PPL Finish-Up Course

My PPL journey has been filled with ups and downs, punctuated by an AFIT exclamation right at the end.

Before the pandemic, I was working towards my certificate with a Part 61 CFI part-time — flying once or twice a week. Unfortunately, after clocking almost 90 hours, and being on the cusp of cross-country solos and checkride prep, unusually wet weather, haze from forest fires, work and COVID-19 all conspired to prevent me finishing up my PPL.

3 years later, I decided to try a Part 141 school, but that meant carrying over only 9 (or 10%) of my aeronautical experience. Never mind — the refresher would be good for proficiency, I thought. But, while I was fully committed to finishing up, the school I signed up with was — shall we say — somewhat partially committed. In 6 weeks with the school, I had only flown 12 times, with a student:instructor ratio of at least 6:1 and a student:aircraft ratio approaching 10:1, repeating lessons that I had done previously, and making absolutely no forward progress towards my cross-country solos and getting lined up for a checkride.

And that was when I speculatively reached out to AFIT and Tony, to see if there was a better option. I was pleasantly shocked when Tony personally reached out within a few hours. He empathised with my situation, and then set to work — trying out different scheduling permutations to see what would work given the various constraints and short timeframe that I had before having to return to my career.

Within a week, we had sorted out schedules so that I could work with Abe and Fady to finish up my PPL. Another week later, I had my checkride scheduled and am now a private pilot! At last!

I could not have done this without the excellent instruction from Abe and Fady, and the support from Alex, at Van Nuys. Working with Abe first, and then Fady, I was in good hands as I prepared for the oral and practical portions of the checkride. We went flying on consecutive days, right from the get-go. They identified my weaknesses within the first day or so, and I flew more hours in a week than in 6 weeks with the Part 141 school. All of this flying was time spent on flight tasks that were stretching me to become a better pilot, rather than simply checking off boxes on a rigid syllabus.

Right on day one, both Abe and Fady struck me as CFIs who truly have a passion for getting student pilots across the threshold to becoming certified pilots. Fady, in particular, truly lived up to his commitment to be “on the same team” as me, dishing out the right amount of encouragement, reminders, and even calling out when I was being too hard on myself. Fady even celebrated my birthday — a nice touch given that I had travelled away from home.

Apart from passing my check ride, I also appreciated the emphasis on inculcating good safety habits, and being systematic about getting and staying ahead of the airplane. All of this put me in good stead to be well-prepared for my checkride and to be a competent and safe pilot for years to come.

I have no hesitation recommending AFIT to anyone who is prepared to put in the effort, is serious about getting a PPL, and needs to minimise the opportunity cost of taking time off from a non-flying professional career. Anyone identifying with this description should definitely reach out to AFIT for a consultation without delay. The team here truly works with you in a solution-focused manner, sometimes moving mountains to make it all work out.

Truly, my only regret on this meandering journey is not reaching out to AFIT earlier to straighten the twists and turns along my PPL adventure. I shudder to think of where I might be today if I had not written that e-mail and taken the call with Tony.

Thank you Tony, Abe, and Fady from the AFIT team! Truly, thank you for making my dream of the past 3-4 years a reality!

Jason Bay

Int’l AFIT alumni