After my come down from the high I received from seeing such great scenery from my first flight in a microlight, I have to admit I was actually quite disappointed with the experience, mostly because I had been expecting more. More in terms of hands on
with the aircraft. A microlight being smaller and required very little movement, along with the steering being carried out by a joystick rather than a steering column, this experience did not meet expectations. Expectations which I did not know I had, darn TV show!
Also in hindsight, I think I could not have enjoyed the experience because there was one simple thing which I had forgotten, I was scared of heights! So much so I could not go up a department store escalator. Therefore it should not come as a shock that I only decided to try again two months later!
Why did I try again I hear you ask. Well, as a person who loved the outdoors and adventure I questioned why on earth I do not like flying, there is no logical reason why as flying appears to be everything I relish. The physical and mental challenges of flying, being out there in the outdoors and being able to travel. All things I enjoy. So I decided to try again.
This time I looked for a different company and was advised that flying a microlight
can be very different from an actual small aircraft. I am pretty sure that this was a sales line but I since I decided to give it another go I was going to go regardless. Up I went with ACS flight school.
ACS has 2 schools in Scotland (that I know of anyway), and was advised to
go to the airport in Perth as ACS runs their own terminal/hangar (whatever it is
as I did not know what the technical terms are yet) they would be better able to
accomodate my requirements rather than their other airport in Cumbernauld (which
is of course a little closer to home for me), because ACS ran the airport in Perth.
OK, again not sure what that meant and them being the experts, I trusted their advice and booked my first lesson. With temps dropping a few degrees below freezing at the start of the week I was not sure the lesson would go ahead this morning. Luckily though the temperatures climbed today and the rain has melted the majority of the ice and snow (on the ground anyway).
When I arrived I was sitting waiting for a bit on the cushy chairs in the waiting area as my instructor, I was told, was still in the air. Well, at least Perth Airport was much more
easier to drive to than Strathaven airfield, but then one was an actual airport while the other is an airfield. Funding, operations and uses were different.
It was quite busy with students here at ACS Perth today, pilots and staff cheerily dotting about. It was late Saturday morning, why wouldn’t people be naturally happy? Though it didn’t look like it, we were all inside a hangar separated into rooms. Cosy. When it was finally my turn I was first lead down a corridor down the side of the hanger and into a room. Debrief. I was asked my experience, to which I answered I have tried a trial flight, and the instructor acknowledged before continuing on. Picking up amodel aircraft the instructor proceeded to give me a summary of an aircraft, the controls, the rudders, the dials and the flaps. Neat. A quick five minutes later of technical term bombardment, we were out the door and walking out onto the apron (the parking and taxiing area of aircrafts).
We walked to one sitting just beside the grass and I stood and watched as the instructor unhooked the heavy stone weights from the wings of the small aircraft, a two seater Cessna 152, and told me to jump in as he opened the right side door for me.
Once in the aircraft I was then told what was going to happen and I watched as the instructor went through the checklist (checking the controls). As we started moving I was then walked through everything that would happen to lift the aircraft from the ground. I have to say, it was nice to know even though most of the time I had no idea what he was telling me. Though I was not controlling the aircraft, I was told to leave my hands were on the steering column and my feet were on the pedals so I would get a feel of things, the gist of it, which I did as I felt the movements as the instructor steered and pushed down on the pedals. I was also informed that the steering column was useless until in the air and that only the foot pedals are used to steer the aircraft on the ground. Neat.
The weather was a bit misty and cloudy, with occasional rain, but it didn’t
stop the Cairngorm scenery – mountains with snow on top of it, looking
absolutely stunning! The frozen rivers below looking deceivingly calm as the glimmering ice made me want to skate across it, weee ~~
As we glided through the air I got a run through of all the controls, why they were there and even a feel of what they did as the instructor changed the settings
to let me steer, or in my case, not steer as I was too timid. Though we were in the air for an hour it felt like it was only minutes! So much to learn, most of
it would be through experience and practise.
This time I did go away excited as I tucked the wad of information from the school under my arm, flying regularly was now definitely something to think about. In conclusion, I think I can say, if you just want to see scenery, going on a flight in a microlight aircraft is better as you can see more and go further. But if you want the actual hands on experience you should try a trial in a small aircraft fitting with a steering column. For me both experiences were complete opposites. The microlight trial had great weather, but I was disappointed with aircraft. In the Cessna trial flight the weather was poor but I loved the flight experience more. So for me, unsurprisingly, I prefer to be hands on all the way!