Why Fly?

A fair question, and one to which there are many answers. Remember the feeling when you passed your driving test? Multiply it several times over and you'll get the idea.

Fly for:

  • Business - As you might take a trip by car or by train, why not do the same in an aeroplane? If you're travelling on business, get to places much quicker allowing you to build those vital connections with people across larger distances in places that may be harder to get to. Or perhaps you are a farmer and see the advantages flying brings for crop dusting your fields and surveying your animals. 
  • Personal use - If you're travelling on holiday, why not spend a few nights in Burgundy at Chateau la Chassagne? Quiberon Air Club on the picturesque Quiberon Peninsula in southern Brittany is ideal for a few days by the sea. Or you might want to fly somewhere and camp under the wing of the plane instead. Other activities could include local sightseeing, aerobatics and air racing.
  • Career - If you discover you really love flying and want to do it as a career, you can embark on a training path to fly for the airlines, the military or various other General Aviation industries.

Learning to fly is a challenge, which is why it's such fun. Moving in three dimensions instead of two is more interesting for a start. If you like rock climbing, skiing or sailing you'll probably also like flying. Perhaps it's because all of them involve going up down and sideways while not travelling in the direction you're pointing!

Types of flying

Just like boating, where you can be anything from a windsurfer or canoeist to the captain of an ocean going liner there are many different levels of flying. Basic unpowered flight can involve leaping off a hill wearing a parachute or a hang glider, right up to high performance competition sailplanes. Powered aircraft can range from hanging under a parachute with a petrol-engined fan strapped to your back, right up to commercial airliners. Mix in balloons, airships and helicopters and you have a heady mix. Since most people fly conventional powered aircraft that's what we'll concentrate on most.

Licenses (Aeroplane)

UK National Private Pilot Licence (NPPL)

32 hours training

DVLA Group 1 or Group 2 Medical standard

Light Aircraft Pilot Licence (LAPL(A))

30 hours training
GP or AME Medical

Private Pilot Licence (PPL(A)) 45 hours training
Class 1 or 2 Medical
Commercial Pilot's Licence (CPL) 200 hours flight time
Class 1 Medical
Airline Transport Pilot's Licence (ATPL) 1500 hours flight time
Class 1 Medical


Flying is the prime method of international travel so there are internationally recognised licences. International air travel is regulated by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) a United Nations Body. Most private pilots fly on a Private Pilots Licence (PPL), which is recognised by ICAO. The holder of a UK-issued PPL is entitled to fly a UK registered aircraft anywhere in the world. Like your car driving licence, the PPL is for non-commercial use. if you wanted to drive a truck or a bus full off passengers you'd need to get a professional licence, such as a Heavy Goods Vehicle Licence or Public Service Vehicle Licence. The equivalents in aviation are a Commercial Pilots Licence (CPL) and an Airline Transport Pilots Licence (ATPL).

A basic PPL entitles you to fly privately (i.e. not for hire or reward) in good weather, where you can see where you are going and can see the ground. If you want to fly in cloud or out of sight of the ground you can do more training and obtain more ratings on your licence.

Within Europe we also have the Light Aircraft Pilot's Licence (LAPL). This is a European licence and not recognised outside EASA countries. The LAPL has less stringent medical requirements and requires slightly less training.


The following ratings can be added to a PPL or above. They are not available for LAPL holders. However a LAPL may upgrade to a PPL.

Night Rating
Instrument Rating (Restricted)
Multi-Engine Rating
Instrument Rating
Aircraft-Specific Type Rating

AOPA and Flight Training

AOPA UK is there to support you throughout your aviation life and Training and Development is a key part of that activity.

At the most basic level the instructors who teach you to fly are likely to be instructors teaching to an AOPA syllabus at an AOPA affiliated flying school.

The environment in which you learn and fly will have been influenced by AOPA's work with regulators and legislators, both in the UK and Europe.

Earning your Pilots Licence opens the door to new opportunities. AOPA sponsors wide range of initiatives encouraging pilots to get more out of their flying. These range from flying with a more experienced pilot who will help you with unfamiliar procedures to new qualifications and the recognition of achievement through awards.

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