Video: Flying school offers new microlight experience
- Credit: Nick Butcher
A strange looking hand glider with a pod underneath and an engine on the back.
That is the best way to describe the new GT-450 weight shift microlight now available for lessons and flying experiences at a Beccles flying school.
But despite the terrifying description, this simplified aircraft offers a unique open top flying experience which allows you to cruise around the sky in comfort at 2,000ft, while taking in the breathtaking views across Norfolk and Suffolk.
Having visited the Mid Anglia Microlights flying school at Beccles Airfield a few months after its opening in September last year, I was lucky enough to be invited back to try out their new aircraft.
My last visit saw me flying high in a C-42 microlight - a simplified type of aircraft limited to two seats and a weight of 450 kilos.
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But despite sharing the microlight name, having the same engine, number of seats and weight limit, the GT-450 couldn’t have been more different.
In the GT-450, the student sits in the font with the instructor behind them. There is an accelerator and brake pedal and a triangular bar is used to fly the wings.
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Gary Taylor, 45, an aircraft engineer at RAF Marham, who runs the flying school with 76-year-old Anthony Preston, a former RAF pilot, aerobatics instructor ad microlight factory test pilot, said: “We wanted to be able to offer our visitors the chance to learn on two different types of microlight.
“When I first started flying it was one of these that I learnt in so it was natural that once we were in a position to do so we brought one of these in.
“It’s a more simple aircraft because there are no flaps or a rudder and there is less to think about.
“It is probably more suited to the adventurous type. We get two different reactions; either people say ‘I’m not going up in that’ or they say ‘wow that looks amazing!”
Before stepping onto the aircraft, I was given a flying suit to protect me from the elements, a pair of gloves, a head set and a helmet.
As I was being taken for a flight, I sat in the back of the aircraft where I was strapped in with a harness over my shoulders. Despite it being a little bit cosy with my instructor in front, the seat was actually very comfortable and I didn’t feel scared or worried about falling out.
Mr Taylor said: “The great thing about it is you can literally put out your hands and look down. When you get up there the view is just amazing.
“But I have never had anyone say they have felt unsafe or insecure.”
After making our way to the runway, it was a matter of seconds before we were up in the air, climbing up to the clouds.
I felt a bit like Harry Potter sat in Hagrid’s flying motorcycle and sidecar. Being in the air in something so light didn’t seem real, but felt amazing.
Which ever way I turned my head I could see beautiful views of the countryside and coast, with no smeary windows blocking the way, and my fingers felt like they could almost touch the clouds.
I was lucky to be flying on a warm summer’s day, and despite the temperature dropping by about 5 degrees at 2,500ft, I didn’t feel like I was being battered by the cold.
If you are scared of heights this might not be the best thing for you, but as someone who is not, being able to peer over the sides and look down on areas I am so familiar with on the ground was great fun.
Back on the ground after a smooth landing, I was lost for words at how to describe my experience. It really has to be seen to be believed and if you can get past your fear of being out in the open I’m sure you will have a flight you will never forget.
Mr Taylor and Mr Preston, who have more than 65 years of flying experience between them, set up the flying school to offer local people a simple path into flying. They teach to a syllabus set out by The British Microlight Aircraft Association.
Both microlights are now available for lessons or flights as present ideas. A lesson in the GT-450 costs £110 for an hour, while a lesson in the C-42 is £125 for an hour. A 30 minute trial flight in the GT-450 is available for £60.
For more information visit www.mamicrolight.co.uk or call 07815074067.