I had interviewed several flight schools in the area before I settled with Pacific Skies – and I wasn’t disappointed! I am a UK citizen and moved over to California 4 years ago after a 20-year career in the Royal Air Force (3 years in the Reserves and 17 full-time). I was a fast-jet pilot flying the Tornado GR4 with both operational and instructor experience, and during my last 5 years I was the Tornado Test Pilot. I also volunteered as a Gliding Instructor for the Air Cadet movement, flying Grob 109b motor gliders. Before I moved to the States I completed my frozen EASA ATPL and then, once I had emigrated, I became a stay-at-home Dad to my twin boys. Since my EASA licences had now lapsed, I decided to go down the route of getting the equivalent ones from the FAA, in order to start a second flying career.
My requirements were therefore very specific, and I needed a flight school who was willing to work with me to provide a customised syllabus, which would also be very flexible. As it was, the flying wasn’t as big of a problem as I had thought it would be, it was more the confidence and psychology element which needed looking after! Miriam was my instructor for the whole time and she was outstanding. Other instructors played a great role on the ground; they were always willing to stand and listen, offer advice and suggest routes forward. All of the flight schools I visited had young instructors who gave the impression that they were there merely to build flying hours. Whilst it is true that Pacific Skies has a cadre of young instructors, they seem to understand the importance of their role to the students, and I never felt that I was a means to an end for anyone.
Overall, I had a great time at Pacific Skies. Having come from a highly-controlled, professional and extremely safety-orientated background, I was very critical of those schools I interviewed. And I think rightly so; you are potentially spending a large sum of money, and it is an investment in your future. Pacific Skies don’t just want you to pass, they make sure that you leave there with your licenses in-hand and the very best footing you could have for the immediate future. I am immensely grateful to the school, and especially Miriam, for the dedication they showed. Given my wide range of instructional experience, having taught 13 to 18 year olds how to fly, all the way through to being responsible for the maintenance of flying standards and awarding instrument ratings on the Tornado, I feel very comfortable recommending Pacific Skies to anyone who may be in need of flying instruction.