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 cockpit

At first sight, the array of dials and switches in an aircraft cockpit can be rather daunting. Unlike automobile drivers, pilots do not have the benefit of direction signs affixed to the sky! As a result, aircraft carry with them some sophisticated navigation equipment that will permit operations even in thick cloud and at night. In addition, as there are no parking areas in the sky, the engine is much better monitored than the average car. Because an aircraft is travelling in three dimensions, additional instruments are required for altitude, and rate of climb and descent.

Lastly, pilots need to communicate with airfields and air traffic control. Usually, two radio sets are fitted, (in case of failure) and also a transponder, which is an instrument that transmits to air traffic control so that they can identify you and know your altitude.

Sport aircraft do not carry always carry such equipment if daylight fine weather operations are all that is required. Nowadays, aircraft panels are rather standardised, so that it is relatively easy for a pilot to make the transition from one aircraft type to another. Featured below is the panel from a new Tiger light aircraft. It is a typical example of a modern standard panel. Mouse over the arrows for explanations.

This is a drawing of a typical new aircraft panel. It is likely that your initial trainer will not be quite so well equipped!