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Watching my 14 year old son learning to fly...

My son has written a few articles about his experiences learning to fly with Redhill Aviation but has anyone looked at the viewpoint of his parent?

Phillip started to fly aged 11, not a usual hobby for one so young and many of my friends asked are you not nervous for him? Well the answer is yes, I am not a particularly good flyer – more the type who believes that if I am holding onto the arm rests that helps keep the plane in the air, so yes I was worried and scared for him. However, I didn’t need to be, from the start Laurance and everyone at Redhill Aviation have been keen for him to learn and from what I hear he is a natural. 

Now he’s 14 and starting to log hours and study hard for his PPL. He’s told me that he feels he belongs in an aeroplane and somehow he gets it. For me it is hard to believe that someone who fails to open his curtains properly can actually operate a plane, in fact I took with a pinch of salt everything that he told me about how much he actually does in the lessons. 

However, during that marvellous February weather I got the chance to see for myself. With the usual Cessna not available, Phillip flew the 4 seater Cherokee, and with a casual “Do you want to come along?” I realised that I was unable to bottle it and had to go and see what it is all about, rather than my normal coffee and cake at the Pilot’s Hub. 

I was amazed by two things, firstly how calm Laurance is, an absolute model of patience and experience and secondly how much Phillip actually does. After a quick refuel and a note to give it more time on take off due to the extra weight – I’m assuming this was about the larger plane not his mother in the back! – we were off. I admit that I held my breath for quite a while, but actually it was a lot smoother than I thought it would be and the views were fantastic. 

We flew over Oxted and I got to take some pretty good photographs, the tilt in the turns also began to feel alright and that we weren’t going to fall out of the sky.  I was amazed by how quickly we reached Oxted, Chartwell, Hever and Bough Beech and it was good to see them from above. Phillip did do all the flying and the contact with ATC which I was most impressed with. I also like Laurance giving him instructions then making him work things out for himself. 

I did not enjoy the slow flight exercises – for me I still equate stall with engine stopping (as in a car) even though Phillip has explained it to me many, many times that it is the wings that stall, not the engine. But other than that I enjoyed myself and actually feel a little better about flying than I did before. In fact it was a great way to spend a beautiful late February afternoon...Overall I can see that this is something that Phillip wants to do as a career, either in the RAF or commercially.  He is a natural at it and it fills me with pride that he can do what he does and feel totally safe doing it, and more importantly that the way he is learning and who he is learning with makes me feel totally safe too.