The private pleasure of flying
Note: This is a four-part series of features by Brookmans Park resident Jet, about the pleasure of flying. Part one offers an introduction. Part two deals with preparation and examinations. Part three includes practical flying instructions. Part four talks of the joy of earning your wings and includes some frequently asked questions.
Up and away
When your licence finally turns up in the post, you are then in a position to hire an aircraft and take your family and friends up for a joy ride.
If you are happy with that then fine, but there are many options left to improve or add to your skills.
If you have an NPPL, then that really is it. To get further ratings you will need to upgrade to a full PPL. (See part two for the definitions of NPPL and PPL)
The world then opens up and you can then carry out further training for:-
The night rating
This involves five hours of dual and solo flying and allows you to carry (non paying) passengers at night during clear weather conditions.
This is well worth the effort and will improve your day landings as a bonus.
Flying at night is almost magical as the reassuring glow of the instruments illuminates the cabin and the roads below stretch like ribbons of light.
You will notice that towns on air maps are shown as yellow and the shape on the map is just what a town looks like at night.
The IMC rating
This stands for Instrument Meteorological Conditions and involves 15 hours dual flying. It enables the pilot to fly the en route part of the flight in poor visibility or cloud in uncontrolled airspace.
Takeoffs and landings have to be carried out in visual conditions as set out in the rules.
The multi-engine rating
This consists of six hours dual flying and enables the pilot to fly an aircraft with more than one engine. A sensible idea if you intend flying over water or carrying out regular long distance flights.
The instrument rating
This is almost the peak of flying competence and consists of many hours dual training. It allows the pilot to conduct all of the flight in poor visibility in controlled airspace.
If you want, it is possible to learn aerobatic flying and there are varying degrees of competence, all of which require dual training.
All different aircraft types, such as those with variable speed propellers, retractable undercarriages, pressurisation etc, require further training.
As you will appreciate nothing is left to chance.
Well, thatís about all that is available to the private pilot. It needs to be understood that no flying can be carried out for hire and reward whatsoever. To do this requires commercial training.
Private pilots canít be paid for their flying, but they do have to carry out their responsibilities in a professional manner.
Frequently asked questions
Well, the writer hopes that this series of articles has been of interest and that non-fliers will appreciate the time and effort that will have gone into earning wings.
I will close by answering some frequently asked questions and, although the subject of aerodynamics is vast and complex, I will try to do this in a simplified way.
Is the engine likely to stop?
No, the engines on propeller-powered aircraft have two ignition circuits and two spark plugs in each cylinder. In the event of failure of one circuit the engine will carry on with slightly reduced power.
If the engine suffers mechanical failure or the prop falls off, will we crash?
No, it just so happens that a light aircraft glides quite well at exactly the speed required for landing. A good pilot will always be aware of a suitable field to land in and, if the pilot is flying at a sensible height, there will be plenty of time. At 2000ft an aircraft will glide for around four minutes or four miles.
If the aircraft stalls, will we plummet to the ground?
No, it is quite easy to correct a stall, which will only happen when the aircraft flies at a high angle of attack and the speed decays to below normal manoeuvring speed. The aerofoil wing section will stop producing lift and the nose-heavy aircraft will drop forward.
A stall warning alarm will sound before the stall occurs. A major danger of a stall is that may induce a spin, if allowed to develop. If this happens, spin recovery techniques, correctly applied, will always work, subject to sufficient height being available.
Is a bounced landing a bad landing?
No, as long as itís on the main wheels, it just means that the aircraft landed a bit hard and had sufficient speed to avoid a stall. Landing on the nose wheel first can be a disaster, as the nose wheel is not designed to land on.
Flying is dangerous are there many crashes?
Yes, there are crashes and the main reasons are inappropriate low level flying and flying in visual conditions outside the scope of the pilotís training. Both of which are avoidable by flying correctly.
So you just get in your aircraft and fly off?
Well you can, but the law says that you must plan your flight, check your aircraft weight and balance, have a current map, take weather information, take flight NOTAM information (notice to airmen, it tells of anything weird happening in the air, e.g. the Queen flying past), and have sufficient fuel for the journey.
The aircraft paperwork and time checks must be in order. Contravention of any of these items could lead to prosecution, or an accident.
Is the licence is for life?
Yes, but one must fly at least 12 hours in the second year of the licence validity, which is biannual, one-hour of which must be with an instructor.
You need to have a checkout with an instructor if you have not flown for 62 days, the pilot is not allowed to carry passengers without having had three takeoffs and landings in the previous 90 days (the reason for the last one defies logic). Ratings must also be valid.
Hopefully you will now have a better appreciation and respect for the pilot flying overhead - and remember, if they are flying round and round in circles and being a nuisance, it is almost certainly a neighbour having a trial flight.
To continue your sport you can hire aircraft ad hoc and this is the best way for those who only wish to fly say 10 hours a year.
It is possible to buy and run your own aircraft and this will be a good idea if you want to use it for business travel. There are schemes where you can own an aircraft and lease it to a flying school when it is not needed.
Once you have the ratings you require it can be a good idea to join a flying group or part-own an aeroplane, quite frankly the skyís the limit.
Per Ardua Ad Astra (through struggle to the stars)
© Jet - January, 2003
This is a four-part series of features by Brookmans Park resident Jet, about the pleasure of flying. Part one offers an introduction. Part two deals with preparation and examinations. Part three includes practical flying instructions. Part four talks of the joy of earning your wings and includes some frequently asked questions.
The three nearest airfields offering flying lessons are Panshanger, Elstree and Stapleford. There are a number of flying schools operating in the area including the East Herts Flying School, The London School of Flying and Firecrest Aviation and Stapleford Flying Club
Finally, the author wanted it pointing out that the four features on flying are based on his own experience and he accepts no liability for any damage that may occur in the pursuit of aviation following the reading of these articles.