Looking For Something To Do Now You Have Your PPL Licence?
You’ve done all the studying for your Private Pilot’s Licence, passed all the aviation exams and finally gained that PPL Licence! But now what? Well worry not because there’s a whole world of aviation fun to be had.
If you have passed your driving test, chances are what I say next may sound familiar. If you haven’t already heard it, then it will only be a matter of time before you do. An instructor, PPL licence holder or PPL student will tell you that your PPL Licence should be considered as a licence to learn.
I’m not sure I absolutely agree with that – but it’s true that we never stop learning, I however prefer to think of the aviation licence as a key that opens the skies to a whole new and fantastic world of opportunities. Once you pass the final stages of your PPL training, usually the GFT of general skills test (you are still considered a student pilot until you have the PPL licence in your hands) and it is likely that you’ll be ‘chomping at the bit’ to take friends and family for a short local flight.
It is most likely that your next few flights following receipt of your PPL Licence will be to familiar airfields, almost certainly those you visited during your training, or destinations in your qualifying cross-country. Many new pilots find the next set of destinations more challenging as you tend to venture further away from your base airfield.
They’ll be unfamiliar and may well involve some transits of controlled airspace. It is therefore very important to find a way through any confidence barrier you might have. Going on a trip with a fellow PPL holder is good from an experience point of view, and it also halves the cost of fuel etc. Once you are confident with destinations that are further away, you really can start to stretch your aerial legs.
If you live for example in the southern half of the UK, then France, Belgium or the Channel Islands aren’t much more than an hour away, and although they involve extra steps (crossing large bits of water, filing flight plans and sorting out Customs), the rewards more than make up for the minor hassle. Through a system called drawback, you can even reclaim the duty on the fuel in your tanks.
If you live in the northern half of the UK then obviously the Continent will take a little longer to get to, but Scotland, Ireland and the Isle of Man all offer some fantastic flying and touring.
If long-distance touring sounds like your ‘cup of tea’, then there are lots of organised and semi-organised fly-outs. Checking your local airfield or many of the monthly flying magazines or forums will reveal trips that are planned for France, Belgium and lots of UK locations too. For the adventurous, there are companies that organise flying trips to Africa and the Middle East, while from time to time there are even some that involve flying from Europe to the United States!
There’s pretty much something for everyone’s tastes and most budgets, whether it’s a luxury outing somewhere, or a camp-under-the-wing session – great fun on a summer’s evening. You may find that your club, or club members will organise events, and in the early days sharing the flight planning, flying and expense is a great way to build experience.
Varying Types of Airfields Whilst Training for Your PPL Licence
You will only land at ‘licensed’ airfields – those that have been approved by the CAA and that meet the required standards. Now that you have that coveted PPL licence, you can also land at unlicensed airfields, or even farm strips (assuming that if renting your aircraft – the aircraft rental agreement and insurance covers that).
You will find that this opens a whole new set of flying opportunities for you, and if you intend to use your aeroplane for practical travel, you’ll often find an unlicensed airfield or strip to be the closest airfield to your destination.