Is recreational flying in the U.K. a realistic hobby for the “average Joe”?

Recreational flying is seen as an expensive hobby that is surely going to burn a very deep hole in your pocket should you decided to take it up. Ultimately, it is often the type of extravagant past-time associated with the wealthy and seen as an unrealistic aspiration for the “average Joe”. With that said, flying is a potentially life-long hobby that is incredibly involved and rewarding. So is it possible to indulge your desire to get air-borne without breaking the bank?

Make no bones about it; if you’re serious about taking up recreational flying it’s a past-time that requires considerable investment both in terms of time and money. One-off classes can be very reasonable and start from approximately £60, however if you are looking to work towards your PPL (Private Pilot’s Licence) a much longer time spent training will be required. In the UK, the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority stipulate that you must spend a minimum of 45 hours in the air before you are qualified to take the pilot’s licensing test. To get the required flight time under your belt it is a good idea to enrol on a PPL course at a CAA accredited flight school or flying club. Courses such as this aren’t cheap, you’ll be looking in the region of a couple of thousand pounds, but there are some good deals available including discount options online. A good tip as always is to shop around to not only make sure you’re getting the best deal financially but also to make sure that the course itself is the best choice for you. Some key considerations should include; how far you have to travel to get to the school? Where it is located, for example if it is on the sea coast lessons could easily be affected by the weather. If you’re going to make the investment then it has to be right choice.

Once you’ve completed your training and are fully qualified, the next consideration is how are you going to quench your new-found thirst for flight without the use of the aircraft at your flight school? For those one-off occasions when you want to indulge your passion you can rent a plane for a few hundred pounds depending on how long you want to rent it for. If your dream has always been to own your own plane on the other hand, then you will undoubtedly be looking at an investment in the region of tens of thousands, to hundreds of thousands of pounds. Of course there are also other considerations in terms of cost such as parking and airport fees. These can vary greatly, however in recent times many small airports have been able to expand the amount of parking space that they are able to provide to private aircraft owners through the use of temporary aviation flooring that provides additional secure parking and operational surfaces.

There is also the cost of maintaining your plane and of course insurance to consider. Choosing an aircraft with good safety rating will help to reduce insurance costs to some extent. It is also a good idea to find a good value aircraft mechanic for times when maintenance is required.

While learning to fly is the type of hobby that is always going to incur a noticeable cost, our outlay will always depend on just how far you want to indulge your passion. If you’re happy to spend the odd weekend partaking in individual classes then it is a part time that is the reach of most. However, if your aspirations include flying and owning your own aircraft then undoubtedly a substantial amount of investment over a long period of time will be required for your dream to become a reality.

About the author – Louise Orr is an avid flying enthusiast, from learning about the history of flying to researching innovative aviation technologies. You can find her on Google +.

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