Welcome to The Great Circle

You'll Love the Way We Fly and do PPL Ground School!

Hello and welcome to our site. The Great Circle is a first class training institution providing the highest quality for both PPL Flight Training and PPL Ground School at unbeatable value for money. Specialising in 3 Week Fast Track PPLs and 5 day PPL Ground School courses, why not visit us this summer for a holiday and go home with a Pilots Licence! Pilot Training - the way it should be done.

London Heathrow & Harrogate PPL Ground School in 5 Days

PPL Ground School: Complete all 9 Subjects in just 5 days or your money back! High quality instruction with a patient and dedicated teacher ensures rapid progress. Accelerated learning in a peaceful and enjoyable environment. To date our students enjoy a 100% pass rate in all PPL Ground School subjects! Come, stay, finish...it's a promise. Pass your PPL Ground School with minimum fuss and enjoy the experience! Brand new courses running in London Heathrow!

Fast Track Private Pilot's License in 3 Weeks

Our most popular course to date. Visit us for the experience of a life time and learn to fly in the beautiful Vale of York. Go home with your PPL in as little as 3 weeks! Perhaps you've already started your training and not making progress? Then try our Fast Track Completion Courses and don't let that dream fade away.

Pilot Training Apps!

We are delighted to announce that our brand new pilot training Smart Phone Applications are now available in the iTunes App Store! From PPL and ATPL practice exams to eBooks and training applications, why carry those heavy books and laptop around? Get it all on your iPhone or Android Smart Phone! Whether you're on a lunch break or on the tube, you can keep practising for those exams. The perfect supplement to our PPL & ATPL Ground School courses.

About Us

Find out more about The Great Circle.


Set up by Adam Berrington in 2004, The Great Circles training ethos is to 'teach with respect'. What does this mean? Many of our clients come to us from other schools having spent too much time and money on training and not making progress. Frequently this is down to either unenthusiastic instructors or worse still, instructors that feel that it's ok to shout and verbally abuse their students. In other cases, it may simply be just a lack of aircraft availability.

We believe that people perform to the best of their ability when they are enjoying themselves. Learning to fly is an incredibly enjoyable experience, don't allow it to become hard work! The Great Circle only employ patient, dedicated and enthusiastic staff. We will help you get your Pilots Licence, quickly and enjoyably, but above all, safely.

We have trained many Pilots over the last 7 years, some now fly for airlines or instruct, others fly just for recreation or business. Whatever your dreams, we're sure we can help you realise them. We simply have one mission. Yours.

So what services do The Great Circle offer? The combination of the 8 distinct but interrelated services that we provide makes us unique in the Pilot training business.

1) Flight Training Programs

  •     Private Pilots’ Licence (PPL)
  •     National Private Pilots’ Licence (NPPL)
  •     Night Qualification
  •     IMC Rating
  •     Completion Courses
  •     Advanced Handling Courses
  •     Tail Wheel Conversions
  •     Aerobatics
  •     Complex Conversions
  •     Licence Rating and Renewals
  •     Trial Lessons
  •     Mobile Flight Training

We specialise in Fast Track Flight Training – and, indeed, are the only flight training business in the UK that offers this service.   Our best-selling courses offer a PPL in a mere 4 weeks, a Night Qualification in 2 evenings and an IMC Rating in a single week. We also offer bespoke training on client’s own aircraft as well as beginner and competition aerobatics courses.

Why are we the only business doing fast track courses? Blame it on the elements! Traditionally, the unpredictable British weather has deterred people from flight training here and been responsible for the myth it’s best to go to such as the USA and South Africa to get a pilot’s licence. If you read the glossy magazine ads you might be tempted by what appear to be cheap courses and a holiday all rolled into one – a chance to get sun, sea, cheap flying and a licence in 3 weeks?  The reality can be a little different, once Training Visas, return airfares, expensive hotels (or worse still, really unpleasant cheap ones!) are all factored in. In fact, learning to fly abroad, where courses are notoriously constructed on the stack ‘em high, sell em cheap principle, presents a significant number of potential problems for the would-be UK Pilot.  Theoretical knowledge exams need to be completed prior to going abroad to learn to fly, and these can take the average person an additional 6 to 12 months. It is not uncommon for the trainee never to have the same instructor or aircraft twice! There are major differences in Air Traffic Communications and procedures. Aircraft performance can be very different in hotter climates, too. We find that on average, it takes between 5 and 10 hours of further training before a pilot who has trained abroad is safe to fly in the UK.

How we improve on this: We have run Fast Track flight training courses successfully for over 7 years and boast a completion time of only 4 weeks from start to finish (‘zero to hero!’ as it’s known in the business). Most other schools quote 3 months to 2 years! We don’t have a special deal with the weatherman either. Our training ethos is to make the most out of every day. We have found over the years that it’s rare that on any one day you can’t fly for at least two hours. It may be that early morning is the optimum time or, perhaps, late afternoon, but we’ll get you up there, if it’s humanly possible. And, don’t forget, there are lots of ground-based activities to fit in: flight planning and navigation exercises, emergency procedure drills and radio practice. There’s never a day wasted!

We have patient, dedicated and enthusiastic instructors. We guarantee no more than two instructors and two aircraft for your training, thereby ensuring continuity. When you’re ready for your skills test, that final stage before that hard earned licence wings your way, we have in-house examiners immediately available. We guarantee you won’t be kept waiting around for weeks on end until that elusive examiner shows up!

We appreciate that students go through a roller-coaster of emotions when learning to fly. We know all about how time away from family and work, financial issues and loneliness can take their toll. That’s why our services extend far beyond just teaching you to fly. We arrange your accommodation, and car hire.   We, even, book the flights for our overseas students. And what better way is there to end the end than by doing the de-brief in the local pub! Work hard, play hard is our motto!

2) Ground School

Traditionally, flying schools throughout the world advise their student pilots to tackle the ground school element by just reading a set of standard text books. These are anywhere from 300 to 500 pages in length and there are 7 to get through. Not easy!  Not the sort of thing that these days most would-be pilots, generally dynamic people in their mid-30s to 40s, have time for. Recognising this, the majority of schools in the UK simply advise them to buy a copy of the PPL Confuser (a book of questions that replicate what you’ll see in the exam). Students are advised to just rehearse these questions and then take the exam! What on earth are they actually learning? Nothing.

Flying is an immensely rewarding and fun hobby/career. At the same time it is also a very serious discipline. A thorough understanding of all the ground school subjects is absolutely necessary to become a safe and competent pilot. You need to know how to flight plan safely, interpret weather-related charts, understand the different types of airspace and, most importantly, you must learn to enjoy learning!

Our courses are designed to teach you specifically what you need to be SAFE. We cover the 7 subjects required for the award of a PPL in 5 days. Each course is delivered, using high quality presentations, by dedicated, patient and enthusiastic instructors. We go through the syllabus for each subject in detail. After a mock exam and detailed Q& A session, students will sit the exam at the end of the day. To date our proven techniques enable us to boast a 100% success rate!

3) iPhone, iPad and Android Flight Training Applications

Technology is advancing rapidly and at all times we aim to make the best use of it. With the advent of the iPhone, iPad and other smart phones, student pilots can have immediate access to good quality flight training materials without having to lug around a big flight bag filled with those 7 heavy books!

Our mobile Apps are available on the iPhone and Android smart phone platforms. They are also available for the iPad. They are practice exam apps for the PPL and ATPL ground school exams. It no longer makes sense to weigh yourself down with those hardbacks when you can have over 15,000 current database questions in your pocket! We will be releasing new applications to cover other aspects of flight training, as well as eBooks.

4) Virtual Flying Instructor

Brand new for 2011 is the latest concept designed by The Great Circle.  The aim of our Virtual Flying Instructor is to offer the majority of our services online for those that simply cannot attend in person. Students can log in and take video courses, participate in live webinar classes and pilot Q&A revision sessions. We also provide a free consultation service online for those that wish to discuss any element of their training and need a second opinion on how they can progress. This unique service allows you to simulate in your own home the actual learning experience, saving time and money whilst getting the very best of tuition that is currently available by this means.

5) Exam Wizard

We offer an online Pilot exam practice service. Pilots can take PPL, CPL or ATPL practice exams, with over 15,000 questions to choose from, on the biggest database in existence! The user interface is seriously good; not only can you can store your results, but you can actually monitor your own performance by consulting the charts that diagnose your strengths and weaknesses. This truly is a wizard idea!

6) Boeing Collection

We are also the UK’s only Boeing Merchandise & Collectibles retailer. Visit our online Boeing Collection shop for Pilot gifts and other bespoke aviation merchandise. From lanyards to hats, t-shirts to all the latest gadgets, there will be something to catch your eye and suit your budget. If you want to be a pilot, you not only have to talk the talk but dress the part – and the Boeing Collection can help you do that. Our clients don’t waste their precious time in shopping malls. They like to have their hands on all the controls – and shop at the touch of a button.

7) Consultancy

Our services aren’t just about getting your licence. Again uniquely, we offer a fully comprehensive professional pilot training and careers consultancy service. Whether you just want to get your PPL or become an Airline Pilot, our careers guidance service will be an invaluable first stop on your pilot training journey. We offer genuinely impartial advice on choosing a school, where and how to train, how best to finance your training as well as serious money-saving tips!

And our services don’t just stop when you’ve got your licence. Our dedicated Type Rating Instructors and Examiners will provide quality instruction and feedback on all aspects related to getting that Airline job, with invaluable advice on such things as interview technique, and the best ways to answer technical questions. We also offer simulator assessment courses designed to help you pass that all-important ‘sim ride’.

Frequently Asked Questions

Find answers to commonly asked questions.


Ground School Courses

‘What is Fast Track'?

Fast Track simply means that the course is undertaken on a more intensive basis. These courses are primarily designed for those short of time, which lets face it, is most of us! The PPL Theory courses are designed to last one day with the examination taken at the end of that day. Typical start and finish times are 9.30am to 4.00pm with a morning, lunch and afternoon break. Other options are available.

‘Do people normally do all 9 subjects in one week?'

This really depends on the individual. Most people come to see us because they are either short of time, can't absorb the material by reading a book, or just fed up of juggling working life, family and learning to fly. The majority of our students come for 5 days and do the 9 subjects. But remember, these are bespoke courses designed to work for you. So you choose how many subjects you want to study and we'll do the rest.

‘I haven’t been to school for 30 years, is there a lot of Maths & Science?'

This is a question asked by many people prior to starting our Ground School. The answer is an emphatic 'no' there is not. The course is taught by qualified Flying Instructors and Teachers who understand that everyone’s needs are different and are therefore able to teach you exactly what you need from the beginning. This will enable you to become a safer pilot and to pass your exams of course.

‘What will I get out of it?'

To start with, all the exams passed which is necessary for the award of the PPL as well as a great deal of satisfaction and a detailed understanding of the key elements of PPL Aviation Theory. This knowledge can be further applied to the natural sciences and would serve you well should you decide to embark upon such courses with colleges or universities in the future.

‘How big are your classes?'

We have found that teaching 'large' groups of people is not beneficial as someone inevitably suffers as a result of either not understanding when the rest of the group does, or indeed being held back by others when they do understand! So, we find that teaching very small groups (no more than 8) ensures that you dictate the pace and get the most out of your time spent with us and get that exam passed. We can provide bepoke one to one tuition but experience has shown us that you will get the most out of working alongside someone else. They may even be someone to socialise with during your ground school holiday! You can of course come as a group to study with us. We will spend additional one to one time with any student that either requests or requires it.

‘What are your pass rates?'

100% of course! Our dedicated and patient instructors spend as much time as is required to get you through. For the vast majority of people, one to two subjects  per day is more than sufficient.

'How will the course be delivered?'

At The Great Circle we pride ourselves on delivering a first class training program. To achieve this we use qualified professionals and state of the art ICT. The lecture format is via high quality, industry leading Presentations. You will be provided with a high quality ’workbook’ which is in fact a duplicate of the presentation itself. This method of delivery is highly desirable as it cuts down on note taking, thereby enabling you to focus more fully on the lecture. There are times when good old fashioned ‘chalk and talk’ are preferable and indeed necessary.

'Where are your Fast Track courses held?'

Our courses are run at our training centre in the beautiful spa town of Harrogate, North Yorkshire. There are good rail and motorway links and our closest airport is only 15 mins by taxi. The courses are delivered in comfortable, modern conference suites. Tea, Coffee and other refreshments are available.

'I live at the other end of the country, is there accommodation nearby?'

There are a number of very nice local B & Bs or very up-market hotels within 5 mins of our training centre. You will also be spoilt for choice with pubs, restaurants and theatre, all on our door-step. Please contact us for a comprehensive list of hotels, eateries and nearby attractions.

‘How far in advance do I need to book?'

We do not normally require more than two weeks notice to book a course. Early spring throughout summer tends to be our busiest period and it is advisable to book as soon as you know you are able to take the time off work/family to come and see us. If you find that you have some free time at short notice, then please give us a call, we may be able to fit you in.

‘I have a disability, what provisions are made?'

We make every effort to accommodate students with disabilities. All entrances and elevators (when used), toilets and refreshment areas are designed for wheelchair access. If you have any special requirements, please click here to contact us so that suitable arrangements can be made.

Flight Training Courses

‘What is Fast Track?'

Fast Track simply means that the course is undertaken on a more intensive basis. These courses are primarily designed for those short of time, which lets face it, is most of us! The Fast Track PPL courses are designed to last approximately 21 days. Typical start and finish times are 9.30am to 5.30pm with a morning, lunch and afternoon break. You can expect to fly from 3 to 5 hours per day. Other options are available. Perhaps you have started a course elsewhere and wish to complete it.


‘I thought these courses could only be done in America, what about the horrible English weather?'

Our motto is: "If you're going to fly in England, learn in England". Yes we do have days of inclement weather, but very rarely do we have days when you cannot fly at all. This may mean that you have to show up to fly earlier one day or stay a little later, either way we'll get you finished. It is far better to have a taste of flying in inclement weather whilst sat next to your instructor, rather than have got your PPL in the states in beautiful weather, only to come back and frighten yourself silly when your caught out with low visibility, rain or a crosswind on landing!

‘Would it be cheaper for me to go to America and do this course?'

When perusing the glossy ads in Pilot magazine it might seem so. Now add in the cost of return airfares, time and money spent on visas for flight trainin and licence conversion if necessary. When you return your local flying school will almost certainly insist on some further training to acquaint you with british ATC procedures and flying in our ever changing weather! This can all add up to a considerable amount of money and frequently ends up costing more than it would have to train here.

‘Are your courses run on a one to one basis?'

Absolutely. We guarantee that you will not have lots of instructors and different aircraft for your training.  We find that no more than two instructors and two aircraft provide the most effective training regime. This saves valuable time as you do not have to get used to learning the differences between lots of aircrfat and different instructional techniques. At The Great Circle, all instructors teach the same procedures to ensure continuity.

‘Do most people complete the course in 21 days?'

Yes they do. It's fair to say that you need to be very motivated, well rested and prepared to learn. When people take the time off and enrol on a Fast Track course, they find in the end that they have saved an awful lot of time, money and heart ache. You will spend little time repeating things as you are flying from 3 to 5 hours a day, you will remember far more this way. Everyone is amazed at what they can achieve on our courses!

‘What are your pass rates?'

100% of course! Our dedicated and patient instructors spend as much time as is required to get you through. We would not put you forward for a flight test if we didn't think you were ready. The vast majority of people go home with a first time pass and a big grin on their face!

‘Is an examiner available immediately at the end of my course?'

This is a very good question and one that many schools do not answer honestly! We are proud to say that when you are near to completing your course, we will pre-book your test to ensure that an examiner is available for you without delay. This will ensure you get your licence with minimum fuss. We currently have 3 examiners on staff and you will be guaranteed a test immediately on completion of your course.

'How much does it cost?'

Prices for our courses are listed on the courses pages.

'Where are your Fast Track courses held?'

Our flight training courses are conducted at Full Sutton Flying Centre in the beautiful vale of York. Enjoy miles and miles of beautiful open countryside and coast line while learning to fly. The historical city of York is only a 10 minute drive from the school. We have both grass and tarmac runways, a modern fleet of aircraft and pre-flight briefing rooms.

'I live at the other end of the country, is there accommodation nearby?'

There are a number of very nice local B & Bs within 5 to 10 mins of the airfield. Slightly further, there is the beautiful city of York with many B & Bs, hotels, restaurants and pubs. Please visit our links page to see what's on offer.

'My family and friends will miss me, can they come and visit?'

Absolutely. Although 3 weeks is a very short time to complete a PPL, it's still a fair amount of time to be away from your nearest and dearest. Our clients often have family who come and visit for a week or so and we would encourage this. They can even come along and sit in the back whilst you have a lesson if you like!

‘I have a disability, what provisions are made?'

We make every effort to accommodate students with disabilities. All entrances and elevators (when used), toilets and refreshment areas are designed for wheelchair access. If you have any special requirements, please contact us so that suitable arrangements can be made.

‘Brilliant, when can i start?'

Call today and fly tomorrow, we look forward to teaching you soon...