Why I’m not flying in Florida this year

Every couple of years I make the pilot’s pilgrimage to Florida to do some flight training: PPL, instrument rating, CPL. This year I had planned to go do my multi-engine rating.

However, I’ve decided not to go. Why?

  • Poor standard of flying schools. I’ve trained with different schools in Florida and none of them have been great. The last one was absolutely awful – enough to put a newcomer off flying for good, in my opinion. Picking a flying school is an act of blind faith. While I did get two good references for Fly EAA in Naples (my first choice this time) it was difficult to get detailed answers to my questions over the phone and I got no reply by email. 
  • I don’t want to fly a Diamond anymore. EAA train on DA42s and I had planned to fly that rather than fly a 30-year old Aztec or Seneca somewhere else. I’ve had demo flights in the DA40 and DA42 and liked the handling (but not the performance – especially compared to the Cirrus). However, the recent engine problems with Thielert make me nervous about plane availability and, frankly, I’m not sure I want to train for an aircraft I am now unlikely to buy or rent. As I write this, I note that EAA have stopped doing ME training on the DA42 so even if I wanted to go do the course there, I couldn’t.  Just as well I didn’t buy my tickets.
  • My wife doesn’t want to go to Florida. We’ve done all the tourist stuff and, frankly, visiting Florida again holds little appeal.
  • The whole bloody visa business. I just don’t fancy spending a couple of days of my life filling out forms and waiting in line and being treated like a suspect at the airport just to get permission to spend my dollars in the USA. On its own this isn’t the deciding factor but it tips the balance.

So, I’ve done a checkout on the SR22 Turbo and I’m going to fly some more Cirrus hours this summer. The travel money will go towards holidays in San Francisco and the Maldives. If Diamond sort themselves out, I may look again at the twin rating. But I’ll probably do it in the UK on my JAR licence.

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