Re­tiree pi­lot train­ing

Pilot - - AIRMAIL -

Go for it. Do it – un­re­servedly. It’s hum­bling but never hu­mil­i­at­ing, and the sense of achieve­ment is stu­pen­dous. Don’t do it by halves, go for the full PPL. Ex­er­cise the priv­i­leges of your li­cence, take your fam­ily and friends fly­ing, cre­ate a new bond and show them the beauty of the area around you from a per­spec­tive you, and they, may never have seen be­fore.

I ‘re­tired’ in 2011, took a he­li­copter ex­pe­ri­ence flight at my lo­cal air­field, Glouces­ter, in 2012 and was hooked. With some trep­i­da­tion I started tak­ing fly­ing les­sons in a Robin­son 22. It was much harder than I’d ex­pected, but my safety-valve was that I didn’t need to do this for my ca­reer or pro­fes­sional ad­vance­ment, so if it got too hard I could just stop. Some days I felt so stupid, forgetful and clumsy, but my in­struc­tors were al­ways kind, help­ful, knowl­edge­able and in­for­ma­tive. I flew my first solo one freez­ing morn­ing in De­cem­ber. As I got nearer to the end the chal­lenge seemed to go up a notch – still so much to learn – but the nearer I got the more I wanted to get there. In May 2013, af­ter my fi­nal skills check flight, I was de­lighted, and hum­bled, to be awarded my PPL(H).

I’m 68 now and have taken a Class 2 med­i­cal ev­ery year; if your health is rea­son­ably good you should have no prob­lems. You also have to take the (shorter) Li­cence Pro­fi­ciency skills check ev­ery year. Age has never been a fac­tor in of­fi­cial deal­ings, nor with fel­low pi­lots; ev­ery­one’s wel­com­ing. The ex­ams are hard and you have to learn the ma­te­rial well. Much of the the­ory will be com­pletely new to you, par­tic­u­larly Air Law and Me­te­o­rol­ogy, and R/T re­quires a new gram­mar and di­alect. The tu­ition books are clearly writ­ten, and your in­struc­tors will be mines of in­for­ma­tion. How many hours it takes varies from stu­dent to stu­dent. I un­der­stand the av­er­age PPL(H) hours vary from 60-80 and I took about seventy. Once you’ve got your li­cence it’s im­por­tant to fly reg­u­larly, to main­tain cur­rency. I try to fly at least once ev­ery two weeks and now have about 250 hours.

It’s the most won­der­ful thing to have done and such a buzz to lift away from the earth and live in this new space for a while. So do it. Go for it. Un­re­servedly. Wil­liam Lewis, Chel­tenham

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