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First steps to flying

In the UK there are many different types of recreational flying available. Whether it is in traditional light aircraft, microlights, gliders, helicopters, balloons or even gyrocopters, there are many options to choose from to suit a range of interests and budgets.

This section is about how you can take your first steps towards acquiring a pilot licence, which you will need in order to participate in almost all types of flying.

Learning to fly is often one of the most rewarding things you will ever undertake. It is also a serious commitment of both your time and money so it’s important to do your research and make informed decisions about your training.

Generally your training will include

  • Ground training and exams in different subjects
  • Dual flying lessons with an instructor
  • Solo flying training
  • Flight test

Some useful sources of information are

  • Flying magazines – many publish useful guides on learning to fly
  • Flying associations, clubs and schools
  • Online forums for pilots/flying

Minimum age requirements

  • 16 years old to hold a licence for a glider or balloon
  • 17 years old to hold a licence for aeroplanes or helicopter

Medical Standards

Prior to starting training for any pilot licence it is worth considering the medical standards required. You will need to have a medical examination and be given a medical certificate in order for your licence to be valid. A good place to start is our quick guide to LAPL medical requirements, which are the least demanding.