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Joe’s First Solo

Joe’s First Solo Circuit!

Hey! I’m Joe.

I’m 16 years old and currently a student pilot with Cloudbase Aviation.

I was first inspired to learn to fly when I was around 10 years old. My Uncle is a commercial pilot
but also flies a Cessna 172. He took me up for a local flight and after that it definitely triggered the
infamous “Flying Bug”. Anyway, fast forward 6 years to the Christmas just gone and my mother purchased a
“Air Experience” from Cloudbase Aviation.

We had to re-schedule the air experience flight a couple of times due to the bad weather over the Christmas period
but finally the day came!

Not quite sure what to expect, I met Phil and we went straight into it. We got into the plane, a Flight Design CTSW, and taxied over to the holding point to take off on Runway 25.
This was a temporary runway (the taxiway!) due to the waterlogged airfield and it bends so that was exciting. We were up in the air within seconds and after 5 minutes out to the East of the aerodrome, Phil gave me control of the aircraft.

Even though this was my first lesson, we went straight into the basic Syllabus (straight & level, turning, climbing and
descending). After an hour we were back on the ground and I had the biggest smile on my face!

I was hooked.

That same day I purchased 2 more air experience flights so that I could make sure learning to fly was the correct choice (and it was!). The 2nd flight, I went up with Will (EasyJet Co-Pilot) and I did the take off under a lot of instruction. The 3rd hour was the same out to the east for a local flight getting used to the aircraft and the local airspace.

After 3 hours of flying in the CTSW I knew I wanted to pursue private flying and I assessed my options. I seriously considered purchasing a block of 10 hours but after hearing all about the Cloudbase share-scheme, I ended up making
the choice to purchase a share in G-KUPP, so that I could benefit from much cheaper flying lessons and also have a great aircraft to carry on my flying after I get my licence. I’ve never looked back.
My flying cost went down to just £80 per hour compared to the standard £146 per hour.

Fast Forward 8 Months…… I am now flying solo! I have done 27 hours of flight training and 3 hours of that has been Solo.

I’m well on track to get my private pilot’s licence (I can’t get it until I’m 17). Cloudbase is supporting through my written examinations and by being part of the Cloudbase Club I have had a chance to go flying in a 1933 Stampe Bi-Plane doing some pretty extreme aerobatics!

Flying To France

Flying VFR To France!

Having recently flown the CTSW to France, I thought it would be a good idea to write a quick post about the trip, so if any club members wanted to do the same, the process is well documented.

In all my time growing up and working at Cloudbase, I never managed to sneak onto one of the many fly-outs to Le Touquet. 12 years later, I finally got the chance to take a good friend over the channel in Cloudbase’s Flight Design CTSW to fulfill an ambition.

Flight Planning

A few days before the flight, I downloaded SkyDemon for my iPad and used the excellent interactive map to plot the route we would use when flying to France. This map makes you aware of all the airspace that will be affecting you during the flight, and has every air traffic control units’ frequency available at a swipe of the finger! It was a great tool to use for planning and for reference during the trip. With the paid version (£179 per year – we know it’s steep and there are some cheaper alternatives), you can file your flight plan through this software.

  • Flight Plans (to be filed at least 30 minutes before departure) – It’s been a long time since I manually filed a flight plan so I wasn’t looking forward to it. You can print the form out, fill it in and fax it the old fashioned way using this form;
Flight Plan To France

Click To Enlarge and Print

We preferred ringing up the airfield tower and filing it over the phone – it takes 2 minutes and saves all that paperwork! Plus, they’re in the loop when it comes to making first contact on start-up.

To file the flight plan on the way back when you are in France, you are advised to use the OLIVIA website. This sends the flight plan to Le Bourget where you are entered into the system. If this is not working, you can telephone Lille ATC and file it over the phone. The number is available from the Le Touquet reception desk.

  • Customs -The authorities are only really worried about your return flight back over the UK border. Therefore a GAR (General Aviation Report) must be filled in at least 4 hours before your return flight. We found it easier to fill it in online, and we did so just after filing the flight plan from EGKR-LFAT in the morning with the tower. To do so, you must register at *onlineGAR* and follow the instructions afterwards to fill in the form. Nick did ours on his iPhone whilst drinking a coffee! If for some reason you cannot file the GAR online, or there was an error in your submission, ring the Border Force South team at Biggin Hill on T 01959 576347 or M – 07899 987182. They will happily assist you.

Within 10 minutes of filing our plan, whilst we were donning our life-jackets, we were met by UK Border Force who checked our passports and documents. This is not normal but due to the UK security threat level having been raised to severe that week, a special operation was in force. We were also met by 2 members of Border Force on our return.

On both occasions, 5 minutes later, we were on our way.

Documents Required

  1. Passport – An easy one to forget. Don’t.
  2. Licence – All parts. The French can get very particular about seeing absolutely everything to make your flight in French airspace is legal.
  3. A Valid Chart – Don’t always rely on the GPS
  4. C of A or Permit to Fly with its matching Certificate of Validity
  5. Certificate of Registration
  6. The licence for the aircraft’s radio installation
  7. Insurance Certificate
  8. A copy of the interception procedures available from the CAA.
  9. It’s also a good idea to become comfortable with CAA ditching guidance (you don’t want to be wondering what to do if the unthinkable happened!)

Luckily, if you are a Cloudbase shareholder flying in our CTs, most of these things, as well as a pair of life-jackets and a portable Emergency Locator Transmitter will be provided for your trip.

Our Flight

Flying For Lunch in France

Best of both worlds; English breakfast, French lunch!

By far the most exhilerating flight I’ve ever had in a light aircraft!

Myself and Nick are both airline pilots, and it’s almost embarrassing to admit, that once you take away the IRS and GPS navigational systems we’re used to, we really had to think! Thanks to the CTSW’s glass cockpit, we did actually have a GPS position, but we preferred not to use it and test our manual nav skills. We only used the GPS to give exact locations to Air Traffic Service Units for better accuracy.

Starting off from Redhill, we took off and headed East until we were out of the local flying zone. Then we flew a straight line track down right over the top of Lydd airport, before “coasting out” across the channel to Boulogne. (Boulogne-sur-mer is the visual reporting point to enter the Le Touquet zone).

Light Aircraft Flying In France

Quick flight to the beach!

We flew the exact reverse tracks for our return flight later that afternoon. The two flights took 50-55 minutes each. I was amazed at the stability and speed of the CTSW at altitude. It seems like an absolutely ideal aircraft for touring, and we both found it very spacious and comfortable.

Radio Contact

Obviously, we were with Redhill tower until leaving the local flying zone. Subject to altering altitudes here and there, you can actually fly all the way to Le Touquet without contacting an Air Traffic Service.

However, you’re a braver person than me if you decide to cross any large area of water in a single engine aircraft without telling anyone! It is always good practise to get a basic information service from London or Lydd, for situational awareness (other planes etc.) and for peace of mind (if you had to quickly put out a Mayday!)

Do not be intimidated by speaking to London. They are there to help. Just tell them;

  • Who you are (callsign and aircraft type)
  • Departure and Destination airfields
  • Position and Altitude
  • Routing and what you want from the station (“routing via the overhead at Lydd and requesting a basic information service”)

We actually contacted Lydd (even though we were at 3500′ and didn’t have to) who spoke to us until the mid-channel point. We then spoke directly with Le Touquet approach all the way until landing.

On the return we left Le Touquet approach and switched to London Centre mid-channel. We stayed with them all the way back to Redhill! All services were very helpful indeed and it’s an added comfort to hear conversations over the sea.

The channel crossing went smoothly. It was a very hazy day so we didn’t see land for 5 or so minutes. CAUTION! If the haze over the water results in you having no horizon, do not attempt a crossing, as disorientation will quickly ensue.

Book Up A Flight To France TODAY!

Plotting the route, filing the flight plans, and actually flying across the channel was such a rewarding exercise; something I’ve wanted to do for years. The great food and beach at Le Touquet were just an added bonus!

I cannot recommend a day-out like this highly enough so, if you haven’t got your flying licence yet, get it. I know it might feel like it is never going to happen sometimes when you’re learning; hammering the circuit and it just not ‘sticking’. We’ve all been there. However, the best thing is consistency – don’t leave it a week or two before your next flight! 2 flights a week if possible! This stops the 2 steps forward and 1 step back phenomenon.

If you already have your licence, let’s get a club fly-out booked up!

Happy Landings.

Microlight Flying Lessons

Microlight Lessons – Getting Your Microlight Flying Licence

Legally, what is a Microlight?

A microlight aeroplane is one designed to carry not more than two persons which has a

Maximum Total Weight Authorised (MTWA) not exceeding:

  • 300 kg for a single seat landplane.
  • 390 kg for an amateur built single seat landplane for which a UK Permit to Fly or Certificate of Airworthiness was in force prior to 1 January 2003
  • 450 kg for a two seat landplane
  • 330 kg for a single seat amphibian or floatplane
  • 495 kg for a two seat amphibian or floatplane
  • 315kg for a single seat landplane equipped with an airframe mounted total recovery parachute system
  • 472.5kg for a two-seat landplane equipped with an airframe mounted total recovery parachute system
  • A microlight must also have a stalling speed at the maximum weight authorised not exceeding 35 knots calibrated speed.

All UK registered aeroplanes falling within these parameters are Microlite aeroplanes.

Evolution of the Microlight

Cloudbase Aviation Flying School has been offering microlight training in the UK since 1987. During that time we have seen the full development of the ‘microlight’ aircraft. From very basic flex-wing design to super light ‘sports’ aircraft such as the CT2K that we operate now.

The ‘new-age’ microlight aircraft are faster, cheaper and more reliable than their old ‘group A’ counterparts.

Cloudbase Offering Microlight Lessons

What sorts of licences are there for Microlights?

There are two types. A National Private Pilots Licence Microlight Class Rating Without Operational Limitations is a full licence. With one of these, a pilot may fly anywhere within the regulations.

There is also a restricted licence with operational limitations; the lower level of experience required means that you may not carry a passenger and may not fly more than eight miles from the home airfield. Lower weather limits also apply to restricted licences.

Who administers this law?

In the UK, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) administers flying regulations, but part of the responsibility for issuing the NPPL lies with the British Microlight Aircraft Association (BMAA) for ratings.
Cloudbase Flying School offers instruction towards the Microlight licence – NPPL(M).
Click here for the Microlight syllabus.

What is needed to get a full licence?

To gain your National Private Pilot’s Licence Microlights Class Rating Without Operational Limitation you must complete a minimum of 25 hours training of which ten hours must be solo flying; this includes five hours navigation flying of which three must be solo. There is a General Flying Test (the GFT) to take and some exams for which we provide ground school lectures.

What is needed to get a restricted licence?

You can achieve your restricted licence with 15 hours of microlight lessons – eight hours dual training and seven hours solo. This allows you to become a pilot quicker (and more cheaply) and to take the restrictions off at a later date. You can choose to skip the restricted licence and go directly for the full version if you wish.

How long does it take to get a licence?

The time it takes to qualify for your licence will depend on how fast you develop the flying skills you’ll need. It helps if you fly regularly since that minimises the amount of re-learning you’ll have to do at the start of each lesson. The first big milestone will be your first solo flight – an utterly amazing flying experience. After that you’ll be building up your hours and your skills, practising more advanced manoeuvres and navigation and preparing for your GFT.

What exams do I have to take?

There are five exams which you need to pass to gain your licence;

  • Air Law
  • Navigation
  • Meteorology
  • Aircraft Technical
  • Human Factors and Performance

You will also need to take the Radio Telephony exam if you intend to use a radio in flight, which in practice you will need to do.
They may sound daunting, but they are actually quite straightforward. Cloudbase sells the books you’ll need and runs evening lectures which cover each of the subjects in detail, after which you can take the exam itself. The test papers consist of multiple-choice questions so there’s no essay-writing to do!

What are the medical requirements?

The medical requirements are much more straightforward than those for heavier aircraft. You sign a declaration of fitness on a standard form which Cloudbase can supply and then simply have it countersigned by your own doctor. If you are fit enough to drive, you are probably fit enough to fly. If you have any condition which may make it unsafe for you to fly, you should discuss this with your doctor. If you are still uncertain you can contact a CAA medical examiner.

Where can I find out more?

Cloudbase can give you a full rundown on what it takes to get your licence, so please do give us a call or pop along to the airfield to discuss your plans and have a look around.
For details of everything you need to know about microlight flying in the UK you should also take a look at the British Microlight Aircraft Association web site.

Finally, take a look at this promotional video for the aircraft we fly at Cloudbase; the Flight Design CT2k. Why not book a flight with us and start your microlight flying journey in this amazing machine!

 Flying Lessons London

For Sale – Flight Design CTSW!

Shares In CTSW For Sale

We’d like to introduce you all to the new addition to the Cloudbase fleet; G-KUPP, the CTSW. We are currently offering shares in this beautiful aircraft so come and take it for a test fly this weekend! For more information on the sharescheme, head to this page.

CTSW to buy

Cloudbase and the CTSW

All those years ago (1987 to be precise) when the flying club and school first started, we operated exclusively CFM Shadow aircraft. Although the Shadow was a great aircraft and very forgiving, spare parts became obsolete making them difficult to maintain.

For years we looked for the perfect replacement and finally, we’ve found it. The Flight-Design CT. We are delighted to announce we have added to our existing fleet with G-KUPP, the CTSW. With a state-of-the-art glass cockpit and many improvements to the CT2K, we hope our shareholders and students will love flying this fine aircraft.

It cruises at 120kts/135mph, boasts a massive endurance and has a transponder making it a great aircraft to visit airfields all over the UK and Europe.

For more information on the Flight-Design CT, visit our aircraft page.

Cloudbase CTSW For Sale

We are delighted to announce that we will be offering several more shares in G-KUPP, our CTSW. They are for sale for a price of £6500, and £99 per month.

This takes care of all the maintenance, hangar space and insurance, giving you you ultimate freedom to come and fly your aircraft whenever you want. Safe in the knowledge that it will be perfectly serviceable and itching to be flown! Not to mention the very useful help and support from the Cloudbase membership base.

Since being at Cloudbase, existing shareholders have flown the aircraft all over Europe and the UK. The range is phenomenal, and it’s comfort means you can fly some serious distance in it!

Arrange a flight in it today, and let us show it off to you!

Club Fly Out – Headcorn

Saturday 21st June 2014

After a morning of instruction on G-CDJF, we decided to take the fleet over to Headcorn for afternoon tea. With Tom flying the new CTSW and Trevor piloting the CT2K, we took off in formation and continued eastbound to Kent.

With the usual parachuting and aviation-friendly atmosphere in Headcorn, we all enjoyed some tea and a quick bite to eat before flying back to Redhill. With the CTs’ ridiculously fast cruising speed, we made Headcorn and back in under an hour’s flight time – A very inexpensive way to fly around the Surrey, Kent and Sussex countryside and grab some lunch.

If you’re not 100% confident flying the CT, we recommend doing what Tom did today. Come in and have a circuit slot with an instructor in the morning, and then a quick trip to Headcorn to build the confidence. Tom is now ready to take the new aircraft on his planned trip to Norfolk in the next few weeks!

No Brainer?

No Brainer?

Let’s see more of you down the club next weekend. Make the most of the Summer!


The Cloudbase Club’s Useful Links

You may have noticed that the popular ‘useful links’ page has gone when updating our website. Fear not, here it is in all it’s glory;

These are some links to sites that you may find useful:


Redhill Aerodrome – www.redhillaerodrome.com

The British Microlight Aircraft Association (BMAA) – www.bmaa.org


Met Office aviation briefing services

Met Office UK weather and a direct link to their south east England forecast page

METARs in plain English – Covers the UK, France, and some major European cities

Meteox – European weather radar

Google Maps-based sunrise and sunset calculator by David Morrissey

XC Weather – great site with animated weather reports and decoded METARs for the UK, France and Germany


NATS Aeronautical Information Service

Lightweight UK-only version of the SkyDemon planning tool in association with NATS

French flight planning – Olivia – OnLine Integrated tool for Visualization of Information for Airmen


CAP413 Radiotelephony Manual

See How It Flies – definitive online book on the theory and practice of flying

GASIL – UK General Aviation Safety Information Leaflet. Some good stuff, but often spoiled by the patronising editorial tone

Australian Ultralight Federation groundschool pages – lots of useful flying theory. They fly upside down, but otherwise applicable

Happy Flying!

Useful flying Links

Cloudbase Joins Instagram!

Cloudbase has embraced the 21st century. Not only do we have a brand-new website, but we’ve also joined Instagram making it easier than ever to find out what’s going on at the ‘super-friendly’ flying club!

Cloudbase Instagram

Keep up-to-date on Cloudbase

Come and fly it!

Come and fly it!

Simply download Instagram onto your smart-phone and search for cloudbase_aviation. Our daily photos will keep you up-to-date on who is flying, where abouts in the world the CT’s have been flying to and any other Cloudbase news.

If you have any photos that you think should be on the Instagram account, email us at [email protected] and we’ll make sure they feature.

We also have a facebook page that we regularly update so if Instagram isn’t your thing, follow us there.

The weather has been brilliant over the last few weeks and we’re not even in July! It’s time to brush off those flying gloves and get a check flight booked in, so you can make the most of this glorious sun.