Learn to fly at Andrewsfield Microlights
What is a microlight aircraft?
The word ‘microlight’ often conjures up images of a kite with a lawnmower engine hanging below! These are known as flexwing microlights. Modern ‘three-axis’ microlights – like the Ikarus C42 that we use for training at Andrewsfield – are really just lighter, two seat aeroplanes, barely distinguishable from their heavier Piper and Cessna cousins. Technically, a microlight is an aircraft that has no more than two seats, weighs less than 450kg (or 600kg for new designs) and has a slow stall speed (below 35kt, or 45kt for the 600kg variant).
Why choose to learn to fly on a microlight?
Many people choose microlights because they are the cheapest way both to learn to fly and, once you have your licence, to keep flying at a reasonable cost. How so?
- The maintenance and fuel costs are much lower than for heavier aircraft used in PPL training. This is because microlights are very simple to maintain, and their modern engines and light airframes mean that they are very economical on fuel. This means that it is possible to offer training at a substantially lower hourly cost.
- The minimum number of hours required to obtain your licence is significantly lower than that required for PPL, which means that the total cost of obtaining your licence is likely to be substantially lower.
- Many microlight pilots, once they have their licence, are able to buy their own aircraft or enter into shared ownership at a fraction of the purchase and maintenance cost of a more traditional aircraft, meaning that they can fly more often, growing in confidence and experience more quickly.
Simply, microlights are a fun and affordable way to become a pilot! You can read much more about microlights at the British Microlight Aircraft Association (BMAA) website. Flyer magazine has an excellent feature about learning to fly microlights here.
What kind of licence will I obtain?
The National Private Pilots Licence (NPPL) is a more affordable alternative to the traditional PPL. Obtaining a Microlight NPPL (formally known as the NPPL(M)) entails at least 25 hours of flight, including 10 solo hours under an instructor’s supervision. Most people take longer than 25 hours to complete the training. Plan on 35-45 hours, depending on how old you are and how often you can schedule your lessons. The more regularly you can fly, the quicker you can learn.
With your NPPL you will be able to fly microlights not only in the UK but also in France, and many other European countries. The sky really is the limit!
Obtaining your NPPL on a microlight aircraft is cheaper than you might think – it will probably be around half to two thirds of the cost of a full PPL. Flying high-performance modern microlights like our C-42 means that you will be learning on more advanced flying machines than the typical Cessnas and Pipers used in PPL training!
Even so, after you have gained your NPPL(M), you can, with further training, add an additional rating, the SSEA (simple single-engine aeroplanes), which will allow you to fly these traditional, heavier aircraft, with up to four seats.
Alongside the flight training, there are five ground exams that NPPL students need to pass (as opposed to the nine exams that need to be taken by PPL students). These are mainly multiple choice papers, in the following subjects:
- Human Performance and Limitations
- Air Law
- Aircraft Technical
Self-study using the books and resources that your instructor recommends will get most students through these exams without any difficulty but we offer ground school tuition on a one-to-one and group basis as required.
The Training Syllabus
All microlight training follows the standard CAA-approved NPPL syllabus. Many of the elements are the same or very similar to the PPL syllabus.
The initial lessons focus on familiarisation with the aircraft and mastering basic flying skills. Once comfortable, more advanced techniques, landing and ‘circuit’ practice are introduced.
After mastering both flying and landing, you will make your first solo flight! After that you will alternate between solo flying and cross-country navigation, with some more advanced training like low-level navigation and stall/spin awareness added in when weather permits. After some revision, you’ll be ready for your General Skills Test to become a certified pilot.
Age and Medical Restrictions
Training can start at 14, but you cannot fly solo until age 16. To be issued with your licence you need to be 17. There is no upper age limit.
The maximum weight for a pilot in a C42 is around 115kg, depending on the combined weight of instructor and student.
As for medical requirements, if you’re fit to drive, you can fly a microlight! A simple self-declaration form is needed, valid until age 70, then renewed every 3 years. You do not need to pass a medical examination to fly a microlight or to obtain your NPPL.
The exception to this is if you are taking psychiatric medication. If this is the case, you must first consult an Aeronautical Medical Examiner.