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Home > Blog > What Can You Fly With A Ppl

What Can You Fly With a PPL?

Posted 16 Feb 2022

Flying with a PPL

There are quite a few different types of pilot licences. These are divided into two broad categories: those that are fit for people who wish to pursue a career in aviation hoping to receive monetary compensation for piloting an aircraft, and those that are suited to people who wish to fly for no more than passion and pleasure.

If you have dreams of flying high in the skies, rest assured, there is a guaranteed way to make your dreams a reality.

It is the greatest wish of many to fly their own aircraft, and while you may be itching to just jump up on an aircraft and take off, you need to go through a certain process of screening in order to ensure that you are skilled and stable enough to fly without being a threat to yourself or other people.

Flying is a dangerous business, and it is not for the uninitiated. Just like you are required to undergo training in order to be able to drive your car, you need to show that you have put in the hours learning the basics in order to be allowed to pilot an aircraft.

Pilot licences are a way to ensure that you have put in the hard work and that you are fit to take off and fly to your heart’s content.

There are quite a few different types of pilot licences. These are divided into two broad categories: those that are fit for people who wish to pursue a career in aviation hoping to receive monetary compensation for piloting an aircraft, and those that are suited to people who wish to fly for no more than passion and pleasure.

For the latter category, the Private Pilot Licence (PPL) is the way to go. For those hobbyists that wish to fly for the fun of it, this is a great way to make your dreams come true, and its attainment is nowhere near as difficult as those licences that fall in the professional category, such as the Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL).



The Private Pilot Licence (PPL), issued by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) of the United Kingdom is usually the first step in any pilot’s flying journey, be they aspiring professionals or free-spirited hobbyists.

This licence serves as a gateway to the world of aviation, and it is best to start your piloting journey here.

The PPL is a general aviation licence, which means the holder cannot ask for monetary compensation in return for piloting an aircraft. The requirements for this licence are far less stringent when compared to professional licences such as the Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL).

The minimum age requirement for the PPL is 17, and it is required for the applicant to log in 45 hours of training in order to qualify for the licence. Out of the 45, 10 hours must be solo flight time. A certain amount of hours on a simulator can also be counted towards the total.

In addition to the practical training, the applicant must also display proficiency in nine different subjects by clearing a number of theoretical exams. The common subjects which are tested are Air law, Human performance, Meteorology, Communications and Navigation.

In addition to these five subjects, there are four aircraft-specific topics that are tested, which include Principles of flight, Operational procedures, Flight performance and planning, as well as Aircraft general knowledge.



There are two kinds of aspiring pilots that the Private Pilot Licence (PPL) is perfect for. The first of these two is the hobbyist that has been mentioned a few times already in this article.

These are people who don’t see aviation as a possible career path but are in it for the thrill and enjoyment of flying. With no desire for compensation, this licence is perfect for those wishing to use their skills to just have some fun and add excitement to their lives.

The PPL also serves as a sort of introductory licence. It is for people who wish to test the waters without having to plunge into it headfirst. The PPL is thus great for those pilots who may or may not want to pursue a career in aviation down the line.

For younger pilots who aren’t sure about their careers or those who don’t know whether they’ll enjoy flying, the PPL is a much better option than the Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL), which requires much more time, effort and financial resources to acquire. The CPL is a huge investment and should only be acquired by those who are 100% sure about wanting to be professional pilots.



 When it comes to general aviation, there are two licences that one can opt for. These include the Private Pilot Licence (PPL) and the Light Aircraft Pilot Licence (LAPL).

The biggest difference between the two is that while the PPL allows the holder to fly a wide range of aircraft depending on the Instrument Rating, the LAPL is restricted to only light aircraft. Light aircraft include the type that are popularly referred to as microlights in the UK.

While the LAPL is a lot more restrictive than the PPL, it is also much easier to obtain. In order to acquire the LAPL, the applicant only needs to log in 12 hours, as compared to the 45 hours needed for the PPL.

However, the best thing about pilot licences is that they can easily be upgraded. If a LAPL holder wishes to broaden the horizon and opt for a less strict licence, they can easily upgrade to a PPL by logging in the additional hours of training. In fact, a PPL can also easily be upgraded to the CPL with some dedication.

However, if you are someone who just wants to pilot smaller aircraft for recreational purposes, the LAPL should suffice.



Single vs multi-engine aircraft

There are so many aircraft that you can pilot with a PPL! Technically, a PPL holder can fly virtually any type of aircraft out there, given they have the proper ratings and certifications to do so.

PPL holders can pilot single-engine aircraft, which include popular aeroplanes such as the Cessna 172 Skyhawk. Single-engine planes are smaller, use up less fuel and are generally much easier to handle when it comes to things like maintenance. These are usually the aircraft of choice for hobbyists.

However, PPL holders can also pilot multi-engine planes which are larger, costlier, and are far more difficult to maintain.

These usually aren’t the best options for people who are not interested in pursuing aviation professionally, though they are much more reliable and safer given the added stability of multiple engines.



Among the single-engine variety are microlights, which are mostly what pilots with general aviation licences opt for. 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.

The introduction of the LSA has led to the broadening of the definition of a microlight in the UK. In other countries such as the US, microlights are referred to as ultralights.

Broadly speaking, there are four different types of microlights in the United Kingdom. The first three are parakites, flex-wings and three-axis, with the latest addition being the slightly larger light-sport aircraft (LSA).

Since larger aircraft are costly to buy and even more of a hassle to maintain, microlights are usually the aircraft of choice for pilots who are in it for the fun of flying.



Consisting of two main parts, the parakite is basically a powered parachute. With a parafoil or ram-air wing and a trike unit, this aircraft is perfect for those who wish to experience the thrill of flying without breaking their bank.

The parakite is relatively easy to master due to its simple design, and it also performs rather impressively when it comes to take-offs and landings.

However, due to the fact that it isn’t very widely available, the parakite isn’t as popular with hobbyists with PPLs. Also, the frustratingly slow speed of this aircraft adds to its place not too high up on the list of preferred aircraft.  


This microlight is very similar to the parakite; however, this aircraft depends on weight shift for navigation purposes.

 The flex-wing is also incredibly fun to pilot because of its great speed, making it a great option for pilots looking for a thrill ride.

The build of the flex-wing also consists of a wing and trike unit. Compared to the parakite, which is lauded for its budget-friendly nature, the flex-wing isn’t as affordable.

This, coupled with the fact that the flex-wing is also not widely available in the market, make it a rare sight.


This factory-built beauty is the most popular microlight and is the closest in appearance to the traditional aeroplanes you may be used to. Consisting of a traditional wing, fuselage and tail, this aircraft is great for hobbyists.

Compared to flex-wings and parakites, the three-axis is rather costly. However, you get your money’s worth with this aircraft, with the sturdy build allowing it to operate in most weather without damage. This aircraft is also widely available on the market and is perhaps one of the most popular options on this list for PPL holders.

Light Sport Microlight (LSM)

The Light-Sport Aircraft is the latest addition to the bunch, with the introduction of this aircraft leading to a broadening of the official definition of microlights by the CAA.

The LSA is larger than the traditional microlight, and when compared to the three-axis, it is much more powerful. It can either be factory-built or amateur-built and has a maximum take-off limit of 600 kgs. Out of the four microlights, this one is the most expensive due to its size and strength.

Experimental aircraft

There are several aviation enthusiasts across the UK who enjoy building their own aircraft or investing in the development of different kinds of aeroplanes. These aircraft are of the experimental variety, and are mostly amateur-built. Given that safety requirements have been met, these aircraft can be flown by PPL holders as well.  



When compared to larger multi-engine aircraft, it is true that the light, single-engine aircraft isn’t as safe. However, it is necessary to note that the light aircraft is still safer than your average motor vehicle.

The biggest factor leading to the higher number of accidents involving light aircraft may not have anything to do with aircraft at all, but with the pilot. The training requirements for the LAPL and the PPL are much less thorough when compared with those for the CPL. This means the people piloting light aircraft mostly have fewer hours of experience, and so are more prone to error.

Secondly, the light aircraft also suffers more damage in bad weather or during a bumpy flight due to its smaller and weaker build, as compared to larger aircraft. This susceptibility to damage makes the light aircraft not as safe as those belonging to the larger variety.

 Lastly, a large part of accidents involving light aircraft occur due to wildlife strikes. This is mainly because of the fact that light aircraft fly at a lower altitude, one that they share with other flying creatures.

Due to the higher number of animals at this height, the instances of collisions with birds and other wildlife increase dramatically. However, it should be understood that with sufficient training and safety protocol, all of these issues can be avoided.


 While it’s true that you can’t make money off the PPL, there is no shortage in the amount of fun you can have with this licence!

With a PPL, you are free to take your friends and family for a thrilling ride on an authorised aircraft. Make someone’s day by offering them the experience of a lifetime of being flown across the sky with a friend. You can also volunteer as a skywriter or help with marketing with your pilot skills by helping banners flow across the sky.

Other than this, a PPL holder is also welcome to offer their services as a volunteer with various non-profits. A pilot’s skill is incredibly valuable and can make the difference between life and death for someone caught in a dire situation in a location inaccessible by road or foot.

Also, while you can’t get paid for flying, you can get paid to teach others the theory part of the PPL exam you may have already aced. Become a tutor and help guide applicants through the process of obtaining a PPL.  


Sherburn Aero Club, which has been operational since 1964, is the ideal place for most of your training and flying needs. 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.

We offer dedicated CPL training as well as comprehensive PPL (A) training and the required experience for operating aircraft at night. In addition to this, the club also offers simulators for various training needs and to help new pilots gain confidence before the real deal.

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.

If you wish to begin your career in aviation or wish to take to the skies as a hobby, Sherburn offers pilot medicals to ensure a smooth journey going forward. You are required to take medical exams to prove you are fit enough to take to the skies when applying for a licence, and the facility at Sherburn allows you to start off your aviation journey on the right foot.

Call us on 01977 682 674​​​, email us at flightdesk@sherburnaeroclub.com, or message us via our online contact form for more information.

Photo by Paxson Woelber on Unsplash 



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