If you’re like me, then the sound of an aircraft flying overhead causes you to stop and look up. That probably means you’re at least interested — or already hooked on — the idea of flying. The good news is that today there are many products to help get you started. PPL(A) Starter Packs are worth the investment — but which one is the best?
► The 2 Best PPL(A) Starter Packs
AFE and Pooley’s produce the best packs i’ve seen. Differentiating them is tough, because both packs contain very similar products. They’re similarly priced, too.
Let’s take a look at both packs one by one…
AFE Full PPL(A) Study Pack — £229.95 (+£5.99 delivery)
► What’s Included?
- PPL1 Flying Training
- PPL2 Air Law, Operational Procedures & Communications
- PPL3 Navigation & Meteorology
- PPL4 Principles of Flight, Aircraft General Knowledge, Flight Performance Planning
- PPL5 Human Factors & Flight Safety
- EASA LAPL (A) Syllabus & Course Guide
- UK VFR Flight Guide
- AS-5 16” navigation ruler
- AP-1 5” navigation protractor
- AVP-1 VFR plotter
- ARC-1 flight computer
- AFE VB-1s folding kneeboard
- & A5 VFR navigation log pad
- AFE Pilot’s Logbook
- 4-colour chart-marking pen set
- CAA 1:500 000 aeronautical chart
Pooley’s Full PPL(A) Study Pack — £239.99 (Vat exempt)
► What’s Included?
- APM Volume 1, 2, 3, 4, 6 & 7
- Spiral United Kingdom Flight Guide (latest edition)
- NM-2 Scale Ruler
- PP-1 Protractor
- CRP-1 Computer
- CB-3 Kneeboard & VFR Log Pad
- PPL Log Book
- Set of permanent Lumocolour Markers
- CAA 1:500,000 chart of your local area (please specify area required)
- FC-8 Case
So which PPL(A) Starter Pack should you choose?
► Who Offers More?
The only significant difference between the 2 PPL(A) Starter Packs is that AFE includes the AVP-1 VFR Plotter. This on it’s own would set you back £8.99 from the AFE online store. Therefore the AFE pack has the (slight) edge.
Note: Pooley's produce their own version of the AVP-1 VFR Plotter, called the RNP-1 (also priced at £8.99). It's near enough the same product.
I am however critical of this Plotter anyway…
In my opinion the design is very confusing. At my flight school it was well-known that this particular product is a headache to use. And it was just the students saying this — the instructors did too!
But here’s where Fly GA’s MR-1 Diversion Plotter comes to the rescue, and proves a useful addition to your flight bag. In fact, the AVP/RNP’s poor design was one of inspirations for the MR-1…
► How about the Flight Guides included in the PPL(A) Starter Packs?
AFE and Pooley’s both produce excellent flight guides with up-to-date information. Both cover a comparable numbers of airfields — 960 and 942 respectively. Pooley’s have however added 120 airfields since 2014 and redrawn 100 airfield plates.
But there’s not much to separate our two sets in this department. Hence the similar individual price tags for the flight guides. Pooleys’ spiral-bound version is £26.99, whilst AFE’s is £26.95*.
*Prices quoted as of 07/03/2017.
► Another minor difference…
Pooley’s offers a free iPLATES app in their ‘loose-leaf’ version. Simply download the app from the Apple iTunes store, register an account, and then you’re able to view the same pages on your iPad. All of which are geo-referenced.
Whilst the iPLATES app may not be enough to sway you towards the Pooley’s offering, it’s still a nice touch. Personally i’d save myself some money by opting for the AFE version, and reinvest the some of the savings on the specially designed MR-1 Diversion Ruler.