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"We are the protagonists of our stories called life, and there is no limit to how high we can fly."

Type rated on A330, B747-400, B747, B757, B767, B737, B727. International Airline Pilot / Author / Speaker. Dedicated to giving the gift of wings to anyone following their dreams. Supporting Aviation Safety through training, writing, and inspiration.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Anthony Paraschou

Anthony Paraschou, a 21-year-old, student pilot from London is one of the victims of the aviation school that took the money and ran. He sent me his story. He is just one of many.

Anthony's story:

I have had a passion for flying from a very young age. One of my earliest memories is looking at planes while at Heathrow when I was around 2 years old. My family has been lucky enough to travel regularly to many parts of the world, my Mother worked for Olympic Airways for 26 years so I was always around airlines and planes.

While at school all I ever wanted to do was fly planes, with my parents help we embarked on exploring what all the options were to have a career as an airline pilot. We attended many open days, seminars, and exhibitions and evaluated many flying schools from all over the world. 

Finally we settled on the Pilot Training College of Ireland based in Waterford. Although based in Ireland, the school would carry out most of its course in Florida specifically based at the Florida Institute of Technology, one of the most prestigious University’s in America. We would be living and studying within their campus although PTC had it own training centre, which we would also use to carry out classroom related topics.

We researched all of them and it really came down to a personal choice they all seemed as good as each other and offered the same level of education and association with airlines etc. I arrived in Florida in Nov 2011 and began my course at age 19. All seemed to be progressing well in the beginning. We occasionally, as a school, were grounded for a day or so, which was quickly passed off with some minimal excuses. We passed things like this off as minor irritations and carried on.

As my course progressed I began to realize that perhaps I was not progressing as quickly and smoothly as I should and also possibly PTC wasn’t as organized as it should be. For example we began to have “plane shortages” and “instructor shortages” which impacted on our flying time. On the other hand some of our instructors would extend our flying times so they could increase their revenue.

In April 2012 my parents visited me and had assumed that I would have by then gained my ppl as the school had assured them that within 6 weeks or 40 hrs. I would have qualified. This coupled with the “school wide groundings” made my parents seek an urgent meeting with the Schools Florida management.

The school assured my parents that the reason I had not attained my PPL was not a lack of effort or ability on my part but purely some logistical errors by the school. Specifically enrolling too many students at once therefore they did not have the resources to cope, hence the groundings. They assured my parents that this was now noted, addressed and resolved. 

In May 2012 I began my ATPL theory part of my course even though I and the majority of my classmates had not yet attained our PPL’s.

In May/June 2012 again the school was “grounded”. However this lasted longer than a day. At the time the school assured us it was a contractual issue with the Florida Institute of Tech (who were the ones that were grounding us) and would be resolved quickly. Unfortunately things spiraled out of control very quickly from there, FIT quickly informed all Student Pilots that they had irrevocably severed all links with PTC with immediate effect.

PTC’s response was completely the opposite, claiming it was still in talks with FIT to resolve the issue and that it was doing everything it could to begin our courses again at FIT. Later we found out this was completely untrue. Within days FIT had issued all PTC students with Eviction notices to vacate their living accommodation and leave the campus. On receipt of the notices the staff of PTC in Florida promptly closed the offices and left us to fend for ourselves.

In the following days we were left alone in Florida with no word from PTC. The head office in Ireland was obviously being besieged with calls from parents, sponsors and students and then they promptly stopped answering any communications.

Eventually PTC issued a press release to the media who by now had been running with the story, blaming all the issues on FIT and that PTC was seeking alternative training organization to send us all to continue our courses.

After a week or so they issued a final press release claiming that all students would be found alternative training with other providers and asked to be left alone to accomplish this.

In the meantime FIT had kindly offered all students the opportunity to remain in their accommodation at no extra cost and even gave all students free meals for the duration of their stay, as you can imagine this came as a huge relief to the students and Parents.

PTC then issued another press release stating that they had secured all the flight records of the students (which it hadn’t, the Irish Aviation Authority did this) and negotiated with CAE Oxford Aviation to take over the flight courses and all the students could go there if they wished. However, it stated that some students would have to pay some additional course fees, which reflected in the different price structures of the two companies. Oxford would contact all students in due course. Within a day or so of this press release PTC went into Administration.

That was the final nail in coffin, as you can imagine we were all distraught to begin with at our dreams being shattered. For my part it was the lowest point of my life my parents sold a property they owned to fund my dream and now all that money was gone.

When PTC closed I had not even passed my PPL even though we had paid €65,000 of our €85,000 course fee, our final payment was due the week the school had finally been grounded and my Parents stopped the payment.

My parents contacted PTC who insisted payment must still be made and claimed they had no issues with FIT. My parents prudently did not pay. To have your dreams shattered is the worst feeling in the world, at the time I thought that was the end of my dream. We began to plan to come home with the assistance of the Irish aviation Authority. 

My parents then decided that it was pointless coming home without even passing my PPL so arranged for me to stay on at FIT and paid for me to complete my PPL which I duly went on to do. I came home in Aug 2012 having spent over €70,000 or so for a PPL.

Personally I was lucky, with the assistance of my extended family we were able to find additional funding to enable me to continue my flight career. I found another school and am carrying on. Others have not been so fortunate, losing not only the money they have paid but also their dream, and in many cases they still have to pay as they have secured loans and will have nothing to show for it.

Throughout this time I must add that PTC and especially its management in Ireland behaved completely reprehensibly. They left 200 students, stranded and alone some as young as 17! They lied to everyone at the end gave people false hope only to try and buy time to cover themselves."


If you have a moment, 

Enjoy the journey!
XO Karlene


  1. What a shame. Something like this shouldn't happen ...

  2. Horrible! Many of us have read this story, or a few others like it, before. On the bright side, most of the highly motivated students were able to make other arrangements to continue their education. Those responsible should be held accountable.

  3. Addendum: While these for-profit schools are not the ideal means to acquire flying credentials, for some students they may be the only choice. The parents and sponsors of these students are strongly encouraged to select a pay-as-you-go school and NOT one that demands huge sums in advance. Sadly, the buyer (family, student, sponsor) does bear some degree of responsibility. Their are legitimate for-profit AV schools, but the non-profit model or public university is almost always a much safer choice. I understand Anthony's pain and I'm glad that he's found a way past this roadblock. It is a less on that he will not soon forget. -C.


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