Home   Bury St Edmunds   News   Article

'I flew a plane for the first time at Skyward flight training based at Rougham Airfield and this is how I got on at 2,000ft in the air'




After Skyward flight training in Rougham received an unprecedented number of women interested in flying I thought I would head down and see what all the fuss was about.

Upon arrival at the airfield you are met by a friendly group of aviation enthusiasts as you fill in your temporary membership details.

Christopher Shepherd-Rose, director and co-founder of the flight school said: "Previously we have had a majority male interest in flying but for an unknown reason more women than ever before are joining our school."

Skyward flight training offer a range of flight sessions. Picture by Mark Westley
Skyward flight training offer a range of flight sessions. Picture by Mark Westley

In the base building, there is a plaque on the wall in memory of Patricia Carlisle-Dodd, one of the three training school founding members, who died of ovarian cancer last July.

Skyward flight training hosted a hangar party recently in her memory, raising £600 for research into the disease.

Before the flight began I was taken into a room and briefed on how the basic mechanics of the plane worked - turning left and right using my feet took a while to get my head around.

Inside the Skyward four-seater plane.
Inside the Skyward four-seater plane.

Similar to the age at which you can drive a car in the UK, a private pilot license can be obtained from 17 years old, but you can fly solo from the age of 16.

A daunting concept as a 24-year-old with a driving license, I did not feel prepared to fly a plane.

After the brief we headed to the plane, accessing the door of the four-seater taking care to only step on the marked areas and not the wing, which is much harder than you would expect.

Reporter Kirsty Barrott is joined by Christopher Shepherd-Rose director and co-founder of Skyward flight training. Picture by Mark Westley
Reporter Kirsty Barrott is joined by Christopher Shepherd-Rose director and co-founder of Skyward flight training. Picture by Mark Westley

Once I plugged in my headset and adjusted the mic, the engine was switched on and the concept of flying became real.

Nervous is an understatement for how it felt, as I opened the throttle and we got the plane ready to taxi.

After Chris completed the power checks, I radioed that we were ready to go.

Opening the throttle all the way, upon Chris' instructions I lifted the nose of the plane and suddenly we were airborne.

I had no idea how much I had missed being in a plane, having not flown since the start of the pandemic (although as a passenger, not a mock pilot) the feeling of elation was indescribable.

Considering it costs only £85 for a taster session, the knowledge that you have flown a plane is worth so much more.

Sat at 2,000ft the view was second to none as the trees and people below look like something out of a toy train set.

Skyward flight training at Rougham Airfield . Picture by Mark Westley
Skyward flight training at Rougham Airfield . Picture by Mark Westley

After flying around the airfield it was time to head back down.

This bit was trickier than take-off as it's important that you come down at the right speed and that the nose of the plane is in the correct position.

Once we reached around 250ft Chris took over and very smoothly landed us back onto the ground.

This weekend the flight school will host their third fly-in, where for £5 per car or pedestrian group members of the public can take photos and meet pilots.

The money raised will go towards North Weald Aircraft Marshallers and the East Anglian Air Ambulance.

Skyward flight training at Rougham Airfield. Picture by Mark Westley
Skyward flight training at Rougham Airfield. Picture by Mark Westley

The average price to obtain a private pilot license is £10,620 which Skyward flight training breaks down into six blocks of varying prices.

Read more: All the latest news from Suffolk

Read more: All the latest news from Bury St Edmunds