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Home > Blog > Best Aero Clubs In West Sussex

Best Aero Clubs in West Sussex to fly to From Sherburn

Posted 27 Nov 2023

Aero Clubs in West Sussex

Planning to visit West Sussex’s aero clubs? Then we have the perfect guide for you. In this guide, we will cover everything that you need to know before travelling to another club.

West Sussex isn’t just known for its beautiful landscapes and jaw-dropping geographical and manmade features, it is also widely known as one of the best places for private pilots to visit thanks to its healthy number of high-class aero clubs.

Planning to visit West Sussex’s aero clubs? Then we have the perfect guide for you. In this guide, we will cover everything that you need to know before travelling to another club and a list of the best aero clubs in the county!

Picking the Right Aircraft

Private pilots have the luxury of enjoying a variety of small aircraft, but when it comes to travelling to another county, there are primarily two types of aircraft that you can choose from:

  • Flex-Wing Aircraft
  • Fixed-Wing Aircraft

A flex-wing aircraft is one of the most used aircraft in aviation. In fact, it also happens to be one of the first flight-capable aircraft designs in history. Before the Wright Brothers made history in 1903 by flying in their flex-wing aircraft (affectionately called “Kitty Hawk”), there were a number of viable aircraft designs throughout the centuries.

However, a common problem with all these designs was that they couldn’t sustain flight. That’s right. While getting them up in the air was doable, it was the landing part that gave engineers the most trouble. Aircraft designs have been scattered around history and they go as far back as the 5th century. Historians have found scripts and text that have survived the test of time that allude to aircraft design – but not in the way that you might think.

It turns out that Greek philosophers had taken a liking to the concept of flight. There have been a few documented thought experiments where philosophers ponder the idea behind flight. You can also find evidence of these thought experiments in ancient myths. For example, the myth of Daedalus highlights how the craftsman developed the first-ever set of wings that would eventually enable Icarus (his son) to take his fateful flight.

These ideas, it seems, remained ingrained in the minds of engineers throughout the years. It wasn’t until the era of science and technology that we finally started to put the pieces together and start developing a flight-capable aircraft.

The first-ever flight-capable aircraft was a hot-air balloon that was pioneered by the Montgolfier brothers. This directly led to a worldwide movement where engineers began realising the potential of flight and how to build even better aircraft.

There were a lot of designs over the next few centuries until the end of the 19th century when science and technology were at their peak in human civilisation. It was around this time that engineers began inventing discrete pieces of technology that would make flight possible.

Inventions like the combustible engine and the 3-axis control system were heralded as one of the most important inventions of the century. These innovations gave engineers exactly what they needed to make flight possible.

This is where the Wright brothers come in.

The Wright brothers were two self-proclaimed engineers who took on an ambitious challenge: to make flight possible in the most efficient and effective way. They did this by taking the best of previous aircraft designs.

The brothers realised that they needed to come up with a wing system that could not only contort with the changing wind but also sustain flight for longer without failing. After a few successful hits and failures, the brothers came up with the flex-wing design.

In a flex-wing design, the wings are covered with a flexible fabric that is tightly wrapped around a rigid wooden skeleton. The flexibility of the fabric allowed it to change with the wind and offer greater and smoother control.

The next big innovation was the 3-axis design that allowed the aircraft to move not just left to right, but also up and down! This technology, along with the combustion engine, was all that was needed for a fully flight-capable aircraft that could also be landed safely.

Benefits of Flex-Wing Aircraft

Flex-wing aircraft are compact, smaller, and in some cases, more fuel-efficient for shorter flights. These aircraft have a characteristic design that features a fabric-based wing system and a small seating capacity. These aircraft can usually hold a maximum of two people: a pilot and a passenger.

Flex-wing aircraft are perhaps one of the most beloved aircraft in aviation. The reason is simple: they are fun to fly! Ask any private pilot about their favourite aircraft and they are likely to mention flex-wing aircraft.

Another important reason why these aircraft are so beloved is because they often feature an open cockpit. That’s right, instead of the pilot and passenger being inside an enclosed fuselage, they are put in the open. The only thing separating them from the outside is a thin windshield!

This open cockpit design allows for a greater view and a unique flying experience where you can literally “feel the air” around you as you glide across the skies.

Flex wings are often the primary choice for aerial photographers due to their unobstructed view. These aircraft are also ideal for shorter trips or for trips that centre around sightseeing! For example, if you want to travel to West Sussex and experience the landscape and manmade buildings, then you can opt for a flex-wing as it will provide a far better view of the surroundings.

Perhaps the only downside to this aircraft is that it has limited seating space, and the aircraft can only fly under VFR (Visual Flight Rules). In other words, since this aircraft doesn’t have a set of complex on-board flight instruments, you can only fly them in clear blue skies and stable weather.

Fixed-Wing Aircraft

Fixed-wing aircraft can be thought of as the second generation of aircraft. These aircraft build upon the foundations that make the flex-wing aircraft popular and take them to new heights (pun intended).

As the name suggests, these aircraft have a rigid wing system with moveable parts that help direct wind, thus allowing for greater control over the aircraft. These aircraft quickly became the face of the aviation industry as they allowed for the commercialisation of aviation.

An easy example of fixed-wing aircraft is passenger planes. Passenger planes and the fixed-wing aircraft that pilots train on have surprising similarities. In fact, you can think of fixed-wing aircraft as miniaturised versions of passenger planes.

These aircraft have complex onboard systems that allow pilots to fly in various flying conditions. Furthermore, these aircraft are also fitted with a more powerful engine that allows for longer and smoother flights. Not to mention, you can also take up to six people in a typical fixed-wing aircraft!

This means that fixed-wing aircraft easily take the cake when it comes to leisure travel since you can take your friends and family with you on trips.

Benefits of Fixed-Wing Aircraft

Fixed-wing aircraft are the default choice for flight instructors because they offer a “fuller” flying experience. These aircraft are also ideal for situations where you want to take longer flights. Since these aircraft are larger than flex-wing aircraft, they have a higher mileage and can also accommodate cargo.

We recommend going for a fixed-wing if you want to travel with multiple people or take cargo with you on your trip to an aeroclub. Fixed wings are also the ideal choice for pilots who want to compete with other private pilots in air races or aerobatic events.

Aerobatics is usually only achievable in these more sturdy and capable aircraft which is why you will regularly see fixed-wing aircraft in many air shows around the world. Fixed-wing aircraft are also highly versatile and can be retrofitted with different equipment for multiple uses. For example, a popular use of fixed-wing aircraft is crop-dusting. These aircraft can be fitted with a release mechanism that sprays crops with pesticides.

Planning a Trip to West Sussex

The planning that you do while at ground level is more important than the flight itself! Please keep in mind that the more prepared you are for a trip, the less likely you are to run into problems – and even if you do run into issues, you can simply refer to your flight plan which covers alternative routes and instructions on how to amend the flight.

We highly recommend that you begin with a robust flight plan that covers all the basics of your flight. This includes details about the weather for the day that you want to travel, details regarding the aircraft, like maintenance schedules, and information about fuel calculations and budgeting.

These are just a few things that every good flight plan covers. We suggest that you refer to your flight instructor or borrow a flight plan from experienced pilots to build your own. This way, you can cover all the basics and learn how to design a foolproof flight plan.

Booking and arrangements are also an important factor to keep in mind. Every flight school has its own schedule, and it can be busy depending on the time of day. On particularly busy days, flight schools might not accommodate visitors. This is why we highly recommend that you make prior arrangements and book your visit beforehand. It would also be a good idea to inquire about the various fees for your visit.

Remember, once you depart your aeroclub, you will become its ambassador which is why you will have to be on your best behaviour! Your actions and conduct will represent your flight school training and if you want to make your school proud, then you will have to be genuine and the best version of yourself!

Best Aero Clubs in West Sussex to Fly to From Sherburn

Here are our top picks for the best schools in West Sussex to fly to from Sherburn Aero Club:

Sportair Flying Club

If you enjoy sport aviation, then we can’t recommend Sportair Flying Club enough! This school is all about adrenaline and we think enthusiastic and ambitious private pilots will feel right at home while at this school. Located in Goodwood, Chichester, Sportair Flying Club is probably one of the friendliest yet hardcore schools in the county.

The school has all the amenities that you would require during your visit and its faculty and community of private pilots is sure to blow you away!

Goodwood Airfield

Formerly known as RAF Westhampnett, Goodwood Airfield is one of the oldest and most comprehensive aerodromes in West Sussex. The airfield has been in service since the Second World War and has a rich history in aviation in the UK.

Its ideal location near the coast makes it the best place for breathtaking flights. We highly recommend this aeroclub to anyone who is looking for a traditional aeroclub experience during their visit!

Shoreham Airport

Shoreham airport is THE airport for private pilots and enthusiasts. The airport is ideally located and provides a long list of services for private pilots. Not only does the airport house aeroclubs, but it also hosts important air events that attract people from all walks of life.

Their instructors are trained to provide comprehensive training for both newbies and professionals. If you want to experience the best in West Sussex, then we highly recommend that you visit here!

Sussex Flying Club

Sussex Flying Club (SFC) is the quintessential aeroclub in West Sussex. Home to enthusiastic and friendly private pilots, this school has got to be one of the best places to learn how to fly. The club is ideally located with access to coastal regions where you can experience stunning landscapes and a clear horizon.

SFC is also geared towards advanced flight training where you can expect courses on Instrument Flying, Night Ratings, and much more!


Sherburn Aero Club, which has been operational since 1964, is the ideal place for most of your training and flying needs. It is one of the largest flying clubs in the North of England and also one of the largest in the country.

If you wish to begin your career in aviation or wish to take to the skies as a hobby, Sherburn’s flight training school offers private and commercial licences, along with pilot medicals to ensure a smooth journey going forward.

For those who wish to experience the thrill of a flight for fun or to help fuel their aviation dreams, Sherburn offers experience flights for the newbie, as well as the veteran in various types of light aircraft.

With a large fleet of new aircraft and an airfield refurbishment with new runways, hangars, and an extended clubhouse, we cater to brand-new flyers who have just started their journey to the skies, as well as seasoned flyers who have been operating aircraft for decades.

The flight experience option is also available for people who wish to take to the skies for special occasions, even if they aren’t into aviation in the long run.

Sherburn offers a dedicated day-long Flight Radiotelephony Operator’s Licence (FRTOL) course for those wishing to get the certification, running the first Sunday of every month.

In addition to that, if you are looking for a hangarage for your own aircraft, need servicing or repairs, want to buy a new aircraft or aviation equipment, or are just looking to enjoy and watch the aircraft, Sherburn Aero Club is the place to be.

Call us at 01977 682 674​​​, email us at flightdesk@sherburnaeroclub.com, or message us via our online contact form for more information on light aircraft, training requirements, fee structure, licencing procedures, as well as experience flights and pilot training at Sherburn.

Photo by Simon Haslett on Unsplash 



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