VIDEO: The sky’s the limit at flying school

I ALWAYS think of myself as a bit of a fan of adrenaline-pumping activities, so I did not hesitate for a second when I was offered the chance to learn how to fly a plane.

I had been excited for weeks, and my work colleagues and friends were jealous of my forthcoming adventure.

b12-198 Reporter Catherine Varney has a go at flying a plane at Cranfield Flying School.

b12-198 Reporter Catherine Varney has a go at flying a plane at Cranfield Flying School.

But as I was sitting in my ‘lesson’ learning about all the different controls, and was told that the effect of not doing something correctly regularly results in planes spiralling downwards, I began to have second thoughts.

And as I was climbing onto the wing of the plane to take my seat as the pilot of the plane, my heart started pumping. The adrenaline was kicking in and immense fear started to take over.

I had been invited to take part in a flying lesson at Cranfield Flying School, based at Cranfield University, and although my nerves set in just before take-off I had an amazing once in a lifetime experience and would definitely recommend it.

I arrived at the flying school with a little trepidation but a lot of excitement, and was introduced to my flying instructor Vicky Humphrey.

The school offers a range of training programmes, from your basic Private Pilots Licence (PPL) to Commercial Pilots Licence (CPL), as well as one-off lessons for a day out in the skies.

My day began with a quick theory lesson where Vicky talked me through all the various controls and what the effects of all the controls were. Here is where the nerves and fear started to creep in, as there seemed to be a lot technical terms to learn like pitching and yawing,

Vicky, 27, who has been a flying instructor at the school for six months, explained: “It is quite a lot to take in at first, but once you’re in the air and in control it will all start to make a bit more sense.

“If anything does go wrong, I will ask you to relieve control and I will take over straight away. But that very rarely happens and I’m sure won’t happen where we’re up there.”

She added: “I actually enjoy taking people up for the first time because there is so much excitement. People have such an amazing experience, taking in the views and knowing they are actually flying a plane.”

So, I’d learnt about my pitching and my yawing, and how not to make the plane spiral in a downward motion, and I was ready to fly. We were strapped in, we had done all our checks to ensure the plane was safe. I was good to go.

My first job was to taxi the small light aircraft, called a Piper PA-28 Warrior, to the runway. This involved me using the pedals to steer the aircraft along the yellow line, which is a little trickier than you might imagine.

Vicky then took over the controls, and once we were given permission from the control tower, we took off.

After reaching around 3,000ft in the air, Vicky showed me what we had spoken about in the lesson, and I then repeated what she showed me.

She then gave me complete control of the aircraft, which was exhilarating, I could not quite believe I was flying a plane.

We had been flying over Bedford and Vicky explained how they have certain landmarks that they look out for, one of which was the chimneys at Stewartby Brickworks.

So I headed in the direction of Stewartby and then back to Cranfield, where Vicky took over and landed the plane - very smoothly I may add.

So I had my lesson, it was amazing but how did I fare as a flying student?

Vicky told me: “You did really well. For the first time there is so much going on, it can be a little overwhelming. There is the controls, and keeping an eye on what is going on outside. It takes a lot of getting used to.

“Everything I told you to do you did perfectly with the right results. I think you would make a great student.”

For more information on Cranfield Flying School go to www.cranfieldflyingschool.com