hang 4 Cleared for Takeoff

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    Very true, but not for initial training. Having used one during my training, it's great for procedural stuff and repetition of those procedures into a "muscle memory", but pretty much worthless for the flying part. I would have expected doing level flight, turns and power settings on the first couple lessons in the plane. Knowing what I know now, I'd never have accepted sim work for the initial lessons.
     
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  23. Dan Thomas

    Dan Thomas Final Approach

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    When I got my IFR the sims were just the basic desktops with the original MSFS. Not a lot of help. Didn't use it much at all. About the only other sims were the clunky electromechanical machines like the old Frasca. An awful lot of people got IFR tickets just fine with no sim time at all. That said, much later at the flight school we had a series of proper sims, culminating in one of the first Redbirds. For procedures it was OK and was much cheaper to run than an airplane, and could be used when the weather was unflyable, common in the winter.
     
  24. Kristin

    Kristin Cleared for Takeoff

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    Unless the simulator is pretty sophisticated, like a Redbird, etc, I am not sold on them for getting an IFR rating, when you have your own plane available. Best to find an independent instructor with a goodly amount of single-pilot IFR experience, to teach you in your plane and act as a mentor for awhile after you get your license. Where are you located?
     
  25. Lindberg

    Lindberg En-Route

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    This. What value is the flight school providing you in exchange for its cut? Normally, it would be the ability to use their sim, book multiple planes, maybe multiple instructors. You don't want any of those things. What else is there? You don't need them to operate as a CFI dating service, especially since you don't like either of their CFIs. Find an independent CFI and move on.

    Also this. Look at your policy and talk to your broker. My policy required a CFI who met my open-pilot clause only for initial sign-off, and for supervising my student-pilot partner's training. At this point, as long as I am PIC, the instructor's credentials are irrelevant. Just make sure you are very clear about who is acting as PIC, and ask your new independent CFI about his insurance.

    Eta: I have no opinion on whether you're a jerk, they are, or no one is, but it doesn't matter. You're not receiving what you want from the relationship, so move on.
     
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2020
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  26. 1SGBrokePilot

    1SGBrokePilot Filing Flight Plan

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    Your $$, spend it where you get what you expect to get. With the current environment you shouldn't have much of a problem finding a CFII to teach you independently, assuming you aren't in the middle of nowhere. I was in a similar situation as you regarding hours and my own plane, and several very long XCs. I tried out one instructor at my local airport and just didn't feel safe when during the first lesson he talked about "having" to descend below minimums a couple times. Thankfully the state college has a big aviation program and their airport is about a 30 min flight away. I asked around and found a CFII that was willing to take me of if I flew to him. While the school is 141, we did our training 61. I loved it. I think he enjoyed it to because he was used to dealing with 19yr old college students that were about as prepared for their lesson as I would have been at that age.

    some people like to wait, but I recommend getting your written out of the way ASAP.

    good luck!
     
  27. Racerx

    Racerx Line Up and Wait

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    This is why I avoided flight schools. Im a business man just like they are. But they just don't fit my schedule. Had a customer who's kid just got his CFI, among a number of other endorsements. He needs to build time. I needed a cfi. When things are meant to be it just works.
     
  28. JimNtexas

    JimNtexas Pattern Altitude

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    It is not realistic to expect to fly with the same CFII at most flight schools unless you schedule a ten day full time intensive course.
     
  29. JoeCFI

    JoeCFI Filing Flight Plan

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    At the flight school where I instruct we try very hard to keep the same instructor with the same student throughout their training. Although we all train to the same ACS, each instructor has their own take on how to instruct and for the most part, its good to have a consistent voice. Having said that, life gets in the way of aviation, so things come up (vacations, sickness, life stuff) and occasionally it makes sense to fly with a different instructor rather than not fly. In that case I will make sure that I connect with the other instructor about where my student is, and what they probably want to work on (we are a Part 61 school, so not the strict syllabus of Part 141, which theoretically allows for plug & play instructors).

    My two cents on sims: we have a full motion SIM at our school and it does take some getting used to. My understanding is that its meant to be a little more sensitive than the real plane in order to improve your scan. You have to be right on things all the time and fix things early on. Once I stopped fighting that aspect of the SIM (and grumbling that I know how to fly a real plane daggnabit!!), it became easier to operate and learn on. I make sure I point that out to students when we start using the SIM so they don't fight it the way I first did. Flying the real plane is actually easier after the SIM and yes it does have the PAUSE button that, especially in the beginning of training, is generally a really useful feature. All those glitches though, is not good. Ours will occasionally glitch, but not very often, but when it does, I usually adjust the time we bill to account for that. In general, for instrument instruction, the SIM definitely has a place if its done right.

    All in all, it doesn't sound as if you are being a jerk at all (well, like all tales, there are always two sides, but I will give you the benefit of doubt that your side is accurate) since you pretty much laid out your expectations beforehand. And you should be in charge of your training (well, up to a point of course, as professional instructors sometimes we have an idea or two about how your instruction should go. Generally that's just a discussion we can talk through). I would say that if you have other reasonable options for instrument instruction you should certainly seek them out and give them a try. Good luck.
     
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2020
  30. guzziguy

    guzziguy Pre-takeoff checklist

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    A lot of good comments. Thanks.

    The update:

    I made my decision to leave the flight school. My BS-meter is permanently pegged in the yellow, so my tolerance is dang low for things like what I experienced. Thank God I only wasted 3 lessons and 400 bucks...

    My aircraft is in their hangar finishing up some maintenance (hose replacement, etc.) and I'll wait until keys are firmly back in hand before I drop the hammer tomorrow.

    Today, I called a different flight school on the field (there are several) asking about IR training in my aircraft. The fellow I spoke to said they were more a 141 outfit and not really set up for such a situation. But he DID say he knew of a great CFII who he would recommend to anyone, saying that he was a full time instructor but also instructed on the side, that he was a 'nerd' about IFR and wouldn't send anyone to anyone else but him. I said, great, gimme his info.

    I called him today to give him my requirements:
    1)Train in my own aircraft: "no problem, I've got 80 hours in Arrows"
    2) Have a syllabus: "I can put a syllabus together, of course"
    3) train twice a week after work: "that works out perfect for me and fits perfectly with my schedule"
    4) Stay with only one instructor throughout: "well that's what we're going to do, isn't it?"

    We spoke for about an hour and we will be meeting up tomorrow to show him the plane (coming out of maintenance) and just meet/greet. I didn't even bother to ask him how much he charged...

    To be honest, his not having a ready-to-go syllabus was a little concerning, but the referral I received about him let me give him a shot.

    In response to some questions from the forum:
    • A lot of the comments regarding the utility of the sim were legit, no doubt. However, as glitchy as it was an as unnatural it felt (the controls), it was just useless.
    • The comments regarding my insurance: I'll have to look again, but I"m pretty certain I understood what it says, and the owner confirmed the requirement when I sent her a copy of the policy.
    • I'm located in North Florida
    • Actually, we were doing DME arcs on lesson 1. I figured this was in deference to my flying experience already with no need to learn how to track VORs or straight and level flying. Though, honestly, I got very little out of it and we only did maybe 2 arcs after going through it. We didn't even do the entire procedure; just a couple of turns and that was it. The CFI told me the DPE would only want to see that I am capable of doing the arc and that would be done. Because the material was so new, I was torn and didn't know what to think: Is it REALLY that easy? Or is this guy just pencil whipping the lesson?
     
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  31. JoeCFI

    JoeCFI Filing Flight Plan

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    As far as having a ready made syllabus goes, some instructors use them, some don't. In my 10 years of instructing I never have (and of course having said that, you have no idea what sort of instructor I am, so take that FWIW), but I do make sure students know where we are going in terms of the training so its not a mystery a least. I refer to the ACS quite a bit of course. Given his strong reference, sounds like a good move. Be interested to hear how it goes.
     
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  32. Racerx

    Racerx Line Up and Wait

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    Sounds like a perfect scenario. Exactly what I meant when things just work.

    As far as no syllabus. Being independent, He probably gets pilots all the time with vastly different skills. Should you get the same lesson plan as a kid that just got his ppl? Personally I would rather have an instructor cater a plan to me based on my skill set.
     
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  33. texasclouds

    texasclouds Cleared for Takeoff

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2018
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    Mark