Learning to fly, or thinking of learning? Post your questions, comments and experiences here

Moderator: AndyR

By Jazzer
If you had to pick one of the above what would it be and why?

I'm 36 years old and want to fly however struggling to decide which route to pursue.

I dreamed of being an airline pilot in my childhood however realise I'm too old for that now however still wish to fly.

I can see pros and cons to the different forms of flight and would appreciate any advice from you.

Thanks in advance.
User avatar
By Wicksay
I hope your not too old to be an airline pilot cus if you are then i certainly must be but im not letting that stop me trying. Ive flown in a glider and had a few lessons in a C42, but after a recommendation found a great little school and instructor and am 27hrs into my PPL, which i aim to complete by next spring.
JAFO liked this
User avatar
By Paul_Sengupta
Depends on what flying you want to do and what aeroplanes you like to fly (and what ones you fit in!). You could try a lesson in each and see what takes your fancy.

Oh, and 36 isn't too old for a career change, many on here have done it at an older age than that. But get your PPL (or whatever!) first and then you can decide if you want to go on, or just keep it as a hobby.
JAFO liked this
By Me2
My 2p...

I decided to go for NPPL rather than PPL/LAPL because the closest airfield did NPPL and it was cheaper (per hour and number of hours required). I did find flying microlights (C42) a bit boring once I'd got the hang of it. Going somewhere for no real purpose (other than a coffee if the cafe was open) and then coming back just didn't do it for me. I kept going and got my licence five months after starting. But now I've got it I still find it quite boring so I decided to give it up.

I did a gliding course and went solo on that and loved it. Much quieter, much more thinking / skills required to keep it up in the air. Lot of standing around enjoying the sunshine and the wind. And you can fly with much more wind than a microlight.

Joined the local gliding club and everytime I went (2x per week) had a different instructor. All the people around were of similar background (male, white and old - with some teenagers at the weekend). Most recently, it's been six hours standing around, holding wings, driving buggies, waiting, etc (plus 3x 4 - 6 minute flights). Add in the extra driving to get there and back and it takes a huge amount of time to get little done. When you are learning launch failures you could do the same but with each flight lasting one or two minutes. When the weather is good the flights last a lot longer though. Having different instructors each time means that there is relatively little continuity and some inconsistency.

I decided last week to give up the gliding for now. I had probably four or five very frustrating days with little actual flying. Maybe this will be permanent (I don't know). But at the moment I've got more valuable things to do with my time.

Perhaps I should get a share in a glider with a motor that can get it in the air? But at the moment that is not for me.
User avatar
By Paul_Sengupta
The "going places for a coffee" thing can be greatly enhanced if you have friends in the wider GA community, for instance if you get to know people here on the forum. You then fly to meet up with friends. Not only does this make the destination worthwhile going to, talking about the flight when you're there makes the flying better! :D
By Jazzer
I've only ever flown in a Cessna 152 (quite some years ago) and they're not the most enjoyable to fly in I have to admit.

The Eurostar looks far superior to the traditional training aircraft.

I've never been in a glider but trial fights seem steep for the amount of time you actually get in the air.
User avatar
By Flyin'Dutch'
LAPL Medical + LAPL Licence and have fun. If you want to do different after that you have wasted no time and no money.

99,9% of private pilots can fly 99,9% of the time to their heart's content with the privileges that this combination gives.

Gliding is a passion which is extremely time hungry. Not really an option if you have other people in your life and a job.

Standby for 99,9% of forumites suggesting that you go for a PPL, because the options that this offers such as night rating and IMC.

They are correct about those options - reality is that very very very few holders of those qualifications ever use them.
TLRippon liked this
By johnm
You sound as if (like me) you find just stooging around in the air quickly becomes tedious. So I would recommend a PPL and some instrument qualification. That means you can go places with confidence.

I look upon an aircraft as a car with wings and my start point was a PPL at White Waltham aged 52, I'm now 72 and have flown all around Europe both VFR and IFR. I've also had the opportunity to fly in the USA and in New Zealand.
User avatar
By Paul_Sengupta
Flyin'Dutch' wrote:Standby for 99,9% of forumites suggesting that you go for a PPL, because the options that this offers such as night rating and IMC.

I'd say I use mine more for flying holidays in the US! :D

Flying at night is also easier in the US as airfields don't close and they have pilot controlled lighting!
By profchrisreed
Gliding is, essentially, a full day each time. That's true even if you own your own aircraft, as then you are doing longer flights and need the time to prepare, rig and derig, plus doing your share to keep the airfield running.

If you can commit full days, the quick way to train is to throw a little money at it - 2 or 3 areotows each flying day quickly builds up handling skills, and then a burst of winch training completes the circuit element. Even taking the expensive route, training to solo could cost well under £2,000. But training cost per hour will always seem less of a bargain compared to power (though 3 aerotows might cost £120 and give an hour's flying time, so could still be cheaper).

Where gliding wins on cost is if you own a cheap glider in a syndicate, say 3 of you owning a £6,000 aircraft with fixed costs of around £1,500 per year. Then, if you are any good and pick your weather, you could average 3 hour flights for an average launch cost of around £25 per launch. 20 flying days a year = 60 hours for a total of around £1,000 plus club membership costs, well under £2k total. Mind you, this assumes you can fly midweek and that the club does too - there are maybe 100 decent gliding days each year.

In practice you might manage half that, but 30 hours for £1,500 is still a good deal.

But, as I said, you have to be able to commit to those 20 full days, plus whatever the club wants from you in labour input (winch driving, etc). Costs are low because labour is given by club members, and gliding is labour intensive. Very few gliding club members have two small children!
Flyin'Dutch' liked this
By Jazzer
In theory gliding seems like a good idea but I think in reality in my situation it's probably out if the question. My nearest club is Portmoak by the way.
By Jazzer
I may do a trial flight in both the microlight and glider and see how I find them. There's a ppl starter pack on sale (5 lessons and 12 months membership) at my nearest flight school also which I'm considering.