Learning to Fly in Winter

Learning to fly microlights in the UK is often the ultimate exercise in patience. As we all know the weather can best be described as… um… variable. I’m not a meteorologist or even a pilot but I do get to see all sorts of people pass through our flying school and there are some patterns that I’ve noticed.

Even here in the soft south we get all sorts of weather, regardless of the time of year, so new students rapidly learn to be patient. Their attitude changes as they gradually gain experience and get used to my apologetic phone call telling them “sorry, not today, scuppered by the weather again”. To the uninitiated a hot and sunny day is a hot and sunny day and I can sometime hear the disbelief in a newbies voice when I have to tell them it’s too windy to fly. After a couple of flights in hot, bumpy conditions though, they soon appreciate that the weather is a complex subject for pilots and as time goes on they’re generally (a little) less frustrated by my bad news calls.

So if the summer weather can be fickle what about the winter? People are sceptical when I tell them that we fly year round. Surely we just shut down over the winter months while we wait for the spring? Obviously the weather in the winter is worse. It’s colder, wetter, greyer and makes me grumpy. What sun there is skips off the south with the geese, leaving us to get up in the dark and go home in the dark (bah humbug).

The winter can however give us some brilliant flying days. Obviously we get those stunningly bright, clear, frosty days but also overcast days – as long as the visibility is good enough and the winds light enough – often give us better flying conditions than we see in the summer. Yes, there are fewer flying days but the ones there are can often be more productive. The trick for a student pilot is to be flexible and learn to be patient. I can think of at least three students who learned to fly last winter and they were able to take advantage of the calm, stable air in the early days of their training – by the time the bumpy summer arrived they were ready for it. Two of those students now own shares in our syndicate aircraft and the third is on the waiting list.

They did get a few calls from me though: “sorry, not today, scuppered by the weather again”.

If you want to learn to fly give us a call – whatever the time of year.

First Solo Flight for Charlie Simpson

Congratulations to Charlie Simpson on completing his first solo flight in the flexwing here at Redlands Airfield near Swindon.

Rainy Days at a Microlight School

This is Papa Bravo, our trusty Quantum 912 flexwing microlight, getting a little bit of love and attention from her original builders, P&M Aviation in Marlborough. As much as we hate rainy days they do let us get some of the more boring technical jobs done – in this case propeller balancing. We’d rather be flying though!

Craig Thompson flies his first solo!

Student pilot Craig Thompson flies his first solo in the C42 at Redlands

Congratulations to Craig Thompson for flying his first solo in the C42 today, well done sir!

Dreaming of Flying

Dreaming of Flying

Many people dream of learning to fly. There’s something in people that makes them want to escape the earth and soar above it like a bird. Or maybe a Spitfire pilot. Or possibly Superman.

Then real life takes hold and we get on with work, families, mortgages and decorating. Learning to fly gets shelved along with being James Bond, scoring the winning goal in the World Cup and all those other pipe dreams.

One of the joys of working at a flying school is that I regularly see people nervously take their first steps as student pilots and gradually grow in confidence as they become competent, qualified pilots. They realise that dream of flight and they do it in real aircraft that can fly in and out of tiny farm airstrips and land on large, tarmac runways with equal aplomb.

The first thing to do is come and have a flight with us. Your instructor will let you take control and fly the aircraft for a bit and you’ll be hooked. That first flight can go in your logbook and will count towards your qualification as a fully fledged pilot.

An Evening Wiltshire Tour

Microlighting with Cloudbase

Papa Bravo’s new clothes

New logo for Cloudbase Microlighting & Paragliding School on the Flex Wing

Papa Bravo showing off her new clothes and looking epic in the sunshine at Redlands.

Coxy’s Little Minx

Coxy flying his self-built single seat aircraft Little Minx

Coxy has occasionally been up in the Little Minx (he built it himself you know!), although now spends most of the time cuddling the Nespresso machine!

David O’Connell has passed his GST

Student David O'Connell

David O’Connell has passed his GST in the C42 here at Redlands. A huge congratulations from all of us here at Cloudbase Microlighting David!