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Preparations for your flight

For your trial lesson, some organisations require you to complete a medical self-certification form and/or an insurance waiver form. Then you'll meet your instructor and they'll take you through what is going to happen. This might involve the use of a little aircraft to demonstrate the controls in the three axes (pitch, roll, and yaw), because the first lesson is all about the simple matter of steering the aeroplane and in a few minutes YOU'LL BE DOING IT. At this stage, if you have particular places you'd like to fly over, such as your house, you should mention it to allow it to be planned for.

 

Pre-flight checks

So, off to the aircraft, to go flying!! As part of the lesson, your instructor may take time to do the pre-flight inspection with you. If they do not, don't be alarmed, as it will have been done earlier, and checked after any earlier flights.

 

Strapping in

Strapping in is very important. It is unlikely that you will be going for your first flight on a very turbulent day but your instructor will still make sure that you are properly attached, and most aircraft now use inertia-reel systems just like on a family car. Many people ask "where's the parachute?" at this stage, but it is extremely unlikely that you will wear one on this sort of flight - among other things, not many of us even know how to use one.

 

Handling the controlsThree axes of flight

There are an awful lot of dials in a little piston engined aeroplane, and a fair few switches, but the good news is that you probably won't have to worry about any of them. When you will be given the controls you will be high enough, and straight and level, and the emphasis at this stage of the training is to get a feel for things and to get used to looking out of the window - there is no radar in a little aeroplane and the way we see other aeroplanes, and the way we navigate, is with the Mark One Eyeball.


Take off!

Your instructor will then work the radio, and start taxiing for departure - trying to understand what is meant by all the jargon on the radio is probably too ambitious at this stage. The instructor will do a very important set of checks just before takeoff, ensuring the engine will give full power when it is needed, and after a few more words of gibberish into the radio, and after checking with you that you are happy, full power will be applied, it'll get a lot noisier, and after a couple of hundred yards the ground will fall away and you will be flying!!!

 

In charge

Surprisingly soon after takeoff the aircraft will be settled into the cruise and your instructor will utter the immortal words: "you have control". This is the cool bit, pressing any of the controls gently will have the aircraft turning and banking, climbing and descending, and anytime you want to stop you simply say "you have control" and the instructor will take over while perhaps you take a few photos or take a really good look at places on the ground which you've never seen from this angle.

 

Landing

All too soon the time will come to rejoin the circuit - to go back to the airport to land. Depending how easy you have found it to manoeuvre the aircraft, and depending how busy the airport is, you might get to fly the aircraft a long way down the approach path - but the instructor will normally be the one to actually land the aircraft for you!!!


After taxiing back to the parking area, the instructor will shut the engine down and everything will get much quieter, with just the gentle winding down of the gyroscopic instruments, and you will walk back to the flying school - probably with loads of questions and comments for the instructor.

 

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