WHAT TO EXPECT
A step by step look at what is involved in the flight training for your Pilot Licence
Each lesson, you will have a short briefing before the flight on what you will learn. During the flight your instructor will demonstrate a manoeuvre and then get you to practice it. At the end of the lesson your instructor will give you a debrief, letting you know what went well and what you need to work on.
Gradually you will do more and more of the flight and begin to manage the aircraft as well, doing the radio and navigation of the flight.
Lessons vary in length with the early lessons being between 40 minutes and an hour. Later lessons that involve navigation are often 1 to 2 hours.
The first part of your training will consist of general handling. This will take place away from the airport. During this time you will become more familiar with the aircraft controls and the local area. This is when you learn the basic manoeuvres such as climbing, descending and turning as well as recognition and recovery from the stall condition.
Once you have covered all the basic handling techniques you will focus on taking off and landing the aircraft. You will also do more secondary tasks such as the communication with air traffic control and pre-flight checklists. Your instructor will slowly assist you less and less and begin to introduce emergency scenarios.
When your instructor is happy that you can safely operate the aircraft he will send you on your first solo flight. This normally involves just taking off and completing one circuit to come back and land. After your first flight you will need to complete between 2 and 3 hours of solo flying in the circuit to build your confidence and get you used to flying on your own. There may be days when the weather is not suitable for solo flights. Your instructor may opt to move on to further lessons to ensure that you are still progressing. After each solo flight ensure you talk to your instructor about how the flight went. If something happened which you weren’t happy at, make sure you tell someone. Do not keep quiet!
Once you have completed your solo circuits you will move back outside the circuit. You will learn the correct procedures to arrive and depart from an airport. You will be introduced to more emergencies and abnormal situations such as advanced turns and precautionary landings. You may find that if the weather is not suitable for you to fly on your own your instructor may choose to skip ahead a little and complete some exercises locally. Once again, when both you and your instructor are happy you will complete 1 or 2 flights outside the circuit solo.
The next element of the course introduces long distance navigation away from an airfield. The first few flights from Blackpool are normally to the North away from controlled airspace. This allows you to focus on the navigation element of the lesson. Later you will complete a flight Southbound (i.e. Liverpool and Warton), travelling through controlled airspace and landing at other airfields.
Throughout the navigation stage, you will repeat some of these navigation flights on your own. This will begin by repeating flights you have done with your instructor to the North of Blackpool where the airspace is quieter. Later you will travel to the South and will have to combine navigating the aircraft with communicating with air traffic control.
Qualifying Cross Country
The qualifying cross country is the final solo flight you will take as part of the PPL syllabus and combines all that you have learnt throughout the course.
You will land at 2 other airports other than Blackpool (only 1 for the LAPL). This is a long but very rewarding day!
Our favourite destinations are Sleap in Shropshire and Caernarfon on the Welsh coast.
Revision & Skill Test
After you have completed the qualifying cross country the only hurdle left is to pass the skill test. You will review all the elements of the course, highlighting any gaps in your knowledge. Before your test you will complete a mock test to get you used to the format.
The skill test is comparable to the practical element of your driving licence. The normal format of the day comprises a meet and greet with your examiner and a short briefing on how the day will go about. They will give you any relevant information required for planning and leave you to it.
The flight normally consists of:
A navigation element including diversions
A general handling element including stall recovery
A number of circuits with a variety of configurations