General Aviation is a popular, if expensive pastime. There is nothing quite like hiring an aircraft and going for a flight, either locally or further afield. This section will grow into a useful resource for this thrilling hobby.
LEARNING TO FLY
If you are interested in learning to fly a light aircraft, or begin a career as a Pilot you should check out the Civil Aviation Authority Website. This site will give you the definitive guide to learning to fly, but in general here is a brief guide.
TYPES OF LICENCE
Whichever type of aircraft you wish to fly will have a particular type of licence to allow you to fly it. This is similar in principal to the Driving Licence; you need one for cars, a different one for motorcycles and yet another different one for lorries. There are different types of licences for piloting aircraft, and the CAA Licencing Website will advise you.
WHAT ELSE DO I NEED TO DO?
Once you have decided what licence is best for you, you should choose a Flight School. My advice would be to meet with all the ones in your area before choosing one. Some offer better rates than others, some have better availability of aircraft and with some it would simply be a choice of personalities or proximity. It`s best to stay with one Flying School, but it is possible to change should you wish.
The CAA ‘Find a Flying School’ Website will help you find your school.
Your Flying School will be able to advise you, but to complete your training you will need too have:
- Completed the training syllabus;
- Achieved the minimum flying hours required by the CAA for the type of licence;
- Passed the relevant Medical Inspection for the type of licence;
- Passed the nine Theoretical Examinations at a minimum pass mark of 75%;
- Passed a practical Radio Telephony Exam if you aim to use the radio ( highly recommended );
- Passed your Cross Country Qualification. This involves making a navigation flight and either one or two land-aways;
- Passed your Final Check Flight.
There are different types of ‘Medical for the Light Aircraft Pilot’s Licence (LAPL), and the Private Pilot’s Licence (PPL).
Essentially, the LAPL has and easier medical. The PPL now includes checking the Body Mass Index (BMI) , which is the reason that I chose to do the LAPL, as my BMI was too high. I`m now dieting.
Your Flying School will be able to direct you to a local Aero-Medical examiner.
THE THEORY EXAMS
During your training you will need to pass NINE Theory Exams on aviation topics. Currently  these need to be completed within 18 months, and they will then be current for Two Years if you are still training.
You need to sit all NINE exams in SIX ‘sittings’; with a ‘Sitting’ being a ten day period.
This is achievable as some topics are naturally linked, such as ‘Air Law’ and ‘Operational Procedures’.
Some schools operate a weekly ‘Ground School, and there are places that offer fast-track courses, where you learn one topic a day, and then sit the exam. These can get you through your exams, but remember that the more you know about flying, the safer you will be; so study the books. The exam topics are:
- Flight Planning;
- Air Law;
- Operational Procedures;
- Flight Principles;
- General Aircraft Knowledge;
- Human Factors.
My book, “Earning my wings”, available from £3.99 at Blurb.com goes into the process, pitfalls, troughs and elation of learning to fly a light aircraft, and the joy and pride of becoming a Pilot.