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Learning to Fly at Sportfly


At Sportfly, we fly aeroplanes in the Light Sport Category (LSA), under Recreational Aviation Australia (RAAus). RAAus is a private, member owned organisation with in excess of 10,000 flying members across Australia and 180 flight training schools. The organisation registers their own aircraft and is responsible for training and certifying its pilots. To fly our aircraft, pilots and student pilots are required to be members of RAAus. You can obtain a FREE temporary membership online, which lasts for 90 days of the first 3 hours of flight training, which gives you ample time to consider if recreational flying is for you.

TRIAL INSTRUCTIONAL / DISCOVERY FLIGHT ADVENTURE.

The first step is to arrange for a trial instructional flight or TIF. A TIF flight includes a pre-flight briefing where we explain how the aircraft flies and how the controls work. We will give you an opportunity to handle the aeroplane on the ground, taxiing onto the runway. We will demonstrate how the aeroplane takes off and how to operate the controls, before flying to the training area where we will give you the opportunity to take the controls to try some straight and level flying and basic manoeuvres. We might even spot a whale or two or fly over your house! Then we will fly back to the airport and demonstrate a landing. Our training areas go as far north as South West Rocks as far south as Crescent Head and as far west as Bellbrook. The best thing about a TIF is that its actually your first flying lesson and counts toward the minimum hours required to obtaining a recreational pilot certificate! A TIF experience goes for around 60 minutes including briefing and a post flight debrief, where we will have a good talk about what is required to obtain a pilot certificate and the costs associated with flight training if you are interested in continuing. The actual flight lasts for a minimum of 30 minutes from the time we start the engine.

FLIGHT TRAINING

Flight training consists of a mix of dual flight training and supervised solo training.

You will learn how to assess the weather as suitable for flying, prepare the aircraft to fly and learn how to operate the aircraft, on the ground and in the sky. Our lessons follow a logical pattern. You will first learn the effects of each controls, then progress to straight and level flying, climbing/descending and turning. We will then move onto the important lesson of stall training, where we teach recognition/avoidance and recovery from aerodynamic stalls. Then its time to hit the circuit - which is a pattern of flying around an airfield. You will take off and climb to 1000ft, turn and level out, then turn and perform a "touch and go" landing on the runway, where you touch down, then take off again, in a continuous "circuit". We also teach how to react to some emergencies that may happen in a circuit, including how to land safely should a problem develop with the engine. Once you are assessed as being proficient to do so, and have passed the first two written examinations, we will send you for your first solo flight - a moment no pilot ever forgets! This wont be the last time you fly with the instructor - as after 2 more hours of supervised solo circuit flying - you will go back out to the training area and learn to perform some advanced flying, including steep 60 degree turns, spiral descents, advanced stalls and practice forced landings. Then its time to consolidate your learning with some more solo flying in the training area, followed by preparation for the flight test with our chief flying instructor.

THEORY TRAINING

You are required to undertake a number of briefings with your instructor to understand the theory behind each sequence of flight training. You will also learn about the rules and regulations of flying an aeroplane. You will also need to successfully pass four examinations. Two of these exams are required to be completed prior to your first solo flight. Those exams are the radio exam and the pre-solo air legislation exam. The third examination, (pre-certificate) air legislation is required to be completed before you can fly solo in the training area. The final exam is the basic aeronautical knowledge. All exams are delivered at our flight training school and require a pass mark of 80%. All exams are multiple choice. Following the exams, we will sit down with you and go through any questions that were answered incorrectly, to make sure you understand the theory to which the lesson relates. How many hours of theory varies from student to student and there is no minimum hours required, however a fair estimate would be about 10-12 hours.

PILOT CERTIFICATE

A pilot certificate will allow you to be pilot in command of a recreational 2-seat aeroplane. You will be initially restricted to flying without passengers and to a radius of 25 nautical miles from your departure point. However, these restrictions can be removed with further flight training. A passenger endorsement requires 10 hours of solo flight experience. A navigation endorsement takes a further 12 hours of flight training and will allow you to fly anywhere in Australia that is not controlled airspace.

BEYOND SPORT AVIATION

One of the best things about sport aviation is that all the flight experience and qualifications that you have gained can be transferred to general aviation. With a recreational pilot certificate, you can transfer across to general aviation and obtain a recreational pilots licence in a few easy steps and all of your sport aviation experience will count. This will allow you to fly an aeroplane up to a maximum take off weight of 1500kg (a good example is a cessna 172). Progressing beyond the recreational flying scene, your experience will also count toward the minimum requirements for a private and even a commercial pilot licence.  Brian, obtained a commercial pilots licence in 2021. Of the 200 hours required for the commercial licence, only 50 of those hours were in general aviation aircraft. The remainder of those hours were obtained flying light sport recreational aeroplanes!

An additional benefit of holding a recreational pilot licence (with a controlled airspace endorsement) is that you will then be able to fly most sport aircraft (including our foxbat) into controlled airspace!

WHY SPORTFLY ?

There are a number of good flight training schools in the area and we encourage you to look around and speak with them all to find the best fit for you. At Sportfly we offer the following :

  • A fun and relaxed learning environment. We utilize a mix of learning to ensure you understand every aspect of flight training - but importantly you have fun along the way. Recreational flying is supposed to be fun and if you aren't enjoying yourself, we are not doing something right! Sure - you will be challenged and taken out of your comfort zone from time to time throughout your training - but the feeling of accomplishment at the end will be the reward.

  • We continue to invest in the latest technology to facilitate the most effective flight training experience for you. Unlike most training schools, you won't be handed an old dodgy headset and be expected to learn in a noisy cockpit environment. Instead we guarantee you will use the Bose A20 Bluetooth noise cancelling headset (worth $1850 each!) in our aircraft - the same as your instructor uses.  If you're out and about flying solo on a cross country flight and have a question, you will simply be able to phone up your instructor through the bluetooth phone function on the headset. Our aeroplane might look small and basic but it's actually loaded with modern technology including an electronic flight instrument display that records flight data, an ADSB transponder and ADSB in receiver for monitoring other aircraft traffic. You'll be using Ozrunways electronic flight book. We also make available our suite of Go-pro cameras , including a 360 degree camera on the wing (on request) to review your flying and allow you to share your achievements!

  • Modern flight training - you wont feel like you've been taken back in time during your flight training experience, or taken page by page through a textbook. We use an effective combination if videos, animations and our simulator to learn like its 2023!

  • We think outside the square.  Our simulator is possibly be the worlds most advanced light sport aircraft simulator and is right here in Kempsey!   We offer theory sessions via zoom. You wont find yourself buried in textbooks and we wont leave you to self-study the theory. We will be with you every step of the way.

  • We are student focused. We believe that our success as a flight school will derive from delivering a quality product that our students will highly recommend to others. We understand your flying training journey is exactly that - yours. We are here to facilitate your flying goals, not the other way around! Our instructors are not here to build hours.

  • We fly! We respect that there a number of youth based organisations that facilitate an interest in flight based operations and there are many dedicated people committed to these organisations. Unfortunately, the reality is that opportunities to actually engage in real flight training activities (ie in an aeroplane) at many youth organisations are very, very limited for our local youth. We are first and foremost a flight training school and we teach people real life skills in a real environment.

  • Foxbat aeroplane. Our aeroplane is built for function over form. It doesn't go for speed records, in fact it prides itself on how SLOW it can fly.  It's a very strong and versatile factory built bush plane used by many farmers for bush flying across Australia and the world.  We can fly pilots weighing up to 120kg and 6'2" and still take enough fuel to stay in the air for 5 hours. The foxbat is a great aeroplane for mastering important stick and rudder skills.

  • Recreational flight training is our core activity. It's not our side business and we are not a social flying club. Recreational flight training is about having fun and everything we do is aimed at putting YOU in the pilot seat of an aeroplane, with pilot qualifications, at competitive prices.

  • We are a boutique flying school - we are not a pilot factory. We keep our student numbers small to be able to provide good availability for our students and our costs down. Kempsey airfield is very quiet and for 90per cent of the time we have the airfield to ourselves!

  • We cater for big kids too! Although we are aimed at youth and young adults, we can and do cater to all ages. Our manager only started learning to fly at 41 and took his mother for her first TIF for her 71st birthday!. Our youngest student is in year 6, our record holder for the oldest tif is currently 83!.

Frequently Asked Questions

Flying at Sportfly

Q. How old do I have to be to start flight training or have a trial introductory / discovery flight?

A. There is no minimum age to start flight training. We encourage prospective pilots of any age to come for a trial introductory flight to be able to have a fun experience and decide if aviation is for them in the long term. We can help with some cushions for our smaller fliers, however we might suggest to some eager young people to hold off until they are a little bigger to see over the cockpit dash and reach the foot pedals before we commence flight training. If you are over 75 need to ask for a letter from your doctor to confirm you are fit to fly. If you are under 18 we will need your parent or guardian to sign a parental consent form.

Q. Is there a maximum weight limit to fly in the foxbat?

A.While there is no published maximum weight for the foxbat pilot/passenger weight, in consultation with the Australian distributor we have determined that 120kg in the maximum advisable weight for dual training in the foxbat aircraft.

Q. Do I require a pilot medical certificate to fly?

A.For sport flying you do not need to obtain a medical certificate. You do however need to self declare your fitness to fly and hold the medical fitness standard equivalent to that of holding a drivers licence in Australia.

Q. How much is it going to cost me to learn to fly at Sportfly?

A.A trial introductory flight is going to cost $185.00. As for how much it is going to cost someone to learn to fly - well that's a tricky question to answer as it depends on how quickly they progress through the training syllabus and achieve solo and pilot certificate standard. We can say it is going to cost a minimum of $6000. A more realistic average figure of flight training hours it takes for the average person to complete their basic training, including flight tests, is 25 hours. Add briefing and exam times and a paid membership with Recreational Aviation Australia and you'd be thinking more along the lines of around $6000.00 - $7000.00

Q. If I learn to fly at Sportfly - will there be a ground component to my learning (briefings/lectures/exams) ?

A.Yes. There are a number of exams, delivered in-house, that you will need to pass on your flight training journey. The standard of questioning is similar to that of going for your car learners licence. Don't worry, we will deliver to you the course content in a fun and engaging manner using a combination of powerpoint, videos, animations and our simulator so you understand the content.

Q. I'm a student pilot learning to fly at Sportfly, and I'm going on holidays somewhere. Can I go flying with another flight school?

A.Yes, you can fly with whatever flight school you want and log the time as dual training time. Maybe let us know where you are going to and we can recommend our network of friendly schools to you. We are friendly with a range of flying schools across the country. No matter who you fly with, you will learn something new!

Q. Once I have my pilot certificate, can I rent the aircraft and take my friends flying?

A.Yes. If you have a passenger endorsement you are welcome to take family and friends. Depending on demand, you might like to go for a western adventure to Tibooburra, or go to Byron Bay for lunch.

Q. Can I bring a camera and take photos?

A.Yes. There is an old joke about how you can tell who the pilot is at a party - don't worry they will tell you ! Take lots of photos and enjoy your flying experience. We fly for fun! If you forget your camera don't worry, well take some for you.

Q. Is your aeroplane home built, who maintains it?

A.Although there area a number of aeroplanes in the recreational world that are home built and/or experimental, rest assured out Aeroprakt Foxbat aerplane is factory built and maintained by Licenced Aircraft Engineers. Additionally our avionics are maintained by an avionics engineer. We inspect our aircraft daily and make our maintenance records for inspection upon request. If there is an issue identified with the aircraft model around the world, a maintenance or safety directive is issued and complied with. Additionally and at considerable expense, we have voluntarily installed additional safety equipment to our aircraft, such as ADSB out transponder, ADSB in monitor, Garmin G5 EFIS,  Locator Beacon, dual watch VHF radio, carbon dioxide alarm and even a UHF CB radio for our outback adventures!

Q. Why should I learn to fly in sport aviation and not in general aviation?

A.Learning to fly in sport aviation is generally cheaper, you fly more responsive aircraft, and you learn great stick and rudder skills. Remember, all your sport aviation hours in the air count the same as general aviation hours for the issue of a CASA recreational, private or commercial licence, should you choose to continue your flight training journey in larger aircraft. You also don't have the additional burdens of having to go to exam centres for your exams, have to get an ASIC security card or get a CASA medical from a doctor while you are learning in the sport aviation world. Don't forget, there are flying career opportunities within sport aviation, like instructing. Many commercial pilots actually come over to the sport pilot world to either assist their commercial careers, or to fly for a bit of fun on the weekend!.

Q. I learnt to fly somewhere else. Can I rent your aircaft?

A.That depends, but the answer is probably a big YES. We'll take you for a quick flight and make sure you are comfortable flying our aircraft. We will only charge the hire rate to check you off.  Alternately if you have never flown a foxbat before we will put you through a short conversion which will also serve as your Biennial Flight Review. We just want to make sure you are safe and aren't going to bend yourself or our aircraft. Once signed off you are welcome to hire our aircraft and enjoy flying in the local area and beyond. Regardless of where you learnt to fly, what's the use of having a pilot qualification if you don't get to use it?