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Learning to fly microlights in the UK is often the ultimate exercise in patience. As we all know the weather can best be described as… um… variable. I’m not a meteorologist or even a pilot but I do get to see all sorts of people pass through our flying school and there are some patterns that I’ve noticed.

Even here in the soft south we get all sorts of weather, regardless of the time of year, so new students rapidly learn to be patient. Their attitude changes as they gradually gain experience and get used to my apologetic phone call telling them “sorry, not today, scuppered by the weather again”. To the uninitiated a hot and sunny day is a hot and sunny day and I can sometime hear the disbelief in a newbies voice when I have to tell them it’s too windy to fly. After a couple of flights in hot, bumpy conditions though, they soon appreciate that the weather is a complex subject for pilots and as time goes on they’re generally (a little) less frustrated by my bad news calls.

So if the summer weather can be fickle what about the winter? People are sceptical when I tell them that we fly year round. Surely we just shut down over the winter months while we wait for the spring? Obviously the weather in the winter is worse. It’s colder, wetter, greyer and makes me grumpy. What sun there is skips off the south with the geese, leaving us to get up in the dark and go home in the dark (bah humbug).

The winter can however give us some brilliant flying days. Obviously we get those stunningly bright, clear, frosty days but also overcast days – as long as the visibility is good enough and the winds light enough – often give us better flying conditions than we see in the summer. Yes, there are fewer flying days but the ones there are can often be more productive. The trick for a student pilot is to be flexible and learn to be patient. I can think of at least three students who learned to fly last winter and they were able to take advantage of the calm, stable air in the early days of their training – by the time the bumpy summer arrived they were ready for it. Two of those students now own shares in our syndicate aircraft and the third is on the waiting list.

They did get a few calls from me though: “sorry, not today, scuppered by the weather again”.

If you want to learn to fly give us a call – whatever the time of year.

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