A joy and a privilege - UK Airfield Guide

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A joy and a privilege



Without any doubt it is not easy to learn to fly. The basics of learning to control the aeroplane can be quite quickly learnt, and indeed in the early days many achieved this after four hours instruction. Today around twelve hours of instruction seems to be the norm, but of course even very basic GA training aircraft are far more complex than the earliest examples.

In more recent times it largely depends on what you intend to achieve. If going para-gliding from a hill-top and remaining on the local area, little else needs to be learnt. But the further afield you intend to go, requires a great deal of extra learning and knowledge. Navigation and controlled airspace, for example, soon become major obstacles. As does the requirement for flight planning - especially if going beyond our shores.

For many this seems to become a major obstacle, it all seems so incredibly complex. And, at face value it is. The faceless minions employed in the offices of aviation administration, very few of which fly, delight in trying to make everything as difficult and complicated as possible. Or so it might seem. In most cases over the years I learnt that flying with local pilots reduced this aspect considerably - including flying into major airports a 'piece of cake' - so very easy.

Without any doubt it is a privilege to tour around in a light aircraft. The views, more often as not, are amazing. Worth every penny spent learning the skills required. A light aircraft flies at low levels, usually below 10,000 feet above which for longer periods an oxygen supply or pressurised aircraft is recommended. I generally rarely flew above 3000ft and normally lower. Even as low as 500 feet quite often. For me a touring aeroplane was pretty much a touring car with wings, and the lower you flew the better the view in many cases for a detailed appreciation.

But of course, if approaching a town for example, a climb would be needed to get an overall view. The permutations are endless of course and the fond memories last forever. What a privilige! Well worth every penny spent.

Getting the PPL License was, without any doubt, the most difficult and demanding task I had ever attempted. And I learnt so much that was utterly useless and never used. It being in the UK, at that time at least, the first stage to getting a Commercial Pilots License.

But, having got the License, the doors of opportunity quickly opened up. In effect I could fly almost anywhere in the world! It seemed that nearly every country accepted a British PPL, subject to being checked out.  

From memory I only took advantage of this, despite being 'checked out', twice. Once in Australia, and also in Sweden. For me it didn't much matter if I was officially 'Pilot-in-Command', the splendid views being opened up by the instructors and 'safety pilots' I was flying with were what really counted. And of course the advice they gave, which so often made it so much easier to visit these places later on.

It really does not matter how much experience you have. Right from the start until the end of my flying, I never ceased to learn more by flying with instructors and local pilots. You can always learn more by example.

Without any doubt the best way is to build up experience bit by bit. Explore the local area, landing at several aerodromes several times. Then try going further. You might be surprised how quickly the expertise to fly into Europe can be learnt.

Flying at low level is always a joy and a privege. It cannot be denied that flying over a long traffic jam gives a great sense of release from earthly matters. Being able to fly passengers to the Isle of Wight in 45 minutes from WYCOMBE AIR PARK, (for example), gives another sense to just how privileged a PPL can be. The delight they have, given a tour of the island being so rewarding.

And of course, this applies almost everywhere. I have flown in every country in western Europe, and several countries elsewhere, and invariably marvelled at the views. But, I barely scratched the surface of what can be achieved, as often as not quite affordably.  

What is so very important to emphasise is that you do not have to be a pilot to share these experiences. In virtually every part of the world it is usually really quite easy to arrange a light aircraft to hire for sight-seeing. It might need a bit of effort and planning in some cases of course, but the rewards are so well worthwhile, and treasured memories invariably result.



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