Learn to Fly!
“The exhilaration of flying is too keen, the pleasure too great, for it to be neglected as a sport.”
— Orville Wright
Learning to fly is about more than just mastering the fundamentals of flight. It’s about exploring a whole new world with its own language, skills, and opportunities. There is absolutely no reason why becoming a Pilot should be seen as a male only endeavour, nor limited only to engineers or mechanics.
By achieving your goal of a Private Pilots licence, which may just be a start on a career path, you will have proven your ability to take control of and be in command of your aircraft of choice and, with any relevant additional training, operate an aircraft up to 5700 Kg. If you were sitting next to a commercial pilot in the same aircraft no-one would know the difference.
- Personal Private use
- Business use
- A career
the ability to fly will take you places no other form of transport can.
The choice of what to learn to fly is wide and, thanks to modern light materials and technology, expanding all the time.
Established options are:
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In the UK, no licence is required to fly a Paraglider, Hang Glider or Paramotor, though professional training is highly recommended. You may have to pass exams in some aviation subjects. These are the least expensive forms of flying. In the UK you should contact the British Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association.
UK National Licences:
The National Private Pilot's Licence (NPPL) is available for microlights and other non Part-21 aircraft.
The NPPL can only be used on UK-registered aircraft inside UK airspace, unless you have an agreement with the aviation authorities in another country which will allow you to fly in that country's airspace.
You can add class ratings to the NPPL to allow you to fly microlights, self-launching motorgliders (SLMGs) and simple single-engine aeroplanes (SSEAs).
- You can apply for class ratings for SLMGs and SSEAs through the Light Aircraft Association
- You can apply for microlight class ratings through the British Microlight Aircraft Association
If you want more flexibility and can pass an EASA Class 2 or LAPL medical then EASA licences are a much better option.
NOTE: From 1 January 2021 the UK left EASA. UK Issued LAPL licences are no longer recognised by EU States so holders are restricted to U Airspace until further notice. The CAA will be reviewing all licences so any reference to EASA will be removed in time. UK Issued licences are only valid for UK Registered Aircraft.
Light Aircraft Pilot's Licence (LAPL) - available for Aeroplanes (A), Helicopters (H), Balloons (B) and Gliders (Sailplanes).
The LAPL is recognised in all EASA states and can be upgraded to PPL with additional training. If you want to fly outside the UK on a simpler licence than an EASA PPL this is an excellent option.
Private Pilot's Licence (PPL) - available for Aeroplanes (A), Helicopters (H), Balloons (B), Airships (As) and Gliders/Sailplanes (SPL).
A PPL can have additional ratings and privileges added, with additional training.
Gliding: There is a UK exemption published in the CAA’s Official Records Series 4 that describes how a pilot can choose to operate in the UK using national, British Gliding Association (BGA), or EASA licence privileges until April 2018. Until April 2018, all glider pilots including those who have converted to hold an EASA licence can choose to operate as they always have done, including using BGA medical requirements. It should be noted that if a pilot chooses to exercise his or her EASA licence privileges, he or she must of course comply with the relevant EASA licencing and medical requirements.
For more information about gliding visit the British Gliding association (BGA) website.
Commercial Pilot's Licence (CPL) - available for Aeroplanes (A), Helicopters (H), Balloons (B), and Airships (As)
Air Transport Pilot's Licence (ATPL) - available for Aeroplanes (A)and Helicopters (H).
Training for your first pilot licence is referred to as ab-initio training. If you are training in the UK or Europe you will need to train at an approved training provider. In the UK, approved training providers are registered at the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and, depending on the range of training offered, will be either Approved Training Organisations (ATO's) or a Declared Training Organisation (DTO) approved to train for EASA licences and ratings.
We recommend doing your homework before committing to a training provider. The organisation closest to home may not be the best for you. Always:
- Visit the premises and visit more than one provider
- See what reception you get; interested, friendly, professional, engaging?
- Ask questions
- Speak to members/students for their views
- Ask what they offer after you have got your licence, is there a social side?
When you have shortlisted providers, or perhaps settled on one as a favourite, do take a trial lesson with a Flight Instructor (FI) and make sure the FI knows that you are serious about training for a licence. The trial lesson can count towards your flying training time.
Many training providers offer a package price for a full course. This is usually based upon the minimum number of flying hours set out in the licence requirements. Many students require additional lessons/hours to complete their training. Quite often this can be due to many cancelled lessons because of the British Weather and long periods between flights, when you lose your currency. It is important to understand what is included in the pricing and what is not; e.g landing fees, additional flying hours, CAA fees, ground school material, charts, flight planning tools, log book, headset, etc. Get an estimate of additional costs if you are on a tight budget.
You may be offered a deal to pay up front, either in full or a significant down payment. It is not unknown for providers to cease trading. Being registered by the CAA is no guarantee. If payments are made in advance, using a credit card may protect the payment up to a certain amount. Other payment methods may result in you losing your money. If you pay per lesson this limits your financial exposure and also gives you flexibility should you wish to stop or suspend training, or want to change provider.
AOPA recommend that you try one of our Corporate Members who provide ab-initio training. You can find details of and make contact with a training provider here.
You can also view and Contact our Corporate Members with Flight Training on a map.
When you have started your training Join AOPA as a Student member.
NOTE: The UK left EASA on 1 January 2021. "EASA" Aircraft are now referred to as Part-21 Aircraft, referring to the ICAO classification.
Can a private group owned UK Registered Part-21 (ex-EASA) Aeroplane be used for Part-FCL ab initio PPL training where the student pilot is not a shareholder? The training would be conducted at an Approved Training Organisation (ATO) using Flight Instructors (FIs) of that ATO, just as if the aeroplane was one of the ATO’s own fleet.
In these circumstances, the UK CAA have responded as follows:
Is such operation legal?
"Yes, the person can be trained using this aeroplane."
If so, are there any specific airworthiness requirements which must also be met?
"The Head of Training from the ATO will need to assess the aeroplane for its suitability to conduct flight training in. This includes ensuring that all elements of the course can be conducted in this aeroplane. If they are unable to conduct all of the course in this aeroplane, then they need to outline which bits can be and which bits will need to use another aeroplane. For example if the Group owned aeroplane does not have a radio navigation system on board, those elements of exercise 18C would need to be conducted in another aeroplane.
As part of the assessment the Head of Training will need to ensure that the aeroplane has the appropriate documentation in place. It is not a problem if the engine or propeller are on condition, the Head of Training just needs to be happy that the aeroplane is serviceable. "
Does the ATO need to notify the Authority about this activity?
"No, the ATO just needs to retain a record of the assessment of the aeroplane in their records, which may be subject to review during their audit."
This advice is specific to a Part-21 Aeroplane flown under a Certificate of Airworthiness. The response is also valid for such training at a Declared Training Organisation (DTO). The Chief Flying Instructor/Head of Training needs to keep a record of the aircraft assessment in case the CAA should ask to see it. FIs who conduct the training may also be remunerated.
You should also make sure that any rules of the Group are complied with and that the aircraft insurance covers the training flights.
Although this message is from the USA, the message is valid in the UK. If you are a woman considering learning to fly, either privately or commercially, this video may encourage you to take that next step. You may also be interested in visiting the British Women Pilots Association website.
San Carlos Flight Center (SCFC) has released a short video celebrating the women students and pilots of general aviation. The video brings together present and future women pilots, and shows the positive impact that aviation had in their lives.
The video, “It All Began,” shows the path that women can take to become licensed pilots. From looking out a window, to taking the initial steps into a flight school, the transformation that occurs in a flight training process is displayed in full detail.
The video was inspired by the song “A Piece of Sky” written by Michel Legrand with lyrics by Alan and Marilyn Bergman for the movie Yentl. The song chronicles the journey of a woman realizing her potential to follow her dreams, and SCFC’s video includes a cover recorded by Nita Whitaker.
The video was created as a summer project, filmed and directed by SCFC staff member Michelle Karpishin, a past winner of the Upwind Summer Scholarship. Karpishin invited all of the women SCFC pilots to participate in the filming, and many responded, eager to share their experiences with the next generation of women pilots, officials noted.