the aircraft

Being shown around light aircraft for the first time can be a bit daunting. This section will help familiarise you with the key elements in advance.

the basic 'A class' certified trainer

The first figure below is a high-wing aircraft, a Cessna 152. This is a very common and popular trainer and has been around longer than most student pilots. High wing aircraft give a wonderful view of the ground. The downside is that one needs a stepladder to fuel them and of course the upper wing surface is hard to clean. In addition, the wing height of many types is just right to tear off your scalp unless you are shorter than the average bear. Care must be taken when turning in flight as the wing obscures your vision in the direction you are turning.

Below is a Cessna 152 trainer. Just hover your mouse over the grey dots to see explanations of the main components.

Low wing aircraft are easy to fuel, your vision is not obscured when turning, but they are harder to get into and your view of the ground is obscured. If you fly a fabric covered aircraft such as a Robin, there is always the anxiety that a passenger, or indeed yourself, will put a foot through the wing! The underside of the wing and main gear is a wet and unpleasant task to clean.

a Piper Archer - a popular 4 seat aircraft with flying clubs This type is more expensive to rent

the microlight (3 axis)

Advanced microlights are virtually indistinguishable from standard certified two seat aircraft but these days often fly better and look more modern in design.

The Spanish built Esqual

A more basic form of three axis aircraft is represented by aircraft like the Thruster, shown below. Of tubular aluminium frame construction, it is covered with fabric which is just laced on. Just hover your mouse over the grey dots to see explanations of the main components.

The flexwing, weightshift or 'trike' is operated in a different fashion. The fabric covered wing is hinged at the top of the pylon. The pilot controls the aircraft by holding the 'A frame' and moving the wing in relationship to the fuselage. The controls are actually reversed compared to three axis machines. Most trikes have a nacelle in which you sit. This has been presented as a cutaway for the sake of clarity. Just mouse over the grey spots to find the names of all the parts

The choice is yours. A good idea is to decide what you intend to do (your mission) once you have your pilot license. If you intend to continue in training and fly airliners, you wish to fly at night or in cloud or carry more than one passenger, then you must begin with an 'A' class certified aircraft like the Cessna described above.

Microlights cannot fly in cloud or at night, are weight restricted and  and have a maximum of two places. Aircraft like the Thruster and weightshift types are also quite slow. Every class of aircraft has its attractions and drawbacks.