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Flying lessons in the UK

Would you like to pilot for a profit or fly just for fun? In either case, plenty of flight lesson opportunities are available across the UK. Flying lessons are offered individually for entertainment and in full courses that lead to private and commercial licenses.

Among individual lessons, the most traditional involve flying a small plane such as a Cessna 152. Some popular alternatives include flying modern microlight aircraft, old-fashioned biplanes, gliders, and helicopters. The most daring of students try their hand at aerobatic airplane flight. Typical flying lessons last between 20 minutes and one hour, and they generally cost between £50 and £300. Lessons involving certain aircraft, such as helicopters and rare biplanes, tend to cost the most.

As for full courses, recreational pilots and commercial pilots alike begin by earning a private pilotís license (PPL). Flying lessons include instruction in navigation, practicing flight maneuvers, and using a two-way radio. In addition to logging a certain number of hours, a student pursuing a PPL must pass a health examination and obtain a Class 2 medical certificate.

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One can earn a private pilotís license in the UK after a minimum of 45 hours of training, but more time is generally recommended. Furthermore, students are advised to consistently take one or two flight lessons per week. Otherwise, information is forgotten between sessions, and more lessons are ultimately required.

Although earning a private pilot license requires a significant time investment, students progress relatively quickly. Instruction is almost always one-on-one, and the airplanes used in training are chosen for their ease of handling and reliability; typical training craft include small Cessnas and Piper four-seaters.

After earning a private license, a pilot becomes eligible for commercial training. In the UK, commercial training begins with ground school. Students study at a flight school or via distance learning for approximately eight to twelve months. If scheduling permits, they may log flight hours while enrolled in ground school. However, ground school flying lessons must be taken seriously; a student must pass numerous Airline Transport Pilot License (ATPL) exams at the conclusion of the course. After passing the ATPL exams, a pilot need only log enough flight hours and pass a Class 1 medical exam in order to earn a commercial pilotís license.

If you are uncertain whether flying lessons are right for you, consider taking a sample lesson. Most schools offer an introductory lesson for £50 to £100.

Copyright Amy and Flor Westphal 2007