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Home > Blog > Best Aeroclubs In Greater Manchester

Best aeroclubs in Greater Manchester to fly to from Sherburn

Posted 21 Feb 2024

Best aeroclubs in Greater Manchester

In this guide, we will go over the basics of pilot licenses, how you can obtain your license to fly cross-county trips, and a list of the best aero clubs in Greater Manchester!

Greater Manchester is a county in Northwest England that borders Lancashire to the north, Derbyshire and West Yorkshire to the east, Cheshire to the south, and Merseyside to the west. Of course, the largest settlement in Greater Manchester is the city of Manchester.

Since this is one of the most recognisable and globally iconic counties of the UK, it is a main attraction point for the public as well as aircraft pilots due to its diverse range of aero clubs scattered across the region.

If you have been looking for a great place to fly, then we can’t recommend Greater Manchester enough. Whether it's Cloud 23, Heaton Park, Cathedral Gardens, Castlefield Viaduct, Alderley Edge, or Chorlton Water Park – Manchester’s skyline offers something for everyone.

In this guide, we will go over the basics of pilot licenses, how you can obtain your license to fly cross-county trips, and a list of the best aero clubs in Greater Manchester!

Aviation Basics: Licensing

Just like you would require a driving license to operate a vehicle, the Civil Aviation Authority requires pilots to obtain a license before they can fly for either leisure or professional purposes.

There are three types of licences in aviation. These licenses are not the same and have big differences that can allow pilots with various ambitions to fly aircraft.

Let’s go over the top licenses for pilots:

Private Pilot Licence (PPL)

The Private Pilot License, or the PPL is for people who want to enjoy the thrills of aviation without committing to a career. This type of licence allows pilots to fly smaller and less complex aircraft like microlights or lightweight aircraft – which are one of the best types of aircraft for non-commercial and leisure purposes.

A PPL license is a fast-track way for trainees to obtain their license and get inside the cockpit. A PPL has relatively relaxed training and medical requirements compared to other pilot licences that require more flight and ground training.

Let’s start with the medical requirements. Aviation is built on safety which is why the CAA has outlined guidelines for pilots who may have certain health conditions.

For PPL, pilots require a Class 2 medical certificate that covers various aspects of their health and ensures that the pilot is indeed fit to operate aircraft with their current health condition(s).

A Class 2 certificate has a more relaxed criteria when it comes to assessing the general health of candidates, however, the process of obtaining a valid license is still quite extensive.

Unlike a commercial license, like a CPL (more on this below), which doesn’t allow pilots with certain health conditions to fly aircraft, Class 2 certificates focus on the general health of the candidate which is vetted by a Certified Medical Examiner (CME).

If you are unable to obtain a Class 2, then you will also not be able to go for a commercial license!

Apart from medical requirements, PPL holders also have other restrictions. For example, private pilots are only allowed to fly under Visual Flight Rules (VFR). VFR dictate the weather and visibility conditions that are deemed suitable for light aircraft flights.

The good news is that if you obtain a PPL and want to delve deeper into aviation and develop more skills, then you can also carry forward training from a PPL. In other words, you can build on the license with different qualifications that allow you to fly an aircraft in multiple conditions.

For example, a PPL holder can train for various certificates that can help expand their capabilities like Night Rating, a qualification that allows pilots to operate aircraft at night or in low-visibility conditions.

Even better is that you can also use a PPL to obtain other licenses! Just like in the scenario above, if a pilot decides to expand their skills even further and build an aviation career then they can carry forward their flight hours and training toward a CPL too.

This is a great way to fully commit to the world of aviation because instead of going all in from the get-go, you can first try out aviation with a PPL and then decide whether you want to invest in a Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL).

Finally, since a PPL has less extensive training requirements, it is also considerably cheaper to obtain than other licenses. Statistically speaking, most candidates who opt for a private license are likely to succeed so long as they fulfil the minimum requirements set by the Civil Aviation Authority.

Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL)

On the other side of the spectrum, we have the crown jewel of aviation: the Commercial Pilot License (CPL). This licence is what allows monetisation in aviation so pilots, and the industry, can earn from the services provided by pilots.

A Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL) is specifically for candidates who want to build an aviation career. This license allows candidates to train for larger and more complex aircraft, like the ones that carry people and cargo.  

Using a CPL, pilots can earn from their passion for aviation which can be a dream come true for many ambitious pilots! Of course, while this licence is a fantastic way to get all the perks of aviation, it also requires quite a lot of training.

The Civil Aviation Authority expects CPL candidates to give their 110% during training because they must prove that they are fit mentally, physically, and academically to obtain a CPL.

As you might have guessed, commercial licences also have stricter medical requirements.

Commercial pilots are required to obtain a Class 1 medical certificate, This certificate is the toughest to obtain because of its in-depth medical requirements.

A Class 1 certificate covers the in-depth medical history of the pilot and a thorough check-up of the pilot’s current health with attention to underlying conditions. CPL pilots are also subject to frequent screenings.

This strictness is warranted because commercial pilots are usually responsible for either precious lives or cargo!

In the context of training, commercial pilots are expected to master both theoretical and practical subjects in aviation. While a CPL program shares the same subjects found in PPL training, a CPL program goes deeper and covers more in-depth topics. An example of theoretical topics in CPL training includes meteorology, navigation, aerodynamics, instrument training, and more.

CPL training also requires more hands-on training. A CPL program requires pilots to be well-versed in various flying conditions and scenarios. Flight training can also include simulation training where CPL candidates are taught in state-of-the-art simulated cockpit replications of larger aircraft.

With all these training requirements in mind, a commercial license is understandably more expensive. A commercial flight training programme requires more training hours and has various recurring fees attached to it that can significantly bump up the total cost of the licence over a PPL.

But that doesn’t mean that a CPL isn’t worth it! On the contrary, commercial pilots go on to work for major airlines that pay very well. Commercial pilots also get a range of perks and have flexible working hours which makes CPL a highly lucrative and desirable job. Plus, being an airline captain is an incredible honour and is a job that is recognised globally no matter the culture.

Just like in the case of a PPL. CPL pilots can also push their training to a higher level. For example, an Airline Transport Pilot's Licence (ATPL) is the next step for most CPL pilots. ATPL pilots require rigorous training, but it is a highly lucrative licence that allows pilots to not just earn a great salary, but also push the boundaries of their training.  

Meeting the Requirements for a Pilot Licence

Here are the most common requirements for PPL and CPL licences:

Private Pilot Licence Requirements

To obtain a PPL, the CAA has outlined a list of guidelines and requirements that must be fulfilled before a pilot applies for a PPL.

Here are some of the requirements:

  • The minimum age for a PPL is 17 years old. Candidates can enrol before the age of 17 but they will not be eligible for the licence until they reach the minimum required age set by the CAA.

This is great news for parents who want their children to start their careers in aviation early. Training can begin at an early age under supervision so that when the time comes to apply for a PPL, the candidate can easily breeze through the requirements.

  • The candidate must fulfil the minimum medical requirements for the type of licence that they are applying for. For PPL, candidates will be issued a Class 2 medical certificate that covers basic health requirements.
  • PPL students are required to complete all the training requirements set by the CAA. A PPL requires 100 hours of ground school training which covers important theoretical topics. PPL candidates are also required to complete a minimum of 45 hours of flight training which includes 10 hours of solo flight time and 5 hours of solo cross-country flight time.


Commercial Pilot Licence Requirements

Here are the basic requirements for a commercial pilot licence:

  • The minimum age requirement for applying for a CPL is 18 years – but just like in the case of PPL, students can begin training early for a CPL. Starting early has a lot of benefits and can allow young students to quickly obtain their licenses once they reach the minimum age requirement.

  • As discussed above, a Class 1 medical certificate is required for all CPL holders. This certificate is awarded via a Certified Medical Examiner (CME) and covers every health-related aspect of the candidate.

  • Since CPL has stricter training requirements, students must fulfil a minimum of 200 hours of ground training that covers advanced topics related to aerodynamics, instrument training, human and aircraft limitations, and meteorology (to name a few).

They must also complete flight training that consists of a minimum of 150 hours which includes 70 hours of Pilot-in-Command (PIC) and at least 20 hours of cross-country flight time.


  • CPL candidates must also possess several certifications like a Night Rating. A Night Rating enables pilots to fly after sunset or in low-visibility conditions.


For night rating training, candidates are trained to take off, navigate, and land at night or in severe weather conditions. CPL candidates also require an Instrument Rating (IR). This certification teaches pilots to fly only via instruments which is an extremely important skill to develop as a commercial pilot.

  • CPL holders must also train for Multi-Engine Rating. This training requires a minimum of 6 hours of flight time in a multi-engine aircraft. The 6 hours are inclusive of 3 hours of dual instruction flight.

Pilot Licence Application Process

Licenses are awarded by the main governing body, which is the Civil Aviation Authority. As per the CAA, all eligible candidates must apply for a pilot licence via an application form that is duly filled out by the candidate.

The form contains all the training info and the track history of the pilot during their training. Always carefully read the fine print and instructions on the form and fill in only the required information to avoid unnecessary delays.

The application and all the appropriate fees will be submitted to the Civil Aviation Authority which will individually assess the candidate’s profile. The CAA will thoroughly verify the qualifications and certifications before awarding a license.

After obtaining a pilot license, pilots will be expected to maintain the validity of the license by keeping up with training and medical requirements, especially in the case of a Commercial Pilot Licence!

Best Aero Clubs in Greater Manchester to Fly to From Sherburn

Now that you know all about pilot licenses, here are some of the best aero clubs in Greater Manchester to fly to from Sherburn:

L A C Flying School

Located inside Barton Aerodrome, LAC Flying School is an excellent place for private pilot training due to its high-class faculty and friendly environment. The school has been operational for quite some time and provides access to stunning aerial views where pilots can fully enjoy the skyline of Greater Manchester.

Mainair Microlight Flying School

Enjoy microlights? Then we have just the place. Mainair Microlight Flying School is located in Airport Garage, off Liverpool Road. This school is the place for microlight fanatics. Whether it is casual or serious flying, this aero club offers the best training instructors and is home to passionate microlight enthusiasts.

While it may operate using a no-frills approach, it is by far the best place for serious pilots to meet and fly with other talented aviators.


Located inside Barton Airport, Helicentre is the defining place for learning how to fly not just traditional lightweight aircraft, but also helicopters.

If you enjoy casual or advanced helicopter training, then we can’t recommend this aero club enough. It has the best instructors, an impressive fleet of aircraft, and a friendly atmosphere for students and visiting pilots.

North West Aerobatics

For thrill-seekers who enjoy aerobatics, there is no better place to visit than North West Aerobatics aeroclub. This club is in City Airport and is run by veteran pilots who regularly participate in highly complex aerial shows.

If you are looking for daredevil pilots with a passion for aviation, then we highly recommend that you set your sights on this aero club in Greater Manchester.


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.

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.

If you wish to begin your career in aviation with a PPL or CPL 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.

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.

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. 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.

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 how to get your pilot’s licence to fly both within and outside the UK.

Photo by JR Harris on Unsplash 



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