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I have a situation that is a bit of a grey area and was hoping for some advice from other pilots that perhaps have been in the same situation.

After getting my license, my instructor and I stayed friends. Every now and again (maybe once a month or so), we go on pleasure flights together. We usually fly somewhere, have lunch, and then fly home.

Now I have a share in the plane we use and I pay for the time like I would any other time. I have always offered to pay him for instruction for these flights (even though it's not really), and he has always declined, instead allowing me to pay for lunch.

However, one of the club owners heard about these days out and now insists that this is recorded and paid for as instruction.

I have two issues with this: 1 - it doubles the cost per hour. 2 - I don't get my P1 hours up in my logbook. The cost I don't mind as much... I just want to build my solo hours.

I must re-iterate that I do all of the flying, although we do talk flying the entire time usually and he of course gives me additional insight and tips etc.

I'm not sure who is "in the right" here. The club IS a business, which I appreciate. But does that mean that an ex-student and flight instructor have to pay to be friends after training?

For reference, this is in the far North of the UK.

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    $\begingroup$ The whole "Not logging P1 time if there's an instructor on board" I wouldn't worry about. If you're the sole manipulator of the controls, sitting in the LH seat, and your licensed to fly that aircraft, you're P1. Just make sure the guy sitting next to you agrees. $\endgroup$
    – Jamiec
    Dec 18, 2023 at 11:22
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    $\begingroup$ Just thought of the one question I should have asked before answering: When this person is our pleasure flying with you, are they "on the clock" (ie employed by) the club? Or is this in their spare time? I think you probably know where I'm going with this... $\endgroup$
    – Jamiec
    Dec 18, 2023 at 11:39
  • $\begingroup$ @Cloud As I also trained in the 'far North' of the UK (well, "far" from a point of view of Londoners, otherwise knows as North East England), I'm curious if our paths may have crosses as there's aren't too many flying schools (or airfields) in that part of the country. I suspect you are avoiding naming and shaming, though. $\endgroup$ Dec 18, 2023 at 12:47
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    $\begingroup$ I think this can only be answered by reference to the specific bylaws of your flying club. (Is the club organized as a business, or non profit? Has the club owner referenced terms of a contract you agreed to? How is the "club" any different from just renting?) $\endgroup$ Dec 18, 2023 at 14:34
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    $\begingroup$ @Jamiec Spare time, on a day no instruction is held... :) $\endgroup$
    – Cloud
    Dec 18, 2023 at 15:04

3 Answers 3

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I had a very similar situation, although without a club involved.

The chap who taught me to fly through my local flying school in the early 2000's was the same guy I got back in touch with in 2016 when I wanted to go back to flying after about a 10 year hiatus. By this time he had gone independent, but had use of a few aircraft at my local field and got me back to the point where I could redo my skills test and get my license valid again. We became pretty good friends socially, and as he had some contacts with aircraft I could rent I more often than not flew with him.

I always paid him for his time. Not least of which because that was his job and time spent flying with me was time he wasn't spending with students. For the record, he usually bought me lunch!

After about 3 years of this I realised something important. He was a crutch, and it was stopping me being fully confident. Having a friendly flying instructor next to me meant that I wasn't making the decisions which I should have been. It wasn't that he was doing anything wrong, but you often learn more from making a small mistake yourself and fixing it than someone with miles of head space pointing out the mistake you're about to make before you make it.

I've said it before here, I'll say it again - the best thing I ever did was started flying with other pilots (not instructors).

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This is pretty much a legal question: about aviation law & regulation, and the flight club's right to dictate matters of this nature.

I'm not a specialist in UK aviation law, hence I advise you to find out (possibly by asking about it here) whether buying dinner to your FI companion could be considered compensation, possibly altering the assumed recreational nature of the flight.

This can turn out to be a tricky matter to resolve, and I suspect this is the reason your club owner is requiring you to log this as instructed time: he simply wants to make sure that should anything happen, there is no chance for having anything the regulators can sink their teeth into. Even if nothing out of the ordinary ever happens, keep in mind that there most probably are some routine inspections into the club log-keeping, and having you regularly fly with an instructor without the flight being logged as instruction might raise eyebrows.

And: I do not wish to imply that there is any foul play on your instructor friend's part, but the thing is he cannot log the time flown with you in any way, if you in fact are the PIC.

On the other hand, the club has very limited possibilities to legally limit whoever you should wish to fly with as long as your relationship to the person on board is purely casual when it comes to context of aviation. In this case there is no reason for them to enforce any logging practices but I reiterate, the case in question understandably can be seen as problematic from club's point of view.

As for JamieC's answer, I must agree. Unless the instructor is actually a friend of yours, "acting in that capacity", and the flights with him are relatively few and far between it is possible that they actually are counterproductive. One thing I loved about aviation is that you are on your own up there; I alone was responsible for managing the situations. That was the whole point of it, to a large extent at least. But I digress...

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A good place to start would be to have a look at both the agreement between you and the club and the agreement between the instructor and the club to see if there are any terms about that.

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