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FLYING NEW ZEALAND
Sport and Recreational Flying at its best!
  • Learn to fly Flying is fun!
  • Flying for the YoungFlying NZ's Young Eagles
  • Pilot ProficiencyEnhance your skills
  • Competition FlyingAt Club, National or International competitions
  • Flying for recreationFlyaways and Rallies
  • Formation flyingA team skill
  • Cross Country FlyingFly yourself to any airport in New Zealand

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Frequently Asked Questions

Can anyone learn to fly?

If you are of average intelligence, reasonably mobile and look forward to learning a new discipline, you can learn to fly. You can start to learn at any age but to fly solo you must be 16 years of age and to hold a licence you must be 17. To fly solo you must also be able to pass a medical. The medical requirements are different for a Microlight Certificate, a Private pilot's licence and for a Commercial licence. You can continue to exercise the privileges of your licence for as long as you continue to pass the medical and keep current with your flying. The loss of your medical however does not stop you from flying, only from flying solo. Many pilots continue to fly with an instructor up into their eighties.

Is it just a male thing?

Certainly not. Most people will be familiar with Rotorua girl, Jean Battern who set a world record in 1936 by flying solo from England to New Zealand. New Zealand's first woman pilot was Aroha Clifford who gained her pilot licence in Christchurch in 1929. Ever since women have played a major role in aero clubs participating as pilot members, instructors and competitors in National and International competitions. There is a National women Pilots organisation the New Zealand Airwomens' Association and many women aero club members are also members of the Association. Most women airline pilots were aero club trained.

Do I need a medical?

You can learn to fly an aeroplane and fly all of your life without a medical, providing you always have a qualified instructor in the seat beside you. However for most pilots flying solo and obtaining their pilots licence is the ultimate achievement. The medical requirements for a Microlight Pilots Certificate and for a GA Private Pilots Licence are quite different. While a microlight medical can be issued by a GP, a GA medical must be issued by a Designated Medical Examiner, (DME) certified by the NZ Civil Aviation Authority. (CAA) You must have obtained your medical certificate for your instructor to let you fly solo. If you intend to train in a GA aircraft it is probably worthwhile obtaining your medical early in your training.

What if I wear glasses?

Wearing glasses does not stop you from learning to fly and flying solo, providing you can meet the vision standards when wearing them.

What if I can't get a medical?

This does not stop you from flying with an instructor. While you may not reach the standard required for a CAA medical allowing you to fly GA aircraft you may be able to obtain a Microlight medical and fly one of the modern Microlight aircraft now operated by some Flying NZ aero clubs.

Is it safe?

The maintenance of GA aircraft is strictly regulated by the Civil Aviation Administration (CAA) and aircraft can be maintained only by CAA licensed engineers. All GA aircraft have scheduled checks every 50 hours of flying time. Airspace is also regulated ensuring that light aircraft cannot conflict with commercial traffic.
GA Flight Instructors are experienced professional commercial pilots who have been trained to competently teach and control an aircraft flown by a student. Instructors are tested by a CAA appointed examiner to obtain their Instructor rating, then supervised by a more senior instructor for a period. After qualification all instructors are required to undergo regular competency checks.
Your instructor will take you through a structured training syllabus and only when you are competent will you be allowed to fly solo.
If you fly at a Flying NZ aero club, the guidance given by your instructor does not stop once you have obtained your licence, your instructor will continue to help with planning and weather briefings. When flying cross country the same service is available from instructors at other Flying NZ clubs ensuring that you are well briefed about local weather and topography.
When flying cross country Flying NZ pilots always lodge a flight plan. If you do not reach your destination for any reason Search and Rescue will automatically be out looking for you.

Will I be good enough?

A responsible attitude is more important that technical skills when learning to fly. The skills can be learnt by the great majority of ordinary people.

Will I be good enough?

A responsible attitude is more important that technical skills when learning to fly. The skills can be learnt by the great majority of ordinary people.

How long will it take?

You can take as long as you like to learn to fly. If you are in a hurry you can get your GA Private Pilot's Licence in just a few weeks but learning to fly is an enjoyable and exhilarating experience, so why rush it. Most people will take between twelve months and two years. During this time you can mix with other club members in club activities and learn a lot more than just the practical side of being a pilot.

What will it cost?

Depending upon the type of aircraft you learn in, the frequency that you take lessons and your speed at acquiring the new concepts and skills, it will take between about 50 and 75 hours of total experience for you to qualify for your full GA Private Pilot's Licence, allowing you to carry passengers cross country. But for some people just learning to the stage that they have flown solo is enough and this can usually be achieved in 12 to 15 hours of dual instruction.
The early pre solo lessons will usually take less than an hour each and some Flying NZ clubs offer training packages to first solo. If you spread your training over a reasonable period you should be able to get all the training you need for your Private Pilot's Licence for less than $100 to $200 per week.

Do I have to sit exams?

To gain your Private Pilot's Licence you have to study Meteorology, Air navigation and Flight Planning, Aircraft Technical knowledge, Air law, Human factors and Flight Radio telephony and pass written (multi choice) examinations. While at first this requirement may sound daunting, you will find that as you get into your training you will be keen to gain knowledge in these areas and you will enjoy the learning experience. Some Flying NZ clubs run night classes and for others there are several very good books available to study at home.

When can I fly solo?

After you have completed your basic aircraft handling training and can accurately and consistently fly and land your aeroplane in the circuit, providing you have passed your medical, your instructor will send you solo. This will usually be after about 12 to 15 hours of dual training. Your instructor will wait until weather conditions are ideal for this special occasion. If the weather is not suitable your instructor will probably carry on with some of your more advanced training so don't worry if your hours are greater than 15 when you go solo. Although you have flown solo, your further flying will be under the direct supervision of your instructor and you will remain in the circuit or in training areas close to your training airfield until you are well into your advanced training. You cannot carry any passengers, except for a qualified instructor until you are fully licensed.

When can I take passengers?

After you have completed your basic aircraft handling training and can accurately and consistently fly and land your aeroplane in the circuit, providing you have passed your medical, your instructor will send you solo. This will usually be after about 12 to 15 hours of dual training. Your instructor will wait until weather conditions are ideal for this special occasion. If the weather is not suitable your instructor will probably carry on with some of your more advanced training so don't worry if your hours are greater than 15 when you go solo. Although you have flown solo, your further flying will be under the direct supervision of your instructor and you will remain in the circuit or in training areas close to your training airfield until you are well into your advanced training. You cannot carry any passengers, except for a qualified instructor until you are fully licensed.

How long does my licence last?

Your Pilot's licence in New Zealand is a lifetime licence.

What do I have to do to keep it?

To exercise the privileges of your licence you must have a valid medical certificate. There is no minimum flying hour requirement but to carry passengers you must have completed three takeoff and landings in the previous 90 days in the aircraft type you intend to fly. Every two years you have to undertake a Bi-annual Flight Review (BFR) with an authorised instructor. The BFR ensures that you are maintaining your flying standards and keeping up with changes in aviation law.
A good way to keep current at minimal cost, is to participate in club competitions, where the air judge is usually an instructor and can give you constructive advice.

What can I do with my licence?

Once you have obtained your Private Pilot's Licence (PPL) you will be able to carry passengers and fly into any licensed airfield in New Zealand. Some clubs place restrictions on how far a low hour PPL may fly from home base but as your experience builds so will your freedom.
Many pilots are content with a PPL and many log hundreds of hours of experience as a PPL pilot.
Others may go on to gain a Commercial Pilot's Licence (CPL) even if they have no aspiration of being employed as a pilot.
Some PPL licensed pilots may use their licence for business flying allowing them quick access to parts of the country which otherwise would entail a lengthy car journey. Some just want to take friends and family flying for pleasure. Unlike an airliner, the view from a light aircraft is just magnificent and at 100 plus knots (Nautical miles per hour) it doesn't take long to visit the Coromandel Peninsula from Auckland or even Queenstown from Wellington or Christchurch.
Most clubs organise club flyaways where a group of pilots share an aircraft or more and fly to a common destination, often staying overnight. They share the flying cost and the flying resulting in a great weekend of flying experience and comradeship at an economical cost.
Most PPL pilots go on to get ratings on other types of aircraft, in aerobatic aircraft, tail draggers, retractable under carriage and even light twins. There are endless possibilities.
And then there is competition flying, perhaps the most rewarding flying of all, where you can build your skills then compete against others in your club, your Region, Nationally and Internationally.

Can I fly overseas?

A PPL and CPL is an international licence and will allow you to fly in many overseas countries. You will however have to have your licence validated in the country you are visiting. It pays to arrange this before you go.

Is flying just for the elite?

Those who love flying come from all walks of life, from the high school student who works on the checkout at the local supermarket to earn enough money for the next flight, to the 747 captain who just can't wait to get back home and down to the local aero club to fly a "real" aeroplane.
The common bond amongst pilots is not their wealth, occupation or social status but their passion for flying.
A typical fly away group or club competition team may consist of a student, a butcher, a doctor an office worker, a builder's labourer and a teacher. They will all travel and compete together, mix socially and barrack for each other and for their team.
Flying NZ clubs are incorporated societies and are run by an Executive of members for the benefit of all members. The diversity of the members backgrounds and their willingness to participate in the running of the club and the skills and knowledge they can bring to the club, is often one of the club's greatest strengths.

What is a Microlight?

The name microlight to most people conjures up the idea of an aircraft made of canvas and bamboo (or aluminium tube) where the pilot sits out in the open with a noisy motor behind and somehow defies the laws of gravity. While some pilots love this type of flying and most Microlight Clubs still fly them, the more recent metal and composite microlights look and fly like a GA light aircraft and sometimes outperform them. Microlight aircraft are not subject to the same strict engineering and training restrictions as GA aircraft and microlight training is largely regulated by the clubs themselves. Most Flying NZ clubs who operate microlights however usually do adhere to the same high standard of maintenance as they do to their GA aircraft and use their GA qualified instructors to train in them. Microlights, as the name suggests, are lighter than GA aircraft and more fuel efficient but generally have much lower inertia making them less stable in fluctuating weather conditions resulting in less flyable days.

What is a light (GA) aircraft?

A GA aircraft is a certified aircraft and must be maintained to strict standards by a LAME.
Instruction can only be carried out by a licenced instructor and all the time logged flying in a GA aircraft can go towards a pilots advanced licence.

Which should I learn to fly?

If you are happy to restrict your flying to daytime and good weather conditions Microlight flying is an economical option but if there is a possibility that you will like to further your flying into more advanced types or take the family cross county, start in a GA aircraft.

Club or Flying School?

Aero Clubs are usually Incorporated Societies run by an Executive of members for the benefit of all members. Members are the custodians of the club assets and the club makes those assets available to members at as low a cost as possible. Clubs have an annual membership fee, usually $200 or less of which $30 is paid to Flying NZ as an affiliation fee. Flying NZ, along with grants from industry and from Sport New Zealand, uses those funds to run competitions, both National and International and advance the standard of flying in the community by running safety and training seminars. Flying NZ also participates in rule making and makes representations to Government on behalf of industry. We also foster flying, as a Sport and Recreational pursuit, through initiatives such as the Young Eagles scheme and the Pilot proficiency scheme. Flying NZ also provides significant support to its member clubs. Flying schools, which are usually more focused on industry pilot training, are commercial organisations expected to provide a return for shareholders. Flying schools, except those run by aero clubs where the profits are returned to the parent club, do not benefit from the association with Flying NZ and their members cannot participate in the Flying NZ initiatives.

Should I learn at a bigger Club?

For GA training all clubs must conform to the training standards set down by CAA and are subject to regular audits to ensure that the club is meeting those standards. The big clubs may argue that learning at a busy airport makes it easier when a PPL, has to fly into one, but small clubs can often offer a more personal service and are subject to less other traffic interruptions. In reality you are best to train for your PPL at your local club. You may need a larger club for advanced commercial training.

What are flying competitions?

Flying competitions are organised by clubs on a local basis and by Flying NZ on a Regional, National and International basis. In New Zealand, thanks to Flying NZ and its pre parent the RNZAC, we have a large number of competitions for pilots to participate in, from spot landing, forced landing, precision circuits, bombing and life raft dropping as well as navigation, aerobatics, instrument and formation flying. Flying in competitions hones the pilot's skills and allows a pilot to remain current on type at a relatively low cost.

Do I need my PPL to enter?

A feature of flying New Zealand competitions is that there are competitions for all levels of skill. Several of the junior competitions, (junior in hours flown and not the age of the pilot) are reserved only for pilots who have not yet attained their PPL. Most competitions have an air judge who is an instructor so pilots who cannot obtain a medical or who have lost their medical for any reason can still compete.

What about National comps?

To be eligible for most of the National competitions you have to be the Regional winner for your competition at your Regional area Rally. Some competitions have a wildcard entry and you can qualify to fly in the National competition by winning the associated wildcard competition at the national Championships, usually held the day before the Nationals. The winners of four of the National competitions held at the National Championships each year are usually selected to fly against the best Australian pilots in the Wings Trophy competition.

International competitions?

A PPL and CPL is an international licence and will allow you to fly in many overseas countries. You will however have to have your licence validated in the country you are visiting. It pays to arrange this before you go.

How do I get started?