So you want to learn to fly?
The reasons people have for wanting to learn to fly are many and varied. Some simply wish to enjoy the sheer pleasure of flight, others because they intend to make a career in aviation and become commercial pilots. Aircraft offer a convenient and very quick means of travel over long distances and it is for this reason that many business people learn to fly. More and more people are building and flying their own aircraft. Many wish to enter the world of sport flying; aerobatics; air racing.  
Whatever your reason may be, the next step is to book your first lesson and embark on a course of flying instruction which will ultimately lead to the issue of your Private Pilot Licence.  
To qualify for a Pilot's Licence requires dedication, patience and perseverance, but everyone who takes on the challenge derives a lot of fun, pleasure, satisfaction, and above all, a great sense of achievement when that little brown parcel marked 'Civil Aviation Authority - Flight Crew Licensing' drops into their post box.  
How long will it take ? 
This will depend on your aptitude and the amount of time you have available. Cost may also govern how often you are able to attend.  
Bear in mind that if you arrange to fly once a week,some of your bookings will be lost due to weather and you should allow between 18 months to two years to complete the course. This method is considerably easier on the budget than an intensive two or three week course, which some people prefer.  
Either way, you set your own pace, taking as long or as shorter time as you wish. You can spread your flying training over whatever period of time may suit you.  
Is it difficult to learn ? 
In general terms, flying an aircraft is not difficult. It is certainly no more difficult than driving a car. Handling an aircraft is more akin to a 'knack' which, once learned, you are extremely unlikely to forget (Remember when you learned to ride a two wheeler bike - one minute you are thinking you will never get the hang of it; then quite suddenly......).  
The main difference of course, is the third dimension; height. Birds cope with this problem instinctively but it is something we have to learn from basics, both practically and theoretically.  
The examinations in flying ability and theoretical knowledge are not difficult. Your Instructor will not subject you to a flight test until he/she knows that you are ready, and the ground subjects are easy to assimilate from the appropriate text books with, if necessary, a little help from your Instructor. 
How do I get a licence ? 
You need to undertake a course of flying instruction at at EASA/CAA Approved Training Organisation to a syllabus recognised by the Civil Aviation Authority (under joint European regulations) under the direction of a Qualified Flying Instructor. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) controls all aspects of flying in the U.K., including flying training.  
During the course you will be required to pass some flying and written tests. You will also be required to hold an appropriate medical certificate.  
What can I do after qualifying for my licence ? 
Obtaining your licence is just the beginning. After qualifying, a whole range of flying activities open up to you. Many people regularly fly to the Channel Islands, the near Continent or Ireland. You can take an aircraft for a week or two touring. Further training is available to enable you to fly larger, more sophisticated aircraft. Aerobatics, air racing and many other facets of aviation are there. Remember; getting your Private Pilot's Licence is just the beginning.  
What about maintaining my licence ? 
Regulations state, every two years you will be required to fly twelve hours within twelve months of expiry, coupled with a flight with a Flying Instructor to ensure your continuing piloting skills are safe. Most responsible Flying Training Organisations will want you to fly a little more regularly, if you intend to hire their aircraft and carry passengers. You will also need to keep your 'medical' current if your licence is to remain valid.  
Can I earn money with my licence ? 
No. If you wish to earn money from flying, then you must hold a Commercial Licence and your Private Pilot's Licence is one huge step on the way to achieving this particular goal. Our Flying Instructors hold CPLs., and will be pleased to offer assistance and advice.  
How much will it cost ? 
The cost of learning to fly will depend on your aptitude and the time you can devote to ground study and flying training. Basically, you will be charged for each hour of training in the aircraft, an examiner's fee for each of the flying and ground examinations, landing fees away from base, books, training and personal flying equipment.  
The minimum flying training required by the CAA is 45 hours; typically then, the total cost may be summarised as follows:-  
45 Hours flying  
Text books and personal equipment  
Examination fees  
Approximate cost £6000 - £6500 
How old do I have to be ? 
There is no lower age limit on learning to fly. You must be aged 14 to log any formal flying instrucyion though, but you can start as soon as you are big enough to reach the controls. You are not permitted to fly solo until you are sixteen, however your licence  
What can I fly ? 
Your basic licence will entitle you to fly single engine piston aircraft. There are a large number of types which you will be entitled to fly, however, it would be foolish to expect that you will be able to hop out of your Cessna 150 basic trainer into a 240mph mini airliner with half a dozen passengers in the back, on the day that your licence arrives. A 'type conversion' is usually achieved comfortably in 2/3hours training depending usually on the complexity of the aircraft.  
If you wish to fly a twin engine aircraft with even greater capabilities, you will then be required to undertake a further course of training, usually taking about ten hours to complete.  
Where can I fly ? 
Your PPL entitles you to fly a European registered aircraft by day, in reasonable visibility, anywhere in the world. Most Western countries will also allow you to fly their registered aircraft on your licence without any further training.  
Can I take passengers ? 
Of course you can. That is one of the reasons for gaining your licence. What you are not allowed to do, is charge them for the privilege. You can however split the cost of the flight (hire charges, fuel, landing fees etc.) equally between you.  
Can I own an aircraft ? 
Although most people hire aircraft once qualified, there is nothing quite like having your own. Many people share an aircraft within a small group or syndicate which helps to spread the cost of purchase and maintenance. The initial cost of purchase compares with that of a new car but, unlike cars, well maintained aircraft do not depreciate much at all. A two seater can be bought for as little as ten thousand pounds and a four seat tourer from about twenty thousand.  
How tough is the medical ? 
The short answer is 'not very'. You do not have to be a super-fit individual, just normally healthy.  
The Medical Examiner will look for reasonable standards in hearing and sight (with spectacles if worn). Your reactions and sense of balance will also be tested.  
You must hold a 'medical' before flying solo, and you will be required to undergo further examinations at intervals determined by age. Under the age of thirty, the examination is carried out every five years, under 50 years old every 2 years, with reducing intervals as you get older until it becomes every six months for pilots over sixty five years old.  
Can I fly in all weathers ? 
The basic licence allows you to fly by day in Visual Meteorological Conditions. Basically this means that you must stay in sight of the surface and clear of cloud. Further training is available which will qualify you to fly at night and/or in cloud.  
There has not been an aircraft built that can fly safely in all weathers. Even large passenger jets can be grounded by extreme conditions. Generally, most light aircraft can cope with U.K.weather most of the time. However, heavy rain storms, very strong winds and icing conditions will ground them; as will fog or very low cloud. Your own ability and qualifications will ultimately decide the conditions you fly in.

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