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

Moderator: AndyR

By chrispea
#1777687
Hi Folks

Hope everyone is keeping well.

I'm hoping to start my PPL this year as soon as the world opens up again. I've done a lot research into costs and timescales and have been rooting through the Pooley books etc but what I'm struggling to get information on is the realistic possibility of some of the aspects I'm hoping to achieve once I have my license.

What I'd like to achieve, other than the joy of flying. Is to be able to use my license to take myself (&wife and child occasionally!) away to places like Scotland, Cornwall, Ireland, Yorkshire and France etc etc. Not for lunch, but for short trips over a long weekend for example. (probably departing from Turweston / Oxford area). Are the intricacies of hangaring a plane for short periods of time at a local airfields too complex / pricey to make this a viable possibility? I'm under no illusion that there will be cheaper methods of getting to places and am more than happy to pay what it costs, however I'm wondering if there is more to it than I may be aware of, and whether those costs really do make it prohibitively expensive. Does anyone have any examples of what short trips such as this might look like? Secondly, whilst I'm in no rush to attempt a cross channel flight, is this something which most people achieve relatively soon after gaining their license or is it usually built towards over say, 5 years of flying? Are the difficulties of negotiating with the French airfields best avoided until you're a bit longer in the tooth?

I'm aware I've not factored in what aeroplane I'd be using for this as I have a good idea of options and costs involved in that side of things, it's really the details that I'm trying to find information on.

Any advice would be really appreciated.

Thanks all

Chris.
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By johnm
#1777692
If it gives you a clue I've flown our shared aeroplane to Venice. Most others on here fly across Europe or further afield on a fairly regular basis.

Covid 19 issues notwithstanding, the only real problems are weather related. Otherwise with a full PPL and an available aeroplane you can go where you like. Parking is easy in most places, hangar space a bit less so. You'll need to follow customs rules of course, but that usually implies a few minor constraints on where you make your first landing in Europe and your final departure point before heading back here.
By Gas Guzzler
#1777694
Hi Chris, As has been said overnight parking outside should be no problem pretty much wherever you go but hangarage is sometimes in short supply. As for flying to France, apart from having to clear customs somewhere it's really a breeze. I went for a week into central France last year, customs and lunch at LeTouquet then 300 miles of some of the easyest flying I've ever done. Landed at Le Blanc airfield "using french circuit calls" parked for 7 days on the grass outside the hangars (no space inside) and no landing fee, no parking fees. What's not to like? Had it not been for covid restrictions I would have gone again this year. Good luck with the training when it gets going, it's all worth it!
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By Morten
#1777697
I crossed the channel (from Elstree) with my instructor prior to my skills test - no issues there ;)

However, on a more general note, as johnm says, the main issue is weather. I have had to cancel longer trips not because I couldn't get there but because I wasn't sure I could get back. If you can be flexible about time to get there - and back - very few things are impossible. You can also potentially leave an aircraft behind and pick it up when the weather clears - easier with your own aircraft than with a shared one. With a touring capable aircraft, it will probably be OK to leave it parked outside for a week or so if need be (many metal aircraft live outside all year around), so away hangarage should not be an issue.

Of course, an IR(R) or full IR may give you a higher success rate, but you also need a capable aircraft and airfield at either end (which Turweston, for instance, is not). (Someone will rightly chip in to say that an IR(R) which is not used often is worse than no IR(R) at all).

The number of aircraft who can carry a family and their luggage for a week in comfort for several hours are not that many - if you have looked at those aircraft and costs and are happy with those you should be OK.

Have fun :thumright:

(and welcome to the forum :))
Last edited by Morten on Thu Jun 18, 2020 12:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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By akg1486
#1777699
chrispea wrote:Are the intricacies of hangaring a plane for short periods of time at a local airfields too complex / pricey to make this a viable possibility?

While some airfields can offer you space in a hangar, most of the time you’ll just leave your aircraft outside. The cost, if any at all in addition to the landing fee, is usually not high. Cheaper, in many cases, than it would have been to park a car. Make sure to bring a tie-down kit and the pitot cover.

Such mini-holidays is one of my personal favourite things to do as a GA pilot. Study hard on flight planning and weather. There are many threads in the Trip Reports sub-forum that tells you how other people do it. You’ll find that sometimes you’ll need to change destination if changing the time isn’t possible. If your trip has to be made at a particular time, have a Plan B ready.
By chrispea
#1777702
Thanks all, I hasn't realised leaving the aeroplane outside would be an option. It sounds nice and simple. I'll check out the Trip Reports forum for more information. Very exciting! Thanks again.
By riverrock
#1777723
Although aircraft are best hangered it does depend on the aircraft - some are fine to be outside pretty much all the time, so as long as they are appropriately tied down. You'll find many GA aircraft, especially ones used by schools, live outside all year round. Others, mainly fabric covered ones, really want to me hangered as much as possible (sun and rain will affect the coverings).

How long you can take an aircraft away for is really down to the ownership of the aircraft. If you own one yourself, the world is your oyster. In group owned, it will be up to your group. If you are hiring, it will be up to the owner - often they will say a minimum number of hours to be flown for a hire period.
Note others comments on the weather - most GA aircraft are limited in the conditions that they can be flown in so it can be hard to plan a holiday in advance. Even if you get an instrument rating and suitable aircraft it may still not be allowed in clouds which are below freezing temperatures (ice can build up on an aircraft). However if you are flexible, it can be great!
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By GrahamB
#1777730
Morten wrote:Of course, an IR(R) or full IR may give you a higher success rate, but you also need a capable aircraft and airfield at either end (which Turweston, for instance, is not). (Someone will rightly chip in to say that an IR(R) which is not used often is worse than no IR(R) at all).

Whilst noting that an IR(R) is only valid in UK airspace, whereas an IR is valid worldwide.
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By Charles Hunt
#1777735
Cost as always comes into it.

1) Re training - NEVER pay huge sums up front despite discounts offered. There are several cases of people paying up front, having one lesson, school goes bust and an innocent enthusiast has lost something they have been saving up for for years.

2) Do you expect to be able to own your own aircraft, have a share (any number 2-20 have a part share of the aircraft split hangarage and insurance costs and then pay for what they use) or still be renting? If the latter it would be very unlikely for the renter to allow you to fly somewhere an hour or two away (you only pay for flying hours) and then bring the a/c back three days later, as that would be uneconomical usage for them. May be possible to rent based on perhaps 3 or 4 hours flying time per day.
By T6Harvard
#1777740
Chrispea,

Sounds like a great plan to me!

May I ask what timescale you have planned to get your licence?

I'm just starting out, I am able to be very flexible with days for training (am self employed, set my own hours and days of work :D ) but am still worried by all the horror stories of poor weather, non-avail of aircraft/instructor and, just for emphasis, THE WEATHER! Plus I am older so realise it will take longer to sink in...so I suspect it will take me 'a while' to succeed, but hey!, no time flying is wasted time, eh?!

Good luck, keep us informed, amd share any learning tips, please!
By flyingearly
#1777827
Morten wrote:The number of aircraft who can carry a family and their luggage for a week in comfort for several hours are not that many - if you have looked at those aircraft and costs and are happy with those you should be OK.


I'm not that far post-licence myself, but I wanted to re-broadcast something I've heard time and time again, which I'm also experiencing for myself first hand.

When I was training for my licence, I always looked at envy at the RV10 parked in the nearby hangar. Occasionally, I'd see the owner bring their wife and kids along for the ride - and I noticed that the kids in the back would be carrying their Kindles/tablets and wouldn't be wearing headsets; instead, just regular headphones on which they're watching Cbeebies or whatever it is.

My only vision for flying was to build up to a decent 4-seater tourer and then do exactly as you've said; take the family away for day trips, or visit the lake district, or fly down to Cornwall etc. But the reality is very different from the vision.

Firstly, as the RV10 owner said to me and I've heard countless times on here, you'll be surprised just how much your other half/kids don't really care and don't share the excitement. I have just taken both my kids up and my wife in the club C42 (separate flights!) and my daughter loved it (couldn't wait to go again), wife liked it (thought it would be useful for visiting family further afield) but my son wasn't that keen. Whenever I'm planning a trip, my daughter's hand is now the first to go up, but my wife and son are not bothered.

I believe it's the same story up and down the country: with exceptions, of course, there are a lot of 4-seater aircraft flying with one person up front.

Assuming you're like me, there's another thing that I'm not sure if others have mentioned. If you don't own your own aircraft or have a share then you're likely renting from a club. Again, I'm sure there are exceptions, but I'm not sure you'd find it that easy to take a club aircraft away for a prolonged period as it's generally in demand by other members, or students.

Finally, one other thing - and going back to the RV10. The thing about the RV10 is that it cruises at nearly 200mph, so it really opens up the country for flying; if you live in the South-East, it makes places like the Lake District or Cornwall relatively easy 'day trips'; I recall the RV10 owner popping up to Scotland one day last year. But most 'first step' aircraft don't cruise at that sort of speeds...in a C152 you're looking at 120 miles rather than 200, so suddenly places like Cornwall or the Lake District aren't 'short hops', but reasonable efforts, during which your family are going to need patience (and bladder control!)

All of which is not to put you off; it's just to share my same perspective; I'm working my way up there, but I think realistic expectations should be shorter hops with the occasional longer journey, but give yourself time to see if the interest from your family is sustained or whether it drops.

If it's of use for comparison, in my first year post-licence I've found myself (coronavirus notwithstanding) hour-building and taking up family and friends for short 45 - 60 minute flights and I suspect I'll easily spend 12 - 18 months exhausting all the guests who have asked me to take them up. At that point, when I've got no further willing volunteers, that's when there will be some interesting choices to make. Hopefully by then I'll have quite a few more hours under my belt and will know what I want from flying; what I like and what my ambitions are.

I'm also hoping to go up in other aircraft that look interesting, so that I can make a decision about where I go once I get fed up of renting the club aircraft. I'm saving up at the moment and originally had designs for building an RV7. That's not necessarily out of the question, but I'm getting torn between that and going back to basics with something STOL as I'm finding I like the freedom/seat-of-the-pants aspect of flying more than I do planning long structured trips.

Anyway, I hope this is helpful!
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By white light
#1777839
Hi Flyingearly

Not sure from your post whether it’s your daughter, or the RV owners daughter who likes flying, but whatever, that’s a result!

You/he will have a future flying companion regardless of whether you do a short local bimble or a longer trip & hopefully, she’ll take it up herself...

Sounds to me like she should be encouraged !
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By Rob P
#1777848
flyingearly wrote:... originally had designs for building an RV7. That's not necessarily out of the question, but I'm getting torn between that and going back to basics with something STOL as I'm finding I like the freedom/seat-of-the-pants aspect of flying more than I do planning long structured trips.


The beauty of the RV-7 (and 6 in my case) is that whilst you can accomplish long, structured trips with ease and comparatively cheaply, it also makes a pretty good strip aircraft.

Build it light, fit a proper six pack, slightly larger tyres are an option I believe. Now you have a seat of the pants aircraft which can happily operate (pilot ability assumed) in and out of 350M grass. Yet set off for Bordeaux with ease.

Out of interest, we tend to use economic cruise rather than maximum cruise, even for distance. (That's c145kt / 166mph at 28litres of avgas per hour)

Rob P
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By Cessna571
#1777916
Reasonably soon after getting my license I flew to Le Touquet with a more experienced pilot as passenger.

Nice day trip, takes a couple of hours (ish) in a PA28.

My flying (in a shareoplane) costs me about £100ph airborne.

I mainly fly with friends as my wife won’t fly with me.

I’d have gone down to the Scillies this year.
(3 hours each way) for a long weekend if it weren’t for COVID.

You’re unlike to find a club that will let you take the aircraft somewhere and park it for 4 days, but that’s normal behaviour if you have a share.

My monthly subscriptions are £70.

Cheaper flying is available than this!

So, it’s just time and money as always, but it’s certainly possible. Say you budget for 40 hours a year. (That is a lot) then you just use those up however you like.

The trick is to be in a share, which gives you the flexibility to leave the aircraft parked somewhere.

The problem is getting anyone to go with you. It gets old for family members very quickly, however I’ve found a friend who is an aviation nut (though not a pilot) so we fly all over the place.