You’ve finally done it. You’ve got your Private Pilot’s Licence (certificate). After months of study and hard work, you’ve earned it. Now you’re ready to take to the skies and enjoy the freedom of flight. But what comes next? Here are a few tips on how to make the most of your wings.
First, be sure to brush up on your flying skills. While a private pilot certificate gives you the ability to fly solo and carry passengers, it’s important to stay sharp and keep your skills honed. Take some time to review the basics of flying, and then practice them regularly. Second, take advantage of the freedom that your new certificate provides. With a private pilot certificate, you can fly just about anywhere in the world (subject to airspace restrictions).
In a previous post I described my journey from the first trial flight through to PPL completion. Whether, like me, it took you several years or just a few months to obtain your own PPL what are you going to do now that you have your pilot’s licence?
The post PPL phase is an important time for the recently qualified pilot. You have learned to fly up to an acceptable standard but this when a new phase of learning begins.
Assuming the funds are available and you can afford to fly on a regular basis you might find yourself giving pleasure flights to friends and family until the novelty (for them) wears off. What then?
If you have not planned ahead you might find yourself flying less often. If you don’t form the habit you might stop landing away at other airfields. Without this practice your confidence will lessen and eventually your flying might be confined to short trips in the local area.
There is a risk that the fall in your confidence level may lead you to stop flying altogether. It would be a great shame to withdraw having come so far but it’s all too common for PPL holders to abandon it at this early stage.
To maintain your interest and continuity of learning, and build your confidence, set new goals. Consider the variety in aviation and stretch yourself to reach each of these objectives when you’ve built up enough confidence and ability:
- Join a flying club and socialise with other aviators.
- Join AOPA and enjoy hotel, fuel, and pilot supply discounts.
- Join the LAA and build, maintain, or restore aircraft.
- Visit other airfields. Land on grass, concrete, and tarmac.
- Fly throughout the year and study the weather.
- Convert to different aircraft types.
- Convert to a taildragger, or vice versa.
- Learn to fly vintage aircraft.
- Learn to fly aerobatics and take part in amateur competitions.
- Go to fly-ins and air rallies.
- Take part in air races.
- Fly around the UK.
- Fly across water. Fly to the Channel Islands.
- Fly to the continent and visit other countries. Lachlan Smart, an 18 year old Australian pilot has just flown around the world. His advice, “Don’t be afraid to dream big and when you have a goal – go for it.”
If the PPL was the first step on a professional career then you’re probably already aware of the path to further training. You may be heading for a CPL/IR, ATPL, or a Flight Instructor rating.
Pilot’s Licence – done, but the cash runs out
For any number of reasons you may find, as I did, that the money just isn’t available for flying. The Pilot’s licence had to be put aside while I took care of other responsibilities.
However, if it’s obvious that you’re hooked on aviation then you may find your Christmas and birthday wishes are fulfilled and you continue to add entries into your logbook. They may not be entries in the Pilot in Command column but you can still experience flight in all kinds of ways.
Since obtaining my PPL I have had to confine my logbook entries to dual instruction but I’ve chosen flights that are memorable due to the aircraft type and the maneouvers flown.
- Harvard T6G
- Extra300 – aerobatics (five times)
- Piper PA-28-161
- Cessna C172 – around Barbados
- Cessna C172SP – glass panel
- De Havilland DH82 Tiger Moth
- Harvard IIB – aerobatics
- Bulldog – aerobatics
- AutoGyro MT-03
- Piper Cub
Flight Around Barbados
The flight around Barbados in a Cessna172 (appropriately registered BP-JOY) was particularly memorable. Flying in the Caribbean is extra special due the to vast expanses of ocean in several shades of blue with the bluest of skies above.
The aero club was on the southern side of Grantley Adams International Airport and we once the preflight was complete we made our way to the holiday point for the runway. It was unusual to be in a light aircraft at an international airport using the same runway and airspace as airliners on international flights from the USA, UK, and elsewhere.
We flew one circuit of the island heading north along the eastern coast first and returning down the west coast. We had to orbit once or twice before rejoining the circuit to allow a DHL flight to land.
What are you waiting for? Go Flying!
- Introductory flying lesson at locations around the UK
- 30 minute flying lesson at locations around the UK
- PPL/NPPL training – nationwide