Learning to Fly
If you fancy taking up this fun hobby, or wish to make it a career, try some of the
• Under 19, consider joining Scouts (Air or Land) or Air Cadets – they will give you opportunities to fly, glide, and maybe parascend and other more esoteric forms of flying. The discipline may help if you are going into a career as a pilot, and either looks good on your CV.
• Contact the Light Aircraft Association (LAA) who have local groups of aircraft owners, some aircraft have been home-built and others are factory made. You will usually find some of the Strut members are happy to take fellow enthusiasts for a flight – it’s appreciated if you offer something toward fuel costs.
• Contact the British Microlight Aircraft Association (BMAA) www.bmaa.org who specialise in the smaller class of powered light aircraft, both flex-wing (like a hang-glider) and more conventional 3-axis control aircraft.
• Read the magazines – they usually have supplements or articles annually in Spring to inform budding pilots of the options and advertise the flying schools and clubs.
• Approach several local Flying Schools, and compare what you get on a flying course – remember, the cheapest may not be the best to choose; you want well-maintained aircraft and competent instructors, which tend to cost!
You have a choice of three licences to aim for :-
• EASA-PPL, a licence that allows you to fly world-wide, which can be extended with an instrument rating, and leads onto commercial licences if you fancy a career flying.
• NPPL, a national licence (restricted to certain types, Microlights etc) or a European LAPL licence, which have a less rigorous medical (through your GP) and omits a few lessons on radio nav and instrument flying. See NPPL LTD for details for SSEP (simple single-engined piston) aeroplanes and Microlights. The syllabus and flying is least for microlights, so it’s a good place to start, and you can build on it later with more instruction.
How much does it cost to learn?
It depends on aptitude and age, the licence being sought and whether you can do it in a few months or need a year or two to spread the cost and fun. The following are typical for 2012, but check your area for local prices:-
• NPPL Microlight:- £2,500 – £4,500
• NPPL SSEP Aeroplane:- £5,000 – £8,000
• JAR-PPL Aeroplane:- £6,000 – £9,000
Some people save a bit going abroad – they are usually very intensive courses, and there’s not much you can do if aircraft or instructors go ‘tech’ for a few days. It’s best to do the theory exams before you go. Be wary of paying for the whole course up front – flying schools sometimes go bust!
If you buy your own aircraft first, you might save some money on the tuition, but it won’t make up for the wear and tear and costs of ownership! Learn on someone else’s plane.
If you fancy owning a plane at some point, consider sharing one with others – a ‘shareoplane’! It lets you get a better plane for the same money, saves paying all the overheads, keeps the plane flying regularly, gives a cushion if something major goes ‘tech’, and gives someone to fly with (apart from singleseat planes). Group-owned aircraft are common, and joining a group can help you gain a lot of experience while sharing the cost with other pilots.
Aircraft covered by a ‘Permit to Fly’ can be owner-built and/or maintained at a further saving if your skills cover that.
Further courses in PPL skills development with the LAA:-
For further training after gaining a licence, the Pilot Coaching Scheme courses cover the following areas:
Type Conversion, Tail-wheel Conversion, Differences Training, Strip Flying, General Flying, and Biennial Reviews.
Of course, should you desire training in a particular skill or area, then the Pilot Coaching Scheme will be able to help. However experienced you are, you may benefit from refresher training such as “Practice Forced Landings”, “Stalling”
and “Crosswinds”; these are some of the exercises LAA Coaches are glad to assist you with in order to build your confidence and competence.
The LAA Youth & Education Support websites give info on flying scholarships and bursaries to help reduce the cost.
© Youth & Education Support 2013