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04 August 2009

Comments

Les
I am rather worried you might be about to fall into the similar trap that I found myself, that is to say I sought out a French flying club by hourly rate and from my experience of the the Aeroclub du Soleil in the south I have have decided to look a little bit beyond the hourly rental fees. In my experience when I encountered the same prices it was very much a case of you get what you pay for. Planes turning up over an hour late every time I flew, planes out of service with problems but no one would call to let you know, I had more cancelled trips than actually made as it was very much a club for the locals. It was with huge relief that I came across Sue Virr and the Aeroclub at Limoges as from day one I was made to feel welcome and things run really well and to date no cancelled trips and some exceptional tutoring and have made some lovelly friends. Whilst spending a few euros more i would be an advocate that you certainly get what you pay for with flying clubs in France and it's often wiser to spend a few extra euros as you really enjoy the rewards.

Always interesting to hear what different clubs are offering, Les, in particular what they are charging and if that’s the most important thing to you, that’s fine. It will always be a question of personal preferences and circumstances.

What made the Aeroclub de Limoges appeal to me was wanting to complete a JAR PPL after spending several years grinding away at it in Ireland – weather, aircraft and instructor availability were the three ducks difficult to line up. I considered US and UK flight schools but for one reason or another they did not appeal. I wanted my final PPL training to be intensive, well structured and enjoyable. This is how it turned out at Limoges – several Robin 400s, onsite maintenance, a very experienced instructor, a training programme geared to my requirements, very good weather, a welcoming and friendly club, a locally based CAA Examiner, and flying over breathtaking countryside. Not to mention lunch at Poitiers Airport and other gastronomic events. It made finally getting my PPL a totally memorable experience and as a byproduct, introduced me to a flying environment and a growing circle of pilot friends that I will return to again and again.

I expect I could have got a PPL cheaper somewhere else, but the point is not just getting the PPL but the fun and sense of achievement along the way. As I said, it’s a question of personal preferences but for what their worth, here are mine.

Hi Stuart—nice to hear from you again.

You're quite right to point out that cost isn't the only factor in choosing a club but, since you mention AC Limoges in such glowing terms, I would point out that they have implemented several short-notice price increases during the last year which probably accounts for the current good aircraft availability.

Indeed, I recently booked the DA40 for a few days and suffered a 24% rate increase in the couple of weeks between the booking and the flying.

That's rather more than 'a few extra Euros'.

As an experienced pilot, I have little need of Sue's considerable talents which are not in doubt and she certainly did a good job of converting me to both Robin and DA40 aircraft—but Sue is not the club and seems to exercise little influence over it's rather haphazard management (enough said).

Out of courtesy to her, AC Limoges was not actually named in my original article and I only mentioned 'in passing' that I was moving on.

Anyway, the point of my post was to share possible alternatives and more information can never do any harm.

It's high time that a few other French clubs got a mention on this blog which was always intended for ALL English-speaking pilots operating in France.

I might also look at buying into another UK-based syndicate—I love flying in France but I miss being able to just drag the aircraft out and fly whenever the weather is nice.

I wonder if there are many syndicates operating in France.

Hi Peter—thanks for your contribution.

Few of Sue's students would disagree with your assessment of her but I am actually changing clubs rather than Instructors (I only need a check ride every two years and that can be done anywhere).

Like yourself, I think that France is a great flying environment and would be equally so in other clubs.

This is not JUST a question of cost for me—I also value professional management, reliable maintenance, accurate technical documentation, clear 'published' pricing structure, an efficient accounts function, good communication with members and nice clubhouse facilities.

It is indeed a really good idea to build some reccomendations of other
French flying clubs as I am not too familiar with many in my area and am always interested in hearing from other experiences to be able to drop in and sample the local hospitality. Myself sue and Mathew recently took a trip to Gap and it was for me my idea of a good club to fly through and is a great stop off point at the foot of the Alps.
Yet I have to say I am struggling to find anything that compares on the south coast of France and with such a huge population of English speakers here I find it strange. Maybe I should start banging the drum abut louder myself here.
As sue mentioned in the article about the trip down here I am always willing to act as guide or a place spend the night to fellow Franco flyers.

Stuart

Francoflyers could do with a broader range of articles so I will be happy to set you up as an author on the blog.

To my mind, the main point of flying in France is to visit lots of interesting places and fine restaurants.

And one always gets more out of a visit with a good contact in the local area.

Les, thanks for the author offer, but let me get my skills test done hopefully in sept/Oct with more than a little help from sue and we can talk about that . My head is firmly in the text books at the moment.

No problem Stuart

If you fly as well as you take photographs, you should pass easily.

I'm recently relocating to Nice /Cannes area . Typed in Hawker 800/900/Citation 500/525SP and total time just short of 10,000 hrs . Very interested in local flying,clubs,and aviation friends . Scott

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