learn to fly - flight training
learn to fly
So - you've decided to start flying. How are you going to do it? There's more than one way to defy gravity, and deciding how you are going to get up there is the first problem. You need to consider issues such as licensing requirements, where you can learn, whether to hire or buy, the cost of purchasing and maintaining an aircraft, hangarage . . . let's look at a few of these.
Probably the major consideration for most of us. This can be broken down into three areas:
- Purchase Cost
- Training Costs
- Ongoing Costs - e.g. maintenance, repairs, hangarage, documentation
Cost is not the only consideration, though. Cheaper forms of flying tend to have certain advantages and disadvantages. Some types of aircraft - e.g. para-gliders and balloons - can only fly in light wind conditions, so if you live in a windy area this may not be a sensible option. This type of aircraft is easily transportable, though - so you can take it on your holidays. It really is a 'swings and roundabouts' situation. While it is easy to rent single normal aircraft, it can be difficult to rent para-gliders, ultra-lights, and balloons.
Another consideration is what you want to use the aircraft for. If you want to make five hundred mile cross-country flights regularly, then a powered parachute isn't a sensible option, and if you want to use the aircraft for business trips then you'd better forget ultra-lights and basic aircraft.
Finally, what type of airfield do you have available? A helicopter can take off from any patch of flat ground, whereas a hang glider requires a suitable slope (or a tow) and a Cessna, for instance, requires several hundred yards of flat runway.
Single Engined Certificated Aircraft
Learning to fly a small two-seat single engined aircraft (e.g. Cessna 152 or Piper Tomahawk) can be quite expensive - although it is much cheaper in the US than in the UK or Europe. Purchase costs of this type of aircraft are high - although many pilots do not own an aircraft, and rent one when they want to fly or buy in to a group owned aircraft. Ongoing costs for certificated aircraft are generally quite high, with the need for professional maintenance at tightly scheduled intervals. You will need to learn to fly on this type of aircraft before you can fly a more sophisticated aircraft. Modern training aircraft are very docile and will allow you to make mistakes without fear of difficult consequences. For more information on learning to fly this type or aircraft, click on 'single engine' .
Ultralights / Microlights
If we want more simplicity and less cost, there is the ultralight or microlight option. US legislation in particular makes it possible to fly an ultralight very cheaply, with no licence being required. Licensing requirements in Europe increase the cost, but costs are still less than with conventional aircraft. And, according to the British Microlight Aircraft Association, microlighting is "The best fun you can have out of bed". New legislation in Europe has allowed a new catagory of light planes to emerge...the ULM. Some of these machines are indistinguishable from light standard aircraft and can even fly a lot faster. Operating costs are greatly reduced and medical requirements are less stringent.
Want some peace and quiet? Then dispense with the engine. Gliding, or soaring as it is often known, is a challenging form of flight which is almost always practised in a club environment.
Rotary Winged Aircraft
Two very different creatures here - the delightfully eccentric autogyro and the exotic, expensive and incredibly versatile helicopter.
Paragliders,paramotors and hangliders
If you want cheap flying and really want to get back to basics, then you should consider Hang Gliding and Paragliding - engineless aircraft you can carry up a hill to a convenient launch point. Cheap, largely unregulated and great fun. Now there's also foot-launched aircraft to consider as well - hang gliders and paragliders with small auxiliary engines, which provide the best of both worlds.
And lastly, the oldest and possibly least practical method of committing aviation - ballooning. This most eccentric and stately method of defying gravity still has a large following.
all you need to know to start fling