As youngsters, many of us dream of becoming pilots. But few of us act on this dream. We set it aside as the years go by, convinced that flying will be beyond our means or our talents. No matter how badly we want to fly, we convince ourselves it is for "other people", and we look wistfully at light aircraft passing overhead, imagining the lifestyles of those wealthy enough to be able to indulge this pleasure. In fact, the reality is very different. Our pilots are just ordinary men and women who have realised that you don't ever have to give up your dreams, so long as you are prepared to work for them.
Cape Town Flying Club (CTFC) was established over 30 years ago with the specific goal of making flying accessible to as many people as possible. This means that while flying with us is by no means cheap, we keep rates as low as possible, and provide a range of aircraft suited both to training the beginner and the advanced pilot, and to allowing qualified pilots to fly for business and pleasure. Our membership includes a wide cross-section of society, and our students range from those who wish to fly for fun, all the way to those taking the first steps on a flying career. Flying with us could cost far less than you anticipate. And take you far farther.
With cost out of the way, that leaves the problem of aptitude. Some people suggest flying is as easy as driving; others believe it to be well beyond the talents of the average person. The truth lies somewhere in between. Yes, it is a simple matter to direct an aircraft which is already in flight in a straight line, and maintain a more or less constant altitude. But how do you get it up there? And more importantly, how do you get it back down? Not to mention the complexities of meteorology, navigation, flight planning and that skill most frequently butchered in flying movies - radio work! Will you ever be able to master all of this?
At CTFC, these questions can be answered during an introductory lesson. Even on an introductory flight, the emphasis is on education. Students do not ever just "show up and fly". There is always meticulous preparation and often hard study before each component of flight training. So for the orientation flight, the first step is a theory session. Next is the all-important pre-flight. In this case, the Instructor will be doing the actual pre-flighting, and you will be watching, and possibly even seeing a small aircraft up close for the very first time. The Instructor will point things out as he does them, allowing you to put the whole picture together as you go.
Eventually, the Instructor will be happy with his aircraft, and you will board. You will be sitting in the left-hand seat. This is the seat traditionally occupied by the Pilot in Command, and you will be trained from the very beginning to fly from this position. The instructor will communicate with the relevant authorities and obtain taxi permission. At various stages in the flight, your aircraft will be communicating with ground control, with the Control Tower, and with other aircraft, and you will be able to experience these communcations first hand.
As you taxi out, you may have the opportunity to try your hand (or foot, as steering is controlled by the rudder pedals) at taxiing. If you do, try not to be distracted by the array of other aircraft hangared en-route to the runway or parked on the aprons. These range from fighter jets to 747s, and are worth the trip in themselves. Finally, the great moment will arrive. Your aircraft will line up on the centre-line of the runway of a major international airport - a fact guaranteed to accelerate the pulse - and it will be time to take off. The instructor will handle this part of the flight, demonstrating the procedures involved, and explaining everything that happens.
Once the aircraft has reached the training area, you will be able to take the controls and observe first-hand the way in which the aircraft responds. All the time, the instructor will be explaining why the aircraft reacts as it does, and answering your questions.
When it is time to return, the instructor will land the aircraft, again explaining everything as it takes place, and the two of you will taxi back to the clubhouse for a debriefing session. You will cover everything which has happened in the lesson, as well as overview the requirements for taking things further. This should leave you in a position to decide whether you want to pursue a Private Pilot's License (PPL) or leave flying to the birds.
So if you ever did harbour those dreams of flight, ACT on them. Contact CTFC and arrange to take to the skies. An introductory flight also makes a perfect gift.
Cape Town International Airport
P.O. Box 31
To view a full list of all courses presented by Cape Town Flying Club click below.