A world of Adventure Awaits
It’s time to escape the everyday world to enjoy true challenges, real excitement and lasting reward
Our annual Where to Fly Guide is aimed at a broad spread of pilots and would-be flyers, from those who already hold a Private Pilot Licence (PPL) to people who are just thinking about learning to fly. There are few things in life to rival the hard-won privilege and pleasure of piloting a light aircraft – it’s a wonderful antidote to everyday life – so here’s the question for those who have yet to take the plunge: Isn’t it about time you were flying yourself?
It doesn’t just stop at the PPL – a huge range of aircraft and many different kinds of flying are out there for you to discover. While the choice of aeroplanes to train on remains focussed predominantly on dependable, proven high-wing Cessnas and low-wing Pipers, a new generation of lightweight, modern and sporty two-seaters is becoming more prevalent.
If you have deeper pockets, there are helicopters like the US Robinson series and now the sleek little Guimbal Cabri G2 from France to learn on – and maybe make the leap from flying fixed-wing aircraft.
If a helicopter seems a step too far, there’s the autogyro – or ‘gyroplane’ as the CAA insists on calling it. Autogyros have been around almost as long as the aeroplane, but it has taken a new generation of the safe and capable two-seaters like the MT-03 to transform autogyro training and bring it up to date. (For a quick guide to these and other typical training aircraft, see pages 13 to 16).
But where do you find a club or flight training organisation? There are plenty to choose from – just take a look at our extensive and updated clubs & schools list, which starts on page 35. If you are new to flying, do take a look at the advice offered in ‘Choosing a School’ (p.7). There are now several kinds of private pilot licence available, coming with different limitations and costing more or less, depending on – among other things - the type of aircraft you can train on and the number of hours required. You will need to make an informed choice as to which to go for, so do have a close read of ‘Which Licence’ (p.4).
Once they have their licence – a process that is challenging and rewarding in its own right – many pilots are happy simply to use their aircraft like a touring car, getting to know their local area
and then to branch out to fly to airfields further away, or even to fly across the Channel for lunch. Often described as ‘a licence to learn’ the PPL can be the first step to further challenges, in the form of additional ratings, or even a career as an airline pilot (see ‘Do you dream of becoming a Commercial Pilot?’, starting on p.23).
With weather in the UK being such a strong factor, popular options to extend the opportunities to fly include training to fly in instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) and at night. As well as instrument ratings and the night qualification there is the ‘differences training’ that will allow you to fly aircraft with additional features like retractable undercarriages, constantspeed propellers, multi-engines, or even ‘glass cockpits’ if you’ve not encountered the airliner-like instrument layout before.
Equally, you can indulge in a bit of personal time-travel and enjoy flying as it used to be in aviation’s ‘golden era’ of the 1920s and 30s, piloting all kinds of ‘taildraggers’ and opencockpit biplanes, such as the Tiger Moth. On a hot summer’s day or a balmy evening, what could be nicer than to make progress slowly above the countryside with the wind in your face?
You may decide to go on to do aerobatics for fun or competition; take up air racing, competing against aircraft of varying speeds but all flying together in the same small airspace; fly the tug at a glider site; be the pilot of a parachute aircraft; set distance or height records; tow banners up and down the coast on a sunny day; or become a display pilot – there is a world of challenge and excitement to be explored. Take a look at the options available in the following pages –
Your PPL will open the door to a new world...