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The private pleasure of flying
Part one

Note: This is a four-part series of features by Brookmans Park resident Jet, about the pleasure of flying. Part one offers an introduction. Part two deals with preparation and examinations. Part three includes practical flying instructions. Part four talks of the joy of earning your wings and includes some frequently asked questions.
Piper light aircraft
A Piper Cadet, a typical training aircraft
Photo courtesy of FreeFoto
An introduction

It is a little under a century since manís yearning for powered flight was realised at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, when Orville Wright managed to steer a timber and fabric craft named the 'Flyer', which was powered by a four cylinder internal combustion engine, for 120 feet.

From that day, the world of aviation has never looked back.

Piloting aircraft was, for many years, the reserve of the rich, or, of course, on many occasions during the last century, the brave.

In the latter half of the 20th century, popular pleasure flying became more affordable and available to people with more modest means.

This led to the development of flying schools at most airfields and, following the end of the war, there were many pilots available to become willing instructors. These people were capable pilots, but were perhaps not best equipped with the teaching skills required.

At that time however, flying was more relaxed than it is now, with far fewer airspace restrictions, and very little use for radio communications, thus making the basic requirement the safe handling of the machine.

Nowadays, the airspace is very restricted, and radio communications are a must. Runways are fixed, and take off/landings are no longer the simple Ďin to windí affair of the past.

These constraints have led to a steady increase in the multi-skills needed for modern day pilots, which, in turn, have led to the necessity for highly trained instructors who can not only fly, but can also teach the complex skills required for safe and enjoyable flying.

The first trial lesson

So reader, if you have got this far, you are perhaps interested in at least experiencing the reality of flight in a light aircraft?

The easiest way to do this is to book a trial lesson at a local airfield. There are three within 30 minutes drive from this village, Panshanger, Elstree and Stapleford.

Itís best to select calm weather conditions, although in any case an instructor will not take a novice up in poor conditions.

You are of course wondering what will happen. Well, you arrive at the airfield and report to the reception. Then you will be introduced to your instructor who will take you to the aircraft and give you a brief explanation of how the aircraft flies while he carries out his safety checks.

Then it is time to board. You will be surprised at how small the cabin is and how intimate flying is as you will be shoulder to shoulder with your instructor.

You will be given a headset to wear. This will allow you to communicate with the pilot over the noise of the engine.

Training and what it takes

I am not going to spoil it by telling you what happens next. You are strapped in to the seat and the fantastic world of flying is about to be revealed, enjoy and savour your first flight.

Your instructor will love flying, he will not be teaching for the financial rewards. The interest you show will determine the information you are given. Just keep a bit quiet when he is taking off and landing. Somehow I think you will be too entranced to speak.

There are no real medical restrictions to private flying other than good eyesight, with spectacles if needed, and normal health. It is a requirement that you pass a medical examination, carried out by an aviation doctor, before solo flight is allowed. If you wish to undertake a course, then the medical examination should be carried out by arrangement after your trial flight and before a full course is booked and paid for.

Flight training consists of a structured course of airborne instruction plus ground school with examinations. The examinations are not difficult and if you really want to become a pilot you will thoroughly enjoy the home or class study involved.

This is the first of a series of features that will follow on from your trial lesson and give an insight to the licences available and the progress needed to achieve them.

The writer hopes this resume has been both interesting and informative and that this, along with future articles, will encourage participation in the most complex, but rewarding activity in the world.

© Jet - January, 2003


This is a four-part series of features by Brookmans Park resident Jet, about the pleasure of flying. Part one offers an introduction. Part two deals with preparation and examinations. Part three includes practical flying instructions. Part four talks of the joy of earning your wings and includes some frequently asked questions.

The three nearest airfields offering flying lessons are Panshanger, Elstree and Stapleford. There are a number of flying schools operating in the area including the East Herts Flying School, The London School of Flying and Firecrest Aviation and Stapleford Flying Club

Finally, the author wanted it pointing out that the four features on flying are based on his own experience and he accepts no liability for any damage that may occur in the pursuit of aviation following the reading of these articles.


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