So now you have your PPL – What next?…

8 Exciting things to look forward to!!

 

  1. Build your confidence and build your flying hours

Finally you have achieved your Private Pilot’s Licence. The first thing you should start doing is consolidating what you have been taught.  You must actively keep on top of your all your new skills you have acquired by regularly flying in order to gain more confidence and keep yourself up to date with the theory/legislation. The more flying hours you can get, the more experience you will have under your belt and the more confident you will begin to feel.

 

  1. Become a flying tour guide to your family and friends

All the time while you were studying, your family and friends were patiently waiting for the reward of their first flight. So now is the right time to give back those promises! Share your joy of flying with them. Nothing will make you happier than seeing the sparkles in a person’s eyes, experiencing the first flight while you are in the pilot’s seat.

 

  1. Fly over the channel

 When our airfield is on the south coast, it really is a very short flight over to France or the Channel Islands. A favourite of ours is Le Touquet which is only roughly 45 minutes flight. The benefit of this destination is, you can fly the majority of this over the English south coast and then just a short channel crossing. From here you can rent a bicycle and cycle into the town for a spot of lunch.

 

  1. Develop your skills and learn some Aerobatics

 Once confident enough with regular flying, why not try to learn some new aerobatic skills? I mean, learning how to flying upside down, loops, turns and barrel rolls is only going to make you a better pilot overall. Learning these new and exciting skills will boost your adrenaline within a flight and make flying even more exhilarating! After you get your PPL you can book in a series of aerobatic lessons with an instructor.

 

  1. Giving back you your community – Project Propeller

If you’ve ever wanted to say a special “thank you” to those surviving aircrew who fought in World War Two, then the annual Project Propeller charity event gives you the chance to do just that. Every year, WWII Royal Air Force veterans are picked up from a variety of local airfields around the UK and flown to a reunion by volunteer pilots, who range from the recently qualified to experienced aviators.

 

  1. Flying abroad

Once you are a pilot this makes all the difference to the possibilities of your future holidays! Instead of being chartered around with a travel agent booked tour – you can rent an aircraft and pilot it around your own planned itinerary!  This is possible in countries like South Africa where you can see the animals, stay at first class bush lodges and camps not accessible from the road, and you have an aircraft at your disposal.  You come home with great safari memories – and the rare experience of flying the African bush!  Please make sure you research the requirements in every country you plan to fly in, you may need validate your licence or your qualifications.

 

  1. Complete your night rating

It is highly recommended for newly qualified pilots to develop a night flight skill. That will give you both more confidence in yourself as a pilot and a stunning view of nocturnal panorama with many twinkling lights.

 

  1. Plan a family day out to a flying museum and some lunch

Why not take the family or friends on a fun and educational day trip. You can fly into various Aviation Museums around the UK, park up and have a leisurely wander around the exciting museums, grab some lunch, and then head back. I don’t think the kids will be asking ‘Are we there yet?’ whilst flying along over all the beautiful scenery and the traffic jams underneath.

Some examples of these fly in museums are

  • Farnborough Air Sciences Trust – Farnborough
  • Concorde Conferences Centre- Manchester
  • Fleet Air Arm Museum – Yeovilton

 

COVID 19

Like everyone, we were instantly affected by Covid-19. As soon as the lockdown was announced, all GA flying was prohibited, so our operations almost completely ceased overnight. We could still deliver ground school online but it’s not really possible to teach someone to fly from home!

Engine health flights were the first to be allowed, only solo, under strict limitations regarding distance, duration and frequency. Next we were allowed to fly with members of our household, but still no training flights were allowed.

This was an incredibly frustrating time for us, as almost immediately after the start of lockdown we had started looking at ways we could get back to training in a way that would protect ourselves and our students. Many options were considered, from the ridiculous (one suggestion was a full Hazmat suit – thankfully that was quickly ruled out) to the impossible (moving our PPL training to an aircraft with 2 metre spacing. Just to confirm, there isn’t one. Not even a 737. Yes, we checked…) We looked at masks, gloves, screens, cleaning protocols, goggles, you name it we researched it.

First we undertook a thorough risk assessment to identify the potential areas of concern and then tried to come up with a solution that was safe but workable for each item. We needed to find ways to protect the students and instructors whilst maintaining flight safety, cockpit visibility, communication capability but without putting the student under any more pressure than normal. We had to consider the office, simulators and aircraft, and the constraints regarding chemical use on aircraft electronics and avionics. Meanwhile the sun blazed in the sky and some of the best flying weather for more than 8 months was spent in front of a screen.

Finally we had a workable solution. We had sourced a water based German disinfectant that leaves a nano layer of protection when applied to a surface, killing viruses and bacteria on contact, which lasts for up to 10 days. Having checked it was safe to use in the aircraft and simulators (Emirates use it in their aircraft, so we were confident it would be) we were happy that the offices, classrooms, equipment and aircraft were clean and safe. Temperature checks before entry, confirmation of virus free status, hand sanitiser on entry, strict social distancing and adjustments to the flying schedule to minimise people in one place at the same time were implemented. Forms were printed, signs were put up, everything was cleaned and fogged with disinfectant, so then we only had the instructors to worry about.

Unfortunately most light aircraft are not exactly spacious, so maintaining any form of distance when flying is very difficult. We considered all the options and finally decided that the instructor would have to be the one to suffer, not the student. Whilst we would expect the student to wear a mask, the instructor would be also required to wear a face visor. Fortunately the disinfectant we use means gloves aren’t necessary, but with mask, visor, headset and (hopefully) sunglasses it does look a bit like a sci-fi film. We considered carefully the stress that a student is under when learning to fly normally and didn’t want to add to it unless it was absolutely necessary and we really believe that whilst not ideal, the measures we’ve taken will keep our students and staff as safe as possible but also keep their learning environment as pleasant as possible (apart from sitting next to Darth Vader).

We are keeping an open mind and if something new or better comes along we’re ready to consider it. Training was allowed to start again on the 4th of July and so far so good!

We hope you have all remained safe and well.