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Home > Blog > Flying As A Hobby

Flying as a Hobby

Posted 25 Apr 2022

Flying as a Hobby

Aviation isn’t just for pilots flying commercial airliners! If you are an aviation enthusiast who is passionate about taking to the skies but does not wish to pursue it as a career, flying as a hobby is an option you should definitely explore.

Aviation isn’t just for pilots flying commercial airliners! If you are an aviation enthusiast who is passionate about taking to the skies but does not wish to pursue it as a career, flying as a hobby is an option you should definitely explore.

Flying is a positively thrilling and often life-changing experience, and there are many individuals who would love to fly without being bogged down by career-related expectations and stress.

While it is a demanding hobby to have, flying is exceedingly rewarding and can endow you with some great skills. Generally referred to as recreational flying, hobby-related aviation is a great way to truly enjoy the art and experience of aviation.

For those who would like to fly recreationally but are unsure of what steps to take in order to get into an aircraft and take off, this article will help clear up any confusion you may have related to the matter.

Also, if you are on the fence about flying as a hobby and aren’t quite sure whether you are ready to dip your feet into the exciting world of aviation, we have compiled a list of the pros and cons of recreational aviation.

Read on to find out everything you need to know before you embark on your thrilling and exceedingly fulfilling recreational aviation journey!


While it is certain that flying is an excellent hobby to have, adding positively in many ways to a person’s life, there are certain things you should consider before taking up flying recreationally.

There are many benefits when it comes to flying as a hobby, but there are also some drawbacks. However, it is necessary to note that there are ways around most of the general downsides of aviation, and with the proper assistance you are bound to have a great aviation experience ahead of you!


  • Highly rewarding: This is definitely on the top of the list when it comes to why you should take up flying as a hobby. The experience that aviation endows a pilot with is truly extraordinary, making the cost and long hours of training more than worth it.

    There is a unique pleasure in taking to the skies, and even more so doing it on your own, without the assistance of a flight instructor.

    Humans have spent a large part of their history dreaming about and trying to fly, and seeing that dream realised comes with a thrill of its own!
  • Enjoyable: How much fun you are having is an exceedingly important factor when it comes to the sustainability of any hobby. This is also one of the reasons flying is as rewarding a hobby as it is.

    Aviation, while requiring hard work, is one of the most enjoyable recreational activities you can indulge in.

    The fact that you are flying without the added burden of professional responsibility makes this a uniquely stress-relieving experience!

  • A valuable skill: While aviation is a fun hobby to have, it is also an incredible skill to have at your disposal. The ability to hop into an aeroplane and travel from one place to another (keeping in mind the customs requirements) is invaluable.

    Apart from a pilot’s personal gain, flying is also a great skill to use in order to help others. Many recreational pilots are involved in volunteer work, offering up their skills to aid in search and rescue missions as well as for general security purposes.

  • Community support: When it comes to finding a new hobby, it is indispensable to have a community of like-minded individuals with whom you can share your love of the activity as well as your experiences with it.

    Through aviation clubs such as Sherburn Aero Club, a pilot can find and connect with several other flying enthusiasts. Interaction with pilots at varying stages of their aviation journeys can be an enlightening experience and can also challenge you to keep refining your skills.


  • Expensive: This is probably the number one deterrent when it comes to people choosing flying as a hobby. While it is rewarding and highly enjoyable, the costs involved can discourage enthusiasts from taking up the activity more seriously.

    Aircraft and airfield costs, training and licence fee, as well as other financial investments required to pursue aviation can feel like quite a lot.

    While it is true that aviation requires a certain level of financial investment, there are many ways an aspiring pilot can try to cut costs.

    For example, by renting out an aircraft as opposed to privately owning one or by setting clear goals and planning ahead, an aspiring pilot can make the activity much easier on their pocket.

  • Time-consuming: Aviation requires dedicated training. There is no roundabout way to avoid training. It is necessary for the safety of yourself as well as those around you to make sure you are ready to take to the skies before getting into an aircraft.

    Training can take up much of your time. However, how dedicated you are can affect how fast you learn. While there is a set number of hours you must train, you can avoid additional training by being focused and making the best use of your instruction hours.

    You can also give your licence exams, which are required to obtain a Private Pilot Licence (PPL), before you start your training. This way, you won’t be distracted by studying and memorising theory while you get practical training.  

  • Not as risk-free as other hobbies: Flying an aeroplane comes with its own set of risks. While it may not be as risk-free as knitting or reading a book, with the right training, flying can be as safe as driving a motor car, if not more so.

    While making a blunder while flying can have serious consequences, if you have put in the required hours of training and understand the requirements of the activity, then you don’t need to worry.

  • Can be stressful: Due to the aforementioned factors, it is understandable that flying may be a bit stressful initially.

    Aviation can seem overwhelming due to the training and licence requirements, but once you get into the flow of things, flying becomes much more of a relaxing activity.



Pilot licences are a necessary requirement for anyone wishing to pursue aviation, whether as a hobby or in a more professional capacity. Pilot licences in the United Kingdom are issued by the Civil Aviation Authority and can be divided into two broad categories.

The first are the licences belonging to the general aviation category and the other are for commercial purposes. The general aviation licences are what a recreational pilot needs to be able to fly as a hobby.

The main difference between general and commercial licences is that while a pilot can ask for financial compensation in return for their flying services with the latter, the former does not allow a pilot to do the same.

General aviation licences also have less stringent requirements as compared to the commercial variety and are relatively less expensive to obtain.

For most beginners, whether they wish to become professional pilots or fly as a hobby, it is recommended that they start with a general aviation licence and then graduate to a commercial licence later on.



Private Pilot Licence (PPL):

The most popular type of general aviation licence is the Private Pilot Licence (PPL). This is the preferred licence of most hobbyists.

The first step before applying for a PPL is to ensure that your pilot medicals are sorted. You will need a licenced medical examiner to perform a physical and mental evaluation, after which you can apply for the Class 2 medical certificate.

An individual cannot get their pilot licence unless they are issued a medical certificate. This is why it is best to sort out the medical requirements before you begin formal training.

To get the PPL, 45 hours of flight training are required. 10 hours out of the 45 must be of solo flight time, while the rest can be via dual-instruction with a Certified Flight Instructor (CFI).

A cross country flight totalling at least 270 km is also necessary, with the applicant required to pass a series of theoretical exams which tests your proficiency in nine different subjects, ranging from Meteorology to Air Law. A score of 75% is needed in order to clear the exams.

On top of the PPL, a pilot can opt for additional ratings, such as the Night Rating which allows them to fly after dark and the Aeroplane rating which allows a pilot to fly aircraft classified as aeroplanes.

Light Aircraft Pilot Licence (LAPL)

The Light Aircraft Pilot Licence (LAPL) is a great option for hobbyists who wish to fly only light aircraft.

It is relatively easier to obtain this licence as opposed to the PPL, with the minimum hours of required flight time being only 12 hours. The minimum age to get a LAPL is 17 years.

There are four different types of Light Aircraft Pilot Licences, depending on what kind of light aircraft you wish to fly.

These include the LAPL (A) for aeroplane operation, LAPL (B) for flying balloons, LAPL (H) for helicopters, and finally, LAPL (S) for sailplanes.



 There are several different options that hobbyists have when it comes to aircraft. While a recreational pilot can opt for additional ratings and fly most types of aircraft, the usual choice is smaller aeroplanes that are easier to get a hold of and simpler to pilot.

Light aircraft

Light aircraft are smaller aeroplanes of the single-engine variety that usually seat no more than three people at once.

These are normally the choice aircraft for hobbyists due to their lower costs as opposed to heavier aircraft, as well as the fact that they are much easier to fly due to the controls not being too complicated.

Pilots are generally trained on light aircraft due to their beginner-friendly nature. Sherburn is home to a fleet of light aircraft, which include some of the most popular models in the market today such as the Piper PA-28 Warrior, Piper PA-28 Cadet, Aero AT-3, and Robin 2160.


Microlights are a smaller type of light aircraft, the maximum take-off weight of which, traditionally, cannot exceed 450 kg or 472.5 kg when equipped with a recovery parachute system.

Recently, however, the Civil Aviation Authority has upped the minimum take-off weight to 600 kgs. Microlights are a great option for hobbyists looking for a safe, reliable and affordable aircraft.

Sherburn’s microlight training facility, Breeze Aviation, specialises in this type of aircraft. The facility houses the EuroFox, which is a 560 kg microlight famous for its safety.

Microlights are great for hobbyists on the lookout for a cheaper option, with lower landing fees and training costs.

Experimental aircraft

There are many different types of conceptual aircraft out there, built both by hobbyists themselves as well as in factories and companies testing out new kinds of aircraft.

Apart from flying aircraft, several aviation enthusiasts also love to build their own. Given that the safety requirements established by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) have been met, a pilot can easily fly these aircraft as a hobby.


If you wish to fly as a recreational activity at the moment but are unsure whether you would eventually like to graduate into flying in a more professional capacity, you can rest assured.

You will be able to upgrade your Private Pilot Licence (PPL) or Light Aircraft Pilot Licence (LAPL) to a Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL) whenever you wish.

All it takes is a few extra hours of training on top of your already logged-in hours that you showed when applying for the PPL. The flight time requirement for the CPL is 200 hours, and the applicant is also expected to have a Class 1 medical certificate, which has more stringent requirements as compared to the Class 2 required for the PPL.

Many private pilots who train at Sherburn Aero Club go on to fly professionally with commercial airliners and otherwise.


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.

Sherburn also 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 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.

Call us on 01977 682 674​​​, email us at flightdesk@sherburnaeroclub.com, or message us via our online contact form for more information on recreational flying, the Private Pilot Licence, as well as the training facilities, fleet, and airfield available at Sherburn.

Photo by Saj Shafique on Unsplash 



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