I had to cancel flying again today, due to having no transport to take me to the aero club. I suppose it was just as well, after what I had to pay out for the car service, MOT and parts. So I thought I’d make a blog entry with some pictures of the planes I have been flying.

Piper PA28

Piper PA28

Some of the pictures are a little old but the actual planes haven’t changed much in that time. What has changed, is my knowledge of them. Obviously there is still a lot to learn and that is big part of the enjoyment for me.

Driving on the roads here in England is pretty horrible these days and something well worth looking down on.

For instance, this picture I took on one of my first lessons, is a rough view of the instruments inside the cockpit. When looking at this I remember thinking there was no way I was ever going to understand what everything does. Of course, like many aspects of learning, all it took was time and interest. I am now at the stage where I not only know what everything does but also how it works and why it was put there in the first place. There is a ton of clever technology in there, enough to appeal to the anyone’s geeky side.

PA28 Cockpit Instrument View

PA28 Cockpit Instrument View

I even find that I am starting to recognise the differences in layout and some of the quirks of each individual aircraft. It’s a nice feeling.

PA28 Side View

PA28 Side View

The first time you enter the cockpit of one of these light aircraft there are few things that will hit you. One is the general smell of aircraft fuel and engine oil. Sounds bad but to be honest it isn’t bad at all… In fact it’s great! Then you think “Hmm… This is a lot smaller than being in a 747 or an Airbus”… Well it is… But to me, that is one of the great things about it.

When you head down the runway and “rotate” upwards at around 50-60mph – You sense everything moving around you. The controls are immediately responsive and you know that you are in the air. You feel almost every little breath of wind as it gently (and sometimes rather aggressively) moves you around.

PA28 Rear View

PA28 Rear View

There really is nothing like the feeling of being PIC (Pilot In Command). When you get up there on your own and begin to feel comfortable with it, the rewards are immense. For example – from Sherburn, which is where I fly from (central England) – you can see both East and West coast lines from just a few thousand feet up, on a clear day.

And even when the weather isn’t so good the views are still amazing.

Winter view just after take off

Winter view just after take off

You don’t feel the cold when you are up in the skies. I suppose you would if you had the air blowing in your face. I haven’t flown an open cockpit aircraft yet but hopefully will get the chance one day.

Winter views again

Winter views again

I have to confess. My favourite part of the flying so far has been the landings. Especially once they start becoming consistently good. The view you get when lining up on final approach is a challenging puzzle and beautiful too. the whole mind and body are concentrating on one thing – getting back to the earth smoothly and comfortably.

Winter approach to runway 29

Winter approach to runway 29

Also a good feeling is when a landing doesn’t go quite as you expected (they rarely do) but you deal with it in the right way instinctively. Like an immediate go-around after a single bounce. It really makes you feel like you have learned something (although it is to be hoped that doesn’t happen too often – for me it’s been once so far which is not bad going). And nothing beats that feeling of lining up and settling onto the runway, holding the aircraft nose up and hearing the tyres screech as they touch the runway surface.

Nailed it!

If you ever get the chance to fly in a light aircraft, don’t turn it down. If you haven’t had the chance yet, you may be surprised how easy it is to book a trial flight at your local aero club and get up there for half an hour and see what you have been missing. You’ll even be able to take control of the aircraft for a while when you’re up in the air.

Driving on the roads here in England is pretty horrible these days and to me, something well worth looking down on.

I’m hoping to have my license by summer this year. I can’t wait. And of course anyone that knows me will know I will be very keen to share the experience.

Pack your bags folks!

Thanks for reading.