time and time again i fall witness to groups heading out to exotic places to either learn how to fly, improve their flying skills or explore unknown places with an experienced pilot in the lead. about 60-70% of the time i talk to people about what had really been offered to them that made them want to book, more often than not when i hear the answer i find that what was offered and what was delivered were completely different.
during the last month in Bir i have seen several groups come and go through different guides/schools and what i have observed is.
1: book with a person that wants to be in the air as much as possible this will mean that you will be in the air when ever its possible. (if you book with someone that is only in it for the money then that’s all they are interested in. now don’t get me wrong everyone is in it for the money otherwise you would be getting help for free but the goal is to book with someone that wants to help you become better).
2: book with a person that has a know reputation you will normally get more out of the experience as they want to keep their good name. (when it comes to Bir there are several people that can show you the do’s and dont’s like Debu or Gurpreet these are world class pilots that know the area very well).
3: booking in a large group you may think that your saving money but your not going to get the hands on help that you have paid for. (prime example is an XC course that a Russian school is running, where they have one instructor at take off and another at landing, leaving the students to do their own thing in the air, nothing against Russians as there is another instructor that has a smaller group and flies with them all day every day).
4: anything involving XC training you want to have an absolute max of 3 people per instructor and even that is too much in my view. sometimes its better to pay extra and have the instructor all to yourself, which will give you the best value for your money. when flying in any sort of group you are either holding someone else up or having to wait for someone.
5: a fun and party orientated instructor is fine after you have finished your course, but if they are hung over every day or second day then your out of pocket as they are constantly roaming in search of an excuse not to have to go up the hill.
Don’t fall for a smoke and mirrors show.
during a trip if you have doubts as to the quality of the instruction that you are receiving, take a stand and either demand that something improves or demand your money back. you need to remember that even on a long trip you at the end of the day are the customer and adopt the old saying “the customer is always right”. if you feel that you have been charged for something that is not being delivered then demand it. talk to the instructor and say what you want to get out of the course. at the end of the day you are paying for a service so make sure you get what you pay for, unless there is bad weather there is no reason why you should not be flying and using every day to its full.
in my next post i will talk about what to expect when heading out to exotic places around the world, normally found in 3rd world countries from a safety point of view.