EVER dreamed of learning to fly? Well now you can with flying lessons from East of Scotland Microlights.
Training with a microlight - which is defined as a small two seater aeroplane that weighs around 265kg and can fly at low speed - is a great way to work towards getting your very own pilot’s licence and is also fun hobby that will help you discover Scotland as you’ve never seen it - from the air.
East of Scotland Microlights is the longest established school and club in the country, operated by Gordon Douglas, chief flying instructor with over 30 years’ experience and is located at East Fortune Airfield, East Lothian.
The club operates all year round, generally seven days a week, from 10am until 6pm (last lesson 4pm), light permitting and offers an introductory course to wannabe pilots.
Instructors say microlights are great fun to fly and more affordable than other types of powered flying. The lessons themselves also tend to be cheaper and should the hobby grip you - and once you attain your own licence - second-hand aircraft are often available at surprisingly low prices with no compromise on safety.
Microlights can be flown from fields which would be inaccessible to larger aircraft, meaning they can often lead to a fun way of exploring Scotland’s rugged landscape.
Gordon, who has been flying microlights for over three decades says that learning to fly with microlights couldn’t be easier, he said: “It’s very straight forward, you basically train towards a pilot’s licence and the training is very structured you have exercises that you cover to train for a licence and it’s just a case of booking up and coming through to fly with the instructor.
“It’s very easy for any age to take it up, from 16 up to the oldest student we have, I think, is in his mid 80s.”
The instructor says it’s a great way to relax and explore the country from the air, he adds: “I’ve been doing this for 35 years and I still haven’t got bored of it yet, it’s an absolutely brilliant hobby, it’s a constantly changing scene, you know you’re flying, you’re going places, you can do trips, you see amazing sights.
“You get up flying amongst the clouds, it’s a real priviledge to do that sort of stuff and it’s the sort of thing most people aren’t going to see.”
Lessons are cheap, coming in at just £70 for a half an hour flight, and Gordon says you’ll even get a “wee shot of flying the plane yourself” which also works towards your licence application.
He also has some advice for those who perhaps have concerns regarding the safety of the small vehicles, which according to statistics, are the safest form of sport aviation in the UK.
“Since 1984 all the microlights that we fly have to be built by a proof company who have to fully load test the design, it basically means the machines are unbreakable and it’s never been safer. I’ve been doing this for 35 years and if there was any risk in doing this at all I wouldn’t be doing it.
“In fact we say that if somebody comes to fly with us that the most dangerous part of the thing is actually driving to the airfield on the road you’ve got more chance getting hurt doing that than you do flying a microlight.”
East Fortune Airfield
How much is it?
Introductory lessons start from £70 for half an hour and go up to £220 for a two hour trip (either piloting yourself or sitting in the back sightseeing).
What equipment do I need to start?
You don’t need anything, the school advises people to dress as though they are going for a walk on a winter’s day - whether they are flying in the summer or the winter, and they provide you with any equipment you need including a one piece padded flying suit, fleecy neck tube, helmet with intercom and two pairs of gloves.
Anything else I should know?
- Flying with the school is accessible to people with disabilities.
- Your friends and family can come and watch.
- The minimum age the club are allowed to take up is 14 years old, there is no upper age limit.
• For more information or to find out how you can book up lessons, you can find the school’s website here.