Skip to main content
U.S. Edition
Search
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
TRAVEL

Learning to fly

CNN's Quest takes to the controls of a plane

From CNN's Richard Quest

story.rq.model.jpg
Learning to fly takes time. As well as flying, there's theory about thrust, drag and the principles of flight.

HAVE YOUR SAY

YOUR E-MAIL ALERTS

Biz Traveller
Richard Quest

(CNN) -- It's many a man's fantasy and many a man's greatest fear. For me, it was a lifelong ambition about to come true.

I have left the passenger seat where I have spent so many hours and moved to the front of the plane to take my first flying lesson.

I have come to Fairoaks Flight Centre in Surrey, England. My stomach is in a knot, and I haven't even boarded the plane. I am here to attempt my P.P.L. or private pilot's license.

Learning to fly is a complicated business. Phil Brooks is my flying instructor for my first six hours' of lessons.

It takes a minimum of 45 hours in the air before you can take your private pilot's license.

I was only nibbling -- so much to learn, so much to remember, so much to take in.

And actual flying is only part of the business. I have to learn about the plane itself, and make sure everything is flying fit.

Then there's all that theory about thrust, drag and the principles of flight. It all takes time.

People often choose to get their private pilot's license by doing longer courses all in one go.

Sunny Florida, Australia and South Africa are all popular for flying students and costs vary hugely. In the United Kingdom, it costs about $16,000 to learn to fly. It would be half that price in Florida, where getting your license in a month is possible -- but not necessarily desirable.

I am learning to fly from and airport that's within a 20-mile radius of two of the busiest international airports in the world: London Heathrow and London Gatwick.

All around me are jets departing from Heathrow -- the world's busiest international airport -- but it's perfectly safe and they are all at a much higher altitude, but nonetheless it's a bit unnerving at first.

I can tell you that even though I've flown hundreds of thousands of miles, my hands are clammy, I can feel my heart beating faster. This is supposed to be fun, but I'm not sure it is at the moment. It's all got a horrible air of reality.

By the end of my third hour I am really enjoying this. I'm learning the radio call signs and preparing for my big moment, my first take off.

To be honest, it was a bit wobbly. I'm sure any passengers in first class would have lost their Champagne. But we are in the air. I have another 40 hours to go before I am a proper pilot -- at least I am flying.

-- Business International airs on CNN International on Saturday, April 15. For show times click here.

Story Tools
Click Here to try 4 Free Trial Issues of Time! cover
Top Stories
Get up-to-the minute news from CNN
CNN.com gives you the latest stories and video from the around the world, with in-depth coverage of U.S. news, politics, entertainment, health, crime, tech and more.
Top Stories
Get up-to-the minute news from CNN
CNN.com gives you the latest stories and video from the around the world, with in-depth coverage of U.S. news, politics, entertainment, health, crime, tech and more.
CNN U.S.
CNN TV E-mail Services CNN Mobile CNNAvantGo Ad Info About Us Preferences
Search
© 2007 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us. Site Map.
Offsite Icon External sites open in new window; not endorsed by CNN.com
Pipeline Icon Pay service with live and archived video. Learn more
Radio News Icon Download audio news  |  RSS Feed Add RSS headlines