Learning to fly a microlight is a very satisfying challenge from the first time you handle the controls, through gaining sufficient skills to land the aeroplane, eventually being sent away for your first solo flight (with nobody else aboard), and finally the General Skills Test where you prove to a flight examiner that you are ready to take full responsibility for your own flying and to take a passenger with you. Some people choose to spend a summer putting in a lot of effort to gain their licence in one push; others choose a more relaxed approach, flying once a month or so. This latter approach takes longer, but every training flight is a flight, and our intention is to make every flight a pleasure.
We operate from an active airfield and on summer weekends (and often during the week too) we can often be found at our ‘dispersal hut’ sitting in the shade of the poplar trees and sipping a cup of tea or a cool soft drink while discussing the previous flight. When the weather is poor, we can retire to the school office for ground school to explain some of the theoretical subjects or to practise some of the flight exercises in our full size microlight simulator.
We have a few photos of some our activities in our club album, [here].
Our school microlight is a Thruster T600N 450 (Jab) nicknamed Grasshopper (or ‘Hoppy’ for short). The Thruster is a well-established marque for microlight training, and was made famous in the popular book, Propellerhead. Our aircraft, a modern version of the type, is near the mid-point in terms of microlight performance, so our student pilots are well placed to transfer either to the faster (more expensive) modern machines or to move onto older, lighter, and more affordable classic microlights, such as the AX3 or our privately operated Thruster TST.
Joan doing a fly-past in Hoppy
Over the winter of 2007/8 we renovated an old AX3 microlight. We used her as a way to teach Saxon Microlights students about microlight aircraft maintenance. The team who renovated her will operate her as a syndicate machine, while we will retain an interest so that she will also be the school’s reserve training aircraft. In the spirit of the club, she’s been given a name: Myhmi (pronounced Mimi). This came from the view of her dancing gently on her wheels in the wind, all dressed in her faded pink and white finery. When she was young it was red and white, but age and the sun had faded the dyes – but now, fresh for 2012, we have bought her some new clothes; her red and white are shiny and bright and her windscreen is fresh and clear.
Myhm’s new clothesi
We also use our FNPT for flight training. It is a full size simulator modelled as an accurate replica of the school’s Thruster and allows students to practice flight exercises in a relaxed environment and at lower cost than in the air. It can also be used when the weather prevents flying or during the long winter evenings.
You can watch a recording of our FNPT being used for a simple practice exercise; a glide approach from downwind. Click here.
We are based at North Weald Airfield, a historic airfield which is famous for its important role in the defence of Britain during both world wars. It is conveniently located near the Harlow/Chelmsford exit on the M11 and close to the M25. This location makes it easy to reach from London, Essex, and surrounding counties (Hertfordshire, Kent, Cambridge, and Bedfordshire)
[Click here] for our contact details - how to get in touch with us by email, post, or phone.
[Click here] for details of how to fly in to our club site at the farm. We’ll give you full driving directions at the time if you are invited in by road.
Our ground school facilities and simulator room are based on site at North Weald airfield. We made the move early in 2009.
After a lot of work cleaning up and providing our own facilities we were ready to open for business by May. Then in September 2011 we were given the opportunity to move to a better location on the airfield. After yet more cleaning and redecoration, we moved in just before Christmas.
The pictures below give an indication of our current facilities
The club lounge The grass ‘apron’ outside
We are here Tuesdays to Saturdays by appointment or if we have work that needs to be done there.
On Wednesdays and Saturdays we’ll be here, whether or not we are flying, from about noon to at least 5pm.
The simulator room- ‘indoor flight training’ The office
When we’re preparing the aircraft to fly, we’ll be at the ‘dispersal hut’ under the poplars. This is where you might find us if you are booked in for a trial lesson.
We have been involved in microlight flying since 1993 and were both occasional glider pilots before that.
Before founding the Saxon Microlights flying school, Joan Walsh had a successful career as a Chartered Engineer practising firstly in the aircraft industry, then in a wide variety of computer-based engineering projects. She is now our full time flying instructor and is responsible for the training arm of the business. In addition to instructing, as a Flight Examiner, she is also authorised by the CAA to conduct the written and practical tests leading to the issue of a UK National Private Pilot’s Licence or to revalidate a lapsed licence. Joan has also been active within the BMAA, first quietly behind the scenes, then between 2006 and 2012 as a member of the governing council.
Ginge Sunley is involved in the business part time and is responsible for the ground operations, especially aircraft maintenance and safety. In his spare time, Ginge is renovating a classic biplane from the early days of microlight flying. See the continuing story and pictures here. (sadly for the project, Ginge has been spending so much time on refurbishing and improving our facilities at North Weald that there hasn’t been much progress since early 2009 – maybe this winter, perhaps).
Joan & Ginge on holiday in Portugal .
Joan also writes occasional magazine articles, mostly about microlight flying. An example available online are:
Having spent some time based as a private aircraft at the farm, our aeroplane was temporarily moved to Rayne Hall Farm near Braintree in 2004. We flew her from here to Sheepcoates Farm near Maldon whenever we needed to do flight training while we assessed the suitability of the site as a permanent base for the school. The aeroplane was moved there in the early summer of 2005 and we continued training using Sheepcoates Farm as our base. We received no serious complaints and applied for planning permission to base there permanently, but this was refused at the start of 2006. We were given the opportunity to move back to the farm, which has been the home to light aircraft since the 1950s and is operated by Yak-11 display pilot, Angie Soper. This field, while still definitely a farm strip, had better facilities and we built a small office and briefing room within one of the factory units there. It also became the home of our flight procedures trainer. In early 2007 we were given permission to operate training flights at North Weald Airfield, and later that year we moved our Thruster there along with the hut which had been our home at Sheepcoates Farm. In 2009 we were able to move our ground training facilities to North Weald too. We still retain a link with the farm because we visit there for the club ‘summer camp’ and get our pilots used to operating within the restrictions of a farm strip.
We’re often asked.
For starters, Saxon is an appropriate name for any organisation operating in Essex; during the dark ages it was the county of the East Saxons.
That’s not our real reason though. Before we started flying microlights, Ginge was a working fisherman licensed to operate out of Maldon, on the River Blackwater. He owned a series of boats through his fishing career, but the last one (and his favourite) was a fast dory which he named after the Saxon heritage of the town. Along with the boat Ginge had a goodly collection of fish-boxes, all marked with the boat’s registered name “Saxon”. It seemed logical to us, to name the business after the boat – especially as it meant we wouldn’t have to change the name on the boxes. It’s as simple as that.
Our logo takes the Seaxe heraldic symbol used in many Essex coats of arms and, unconventionally, crosses them. The addition of feathered wings represents lightweight flight. In our club badge, we represent the feathers in silver except for those pilots who have been given their wings by our CFI whose badges have golden feathers.
So there you have it.
The nearest towns to us in London, Essex and Hertfordshire (Herts) are Brentwood, Romford, Ongar, Epping, Harlow, Chelmsford, Waltham Abbey, Basildon, Maldon, Whitham, Braintree and Bishops Stortford