Dreams of Flight…..

Have you ever wanted to fly, but just thought it would be too difficult or too expensive? If you have, then read on because Microlight flying may well be the answer.
As publicity member for the Royal Air Force Microlight Flying Association (RAFMFA), I trained with RAFMFA and have owned examples of each type of microlight. In this brief article, I will try to outline just what the RAFMFA has to offer and how you can very quickly be flying yourself, your friends and family.

Gilder To start with, there are 2 types of microlight, flex wing and 3-axis. A flex wing is what most people picture when they hear the word microlight; basically it is a big hang glider wing with a 1 or (more usually) 2 seat pod suspended beneath it. The engine is at the rear of the pod in pusher configuration.
3-axis machines are more akin to a ‘real’ aircraft with stick and rudder controls in a conventional arrangement; these can also be single or 2 seat machines. The engine may sometimes be at the rear but is generally at the front.

Glider flying near lighthouse. Now, pay attention to this bit; if you can drive a car then you can fly a microlight! A bold statement, but there is really nothing at all complicated involved in flying these machines.
Okay, that’s whetted your appetite, but can’t decide whether you want to learn to fly a flex wing or 3-axis machine? Just contact the RAFMFA Training Co-ordinator and book a trial lesson on each type. Once you’ve done that you can make your decision as to aircraft type and book a course. Whilst learning, your instructor will tailor the pace of the course to your individual ability, but before very long you’ll be confident, competent and suddenly flying your first solo circuit of the airfield. It’s a real feeling of achievement and I promise you won’t stop grinning all day!

Gilder Legally, the minimum requirement to gain a full license is 25 flying hours, but a general rule of thumb is to allow as many hours as your age, in years. If you manage to do it in less then that’s a bonus! RAFMFA has 2 training centres, flex wing is taught at RAF Henlow and 3-axis at RAF Halton. Both schools have modern machines which use reliable 4-stroke engines. We have very experienced instructors with the patience and skill to correct any mistakes you may make as you journey along the learning curve.
A big plus of learning with the RAFMFA is that training is much cheaper than with a civilian school. In fact, the RAFMFA has just become an accredited ‘Learning Provider’. This means that you can use your Enhanced Learning Credits to learn to fly. Training costs are around £50 an hour, so that will give you up to 40 hours flying instruction for FREE! That’s £2000 you don’t have to find from your own pocket; for most people that will be enough to gain their license.

Okay, let’s assume the great day has come and you have your license, fresh from the Civil Aviation Authority, now what? Well, there are 3 options; you could syndicate on a RAFMFA machine, which is by far the cheapest way to fly, all equipment is provided costs are around £40 an hour - and that includes the fuel!
You could buy your own aircraft; a basic second hand machine can be had for £2000 and upwards, although if you have a spare £50000, there are machines at this end of the spectrum too! Annual costs are roughly equivalent to operating and insuring a good sports motorbike (but the view is rather better!) however depreciation is significantly less than an equivalent car or motorbike.
The third option is to buy a share in a machine with like minded individuals, this is a very good way to reduce costs and split maintenance bills, should syndication on a RAFMFA machine be unfeasible.
It is no exaggeration to say that it is quite possible to gain your license, buy your own machine and all the associated paraphernalia for under £5000. Now that is about as cheap as flying gets!

Glider The beauty of microlight flying is that it holds the middle ground, somewhere between gliders and light aircraft. Unlike a glider, you can turn up at anytime of day, put a passenger in the back (or beside you) and head off into the blue, without being reliant on a winch launch or aero tow; you just go flying, at your own convenience whenever the mood takes you.
The hourly cost to fly a microlight is considerably less than flying a light aircraft and this means you can afford to fly more! Of course flying more also means greater currency and with currency comes confidence. What you can do in a Microlight is limited only by your imagination; pilots have flown around the world and even over Everest. For the more competitive among you, there is a thriving microlight competition scene open to both flexwing and 3-axis, at individual, national and world level. The Association’s own ranks have several keen international competitors and also a World Champion. If all this sounds like just your thing, then log on to where there is a wealth of information about microlight flying in the RAF.

Alternatively, contact:

RAFMFA Training co-ordinator & CFI;

Dale Coupland 95721 x 7067 or 07889 751935

Flexwing instructor Martin Aris 0771 8684895

3-axis instructor Dave Seath 95237 x 6275 or 07890 677779

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