Me posing with the Piper Warrior after my first lesson

Lesson 1 – Trial lesson

After researching different flight schools within easy reach of home, I settled on Aeros Gloucester and gave them a call to book a trial lesson. 5 days later and I was at the airport, having my pre-flight briefing.

My instructor brought out a model plane, and demonstrated its key functions – the elevator/stabilator to control climb and descent; the ailerons to roll left and right; the rudder to yaw and a basic intro to flaps, which help increase lift and drag. All seemed pretty straightforward. After filling out some paperwork, we left the building and walked over to the apron. I hadn’t heard the term apron before – it’s basically an area in the airfield for parking, fuelling, loading/unloading, etc.

We pushed the plane back from the grass and on to the tarmac, then climbed aboard.

Pushing the plane back from the grass

Time seemed to go so quickly – after a blur of radio calls and taxying, my instructor had performed the take-off and we were climbing in to the sky. I was grinning from ear to ear, and I hadn’t even touched the controls yet.

We levelled off at around 2,000ft and my instructor said “You have control”. I did a few turns, some climbing and descending, all the while laughing with excitement. I was then shown how to trim the aircraft, which means adjusting a wheel to allow you to fly at a desired attitude (eg pointing up, down or straight) without touching the yoke. Hands-off flying, if you like.

Next thing I know, we’d been in the air for almost an hour, and it was time to head back to the airfield and land. I took us back towards the airfield and then aimed at the runway, whilst my instructor dealt with the radio and a million and one other bits and pieces. At about 300ft from the ground, my instructor took over (I was beginning to wonder!) and executed a perfectly smooth landing.

After taxying back to the apron, I posed for a couple of cheesy pictures and went back inside for a de-brief. It must have been pretty clear that I had a good time. The instructor didn’t need to ask – he simply said “so you liked it then!” and I smiled. The hour had gone so quickly. I’d loved every second and I knew I had to book some more lessons.

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