Flight Training: Does it Matter Where?

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The student-pilot arrives to the aerodrome and gets onto the plane for the first flight. This is the moment the student has been waiting for. From the very moment the student takes off, they become a member of a pilot community around the globe.

Let’s be honest. Flight training is the most interesting and awaited time after long hours of learning intensive aviation theory in classes and preparation for exams. Then the flying itself might feel like a reward. All you need to do is simply to fly. But have you ever thought whether there is a difference where to conduct your flight training? And how it may influence your training? Let’s take a spin.

Ready for changing situation

Some aviation schools offer their students to practise flying in a calm aerodrome. Some other schools teach flying in an airport navigating among big passenger and cargo aircraft. Big pilot schools operate several training locations and students have more options to practise flying in different locations. What experience does a student-pilot gain when practising flying in more than one training place?

Training at the same location and repeating the flying operations creates a routine. It makes students feel comfortable.

However, flying from different aerodromes enhances pilot skills.

Every time the pilot arrives at a new training place, the student meets new conditions and contributes to the new training operations. The student-pilot meets several types of approaches, airspace entry points and surroundings in each aerodrome. Also, in every new training place the student enhances the flying skills dealing with complex changing situations like the runway surface features, crosswind, various surroundings and changing weather conditions.

Different runways

Each runway is unique with its location, width and length. Some of them have more complicated approach and some specific rules for take-offs or landings. The runway surface, ranging from asphalt to grass, is also one of the key factors in student-pilot flight training.

The surface itself is not the only varying factor, it may change according to the weather conditions. For example, the asphalt runway surface gets slippery when it is raining or freezing. Or the unusual situations may happen in the aerodrome the runway of which is covered by grass. After the heavy rain, it may get even swampy, and the aircraft tires may sink in the mud. This is hard while training but provides new experience and skills.

The runways in the mountainous areas may be even more complicated. Some of them have a very long and level-paved runway with published IFR approaches. Others have very short runways or steep gradients. These different flat and mountain runway features take the pilot’s aircraft managing skills to the next level.

Training in the airport

Some pilot academies offer their students training in the airport. Can you imagine how excited the fresh student-pilot feels when navigating their tiny one-motor Cessna among the runways and enormous aircraft?

You might ask which training environment is the best – an airport or a calm aerodrome?

Experienced flight instructors recommend getting the first flight training in a small aerodrome for the first practice in the aircraft.

A small aerodrome offers calm training environment with no distractions for a better student-pilot concentration. Training in the airport is more useful when the student-pilot has already gained the primary skills and is able to manage in the environment where more aircraft are operating.

Training at a hectic airport space has a number of advantages, however, it contains some challenges too. Let’s take a look at the differences between the flight training in the aerodrome and the airport.

Pros and cons

Notably, training in the airport may be held not in all airports. Usually, big international airports do not allow flight training because of safety. Small airports, where commercial flights are planned just some particular days per week, offer flight training.

The biggest difference between the aerodrome and the airport is the size of the place and its atmosphere.

The student-pilot gets into the airport terminal environment. The airport administrative part with its customs, the passport control and the security check becomes a daily routine for the student-pilot.

On the other hand, flight training in an airport might be more time and money-consuming. Firstly, you will have to pass the security check. Then a tiny training aircraft like Cessna willing to take off will be squeezed in between several big passenger aircraft and more precious training time will be spent on the ground waiting for permission to take off.

Usually, all airports are crowded. There are a lot of processes happening at the same time as well as several aircraft operating simultaneously. This hectic environment requires more effort to concentrate on flying training procedures. Moreover, the radio communication is more intensive in the airport, therefore it is one more factor distracting the student-pilot’s attention. The student-pilot will master situational awareness while training in a high-workload environment. Flying in a dynamic airport just after the training rather than in a calm aerodrome may be very distracting and increase the stress level for a fresh pilot.

The instructor

The key point of successful flight training is not only the training place. A much more important factor is an experienced instructor. He is the one who introduces flight procedures and maneuvers to the student. The top-qualified instructor will navigate in a busy area and calm down an excited and nervous student, if it is the student’s first time controlling the aircraft or the first time in a busy airport after gaining some flying experience in a quiet place.

The ultimate goal of the flight training is to prepare the pilot to safely navigate aircraft according to the regulated requirements.

That means that even if your flight school operates just in one flight base, it will follow the approved training program to prepare the pilot as stated. However, practice makes it perfect, so no doubt that flying in as many different circumstances and conditions as possible will enrich your experience and skills and will turn you into a more competent pilot.

Source: BAA Training