Learn to fly in Kent

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Testimonials. Why should I train with Haffenden Aviation?

Of all the flight instructors I have known, John is the the best to learn flying with. Some instructors are very relaxed, others can have a very militaristic approach to flying - John is the right mix between the two and he can adjust the training based upon your own needs and objectives. Five years ago I was learning to fly purely for fun but eventually this translated into a desire to become a commercial pilot. When John learned of this, my training transformed into preparation for the challenges and level expected of someone training for their Commerical pilot's licence. Today, I have passed my Private Pilot's licence and I am now studying for my ATPLs at the prestigious Oxford Aviation Academy. To put it plainly, I would not be where I am now, following my dream career were it not for John's teaching. He is the right instructor if you want to be good and safe pilot and to have fun and a few laughs while learning how!

John is a very experienced instructor who has a clear understanding of both aircraft and human factors that goes well beyond what is expected of an instructor. He never pushes you further than you can go, nor does he allow you to become lazy or complacent. By far though the most important thing I could say about John is that he is fundamentally attentive to safety. He uses observational examples of aircraft landing, pilots making radio calls, stories to emphasise both serious and common mistakes made by other pilots to help you to learn from them. I would recommend John to anyone who wanted to learn how to fly or who wanted to buy someone else a flying lesson - you can be sure they will have a fantastic time and be absolutely safe.

- Matt Hunter PPL ATPL

John has all the qualities of an excellent instructor. I came from a gliding background to undertake PPL training (and have flown with numerous gliding instructors and done some instructing myself) and have found John to have a professional, calm and friendly approach. He is enthusiastic and extremely knowledgeable, and makes sure that the lessons are tailored around the individual student’s requirements to get the most out of the time. I was particularly impressed with his teaching style, which emphasised the key points and avoided information overload. Headcorn is a busy airfield which provides a great environment in which to learn to fly, and I would have no hesitation in recommending John to anyone wishing to do so.

- David Morgan, PPL

I had already logged 50+ flying hours with Bristol University Air Squadron before I met John, and my aim was to continue flying on the weekends as a hobby. John handled my transition from a more military style of training onto the PPL syllabus very smoothly. He assessed my current strengths and weaknesses very well and tailored my training to suit. I then decided to pursue an ATPL with CTC Aviation and the skills learnt with John laid a great foundation.

- Doug Palmer PPL

Juggling a degree at university as well as completing a ppl was no easy feat. Thankfully John's patience and guidance helped make it as smooth as possible. It was a treat to be trained by an enthusiastic individual whose calm and reassuring manners helped learn new skills and erase bad habits. His general knowledge of general aviation and the history of aviation compounded my willingness to learn how to fly.

- Diego Cantoni PPL

John is an excellent flying instructor and true professional who teaches you more than just the core skills required to pass the course. His focus on the bigger picture and good airmanship develops confidence and gives you a head-start with an understanding of what’s really important for your aviation journey after you achieve your PPL. He’ll quickly get to know you as well as your closest friends which enables him to tailor his approach to challenge and stretch you to achieve your best at your pace. His support doesn’t end after the course when you get your PPL, he’s always approachable and offers his help and advice when you see him around the airfield or over a coffee. One year after achieving my PPL with John, I experienced a real life emergency following an engine failure at 1,400ft while flying with a friend. This required us to land in a field which we did successfully with no damage to us or our aircraft. Our training immediately kicked in and made us both really appreciate the importance of good instruction and the skills we had developed during our training. Learning to fly with John was one of the most enjoyable and truly rewarding experiences for me and I would highly recommend him to anyone interested in becoming a pilot.

- John Lee PPL

When I first visited Headcorn a couple of years ago, John ran thorough the basics of what I needed to achieve to get my PPL. He managed my expectations in terms of required workload and realistic timings for licence completion. I live abroad and so getting to Headcorn and organising lessons wasn't always simple, but John was flexible and gave some sensible advice on the best approaches to learning remotely, whilst keeping flying hours to a minimum and hence costs to a budget. Following his suggestions, I managed to made good use of my time off the airfield by hitting the books for the exams and this maximised my learning and time in the air, which worked out nicely.

Headcorn is a great location to learn at, economic compared to many surrounding airfields and the ability to have free touch & go’s and landings is a super additional benefit. The runway is grass and subject to seasonal changes and again, following John’s strong advice I spread the learning over the entire four seasons, which meant that I encountered a variety of weather conditions and runway states - an experience that may one day prove invaluable. Both in the cockpit and in ground school sessions, John was knowledgeable and patient. His approach to teaching airmanship has meant that he has basically become a voice in my head when I fly, which is actually quite reassuring as it means I can hear him nagging that check-lists are completed, procedures are followed and, above all, a safe and efficient flight is conducted.

At the end of the day, John taught me to be an attentive, accurate and safe pilot, capable of reading and anticipating many situations. Looking back I am glad he gave the advice he did about spreading the learning over the four seasons. I can strongly suggest spending time with John on the ground and in the air, as it will not be time wasted.

- Alastair Belson PPL

John’s teaching style and approach to flying is methodical, meticulous, and professional. What impressed me most during my time training for my PPL was John’s appreciation of the human element and its importance towards safe flying and how it could deeply influence one’s performance. An encyclopedic knowledge of flying and its mechanics combined with an ability to simplify complicated matters and distil them down into digestible chunks aided my learning greatly. Also, be prepared to have your cockpit hours haunted by his calming and nagging voice – you will never miss a FREDA check again!

- George Hopkins PPL

After taking the decision to move from a previous flight school, I was immediately signed up by John to continue my PPL tuition. Straight away I became a more confident flyer by his calm, fun and professional approach to flying. He took note of my future commercial aspirations and tailored my learning around this and with his help allowed me to achieve PPL in the minimum hours needed. I would recommend John highly and It has been a pleasure to be taught by someone so qualified and who clearly has the same passion for aviation that I share. Continued support and advice after PPL has always been given. Thank you and I look forward to flying with you again in the future.

- Matt Edwards PPL

All my lessons were with John, which maintained continuity, which I’m sure sped up my progress. I also did my ground school with John. John understood the issues with balancing work with obtaining a PPL and provided some great advice, as well as being flexible on when we flew. John is very patient, listens and adapts his lessons to suit the strengths and weaknesses of each pilot. Although I have now qualified, there is still a lot more for me to learn from John.

- Trevor Horne PPL

I first contacted John for a trial lesson at Headcorn Aerodrome back in 2015. His friendly, approachable and yet highly professional manner immediately put me at ease and I continued training with him to gain my PPL. Time spent with John both in the cockpit and in the classroom is never time wasted. His calm and measured instruction allows you to gain knowledge and skills at your own pace, whilst his obvious passion for aviation always shines through and makes the whole process feel worthwhile and fun! I have been fortunate to have started my training with John as I feel that I now have a solid base from which to progress. He continues to be an invaluable source of information and encouragement and I would whole-heartedly recommend him as a flight instructor.

- Marco Maddelena PPL

Just to say thank you very much for managing to get me through my PPL. Not any easy task I know due to my constant bleating. I thoroughly enjoyed the way that you put things across and managed to keep my feet on the ground (maybe not the best phrase) when all I wanted to do was to run before I could walk.

No lesson was ever a trial and I think we had quite a laugh especially when weather and engineering often collaborated against us to stop us sharing time in the air.

I’ll never forget my first Solo or my first solo cross country. What a great feeling! If there is anyone out there thinking of learning to fly you’ll not find a more professional, caring, patient teacher than John – and more importantly – I don’t think you’ll find a safer instructor.

Thank you for opening up a new world for me and allowing me to achieve a lifelong ambition.

- Martin Wilkins PPL

After an airline career spanning some 38 years I needed to renew my SEP rating so that I could enjoy some leisure flying during my retirement. John was an obvious choice as he had helped my son obtain his PPL several years previously. (He has now gone on to be a Captain on the A320 with Easyjet!)

Although I had not flown a single engined aircraft for many years John was able to bring me rapidly back up to speed and use his extensive experience to ensure I was ready to take the skills test in the shortest possible time. He had no problem adapting his teaching method to allow for the slightly apprehensive and perhaps overconfident ex airline Captain! I would have no hesitation in recommending John for initial PPL training or indeed for renewing/revalidating your SEP rating.

- Captain John Cuff ATPL SEP

I have over 1000 hours of flying in a Robin DR400-180 but have not flown for 17 years. I have no idea why I wanted to fly again but I did. After speaking to a friend who also flies a Robin he recommended John as he successfully obtained his PPL with him. He did say he pays attention to detail and ensures things are right which of course when you are in charge of a small plane and passengers sloppy training will just not do.

Things have changed in the aviation world in the last 17 years but being very impatient and thinking I could just jump in and go, I nearly gave up after a couple of sessions with memories of the long drawn out PPL training all those years ago.

I told John how I was feeling and was ready to not bother but he reassured me that my flying was fine and just need to brush-up on a few things that I thought I remembered but sure enough I didn’t.

He was correct and so reassuring that I carried on and after around 6 hours I was really please that I did, I felt good, it was all falling back into place and John put me in for the flight test which I passed.

So, whether you are just starting or renewing your licence John will steer you in the right direction and reassure you when you are finding it hard, which you will from time-to-time, be sure to book our John

- Terry Davis SEP renewal

Having retired from airline flying just over two years ago I started to miss flying so decided to renew my ppl. It’s been more than thirty years since I’d flown a small aircraft so paid a visit to Headcorn where I was fortunate to meet John who immediately made time to chat and discuss what I would need to do. It was immediately apparent that John has a real passion for aviation with a wealth of experience gained over many years. He has a very calm and friendly but professional teaching style with a strong focus on safety and demonstrated great patience and good humour during my refresher training. He’ll push you to attain a high standard but your training will be immensely enjoyable and rewarding. I can’t recommend John highly enough.

- Captain Keith M. SEP renewal

What is very clear from the start, is that John loves flying. With this passion, comes confidence and the ability to teach extraordinarily well. His calm nature - combined with his motivation - really push you to become a better pilot. I aim to go onto Commercial Aviation, the skills and experience that he has delivered throughout this course I'm sure, will last a lifetime. Both the theory and practical skills needed may seem to be daunting at first, but the way he delivers the lessons are brilliant. Thank you John!

- Ollie Holmes PPL

John was a friendly and welcoming instructor to me when I started my PPL training at the age of 16. He clearly has a strong passion and a vast amount of experience with plenty of stories to be learnt from. He could always clearly explain any difficulties I had with the practical aspect of the training as well as providing very well-structured ground school, on many occasions during his off time.

Though he is a very professional teacher, this would never be at the expense of my enjoyment of the lessons. This has ultimately resulted in me having confidence in my core flying ability and making obtaining my PPL easier than if John hadn’t been my instructor. As a student who has have a handful of instructors, I would thoroughly recommend John.

- Rufus Cox PPL

John was my instructor when I took up flying after retirement. I really enjoyed his style of teaching, he was very clear and thorough in his briefings and explanations and he adapted his style to suit that which is most effective for me as a student. He was always careful to ensure that I was clear about each lesson's objectives and thorough in his debriefs regarding what had been learnt and points to work on to make sure that the lesson was as effective as possible. He is also a warm, approachable person and teaches in a friendly manner which made each lesson enjoyable. His teaching methods are so effective and thorough, I still hear his voice in my head now that I'm qualified!”

- Guy Kent PPL

I’m currently training for the LAPL and completed the first 30 hours or so of my training and ground exams with John. I found John to be very friendly and approachable and always ready to explain what we were learning with practical examples. I also felt that he struck a nice balance between being firm on consistently getting the basics right whilst being incredibly patient and always ready with an encouraging word on those days when it just didn’t go as planned. Not long after my first solo unexpected circumstances meant that we couldn’t fly together for a period but John very quickly linked me up with another instructor to continue my training which I appreciated very much.

- Mark Osboourne LAPL

John's extensive experience in training students is self evident. His calm, methodical and safe approach to teaching, not only reassures students they picked the right instructor but provides a comfortable

environment for them to flourish. John puts his students first and it's not long after meeting him that you realise he is every bit as passionate about getting you through your PPL as he is in General Aviation. A knowledgeable, experienced and top class instructor.

- Gavin Russell PPL

John makes learning to fly exactly what it should be, fun! He is able to draw on the skills he has learnt and developed over a significant aviation career to equip you with the necessary skills to become a competent pilot who makes good decisions, tailored specifically around you. Learning to fly around a career was always going to be even more of a challenge and John helped me to strike a balance between work and flying, enabling me to progress despite the frequency between flights not always being what would be required in ideal conditions.

Learning to fly with John also doesn't stop when you get your license as he if often at the airfield and will always take time for a chat and to give you a second opinion or assistance if you need it.

- James Leaning, PPL

John's expert tuition, calm reassuring manner and patience, coupled with his high level of professionalism and genuine love and enthusiasm for flying, were the perfect ingredients that enabled me to achieve a long standing ambition and learn to fly. I gained my PPL in July 2010. I am currently undertaking my night rating with John.

- Mark Fosbery, PPL

From the very first flight with John I felt I was in the safe hands of a natural flyer and a real aviation enthusiast. There followed an extremely enjoyable, friendly and relaxed JAR PPL course at Headcorn aerodrome (worth a visit in its own right, particularly on Sundays when the museum is open), which saw me passing all of my exams and my flight test first time. Striving for and reaching the high standards set by John was challenging and very rewarding - indeed, learning to fly stretched me in ways I never imagined. Soon after gaining my licence I joined a plane-sharing group and have since confidently enjoyed many safe and exhilarating hours of flying. Many thanks John!

- Iain Smith, PPL

John Haffenden has been my regular instructor for revalidations etc. since returning to flying after a long break. His friendly and authoritative manner inspires confidence and aids speedy progression. In my experience and opinion he is an excellent instructor, whose services I would wholeheartedly recommend to anyone interested in learning to fly.

- Steve Goffredi, PPL revalidation

I first started learning to fly with John with the intention to take a modular route of getting my commercial. With this in mind John tailored the lessons to suit my learning and financial requirements. John is an honest, friendly and professional instructor that has absolute passion for aviation. He has undoubtedly given me the knowledge and confidence as a strong foundation on which to build my career as a pilot. Thank you!

- Sam Wedgwood, PPL

After moving to Weald Aviation from another flying school at the later part of 2011, where I was trying to complete the last part of my PPL, it was such a relief to find an instructor whom had the time and patience to help me fulfil my goal.

I find john totally professional in the way he conducts himself with his students and as a result of this my flying is now better than ever, I passed my PPL in March 2012 and have got back my confidence and ability whilst flying under his instruction, I wish I had found him sooner. Thanks John for everything.

- Joe Hilling, PPL aged 18

I found the course was professionally taught to a high standard and in a cost effective way. I would recommend to anyone seeking to learn something new and to have fun whilst doing so.

- Alasdair Bragge, Night qualification

John was the instructor for the majority of my PPL syllabus. He was calm and patient and his detailed, thorough style of teaching gave me a great foundation for flying when I gained my licence and for the future. John is always available to offer advice and assistance and I would recommend him as an instructor to anyone wishing to learn to fly.

- Samantha Waller PPL

John is a professional and friendly instructor, who I found was always gladly willing to go that extra mile to help me understand things I was struggling to grasp. He has been a constant source of helpful tips and advice even after gaining my pilots licence, which I managed to get after only 65 flying hours despite intermittent breaks due to a persistent health issue and the even more persistent Great British weather! Many thanks John

- John Lowrey PPL

John's calm and professional approach to all aspects of flight training is very helpful to progressing with any of your goals in aviation. His training takes you well beyond the basic requirements for testing for a given licence/rating, giving you a much bigger insight and appreciation to the bigger picture of every part of the flight. He is very easy to talk to and get along with, and is sympathetic to any problems you may having, staying mindful of costs to the student. I've flown with six different instructors now and would definitely put John at the top.

- David Davis PPL

Learning to fly with John has been both very educational and also great fun. He instructs clearly, patiently and always gives the aim of the lesson and honest feedback. I have thoroughly enjoyed the experience and am very grateful for his instruction which led to my PPL.

- Geoff Piper PPL

Having just finished my IMC rating with John I can highly recommend him as an instructor. He explained complex concepts in a simple manner in ground school, and helped me improve my overall flying rather than only addressing the IMC syllabus. He struck a good balance between demanding high standards and keeping the course fun. He placed a strong emphasis on effective decision making, always making sure I made the appropriate weather checks and formed an opinion before he confirmed it. I would definitely recommend John to anyone looking to learn ab-initio or further, and I intend to go back to him soon to get a refresher on the perfect crosswind landing technique.

- Alexander Brown IMC

Thank you so much for a brilliant flight experience today, I am buzzing! The photographs both from the air and from the land are a fantastic record of the day. I have put them on facebook to share with my friends. I loved your teaching style, knowledge and passion for flying. I can't wait until I can repeat the experience.

- Val Goatley Trial lesson

I'm extremely grateful to have John as my PPL instructor as he's provided me with a highly enjoyable and effective learning experience both in the air and on the ground. John understood my situation being a university student and I was able to finish my course just over the minimum hours, something I didn't expect to happen. This reflects John's ability to align his training with the student on an individual level. This was important towards reaching my training goals since they were both realistic and at a pace that was best suited to my own abilities.

- Chris Pawlik PPL

I was very lucky to have been bought a flight experience as a 21st birthday present. This was one of the most amazing things I have ever done. I enjoyed every second of it. John was great, he explained everything to me and then let me fly! He is such a lovely person, and made the experience all the better! I am definitely going to look into getting some further lessons one day! Thanks John! :)

- Billi Bliss Trial lesson

John's love of flying and enthusiasm comes across straight away, something that can be missing when an instructor is just there to build hours. He found out what I needed to achieve and tailored the lessons accordingly. His calm and professional teaching style enables you to stay relaxed and get the most out of each lesson. I found John to be very knowledgeable and he always takes the time to explain things properly. I have learnt new things whilst flying with John and gained confidence. I will be using John again in the future to add additional ratings to my PPL and I would definitely recommend him to others.

- Mark Alston PPL revalidation

I received a recommendation to earn my PPL with John and am very pleased I took the opportunity. John pays high attention to detail in the first lessons to set the core fly skills in place in which to build upon. My confidence was also built upon from his experience and wealth of knowledge. John remains a close friend and I still choose to fly locally with him when I have the time. Many thanks!

- Max Kemsley PPL