Fly With The Big Boys in Bristol
The premises of Bristol Flying Club are off-airport; it’s easy to miss so watch out for the signeage at the Main Airport Roundabout, Old School Approach, A38, Bridgwater Road. Bristol Flying Club it is both unusual and innovative. Being based at Bristol (Lulsgate) Airport it has has two built-in handicaps: the £80-plus landing fee (around £50 or below to resident pilots) and the presence of passenger jets, with attendant delays. It’s in an excellent catchment area and for some pilots ‘mixing it with the big boys’ is an attraction, not a disadvantage, but still, a club at Bristol has to work hard to prosper.
Bristol Flying advertises in Pilot Magazine in the Group Flying classifieds, rather than under Flight Training−even though it offers PPL, Bristol Airport (Pilot, January 2016), I failed to realise that it has not one, but two resident fixed-wing IMC, tailwheel, aerobatic and multi-engine courses. Since it doesn’t currently have tailwheel, twin or aerobatic aircraft, those courses are on hired aircraft, at the time of press (January 2016). Recently formation flying has been added to the list.
Free Flight Club Simulators and More
The club’s founder and Managing Director, Richard Nightingale explains the inspiration behind it: “Our membership fee is high: £720 a year, but that’s deliberate. After years of instructing and operating aircraft, I thought the key was to have committed members with a stake in the club.” A high annual fee enables Bristol Flying to keep its self-fly-hire and training rates competitive. Also, membership includes some unusual extras, like free coffee and snacks, free differences training, and−most importantly – landing fees at Bristol. Members also get free use of the club’s two flight simulators (one of them full-motion).
Also, Richard is keen to point out that, “There are no minimum hours requirements, which means you can hire the aircraft for a day, a week, or longer and only pay for the time you are flying it.” This is popular with the club’s members as it makes trips to Jersey or France, for instance, economically viable, without the stress of owning an aeroplane.
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