introduction to Start Flying learn to fly fixed wing aircraft learn to fly helicopters or autogyros learn to fly ultralights and microlights learn to fly gliders learn to fly hangliders learn to fly paragliders and paramotors learn to fly balloons


  what you will need
  what to expect when flying
  first time experience flying
  flight training FAQs
  how aircraft fly
  about the aircraft
  inside the cockpit
  how to control an aircraft
  how to read an air map
  basic aircraft navigation
  about airfields
  choose the right flying school
  what pilot ratings mean
  all about pilot ratings
  flight training links

the aircraft

Being shown around a light aircraft for the first time can be a bit daunting. This section will help familiarise you with the key elements in advance.

The first figure below is a high-wing aircraft, a Cessna 152. This is a very common and popular trainer and is a 'simple' aircraft. High wing aircraft give a wonderful view of the ground. The downside is that one needs a stepladder to fuel them and of course the upper wing surface is hard to clean. In addition, the wing height of many types is just right to tear off your scalp unless you are shorter than the average bear. Care must be taken when turning in flight as the wing obscures your vision in the direction you are turning.

Below is a Cessna 152 trainer. Just hover your mouse over the grey dots to see explanations of the main components.

Low wing aircraft are easy to fuel, your vision is not obscured when turning, but they are harder to get into. If you fly a fabric covered aircraft, there is always the anxiety that a passenger, or indeed yourself, will put a foot through the wing! The underside of the wing and main gear is a wet and unpleasant task to clean.

a Piper Archer - a popular 4 seat aircraft with flying clubs This type is more expensive to rent

If you are the outdoor type, there are still a few places where you can train in a traditional biplane. Romantic yes, but it can be seriously cold in anything but the best weather. Such aircraft are fitted with tailwheels, (taildraggers). They harder to control on the ground and are unable to cope with much cross wind. Nevertheless, generations of young pilots trained in such aircraft.

the wonderful Belgian built Stampe