Learning To Fly Overview

So you are thinking of learning to fly a 3-axis microlight? I am sure that you will have many questions. Other sections of this website contain a lot of detailed information about the various aspects of flight training. Here we will try and give a general overview of just what is involved and attempt to answer some of the common questions.

Flight training falls into various types, but for beginners we are looking at ab initio training, this is the first step for those just beginning their aviation journey. The objective is to obtain the National Private Pilot’s Licence with a microlight rating, (NPPL (aeroplanes) microlight rating). This licence qualifies the holder to fly a microlight aircraft. With further training it is possible to add additional ratings to this licence, but for the time being we will just look at the microlight rating.

All microlight training must be carried out to the latest “BMAA Syllabus of Training” (more detail available under the “Flight School” tab). This new syllabus came into force in January 2019. The syllabus covers all aspects of both flying and ground based training. The licence is exactly the same for both 3-axis (fixed wing) and weight-shift (flex-wing) types. You can only fly the type that you were trained on unless you undertake “differences” training. Breeze Aviation only provides training on 3-Axis (fixed wing) aircraft.

Where do I begin?

  • Find a good school within reasonable travelling distance that trains on 3-axis microlights and take the first step by arranging a trial flight.
  • The trial flight is actually exercise-1 of the BMAA syllabus and counts towards your minimum time. A trial flight is a lesson, but a very informal one to give you the opportunity to experience flight and sample the school and training environment, without committing to full training.
  • Once you have decided that 3-axis microlights are for you, start your training, it’s as simple as that. Breeze Aviation is more than happy to discuss your options, just email or give us a call.

Will I need to pass a medical?

No, for the NPPL you only need a “self declaration” medical. In simple terms you just have to complete an online form stating that you meet the minimum medical requirements to fly. If you meet the standards required by DVLA to drive then you should have no problems. Although you can fly dual without the declaration you would be unable to fly solo, so it is recommended that you get this in place as early as possible. We can help you through the process of setting up a CAA account and completing the self-declaration.

How long will it take?

This is a very common question to which there is no simple answer, there are so many variables. The legal minimum to obtain the licence without restrictions is 25 hours of flight training (It is possible to do a licence with restrictions and in this case the legal minimum is only 15 hours). The legal minimum is exactly that, a minimum. In practice, flight training will generally take longer to complete and will depend on a number of factors, including:

  • Age – The younger you are the quicker you learn, one rule of thumb suggests that it is likely to take on average about 1 hour for each year of your age.
  • Aptitude – Some people will have better hand to eye coordination and will pick things up more easily, others will need to develop this coordination and take longer.
  • Frequency of lessons – Regular, closely spaced lessons will speed up your progress. Irregular lessons with large gaps will mean that you waste time getting back up to speed each lesson.
  • Weather – Weather unfortunately will lead to some cancelled lessons from time to time, having regular bookings will at least minimise this effect.
  • Enthusiasm – Being enthusiastic and putting in some self study between lessons will pay dividends. On the other hand simply turning up for lessons, ill prepared and then forgetting about everything until your next lesson, will not help progress.

All of the above will combine to dictate just how long your training will take. Ensure that you maximise the elements that you can control, and accept the others that you have no control over. Learning to fly is a marathon, not a sprint. Flight training is a serious business and corners cannot be cut, the future safety of you and your passengers depends on you receiving thorough and comprehensive training.

How much will it cost?

Costs will be heavily influenced by the time taken, (see above), the largest costs being the flying time required. We offer various options ranging from pay as you go, through discounted blocks of flying time to different packages. You can choose to use whatever approach suits you, but remember that as time taken is related to the frequency of lessons, it is false economy to ration your flying. Saving money by flying fewer hours in a month will simply increase the number of lessons required, increasing overall costs.

While no flying is cheap, microlight flying will be considerably cheaper than flying heavier aircraft. Hourly costs of flying microlights are substantially lower that their heavier cousins and the minimum hours are lower, 25 hours for a microlight NPPL against 45 for a PPL. Budget about £5,000 – £6,000 for a microlight and well above twice that for a PPL.

Is learning to fly difficult?

The flying itself is extremely easy once you have managed to overcome your original flawed instincts that are all based on your previous experience of life on the ground. The hardest part of learning to fly is re-training your brain so that your instincts are relevant to the new 3 dimensional environment you will be operating in, where you move relative to the air and with no connection to the ground. Initially you will be thinking about everything you do, with time most actions will become instinctive and handled subconsciously. During your first few flights you will be concentrating hard and have little spare mental capacity, later on you will be able to take on far more as everything becomes more instinctive.

The controls themselves are extremely simple.

The primary flight controls – comprise of just a control stick to control pitch (nose up/down) and roll (rotation of the aircraft around its longitudinal axis – wing up / wing down) and a pair of rudder pedals to control yaw (where the aircraft points)

The secondary flight controls – Include flaps, used mainly during take off and landing and trimmer used to take the forces off the primary controls and make the pilots job easier.

The engine controls – comprises a throttle which controls the engine power output just like a car’s accelerator.

Whilst the controls are few and very simple, it will take a while to become fully competent in their use. Besides its primary function each control has a secondary affects which must be neutralised using the others. You will probably pick up the basics during your first flight, but it will take more practice before you are instinctively using all of the controls in a coordinated fashion in all phases of flight.

Is flying dangerous?

No not really, but like most adventure sports, flying has the potential to be very dangerous. The training is very heavily biased towards overcoming risks, by teaching you just what they are and how they can be avoided. The vast majority of accidents are caused by human error. You will be taught how to recognise potential risks and take actions to avoid them. Only by having a thorough understanding of how an aeroplane flies, and how the human mind and senses function, can this be achieved. This is another reason for not rushing your training, and skipping bits. We don’t just teach you to fly, we teach you to fly safely.

“Aviation in itself is not inherently dangerous. But to an even greater degree than the sea, it is terribly unforgiving of any carelessness, incapacity or neglect.” 

Captain A. G. Lamplugh

How long before I go solo?

As part of your training you will do a minimum of 10 hours of supervised solo flight. Your first solo flight is something that you will never forget, it is a major milestone in your flying career. Your first solo, exercise will involve the instructor getting out of the aircraft and sending you out on your own. On this flight you will complete a take off and a single circuit and landing before taxiing back in.

You won’t be sent out on your own until you have a current medical, and passed the “Airlaw” ground exam. You will also need to reach an appropriate level of competence in your flying. The standard required for solo, is that you are recognising and correcting your mistakes. This must happen before they develop to a level where they constitute a risk. You will also have covered the procedures to be followed incase anything should go wrong. Here we will cover things such as an in flight engine failure at any phase of flight.

What next?

Following your first solo, you will do other solo flights to consolidate your circuit procedures. Then you will leave the circuit, for some local area familiarisation and general handling consolidation. The purpose of the solo flight is to build your confidence and boost your skill level. This will be essential for the navigation phase.

Navigation is the final part of your training, a prerequisite for this being that you can fly instinctively. This ensures that you have enough spare mental capacity to undertake the additional work load that navigating presents. Initial navigation training will be dual, and involve flying off and landing at another airfield. Following the dual training, you will fly your solo qualifying cross country navigation exercises. Finally, in preparation for your GST (General Skill Test) you will undergo dual revision. This will prepare you for the final flying test, before you are granted your pilot’s licence. The test will be carried out by a flight examiner, who will ensure that your flying is up to the required standard, for you to be let loose on your own with passengers.

Why choose Breeze?

  • We provide a professional service, delivering the highest quality of training.
  • We operate from a licensed airfield in a modern high performance 560 Kg Eurofox Light Sport Microlight aircraft.
  • We are based at one of the UK’s premier airfields, Sherburn in Elmet (EGCJ)
  • We are located in the centre of Yorkshire, and within close proximity to the motorway network. We are only a stones throw from the A1, M1 and M62 making for easy commuting.
  • We are ideally placed to provide 3-axis microlight flight training to those from Wakefield, Barnsley, Pontefract, Leeds, Huddersfield, York, Selby, Wetherby, Harrogate and many other Yorkshire towns.
  • We have 3 grass runways and an all weather hard runway.
  • We are blessed with extensive areas of beautiful countryside right on our doorstep. This includes the Yorkshire Dales, Yorkshire Wolds and North York Moors. It is only a short flight to the Yorkshire coast. The majority of the airspace around us is uncontrolled so you are free to roam without the risk of infringing controlled airspace. What more could you ask for in a flying base.