While the name may sound unfamiliar, chances are you are already well-acquainted with fixed-wing aircraft. An aircraft is any flying machine that is heavier than air, and a common name for fixed-wing aircraft is aeroplanes.
While the name may sound unfamiliar, chances are you are already well-acquainted with fixed-wing aircraft. An aircraft is any flying machine that is heavier than air, and a common name for fixed-wing aircraft is aeroplanes. The commercial aeroplanes and jets that you probably know of are referred to as fixed-wing aircraft due to their immovable wing component.
Gliders with fixed wings designed to fly through the air have been around for a long time, with diagrams of such flying machines being found in the codices of the celebrated artist and inventor Leonardo da Vinci. The modern fixed-wing aircraft seems to have had its start with a flying machine designed by Sir George Cayley in the 18th century, which consists of separate mechanisms for lift, propulsion, and control.
Cayley’s aircraft has seen many upgrades since, and can now widely be seen as the modern aeroplane.
The de Havilland Comet was the first-ever jet airliner, which was introduced in 1952. The design of the jet airliner has seen many improvements, with the Airbus A380 serving as the biggest commercial jet aircraft since 2005.
However, while large commercial airliners are what instantly comes to mind when one mentions aeroplanes, smaller varieties are also widely popular. These are, in fact, the aircraft of choice for beginners as well as hobbyists.
One of the most important components of pilot training is familiarising yourself with the fixed-wing aircraft so that it can be piloted with ease.
COMPONENTS OF FIXED-WING AIRCRAFT
While the exact build and structure of a fixed-wing aircraft may vary from one aeroplane to the next, these are certain components of the aircraft which remain consistent.
This is the largest part of the aeroplane and can be referred to as the body of the aircraft, much like that of a bird. The fuselage is a long tube-like structure that houses the passengers, cockpit, and crew, as well as cargo.
The fuselage is designed in a way to increase the aircraft’s aerodynamic capabilities, streamlined for smooth and fast flight. The cockpit is at the front of the fuselage, with the passengers being seated behind. The seating capacity of the aeroplane may vary, with smaller microlights seating no more than three people, including the pilot, at one time.
The wing is one of the most important parts of the aircraft since it deflects air downwards, creating a push that helps lift the aeroplane into the sky. The wing also helps keep the aircraft stable since it prevents the fuselage from rotating. The wing can come in a variety of shapes depending on what the purpose of the aeroplane is, for example, the different types of wings in military jets and commercial passenger aeroplanes.
Vertical and horizontal stabilisers
When an aeroplane is in the air, it needs to remain stable and not roll around. For this reason, stabilisers are necessary. The vertical stabiliser is mounted at the end of the aeroplane and prevents the aircraft’s yaw, which is the tilt either left or right.
The horizontal stabiliser, on the other hand, prevents the aircraft’s pitch, which refers to the up or down movement of the aircraft.
The landing gear is an indispensable part of the aircraft since it helps the aeroplane both take off as well as land. Most aeroplanes consist of a retractable wheel component that is hidden away once the plane takes off the runway.
In other types of fixed-wing aircraft, such as seaplanes, the landing gear consists of a set of floats that keep the plane from sinking into the water. Seaplanes are designed specifically to land in and take off water.
The cockpit of the aeroplane is home to a wide variety of instruments, the operation of which may require a further Instrument Rating in the pilot’s portfolio.
The instruments include an altimeter which measures the height at which an aeroplane is flying, an airspeed indicator, and a heading indicator which helps aid the pilot in understanding the aircraft’s direction.
The navigation and communication instruments include all of the aeroplanes radio equipment, the operation of which requires a Flight Radiotelephony Operator Licence issued by the Civil Aviation Authority in addition to the Private Pilot Licence or Commercial Pilot Licence.
For powered aircraft, an engine is necessary to provide the aeroplane with the thrust it needs. Fixed-wing aircraft may come with either a single or multiple engines. The most common propulsion mechanisms are propellers and jet engines.
The single-engine variety is smaller and has simpler controls as compared to multi-engine aeroplanes. The latter is more powerful, larger, and more complex as compared to the former.
Pilots undergo training on single-engine aircraft such as three-axis microlights as well as light sport microlights due to their beginner-friendly nature and relatively smaller size.
UNPOWERED FIXED-WING AIRCRAFT
Gliders usually belong to the category of unpowered fixed-wing aircraft, such as paragliders. These do not have an engine to propel the aircraft, instead, they rely solely on air resistance for a smooth flight.
Paragliders are mostly used for sporting purposes by hobbyists and don’t require a licence to operate.
These are older than modern jet aircraft and are far less efficient. They rely on thrust created by reciprocating piston engines and are suited for flights at a lower altitude due to their reduced efficiency. However, the propeller aircraft is a great option for those looking to pilot a smaller aircraft.
For example, the Cessna 172 is a common light aircraft and is the aeroplane of choice for many hobbyists and recreational pilots.
Powered by jet engines, these aircraft are much more powerful and faster than the propeller variety. Due to their high cruising speeds and relatively high take-off and landing speeds, these aircraft are used primarily for military purposes.
Microlights are 1- or 2-seat fixed-wing aircraft used in ultralight aviation that are widely popular in the United Kingdom for training and recreational purposes.
Due to the smaller size of the microlight as well as the beginner-friendly controls, this light aircraft serves as a great entryway into the world of aviation. The traditional microlight carries no more than two passengers at a time and is a very safe, modern, and affordable form of aviation.
The maximum take-off mass for a 2-seat landplane cannot exceed 450kg, or 472.5kg when equipped with a complete recovery parachute system.
These current parameters, however, have been reviewed by the CAA, and on 19 August 2021, the maximum allowable take-off mass has been increased from 450kg/472.5kg to 600kg. This automatically enables a larger number of aircraft to fall under the microlight category.
Microlights now fit into the general aviation performance category and, in certain cases, overlap and outperform traditional aircraft such as the Cessna and Piper. They are also less expensive as compared to larger aircraft, and for hobbyists who are in it for the fun of aviation, they may be a good option.
With exceptional performance and a great STOL (short take-off and landing) capability, a microlight licence is easily accessible to individuals who may not be able to qualify for a PPL due to its medical requirements.
There are different types of microlights available in the United Kingdom, out of which the most popular is the three-axis due to its speed, reliability, power, and compact size. Some examples of typical training microlights include the Eurofox, Breezer, C42 Icarus, CT, and Eurostar.
Parakites aren’t exactly aeroplanes. A better way to describe them would be as a kind of powered parachute. This aircraft consists of a trike unit for seating purposes, as opposed to the fuselage of a traditional aeroplane, and a wing of the parafoil or ram-air variety.
If you are a hobbyist who wants to take to the air as soon as possible, the parakite may be a good option, since it does not require as much training to get the hang of due to its small size and simple controls.
When it comes to landing and taking off, parakites are great fun due to their stellar performance. However, their slow speed may disqualify them for people who wish to get an adrenaline rush from their flight.
Unlike parakites, this aircraft depends on weight shift for navigation purposes. The flex-wing is almost identical to the parakite, but the seating can be side to side as opposed to front to back.
Compared to the parakite, the flex-wing is also faster, making it much more thrilling and fun to fly. This is also a bit more expensive as compared to the parakite and its limited availability makes it difficult to get a hold of.
The most popular option for hobbyists and trainees, the three-axis is far closer to the aeroplane you are familiar with as compared to parakites and flex-wings.
The three-axis consists of a fuselage, wing, and tail component like a traditional fixed-wing aircraft. This aircraft is much more fun to pilot due to its faster speed, and its sturdy build means it can be flown in relatively strong winds and rain as well.
However, due to the stronger build and greater performance, this is also generally the more expensive option, but the fact that it is so popular means several three-axis varieties are available on the market.
Although this aircraft requires more training to master, the extra hours are worth it due to the rewarding experience this aeroplane offers!
Light sport microlight
The latest addition to the definition of the microlight by the United Kingdom’s Civil Aviation Authority, the light sport aircraft (LSA) is slightly larger than the traditional microlight, and also a bit pricier.
These have a maximum take-off mass of 600 kgs, are more powerful than the three-axis, and can either be factory-built or belong to the more amateur variety.
The LSA is a great option for those looking to upgrade from the smaller microlight to something a bit more powerful within the single-engine aircraft category.
For your training and general aviation needs, Sherburn Aero Club is home to a fleet of different types of aircraft, including the Piper PA-28 Cadet, Piper PA-28 Warrior, Aero AT-3, and Robin 2160.
For those wishing to purchase a fixed-wing aircraft, options are available on an individual and shared basis as well.
WHAT LICENCE WILL YOU NEED?
If your main aim is pilot training, or if you wish to take to the skies for recreational purposes, your best course of action is to acquire a Private Pilot Licence (PPL). This is the gateway into the world of fixed-wing aircraft and can be upgraded later to a Commercial Pilot Licence once you have acquired the needed training.
While you cannot demand monetary compensation on this licence, it is the first step to fulfilling your dreams of a successful career in aviation.
However, for those looking to pilot an aircraft strictly as a hobby in the UK and who do not wish to train on larger aeroplanes, a Light Aircraft Pilot Licence (LAPL) should also suffice.
REQUIREMENTS AND TRAINING FOR PPL
The minimum age to get a PPL is 17 years, which is less than what is required for the CPL. Comparatively, the PPL is also less expensive and has lower training requirements.
In order to obtain a PPL, the applicant must show a total of 45 hours of logged-in flight time. Out of these, 10 hours must be of solo flight time, with at least one cross-country flight totalling a minimum of 270 km.
It is also necessary to master nine subjects, including Meteorology, Air Law, Human Performance, and Communication and Navigation. In order to display your proficiency in these subjects, you must pass the corresponding theoretical exams with at least a 75% score.
COMMERCIAL PILOT LICENCE
Once you have your PPL under your belt and you wish to further your aviation journey by taking it up professionally, a Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL) should be the next item to acquire on your list.
The CPL allows you to pilot an aircraft for monetary compensation and generally has stricter requirements as compared to the PPL.
Compared to the 45 hours of flight time required for the PPL, the CPL applicant must log in a total of 200 hours of flight time. In addition to this, the CPL is also costlier and requires a more stringent medical certificate.
If you are not 100% sure about wanting to pursue a career in aviation, it is always a good idea to opt for the PPL first in order to get a feel for the job. If, later on, you still wish to pursue aviation in a professional capacity, you can always upgrade your PPL to the CPL.
WHY CHOOSE SHERBURN AEROCLUB
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 or wish to take to the skies as a hobby, Sherburn’s flight training school offers private and commercial licenses, 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.
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 for 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.