ISN’T she lovely? Meet ‘Thruster’, the microlight I’ll be flying in next Saturday.
Following my last blog post about low-flying aircraft in Buckland Newton, I quite fancy the idea of winging it to picturesque picnic locations in Dorset, and have decided to take to the skies myself.
I only passed my driving test 10 days ago, so it seems perfectly logical to waste no time in going for my private pilot’s licence.
A couple of years ago I bought my mum a flying lesson for Christmas, from Compton Abbas flying school. She absolutely adored it, and it was here I came today to enquire about how to take it up as a full-time hobby. I was asked if I wanted to take up flying as ‘a career option’. Er, no.
The airfield nestles in fields not too far from Shaftesbury and Blandford. For the first time, this year the flying club has got more female members than men.
Flying lessons don’t come cheap, even if, like me, you’re opting to learn in tiny little microlights – or “flying lawnmowers”, as they are sometimes referred to. I’m looking at £115 a lesson, twice a month, if I want to make reasonable progress in getting my wings. And that’s before I shell out £80 for club membership (plus £25 admin costs). Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have that sort of cash to throw about. But to me it seems like a bit of a bargain, bearing in mind it can take as little as 25 hours to get your licence – which allows you to fly abroad, too! How glamorous. And for £3,000 I might be able to get a share in a plane and fly it, for around £35 an hour. Club membership covers insurance costs. Lessons cover the costs of fuel, VAT and landings. It’s pay as you go, so I’m not tied into an expensive course. And I’m already looking at ways to refine my budget. I could save a packet if I cut out drinking and going out for expensive dinners.
I’ll have to sit a few exams, covering the basics like air law and safety checks, and a practical to make sure I can communicate via the radio. Piece of cake. I scored 50/50 in my driving theory test. How hard can it be to learn to fly?
So (weather permitting) on Saturday morning, I’ll be in the hands of 26-year-old instructor Russell. We’ll be airborne for around 60 minutes, with long briefings before and after.
My boyfriend thinks I’m bonkers. But my only fear is: will this end up like all the other ‘hobbies’ I have tried and ditched in the past? Spanish lessons (always worked too late into the evenings to get there on time), yoga (too exhausted from work to even consider making the time to chill out) or tae kwon do (I was just rubbish at it).
Well, the sky’s the limit, and I’m in the mood to test it. Watch this space.