flying lessons

Flying lessons at Cardiff Airport

Here at Air Experiences, we offer flying experiences across the country – and Wales is no exception. For those in the south of Wales, or even the other side of the Bristol Channel in England, Cardiff Airport – or Maes Awyr Caerdydd – offers the perfect location for your first flying experience. It’s not just the only airport in Wales to offer scheduled international flights on passenger jets; it’s also a fantastic airport for experiencing the thrill of flying a light aircraft.

Cardiff Airport started life as RAF Rhoose, built during the Second World War for Spitfires to operate out of. After the war it suffered a period of abandonment, which saw its runways littered with unused bombs and its buildings falling to bits. But by the early 1950s it was brought back to life as the international airport we know today, operating flights to France and Ireland. Subsequent development has seen the range of destinations grow enormously, with runway extension in the 1980s allowing bigger jets, such as Boeing 747s, to use the airport. It’s now also the primary maintenance base for British Airways. On a few memorable occasions, Cardiff has even played host to one of the most famous aircraft of all time: Concorde.

Concorde at Cardiff Airport (from Wikimedia Commons)

Concorde may no longer be flying, but the number of international flights operating from Cardiff means that you’re never short of things to see on a visit to this busy airport. This makes it a particularly interesting place to go flying, as there’s always something going on. As you taxi to the runway for take-off on your flying lesson, you might even find yourself waiting behind a jumbo jet departing for warmer climes!

While you may not be flying quite as far as them, you’ll have plenty of stunning views to enjoy when you fly from Cardiff Airport. For a start, the airport’s location right on the coast will give you some spectacular sea views across the Bristol Channel and across to Somerset and Devon, with the tall towers of the Severn bridges visible as you look upstream towards Bristol. Nearby you’ll see the city of Cardiff, and in the distance, weather permitting, you should be able to spot the mountains of the Brecon Beacons National Park.

The Severn Estuary from the air (photograph licensed for reuse from Geograph.org)

If you’d like to book a flying lesson at Cardiff Airport, or you’d like to treat someone to a memorable flying experience for Christmas, take a look at our light aircraft flying lessons. Prices start from just £50, making it a fun and affordable Christmas present for those difficult-to-buy-for people!

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Treat someone to a flight this Christmas

The Christmas orders are already starting to roll in here at Air Experiences, so we thought we’d give you some inspiration if you’re thinking about buying a flying lesson for someone this Christmas. We have a great choice of experiences suitable for all your friends and family, so if you’re struggling to think of what to buy for someone, have a read of this guide and find the perfect gift for the person who has everything…

Light aircraft flying lesson

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Light aircraft are the standard small planes you see buzzing around the sky. They usually seat between two and four people, and common types include the Cessna 152 pictured above. Flights in a light aircraft are suitable for pretty much anyone. Starting at just £50, they’re a great option if you’re on a budget, and all our light aircraft flying lessons give you the chance to have a go at the controls if you wish. What’s more, they all count towards your Private Pilot’s Licence, so if your friend or relative decides to take their flying further after their lesson, they’re part of the way there already! Or how about a flight for two, this is ideal for a romantic couple or take the family flying.

Helicopter flying lessons

Learn to fly a Helicopter

 

A helicopter flying lesson is the perfect gift if you really want to splash out. By their very nature, they’re pricier than light aircraft (those moving bits don’t come cheap…), but the thrill of a helicopter flight is unforgettable. The helicopter shown here is the Robinson R22, but there’s a four-seat version too, meaning that your friend or relative might even be able to let you accompany them in the back seat if you want to.

Gliding lessons

Gliding Aerotow

Gliders look a bit like light aircraft, but they have very long wings and no engine or propeller; you can find out more about how gliders work here. Gliding is an experience anybody can enjoy, but we’d recommend going for a gliding aerotow voucher if you think your friend or relative might want a gentler experience; a winch launch is thrilling, but it’s not ideal for a nervous flyer as the climb rate is fast and steep. Gliding lessons start at just £49, so it’s a very affordable way of experiencing flight.  We also offer gliding courses for those whom you think might want to take up gliding; our gliding mini course gives you a half-day of gliding with four or five flights depending on the weather and how long each flight is. It’s a great introduction to learning to fly gliders, and many of our gliding clubs give you three months of free membership so that you can go back and fly again at club rates while you decide whether to join up.

Microlight flying lessons

Win a Microlight Flight

Microlight flying lessons are the perfect gift for those who are a little more adventurous. With their open cockpit, flying one feels more exposed than in other forms of flying, but it’s an experience like no other. It’s something a bit different, and from our microlight base here in the Midlands you’ll be able to see sights such as Warwick Castle and Shakespeare’s home town of Stratford-upon-Avon. You can fly a microlight for as little as £45, so it’s the perfect budget option.

Aerobatic experiences

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Know someone who’s a bit of a thrill-seeker? Then our aerobatics experiences might be just the thing for them this Christmas. Perfect for adrenaline junkies, an aerobatic flight lets them experience some of the moves you normally see from the ground at airshows, such as rolls and loops. It’s not for the faint-hearted, but rollercoaster fans will love it!

Motorglider flights

Motorgliding

Motorgliding is the ideal ‘best of both worlds’ experience, making it the one to go for if you can’t decide between gliding and light aircraft. A motorglider is a plane, with an engine and propeller, but it has long wings like a glider. On some of our motorglider flights, we can even turn the engine off mid-flight so that you get to experience both gliding and powered flight in the same experience.

Vintage aircraft flights

1000 Pixel Wide Yellow Moth Finals at Kemble

For those who are nostalgic about days gone by, our vintage aircraft flights take you back in time to the age of early aviation, when biplanes such as the De Havilland Tiger Moth ruled the skies. You can combine a vintage aircraft experience with a day out at the Imperial War Museum, Duxford, or you could treat someone to a ‘Best of Both’ vintage and modern aircraft experience, which can include aerobatics if they want.

All our vouchers are valid for ten months, and you can choose between an e-voucher or a printed voucher, the latter presented in a gold envelope ready to go under the tree. If you order before the end of November, you can also take advantage of our special offer of 40% off half-hour light aircraft flights in the Midlands. Order yours now!

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What to expect on your first flight

Have you just received a gift voucher from Air Experiences, or are you thinking of giving one as a gift this Christmas? If so, you may be wondering what really happens on the day of your flight. If you’re not sure what to expect, read on to find out more about what you can look forward to on your first flight!

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Booking
The first thing to do when you receive your voucher is choose where and when to fly. We have locations across the country for most types of flying, and we’ll send you details of how to book as part of your voucher pack, including all the contact and location details.

Most airfields fly seven days a week and operate between 9am and 5pm. Obviously the weather sometimes gets in the way, so we ask all voucher-holders to call the airfield on the morning of their flight just to make sure that it can still go ahead. If not, you can reschedule to any time within the validity of your voucher.

On the day of your flight
First thing’s first: finding the airfield! Make sure you have a good map or in-car GPS with you, and the flying school’s postcode. Most airfields were built in the 1940s, when they were too busy thinking about the war effort to put much thought into making the airfield easy to find (in fact, sometimes exactly the opposite – the RAF tried to make it difficult for airfields to be discovered!). There are often several flying schools on the same airfield, so make sure you have the name of the one you’re flying at so that you can ask for directions if you need to.

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Once at the flying school, you’ll probably see a few pilots milling around the clubhouse in pilot uniform. Introduce yourself to them and they will take you to your instructor for the day.

Plan to be at the airfield for at least a few hours, as this gives time briefings, the flight, and perhaps even tea and coffee before or after your flight.

What if I’m scared of heights?
Despite being a pilot, so am I! I can’t climb a ladder without hanging on so tight that my knuckles go white and my legs turn to jelly. Somehow flying doesn’t have that effect on me, nor on the majority of the public.

I’m a flight instructor with over 2,500 hours of flight experience, and over the years I’ve flown with hundreds of people. In that time only one or two people didn’t like it.

Once in the aircraft with the door closed, you get a feeling of security. It’s a bit like being in a car; if you sat on the roof of the car whilst driving down the motorway, you’d be scared to death. But when inside the car with your seatbelt on, you feel quite safe driving at 70mph.

Time to fly
When it’s time for your lesson, your instructor will walk you to the aircraft and show you how everything works. The cockpit looks quite daunting with all the controls and instruments, but remember how you felt when you first got to drive a car – how will I manage to use the clutch, brake, throttle and steer all at the same time?!

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Once on board with seatbelts fastened, it’s time to start the engine. This is quite loud, as the cockpit soundproofing is not that good, so you will need to wear a headset, which will allow you to talk to your instructor via an intercom.

Once the engine is warmed up, it’s time for taxi and take-off. Taxiing the aircraft is just like driving a car (in fact I tell my students that the aircraft is just a Ford Escort with wings), then it’s onto the runway.

Take-off is a bit like what you experience in an airliner, but there’s less of a feeling of being pushed into your seat, and a much better view. Again, it’s a little noisy and bumpy as the aircraft speeds down the runway, but once airborne it all goes smooth and you can see the ground getting smaller as you climb away.

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We’re up here, now what?
Normally your instructor will give you a while to settle into the flight by flying you over some of the local landmarks (I remember on my first flight, my instructor shouted – look there’s Tesco! We’ll try to make sure you see something a bit more exciting than that!).

Once the sightseeing is done and photos taken, your instructor will let you have the chance to fly the aircraft yourself. Firstly, the instructor will demonstrate how to move the aircraft up/down and left/right, and then if you wish you can take the controls yourself – don’t worry, nothing can go wrong; that’s why your instructor is there.

Instructors are hugely qualified – they have been through years of rigorous training and are tested regularly.

Time flies when you’re having fun, and I can almost guarantee that after what seems like a few minutes, it will be time to fly back to the airfield (most of my students tell me how the 30-minute flight just – excuse the pun – flew by).

On final approach the aircraft gently descends before with a little bump touching safely down on the runway.

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Time for photos and certificates
When you’re back at the airfield clubhouse, you’ll have time for photos with your instructor and a chat about what happened on your flight. Many of our airfields also offer a certificate as a memento of your flight.

Your first flight counts towards gaining your pilot’s licence, so if you enjoyed it – why not come back? Browse the rest of our site to find the perfect flying experience for you.

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10 Reasons You Should Buy Someone a Flying Lesson This Christmas

Christmas is fast approaching, and if you’ve not yet started your Christmas shopping, it’s time to start thinking about what you’ll buy for your nearest and dearest this year. With just over a month to go, here are some great reasons for choosing one of our fantastic flying lesson gift vouchers to give as the perfect Christmas present this year…

1. The perfect gift for the person who has everything

It can be so difficult to choose a Christmas present for someone who already has everything they could possibly want in life. An experience day voucher gives them something priceless – memories. Not to mention some pretty cool photo opportunities of themselves at controls of a flying machine.

2. Make them feel amazing

The glamour of being a pilot has endless appeal, so why not treat a loved one to that fabulous feeling of being at the controls of an aeroplane and make them feel awesome… just like Tom Cruise in Top Gun. Almost.

3. You get to go and watch!

The voucher may be for them, but that doesn’t mean you can’t go along with them, take some photographs, watch some planes take off and soak up the aviation atmosphere. It makes a great day out for both of you – or indeed all the family – so not only do they get the perfect Christmas present, but you also get to enjoy an outing too!

4. Another one for the bucket list

Lots of us have bucket lists these days – i.e. a list of things we want to do before we ‘kick the bucket’, even if it’s not actually written down. Flying an aeroplane is on many people’s bucket list, so treating someone to the chance to take the controls is sure to go down well.

5. It’s affordable

Flying doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. Our aviation experience days start at just £45 – a lot cheaper than the bigger experience day companies. Even if you’re on a budget, you’re bound to find a flight that will make an affordable gift for someone you love.

6. They might get to fly over your house

If they fly from a local airfield, they might be able to fly over your house – so you might even get a great aerial photograph of your house thrown in! We have dozens of locations to choose from across the country, with more being added all the time.

7. Loads of aircraft types to choose from

We have a great choice of aircraft types for you to choose from, including aeroplanes, helicopters, gliders, motorgliders, microlights and vintage aircraft such as original 1930s Tiger Moth bi-planes. If you have a thrill-seeker in the family, you can even give them the chance to try their hand at aerobatics!

8. Their lesson will count towards formal training

If they love their flying lesson so much that they can’t wait to get airborne again, their initial lesson will count towards the hours they need to gain a Private Pilot’s Licence.

9. A sparkly gold envelope for under the tree

All our vouchers come beautifully presented in a gorgeous gold envelope that will look fabulous under the Christmas tree, and it’s left blank and unsealed for your own message. Each envelope contains a voucher that you can personalise by leaving a comment during the checkout process, along with details of how to book the flying lesson.

10. It’s so easy to order

Forget battling the Christmas crowds and queuing up in all the shops. Why not do your Christmas shopping from the comfort of your home using our quick and easy ordering process. Simply add the flying lesson you like to your shopping cart, fill in your details (add a personalised message in the ‘Comments’ box) and then complete your order by making a simple and secure payment through PayPal.

So what are you waiting for? Treat a loved one to a memorable flying lesson this Christmas and score some major brownie points! Get started with our Christmas inspiration

Image credits: Cessna from Wikimedia Commons, Christmas tree by Alexander Baxevanis on Flickr.

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