There are many reasons that people decide to learn to fly, but it is certain that, once they have tried it, they are smitten. Leonardo da Vinci summed it up perfectly: “Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the Earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you long to return”.
However, deciding to learn to fly is the easy part – it’s the other decisions that need careful consideration! With this in mind, the folks at Merseyflight have come up with what they believe are the top 5 factors to consider when first spreading your wings…
Learning to fly: The Merseyflight “BIG 5”
1. Knowledge is everything.
You may not have a clear idea of where your training will ultimately take you – but the best way to be confident that you are making the right choices is to arm yourself with knowledge. Research as much as you can about the various pilot licences available and their associated requirements (http://www.caa.co.uk). Consider your options for pilot training according to your own circumstances, research the flying schools in your area and pay them all a visit. Talk to the instructors, have a good look at their facilities, their aircraft and get a general feel for the setup. Don’t forget to check out what other people are saying about the establishments on sites like Top Rank Flying Schools and Facebook.
2. Location, Location, Location.
Ideally you want to select a flying school that is located somewhere that logistically fits in with your day to day life, so that you can learn to fly whenever it suits you. At Merseyflight, our instructors will often arrange to fly with their students out of hours, on their way to or from work, and for our licence holders we offer a special ‘on the day’ rate for those occasions when they look out of the window and can’t resist that beautiful, blue sky…
Also consider the wider environment in which you will be learning and the experience you will garner during your formative training. For example, being based at an international airport our students transit controlled airspace and deal with Air Traffic Control on every flight. They also get real-life, practical experience of operational issues, e.g. avoiding wake turbulence when following an Airbus A320 on final approach. We also incorporate other, smaller local airfields (including grass strips) in our training so that our students get to experience both ends of the spectrum, and there are lots of great landmarks in the area that really help to build confidence with situational awareness.
3. Cost – You have control!
There’s no denying it – learning to fly isn’t cheap. A lot of people are, quite rightly, cost conscious when they are comparing flying schools, and tend to focus on the hourly training rate. However, despite the variations between schools, the overall cost of your flying training will be similar wherever you choose – so don’t base your decision on the pricelist alone.
The biggest cost saving is in your control – work hard between lessons when you are away from the school, reviewing what you have covered to date, learning checks, processes and techniques from the comfort of your armchair. The better prepared you are when you arrive for your lesson, the more value you will get out of every hour in the air, and the quicker you will progress.
4. Piper, Cessna… or something completely different?
Don’t get too hung up on a particular aircraft type – people tend to like what they get used to, and all the different variants have their distinct advantages. You are training for a Single Engine Piston Class rating and can easily convert to a different aircraft once you have your licence. Our advice is to talk to the individual flying schools and ask them what benefits their fleet can bring to your training – then make your mind up based on what is important to you.
5. Beyond the Private Pilot’s Licence.
Once you have found a school that you are comfortable with, why not cast an eye to the future and see what else they have on offer? We are fortunate that Liverpool is open 24 hours, which is great for night ratings, and for IMC training you can take your pick from an array of instrument approaches…
Wherever you choose to gain your wings, we at Merseyflight are sure you won’t regret your decision to learn to fly – holding a pilot’s licence is one of life’s great privileges, and worth every penny.