Our Summer operating hours are:

Monday to Sunday - 9am - 7.30pm

Opening hours will be reviewed and may be subject to change. Any changes will be notified to the Members in advance.

Outside these times please email: flightdesk@sherburnaeroclub.com
Home > Blog > The Thrill Of Flying A Day In The Life Of A Light Aircraft Pilot

The Thrill of Flying: A Day in the Life of a Light Aircraft Pilot

Posted 02 May 2023

The Thrill of Flying

If you have ever wondered what it is like to be a light aircraft pilot, then this guide is just for you. Keep reading to learn more about the benefits of flying light vs advanced aircraft and a typical routine of a light aircraft pilot!

Dreaming to fly an aircraft? You might just be able to fulfil your dream of soaring through the skies!

Learning to fly an aircraft requires quite a lot of mental and physical training but the reward is far greater than the pursuit – and you can even expedite the process of getting a licence if you opt to fly smaller and lighter aircraft.

The benefit of flying light aircraft is that they aren’t as complex and don’t require a very advanced level of training. Most people who want to take up aviation as a hobby usually aim for light aircraft.

If you have ever wondered what it is like to be a light aircraft pilot, then this guide is just for you. Keep reading to learn more about the benefits of flying light vs advanced aircraft and a typical routine of a light aircraft pilot!

Light Aircraft and Their Importance in Aviation

Aviation has come a long way since the simple single-engine propellor design. Today, we have technologically advanced aircraft with automated controls and extremely precise monitoring gauges, but the roots of aviation are quite humble.

In fact, the first aircraft was a lightweight fixed-wing body powered by a simple propeller engine. The entire aircraft had only two controls: one was for the wings and the other was for the fuel valve that was placed within the pilot's reach.

Despite its simplicity and relatively rudimentary design, the aircraft was able to take flight and the rest is history.

After the initial proof of concept, engineers started to take notice of these marvellous flying machines. This is when aviation truly started to take shape. Engineers worked on better materials to make the aircraft lighter and agile which allowed the plane to go longer distances by consuming less fuel.

These tweaks may not seem significant, but each improvement to the design and performance of the aircraft helped evolve aviation. How? Well, when aircraft started to become safer and more reliable, people started to take more interest in them. Keep in mind that this was way before the time when aviation was used for transportation.

Before they were used for civilian transportation or military applications, aircraft were primarily popular among hobbyists and thrill seekers.

The thrill of flying is what it was all about at first! People loved the idea of flying among the birds (and even higher), the experience was out worldly, and this interest helped spark the genesis of what would become the foundations of aviation.

Of course, at the centre of this were light aircraft. These contraptions were beloved for their simplicity and people loved how relatively simple it was to fly. The process of flying back then was familiar to how it is today.

Civilians would have to apply and enrol at flight schools that housed these light aircraft. Once enrolled, fellow experienced enthusiasts trained the would-be pilots. There was limited theoretical training compared to today, but every candidate was rigorously trained to minimise risk.

Why Light Aircraft are Built for Thrill Seekers

Light aircraft are characterised by three things:


The biggest defining characteristic of a light aircraft is its weight. As per the Civil Aviation Authority which oversees all aviation-related activities in the UK, the average weight of any light aircraft is around 5700-6000kg.

That may seem like a lot, but this weight is truly light when you compare it to larger aircraft that are usually used for commercial, private, or business use. Large aircraft can weigh around 70,000kgs and some cargo planes can even go as high as 400,000kgs!

The extra weight directly correlates to the power output of the aircraft. The heavier the aircraft, the more engine power it will require for sustainable flight. This is why lighter aircraft of around 7000kg usually have just a single engine.

Make no mistake, though! This single engine is not like the one used in the first aircraft! In fact, modern engines are capable of tremendous performance without sacrificing fuel efficiency.

This is why smaller aircraft tend to fly longer because their engines are fine-tuned to accommodate the weight of the aircraft – and since some light aircraft made from flexible materials can be even lighter, you can save a lot of fuel too.

Smaller Size

Having a smaller size and compact design translates to better performance – and light aircraft take full advantage of this!

Not only are all these aircraft lighter but they are specifically built to be extremely aerodynamic. Being aerodynamic allows light aircraft to fly more efficiently. This is a key factor as less air resistance allows for greater control, which consequentially allows for more thrill-seeking!

While you might not be able to perform complex mid-air manoeuvres, these aircraft are more than capable of handling basic aerobatics depending on their type, size, weight, and other factors.

The compact size of the aircraft also plays a pivotal role in making the aircraft lighter. For example, instead of seating ten people, light aircraft can seat anywhere from 2-6 people. Fewer people result in less weight, as does less room for cargo. Please keep in mind that these aircraft are built for enthusiasts and not necessarily for transporting people or cargo.


It is not a surprise that light aircraft are built for sustainable flights due to their limited power output and body design. However, these aircraft are still able to reach impressive speeds that most newcomers will find more than enough.

On average, a light aircraft can have a cruising speed of around 70 to 140 knots (80 to 160 mph). In other words, you can easily breeze through the skies without needing to go faster. It is also important to note that airspeed is not everything when it comes to flying!

Light aircraft are specifically designed to provide pilots with maximum thrill. For example, some types of light aircraft are built with an open cockpit. Essentially, you fly in the open without a windscreen!

This type of design combined with the top speed of 160mph will deliver you an extremely thrilling and satisfying experience. Most private pilots agree that flying a light aircraft is much more freeing than other types of aircraft simply because of the different “feel” that lighter aircraft provide.

Types of Light Aircraft – What Can Pilots Except

There are majorly three types of light aircraft that are popularly used by many aviation enthusiasts:

Fixed Wing Aircraft

As the name suggests, these aircraft have a non-flexible fixed-wing system that is designed to mimic the wings of larger aircraft. Fixed-wing aircraft are excellent for training purposes and are a popular choice among people who want to fly as a hobby.

These aircraft have an enclosed cabin, a single or twin-engine, and can even seat 2-6 people. Most fixed-wing aircraft also have advanced controls that can even enable pilots to fly during atypical conditions like at night or during bad weather.

Pilots who want a traditional flying experience that is somewhat akin to commercial planes should opt for fixed-wing aircraft as they will be best suited for their flying needs.

However, if you like something more flexible and open, then you should look into flexed-wing aircraft!

Flex Wing Aircraft

Unlike fixed-wing aircraft, the wings on a flex-wing are built with Dacron or polyester fabric. The wings can also be made using nylon or other light materials. The reason these aircraft use the fabric is to reduce the weight of the aircraft while providing enhanced control. These aircraft have a relatively simple design, and the wings are usually attached to a trike.

Flex-wings are one of the most basic types of powered aircraft. They usually seat one or two people and are powered by a single high-output engine that is designed for maximum flight time.

The controls on flex-wing aircraft are very basic and unlike fixed-wing aircraft, these even smaller aircraft don’t have a complex cluster. You only get a basic compass for navigation along with fuel and engine gauges.

These aircraft are the top choice for thrill seekers and enthusiasts that want to “feel the air” while they fly since most flex-wing aircraft don’t have a windscreen!


If you have ever been to a holiday destination and seen people gliding above with V-shaped wings, then it is likely that they are using gliders! These aircraft don’t have an engine, instead, they use wind energy to glide across the skies.

These aircraft are excellent for thrill seekers that don’t want to invest in an expensive and time-consuming pilot licence. If you are a quick study, then you can breeze through the basic training and be on your way to flying these nimble and extremely lightweight aircraft!

A Day in the Life of a Light Aircraft Pilot

Once you become a private pilot, you will get access to a range of light aircraft. Here are some of the things that you can expect in a typical day before, during, and after flying an aircraft:

Early Morning

If you have a flight planned for a particular day, then you will have to wake up early, sometimes at around 6:00 am. The sole purpose of waking up early is so that you can determine the weather conditions for the day.

Weather can be very fickle, and it does not take much for a sunny day to become dark, gloomy, and rainy! When you wake up around twilight, you will likely be able to tell how the day's weather is going to be for the next few hours.

If there are a lot of clouds and chances of precipitation, then you will likely encounter rain in the next few hours. If the weather is clear, then chances are that they will remain clear for at least 4-5 hours.

Why can’t you fly during dark, gloomy, or rainy conditions? As per the Civil Aviation Authority, private pilots that want to fly light aircraft must only fly under VFR (Visual Flight Rules) conditions, meaning that you are only allowed to fly during daytime when the weather and visibility are clear.

Pre-Flight Checks

Once the pilot has confirmed favourable weather conditions, they can proceed with the pre-flight inspections. These inspections are mandatory as per the CAA and are put in place to reduce the chances of disaster!

Pilots are expected to check fuel levels and other engine fluids to ensure that the aircraft is in optimal condition.

Planning Routes

Planning your flight is an extremely crucial step as it can help you determine the factors involved in your flight. Things like distances, weather conditions, flight time, and other factors are confirmed before the aircraft takes off.

In some cases, pilots may also be required to provide their flight plan with all available details to Air Traffic Control personnel.

Taking off

This is where the thrill begins! Once all the prechecks have been confirmed, the pilot can proceed to take off the aircraft and begin their flight!

Once the pilot takes off, they begin to climb to the established cruising altitude as per the aircraft. During this step, the pilot keeps a close eye on communication and all the available gauges. If anything goes wrong the pilot can quickly take corrective action before the aircraft goes on any further.

Once the flight is at a stable altitude, the pilot can begin exploring the skies! Most pilots tend to check out landmarks or fly at random but within the boundaries of the flight plan. Light aircraft offer a superior flying experience and are one of the best ways for thrill seekers to get their fill of adventure!

Descending and Landing

Before the end of the flight, pilots begin descending the aircraft in order to land it. The landing process can be complicated but with practice, it can become like second nature. During the descent, the pilot may communicate with the ground crew to inform them of their descent and landing.

When the pilot is near the runway, they will slowly bring the aircraft down until they reach the start of the runway. After successfully landing the aircraft, the pilot will taxi the aircraft to its designated spot.


Before stepping out of the aircraft, pilots must first go through all the necessary post-flight checks to ensure that the plane is at a halt and the engine is turned off. The pilot may also be required to debrief passengers or their co-pilot before officially ending the flight.

Planning the Next Flight

Getting back to the ground after soaring through the skies can bring about a healthy dose of self-reflection. This is when the pilot takes in their experience and considers things that they learned during their flight.

Every flight is a bit different and each time that you take off, you are bound to learn something new, especially when you are a beginner. Most pilots agree that once they get back on the ground, they immediately begin planning their next adventure!


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.

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.

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 light aircraft, training requirements, licencing procedures, as well as experience flights and pilot training at Sherburn.

Photo by Erika Fletcher on Unsplash 



Latest Posts

Contact us

GDPR - By clicking submit, you agree that Sherburn Aero Club will hold the details you have provided in the form above to enable your enquiry to be addressed in a timely manner. Your details will not be passed on to any other organisations and will not be used for marketing purposes. If you wish these details to be deleted from our system at any time, please contact us.