View Full Version : Living in China, would you get a PPL in the US or elsewhere?

10-18-2013, 07:58 AM
Hi all,

Please forgive my noobness, I've had a look through a lot of interesting posts, but my situation is fairly unique, so I'd like some specific advice if possible.

I'm a British national living in Shanghai. Most likely I'll be here for a number of years yet as my specific skill set makes me valuable here. On the downside, there is as good as zero opportunity for me to learn to fly in China.

Based on that, I figure the most cost-effective places to learn are either the US (Florida) and South-Africa. I have looked more locally (Thailand and Malasia), but it will be more expensive (the airline ticket savings are also minimal) and I'm guessing the training may not be as good.

My eventual goal is to get a type rating for something like an L39 Albatross, which I figure is pretty much only possible in the US.

Am I correct in thinking the path to this will go PPL=>Instrument rating=>build lots of hours=>aerobatic/performance piston training?=>single seat jet (L39)rating?

I mention this because I'm weighing the ups and downs of each location. In South Africa, I'd need to stay longer (they mention probably 2.5 months absolute minimum), I'm not sure I'll be easily able to fly with a SA PPL in the US, but overall the cost is slightly less as it's about $8,000-$8,500 with full accommodation included and about 55-60 hours flight time. Planes are also fairly new.

Looking at Florida, many schools claim they can get you a part 141 PPL license within a matter of weeks.(doing 45-50 hours) Providing you do a lot of self-study and work hard at it is this truly realistic? or just wishful thinking? Costs can be similar $8,500 (no accommodation) if you learn in older craft (Cessna 152), but I was also warned there may be hidden costs learning in Florida?

Time is a major factor for me as getting 2 continuous months off work would be hard. If I truly could get a PPL with only 4 weeks on the ground, it would make a lot more sense as I need to travel less, but I'm really wondering if this can really be done? If not, South Africa seems more appealing.

Would really appreciate some of your experience on the subject!

10-18-2013, 08:53 AM
I just met two German citizens who went from zero to Private Pilot in just four weeks -- an astonishingly compressed timeframe.

They trained at a flight school in Arlington, TX -- sorry, I don't know the name -- so you might add Texas to your list of possible destinations.

10-18-2013, 09:41 AM
You can get a US license, it would only be good for flying N-registered aircraft. I don't know if either China or the UK would give you any credit towards licensure there. Usually your state of citizenship is disinclined to give you such credit.

There's no such thing as an L-39 type rating. What you need to fly that (as far as the US is concerned) is an additional authorization for that experimental jet. The scope is roughly the same as getting a type rating, so I suspect some people might call it that, but it really is a completely different beast. Used to be called a letter of authorization because literally your proof you had it was a letter from the FAA.

Note that if you don't fly now you're a long way off from an L-39 and if you think $10,000 is a lot of money, you're in for a real eye opener when you get your L-39 fuel bill.

10-18-2013, 10:22 AM

I'm about a year into my quest for a PPL. Like you, I looked at the various fast-track programs. I went down to Florida to a fair part of my training and it was a good experience. I have to say, however, that it's impossible to say how long it it will take you. There are many factors. In my case, I took to certain tasks like a duck to water. But it has taken me a long time to master smooth landings. Until you actually get to it, no one can say how long it will take. I've posted my experiences in the thread "90% done, 50% to go", you may find it useful.

While I can't say for sure, lots of non-US citizens learn to fly in Florida. My understanding is that the rules have been tightened in recent years, but it still happens. I would recommend that you contact the British CAA (I think that's your aviation authority) and ask them directly about it. Britain is an ICAO signatory, so there I would expect that there is some reciprocity that would allow you to convert a US PPL into a British PPL via some process.

While many of us dream of flying fighter jets, I think you may find that it really doesn't matter what you are flying, all airplanes are special. I remember ogling fast airplanes for years and discovering through actual experience that I love the little 150 and 152s I've flown.

Bill Greenwood
10-18-2013, 10:33 AM
Ron, not counting all the China and PPL part, could you explain your answer "There's no such thing as an L-39 type rating?" I thought that was exactly what you had to have to fly one.

When I came into warbirds about 30 years ago, I trained with a CFI and then flew flight tests for FAA check pilots, and got letters of authorization. Now this was for piston warbirds, and before I ever heard or saw any L-39s in the U S. But perhaps about 12 years ago, can't recall exactly the FAA did away with the LOA s and I got type ratings in place of LOAs.
I don't know much about jets, only had one dual flight in Soko, but wouldn't this be the same as piston type ratings?
Please see update in next post.

By the way, in piston planes, the fuel costs may be a lot less, but maintenance costs may be higher. Everyone tells me how easy it is to learn to fly the L-39. Maybe some day I'l have so much money I'll try one.
There is a good jet school in Santa Fe, basic up through Migs, run by my friend Larry Salganek. The contact is (505) 471-4151 or www.jetwarbird.com (http://www.jetwarbird.com)

Bill Greenwood
10-18-2013, 12:07 PM
I just got a phone call from Larry, and he said the exact wording for what is needed to fly the L-39 is an "authorized experimental aircraft rating" and since there is not a type certificate for the L-39 it is technically not a type rating,as most of us would call it.
He says they have been busy flying a lot, mostly L-39 and Mig.