After searching on the internet, ringing around and exchanging emails with various clubs, I decided to take the plunge and go and visit AAA Microlights in Cambridgeshire. So on a nice day I took a drive over to Chatteris airfield where they are based. Finding them the first time was fun, you turn off the B1093 road on to a single track lane called Block Fen Drove that is signed for a parachute and microlight centre, then after around a mile you turn down an unmade up track that leads to the clubs. The first set of building are those belonging to the microlight club. I parked outside and walk passed the hanger and on to a small red “hut”, more a terrapin type building where a few people were standing, the chief flying instructor (CFI) had just gone up with a student so I was introduced to the assistant flying instructor ( AFI ) a very pleasant and welcoming young lady called Katie. We chatted for a while and then she took me over and showed me around a C42 microlight, including sitting me in it and showing me the controls. My first impressions were mixed, the wings were not made of metal I remembering thinking, they have an aluminium frame but are covered in a fabric call GT-foil! But sat inside it has more room than some other airplanes e.g. Cessna 152.
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We then went back into the clubhouse aka the “hut” and had a cup of tea, they drink a lot of tea, and waited for Mike the CFI to return.
Mike is a very approachable person with many years flying experience and not just in microlights, after we chatted for a while I decided I liked the club and the people in it and booked up my first lesson for Thursday 18th July 2013.
For my 50 birthday in 2013 I was bought a trial flying lesson as my family knew I always wanted to learn to fly, but could not justify the cost. In the voucher information it said I could take a passenger to experience it too, well my wife doesn’t like flying much on commercial aircraft so there was no way I would get her on board and my son needed to return back to his work placement, but luckily my daughter was fearless enough to offer to come up with me.
Gayton by Air
The voucher they presented me was from “Into The Blue” for a 60 minute trial lesson at Norwich Airport with a company called “Premier Flight Training” (http://www.premierflighttraining.co.uk/). I booked the trial lesson for Sunday 9th June 2013, Premier Flight Training were very professional and after having been introduced to the pilot David Hollingworth, he took us all through to an office where he gave us a talk on the principles of flight and how the control surfaces work, which was a lot more interesting then it sounds! Next my daughter and I got to don some trendy hi-viz gear and we were driven over to the airplane a Piper Warrior PA28-161 (circa 1981) with a registration number of G-BNNO. David got us into the plane and then carried out the external per flight checks, everything was OK so next came the remaining pre-flight checks and then we were off. We flew west towards King’s Lynn flying over my village (pictured above) on route and then we turned north up to the coast and flew along the coast line for a while, but all to soon my 60 minutes were up and it was time to land back at Norwich.
David and I about to go into the blue
I real enjoyed my present, but it reawaken my desire to learn to fly. I looked into learning with Premier Flight Training, but the cost were too high for me given the number of hours needed and the additional landing fees, VAT etc. I then came across a company down south offering training on what to me looked like a normal light aircraft, but for a lot less money, it turned out to be an Ikarus C42 which I now know is a 3 axis microlight, I had always thought or a microlight as a hang glider with an engine before this. A quick Google for C42 Microlight lessons and I found AAA Microlights (http://cambridgeshiremicrolights.co.uk/) in Cambridgeshire, who’s prices were much more affordable to me. Overall learning to fly on a 3 axis microlight costs less money to fly per hour and less hours are needed to qualify so it works out about half the price flying with such a club.
Needless to say this was the route I decided to take and in my next blog I will tell you about my first encounter with the C42 and the club I decided to learn with.
My first ever flight was a long time ago in a Cessna 152 from Booker Airfield, now known as Wycombe Air park (http://www.wycombeairpark.co.uk/). I was just 21 and had decided to go on holiday to visit my Aunt and uncle in Australia, a now estranged friend said that my first ever flight should not be all the way to Australia in case I didn’t like flying and that we should book up a trail lesson at a nearby airfield so I could experience flight! We were only 21 then and it seemed to make good sense, so we both booked up a lesson and off we went, of course now I look back at it there was no comparison between flying in a 152 and on 747, but we were young.
The lesson was good, from what I can remember, the pilot was a retired RAF person and I enjoyed the experience; however it was not until a few weeks later when I was flying to Australia on a British Airways 747 with Jean Michel Jarre’s Oxygène, Part 1 blaring in my ears from my Sanyo Walkman style cassette player, while I was gazing out of the window at the broken white clouds that flying seemed magical and that memory has stayed with me to this day some 29 years later at the time of writing this my first ever blog entry.
This is how I fell in love with flying, how did you?