Monday, January 28, 2013

General Aviation in the UK

As I write this, I am reading a Pooleys Flight Equipment catalogue ( in the cafe of my local aeroclub, watching the rain lash against the window. This, as you may know, is lovely weather for putting your feet up by the fire, but isn't any good for a spot of flying.

There are no aircraft flying today apart from the lonely foreign pilot in his R22 that is doing bad weather circuits - rather him than me in this weather, I tell you. The cafe is full of aviators who are entertaining themselves by talking about an avionics refit to their aircraft, their flying experiences and what it was like to fly on a day without rain!

Unfortunately, this is an all too common picture for those of us who are unlucky enough to fly on the Welsh Borders and for that matter, most of the UK - you get superb, unhindered, flying weather in the summer and lots of rain, snow and sleet in the winter.

However, the story doesn't stop there: the weather is only a small part of the story when it comes to general aviation in the UK. The rising prices of aircraft hire are forcing people out of aviation, especially the older, yet vastly experienced, aviators who maybe no longer work. These prices, coupled with the weather and the other costs associated with aviation - medicals, renewals etc.. are ultimately meaning airfields are quieter and in some cases are struggling to keep afloat.

This, I feel, is only the beginning of the end for British general aviation. As you know, UK airfields will be loosing my business - and ultimately cash - during hour building for my commercial licence as I refuse to pay over the odds, which now seems the norm, for old aircraft and, ultimately, weather which is unflyable most of the time.

Anyway, hopefully the weather will begin to pick up again soon, and we can return to clear blue skies and glorious, long, days of flying! In the meantime, stay safe.

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