Yarrawonga Flight Training

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    Let’s start the history with two facts I bet you didn’t know…

    First of all, with more than 3,000 Trikes on the register, Trikes or microlights are the largest single group of light aviation aircraft in Australia. And secondly, believe it or not, flexwing (weight-shift) aircraft like the one you’ll be flying in, originated from NASA’s manned space flight programme!  In the 1960s, when the USA was looking at ways of returning the first space shuttles safely to Earth, a NASA research scientist, Francis Rogallo, designed a collapsible delta wing which would deploy from within the hull of the shuttle after re-entry.

    Although NASA did not pursue his proposal, aviation enthusiasts in the USA saw the Rogallo wing’s potential for leisure flying.  They developed his design into the first delta wing glider and the sport of hang gliding was born, spreading quickly worldwide. YFT CFI Peter McLean started the Southern Hang Gliding Club, the first club in Australia.
    Almost immediately, some of the Australia’s early hang gliding pioneers tried various ways of attaching power units to their wings so they could take off without first having to climb to the top of a hill.  After all kinds of experimentation, the forerunners of the modern flexwing aircraft took to the skies in the early 1970s. Since that time, wing and airframe/engine technology has moved on rapidly.

    Today’s factory-manufactured aircraft, powered by a choice of reliable two-stroke and four-stroke engines, are the result of years of design improvements within a framework of strict safety regulations administered by CASA.  In the last few years, Australian-made Trikes have found their way into many countries around the globe, winning numerous competitions.

    Despite their fragile appearance, modern Trike aircraft are incredibly strong and have one of the best safety records in Recreational aviation.  With their large, high-lift wings, Trikes simply glide safely to earth in the event of engine malfunction – these days, with high performance aircraft engines, a very rare occurrence!

    Australian made Airborne Trikes are considered to be one of the best on the world market. Manufacturer Airborne Windsports Pty Ltd is based at Redhead the suburb of Newcastle NSW, where all the aircraft are built conforming to CASA’s stringent regulations for aircraft manufacture and testing (including structural load tests to forces of 6g – three times that of a jumbo jet!) and the aircraft must each subsequently pass an inspection and a flight test.

    Unlike many high profile recreational and general aviation aircraft, an Airborne trike is fully certified, and is actually a Primary Category Aircraft, just like a Boeing 747 and an Airbus A-380.

    Questions and answers

    Q – How can I get a Recreational pilot’s licence?

    You will be required to complete the RAA pilot training syllabus with a qualified flying instructor. For a recreational aircraft pilot’s licence you must complete a minimum of 20 flying hours of flying instruction. This includes a minimum of 5 hours solo flying. It is important to note, that some people may need more training time than 20 hours before they will qualify for a licence. You also need to pass three written (multiple choice) exams.

    Q – How long will it take to get my licence?

    It’s difficult to give an exact answer, as everyone is different. Various factors affect the answer to this question such as, aptitude, previous flying experience, age, weather and your own availability. If you can only fly at weekends, you’ll probably take a bit longer than those who are available for lessons during extended training visits. From experience, for those who are unconditionally available, the average could be quoted at 9 to 13 hours of instruction to progress to solo standard. For those who are training on a part time basis… up to 12 months. But, Hey! The journey is half the fun!

    Q – How much will it cost?

    For students who have their own aircraft, the average cost of attaining their basic pilot certificate is around $3000. If a student wishes to utilize the Yarrawonga Flight Training school aircraft whilst waiting for their own trike to be delivered, the overall cost of training is understandably higher.

    As well as the hourly rate for both of the above situations, (Pilot Training Course Prices page), costs for clothing, annual RAA membership fees, safety equipment, literature, theory lessons and exam fees need to be taken into consideration.

    Q – Will I need to pass a medical?

    A special medical examination is not required. A Declaration of Fitness stating that your health is of an equivalent level to that for driving a motor vehicle is all that is required.

    Q – What about the written exams?

    You don’t need to be “academic” to take a recreational pilot training course.  As you’d expect, you do need to learn some theory, because it helps your understanding of flying as well as preparing you for your exams. However, for the recreational pilot’s licence we will concentrate on what you need to know, rather than equipping you to fly a 747!  Many students find it helpful to take some flight theory (”ground school”) classes – these are conducted after the usual flight de-briefing.  We also run group workshops on basic aeronautical knowledge, air legislation, human factors, map reading, basic weather understanding of weather charts, flight radio, navigation and route planning. For those training for their cross-country navigation flights, ground school is a little more demanding, and sometimes people want individual help with specific parts of the course.  Let us know if you need any extra help and we can tailor flight theory sessions to suit.

    Q – Are there any age limits?

    There are no age limits for recreational pilot training.  However, although you can begin the course before you are 15 years of age, you cannot be issued with your pilot certificate until you actually become 15 years old. There is no upper age limit. Weightshift Trike flying, or Triking as it’s known in Australia, is not a “boys only” sport either. There are many competent women Trike pilots, as well as couples who learn to fly together and share wonderful adventures.

    Q – What about buying my own Recreational aircraft or Trike?

    You are very welcome to use the school aircraft for your training. However, using your own aircraft is cheaper. Many student pilots buy their own aircraft once they have completed a few hours on the school aircraft, so they are ready to fly solo in their own machine.

    Yarrawonga Flight Training is Victoria’s preferred dealer and training facility for Airborne Windsports P/L, the manufacturer and world wide exporter of Australian Trikes. We can help you chose the trike best suited to your needs, once you have established just what type of flying you intend to pursue. Whether you want to cover large cross country distances in the XT 912 Streak 3 or SST, or go paddock bashing and beach fishing in the XT 912 Merlin / Tundra option. Please ask us for a brochure and price list.

    Q – What about insurance?

    Individual financial members of RAA as well as RAA schools are insured for legal liability that includes Bodily Injury and Property Damage to 3rd parties arising out of occurrence caused by an aircraft or by an RAA member. Insurance is also available to insure your aircraft, if you wish.


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