Licensed flying - So, you want
to be a pilot ?
fly is one of the most rewarding of challenges, whether you’re learning to fly
on foot or wheels. Students
remember their first solo and their final flight test for the rest of their
lives. How does it
work? Chris Finnigan explains.
HOW much does
it cost to learn to fly a microlight? How long will it take? What is involved?
The cost of
microlight flying training varies widely, depending on a number of factors:
Generally, the older you are, the longer it takes.
• Weather. In
a good year for British weather progress can be made quickly, but when a spell
of bad weather comes along delays are inevitable.
Availability of student. If you can train whenever the weather is suitable,
including summer evenings, you will make better progress than if you only fly
Availability of instructor. If your instructor has many students you will be
competing with others for his/her time.
ability. The more natural ability you have, the faster you will progress.
available. If you are working on a tight budget, you will only progress at the
rate you can afford.
Private Pilot’s Licence microlight rating requires a minimum of 25h flying
training, 10h of which must be solo, for the pilot to have no operational
restrictions. A licence
with restrictions can be achieved with a minimum of 15h flying training,
including 7h solo. These restrictions include not being able to carry
passengers, only being able to fly in very good weather conditions, and being
restricted to flying within 8nm of your own airfield.
quoted above are minima that only the most naturally talented young students
achieve. The rest of us normally take a little longer. A few achieve their
licences within weeks, others take months, and those on a tight budget
sometimes take a year or two.
budgeting for flying training, it is wise to calculate the cost of the minimum
number of hours required and then add between 50 and 100% of that cost,
depending on how confident you feel of your own ability. Hourly rates vary
depending on where the instructor flies from and what his/her overheads are.
the high cost of fuel will also add to the overall expense. Realistically, a
budget of £2.5–3.5k should cover your training.
groundschool. In addition to flying training the student pilot must also learn
a number of groundschool subjects that are considered vital to becoming a safe
and competent pilot.
results are always achieved by a combination of attending lessons and private
study. Those who are not particularly confident of their academic ability
should not be put off by the thought of having to go back into the classroom
and pass exams at the end of the groundschool training.
subjects relate to what goes on in the air while flying and they are much
easier to understand when put into this context.The subjects taught in
groundschool and confirmed by written examinations include:
• Fire, First
Aid, & Safety Equipment
& Engines and Principles of Flight exams ensure that the student pilot
understands how the aircraft flies and how its engine and control systems work.
They also cover aircraft performance and the many factors that can affect it in
the air and when taking off and landing.
training ensures that the pilot understands how the law applies to him or her,
including when and where they can and cannot fly, what documents they must have
in their possession, what rules they must obey and how they must ensure that
both they and their aircraft are capable and safe for the flights they wish to
Navigation training on the ground provides the pilot with the necessary skills
and knowledge to plan before a flight and then fly to that plan, knowing at all
times where they are and how to get where they want to go.
navigation is included in flight planning on the ground, the easier it is to
navigate once in the air.
Meteorology lessons give a sufficient understanding of the weather, and how it
affects the performance and safety of the aircraft, for the pilot to know when
it is safe to fly and when it is not. This includes being able to anticipate
and plan for changes to the weather during a flight, especially if it is a long
cross-country or touring flight.
Performance & Limitations is a relatively new subject in aviation and covers all the
different factors that can affect the way a pilot performs in flight. These
range from the effects of tiredness, alcohol, drugs, lack of oxygen and cold,
to misperceptions and misjudgements caused from stress, anxiety, complacency or
confusion. The knowledge acquired in studying this subject allows the pilot to
factor in his or her own performance, and importantly its limitations, into
their risk assessments before flying.
must be passed before the pilot can achieve a licence even if the General
Flying Test of skills has already been passed. Most groundschool exams use the
multiplechoice system; each question has a range of answers from which the
student must select the correct one. The navigation exam involves planning an
imaginary flight using a chart and navigation ‘tools’, taking into account
windspeed and other weather conditions given in the exam scenario.
information visit the BMAA website at www.bmaa.org or the National Private
Pilot’s Licence website at www.nppl.uk.com, where the syllabus is available for