Flying an aircraft can be a very rewarding experience. But where does one begin? Keep reading for more information on how to get started on your aviation journey.
Flying an aircraft can be a very rewarding experience. But where does one begin? The world of aviation may seem daunting and confusing for someone completely new to the concept of flying professionally or recreationally.
However, learning to fly an aircraft is very straightforward if you have a clearly defined path. In this guide, we will discuss all the costs, benefits, opportunities, and tips that one needs to know before embarking on their new aviation journey.
BASIC REQUIREMENTS FOR FLYING
Like in most major fields, aviation is also governed by a regulatory body that outlines the guidelines and operating procedures when it comes to flying an aircraft. In the UK, this governing body is called the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
The CAA is responsible for highlighting the SOPs for all commercial and private pilots within the UK. Aviation, although rewarding and fulfilling, requires strict control to ensure maximum safety and smooth operations.
Whether it's airports, pilot licencing, or incident reports, everything related to aircraft and aviation is carefully monitored by the CAA; and this also includes flight schools.
Flight schools are what enable regular folks to become aviators. Every flight school, whether for commercial or private pilots, is regulated by the CAA which means that in order to pass, candidates will have to prove themselves per the high standards set by the CAA.
Every flight school has slightly separate curriculums for different types of pilot programmes. The two most popular types of flight training are for:
This type of programme is best for people who want to take up aviation as a career. Pilots who pass commercial flight training are awarded a Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL). The CPL allows pilots to take up commercial roles in aviation. For example, CPL holders can be employed by small or major airlines and begin working as First Officer and work their way up to becoming a captain.
Commercial flight training is extremely rigorous and is meant to produce highly capable pilots who can operate according to the very high standards set by the CAA.
In contrast to commercial pilots, private pilot programmes are perfect for people who only want to experience the thrills of flying and don’t want to pursue a career in aviation.
Private pilots don’t get to operate large aircraft, like passenger jets, but they can still fly high in lightweight aircraft! To become a private pilot, a candidate must work towards obtaining a Private Pilot Licence (PPL).
Achieving a PPL is relatively easier than a CPL as the curriculum for this flight programme isn’t as dense. Furthermore, a PPL is generally the fastest way to the cockpit and is the preferred choice for aviation enthusiasts.
FLYING ELIGIBILITY AND MEDICAL REQUIREMENTS
The CAA has outlined basic eligibility requirements for all types of pilot programmes. For example, while a candidate of any age can enrol for a flight program, they must be 18 years old to obtain a CPL and 17 years of age for a PPL.
Apart from pilot licences, the CAA also requires all pilots to carry a valid medical certificate. This certificate confirms that the pilot is in good health and is capable of flying any aircraft. Generally, there are two types of medical certificates:
Class 1 Medical Certificate
This certificate is awarded to CPL holders. To obtain a valid Class 1 medical certificate, a CPL candidate will be tested both physically and mentally. These tests are quite in-depth and take into account the entire health history of the pilot.
These tests are performed by a CAA-Certified Medical Examiner who may even regularly screen pilots for various ailments. Obtaining a Class 1 medical certificate can be difficult for people with health issues, but this level of scrutiny is necessary to keep the skies safe for everyone.
Class 2 Medical Certificate
A Class 2 certificate is awarded to PPL holders and can’t be used for commercial flying purposes. This certificate isn’t as thorough as a Class 1 certificate, but a pilot will still be expected to be at their best both physically and mentally, even when operating lightweight aircraft.
The class 2 medical certificate is easier to obtain and also costs less than a class 1 certificate. However, if a pilot exhibits health issues, then, depending on the severity, the CAA may even revoke the flight privileges of private pilots.
The CAA also stresses the conduct of every type of pilot and considers this as an eligibility requirement. Pilots are always set to a high standard and must adhere to all the rules of conduct set by the Civil Aviation Authority. A violation of these conducts, on and even off the tarmac can be grounds for disqualification!
FINDING THE RIGHT FLIGHT SCHOOL
Now that we have discussed the basic requirements for flying in the UK, it's time to look at flight schools. There are essentially two ways to learn to fly: the first is through a full-fledged and commercial flight school, and the other is through a flying club.
Flight schools operate like any commercial school. They have a defined structure and a capable staff with all the necessary facilities to train commercial or private pilots. But due to their operational scale and facilities, they can also be costly.
Flying clubs, on the other hand, have a less defined structure and can depend on volunteering or part-time instructors for private pilot programmes. These schools are less costly but usually have a limited scope of training.
There are also hybrid schools, like Sherburn Aero Club, that take the best of flight schools and flight clubs. These schools combine the experience of both private and commercial pilots and can offer better training modules for every type of pilot programme.
It is important to keep in mind, though, that while all flight schools/clubs are regulated by the CAA, the quality of instructors can vary and even affect a candidate’s training experience. This is why it is important to pick the right flight school from the start!
The difference between good and “bad” flight schools comes down to the overall approach of the instructors. Great flight schools, like Sherburn Aero Club, are specially designed to not just teach aviation, but to also nurture a pilot’s instincts and passion for flying aircraft, while mediocre flight schools may only just focus on the number of licences awarded in a given period.
Every flight programme is taught by a very capable and experienced pilot/instructor, and the school with the best instructors is likely going to be the one where you will not just learn, but also appreciate aviation.
If you are someone in their late 20s who is looking to enter the world of aviation, then we highly recommend that you first assess your financial standing and then carefully consider your long-term goals in aviation.
But if you are someone younger or a parent of an aviation enthusiast that dreams of becoming a pilot, then we encourage you to explore schools/clubs that don’t just offer great training but also focus on conduct and grooming. Keep in mind that flight training is an excellent way to groom young aviators and it can turn out to be an extremely rewarding career path.
In fact, flight schools like Sherburn Aero Club also offer discounted prices for those under 18 that want to experience aviation to the fullest!
FLIGHT TRAINING CURRICULUM
Every flight school has a curriculum that is created in accordance with the CAA. Pilots can expect to learn everything from navigation, meteorology, aircraft operations, communications, and much more.
However, the depth of the curriculum will depend on the type of pilot programme. For example, candidates for a CPL will be required to learn complex subjects in detail, like aerodynamics, navigation, meteorology, aircraft systems, aircraft and human limitations, etc.
PPL candidates will also be required to learn more or less the same subjects, but with not the same depth and coverage as CPL students. There are also written exams that cover all of these topics and every candidate is expected to pass in order to move ahead in their flight training.
In both programmes, candidates will be expected to not just gain theoretical knowledge but will also be required to complete practical flight training tests.
CPL candidates must fulfil the minimum requirement of 200 hours of flight time while PPL candidates are required to complete a minimum of 45 hours. But the total flight time requirements may vary depending on the school and curriculum structure.
TYPES OF AIRCRAFT AND TRAINING COSTS
Pilots working towards a PPL will usually train on single-engine piston aircraft that are lightweight and extremely well-suited for basic flight training. Private pilots may also train on smaller aircraft called microlights, but the type of aircraft will vary from one flight school to the next.
CPL candidates can expect to train on multi-engine aircraft. Since these pilots will go on to operate large aircraft, they are trained to be well-versed in operating complex aircraft with advanced systems.
In addition to practical training, flight schools may also include simulation training as a part of their curriculum. Simulators are a great and safe way to master the art of flying. They are also particularly excellent for putting pilots in various situations.
For example, a simulator can train a pilot for emergency landings and can even help them build instincts that will be useful when operating aircraft in less-than-ideal conditions. Please keep in mind that every flight school will have different training modules depending on their fleet, facilities, and flight programmes.
When it comes to costs, flight training can be quite expensive which is why it is important for candidates to carefully assess their finances before embarking on their aviation journey. For context, a commercial flight school that offers CPL and a wide coverage of facilities can cost anywhere from £60,000 to £100,000 or more for commercial flight training. This cost includes flight and ground training, equipment, certificate costs, and tuition fee.
However, in the case of hybrid schools like Sherburn Aero Club, which offer both CPL and PPL via their own fleet, flight training can be affordable. These types of flight schools are able to provide competitive prices and may even provide special offers that can help bring down the total cost of a flying licence.
In some cases, flight schools may also offer scholarships or grants that can significantly bring down the costs of flight training. But getting these scholarships can prove to be a very difficult task since there are hundreds of candidates enrolling for various flight programmes and the competition is generally very tough in the field of aviation. Therefore, it is best to first carefully conduct a cost-benefit analysis of becoming a private or commercial pilot before committing to flight training.
BENEFITS OF FLYING AND CAREER ADVANTAGES
Needless to say, capable commercial pilots can be paid extremely well. Not only can these pilots get employment in large airlines, but they also get to enjoy a wide variety of perks and even flexible working hours with plenty of “off time” in between.
Being a pilot also offers a sense of pride and achievement because of how difficult it can be to obtain a licence to fly. Pilots are celebrated across the world, regardless of culture! They are an essential part of worldwide transport and recent trends show that the demand for pilots is only going to increase in the coming years.
Even if you opt for a PPL, you can enjoy the skies on your own terms. Not only can private pilots fly according to their schedule, but they can even own and operate aircraft independently.
Private pilots also have the option to expand their knowledge of aviation and the freedom to even pursue a CPL. Private pilots may have limited scope in terms of career prospects, but they can easily become capable instructors, especially if they further their knowledge in aviation.
WHY CHOOSE SHERBURN AERO CLUB?
If you don’t know where to start then you need a flight school like Sherburn to guide you through the entire process of any type of flight programme. With us, you can begin your career in aviation or even 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.
With a large fleet of new aircraft and an airfield refurbishment with new runways, hangars, and an extended clubhouse, Sherburn caters 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 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.
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. 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, or message us via our online contact form for more information on learning how to fly a plane!
Photo by Luka Slapnicar on Unsplash