Soar Across The Sky Flying A Plane Or Helicopter

Helicopter and light aircraft

Fancy earning your stripes? Then climb aboard and become master and commander of the sky in a thrilling light aircraft pilot flying experience.

Choose from locations all over the UK and such favourites as the Cessna or Piper, and enjoy a flight of fancy complete with stunning countryside views. You’ll even have the chance to take control and fly it yourself, which can count towards your own Private Pilot’s Licence. Time will literally fly as you savour the truly uplifting sensation of flight in this magnificent experience which really is the best of the best.

Alternatively, try your hand at flying a lightweight and nimble microlight or a spectacular glider. If chopper's are more your thing then there are opportunities to take control of a helicopter. For your dose of nostalgia board a vintage biplane or for more extreme thrills, succumb to an aerobatic stunt flight. There's plenty of choice when it comes to aeronautical enjoyment.

Light aircraft flights

Choose from a variety of light aircraft flights in which you can enjoy a passenger flight and at the pilot’s discretion, have the chance to take control and fly the craft yourself.

Cessna aircraft

Soar across the sky in a light aircraft and enjoy the magnificent views below.

On the day you’ll undergo a preliminary briefing on the ground from your qualified flying instructor, who will explain what to expect and will run through the various flight techniques, as well as all the necessary safety procedures. Then it’s time to get acquainted with your aircraft and get ready to fly. During the session your instructor will initially pilot the craft, explaining the various methods and flying techniques as you go, and at their discretion you will then have the chance to take the controls.

Whether you’re a budding pilot, a thrill-seeker or you’re just up for a new experience, this is one airborne adventure you won’t regret. There’s nothing better than swooping and soaring high above the English countryside, well beyond the madness and mayhem of everyday life. It certainly puts a new spin on flying – and what’s more, you’ll have the chance to play pilot yourself. These cracking little crafts are great fun and the perfect introduction to flying. Who knows, this could be your first step towards your own pilot’s licence. Whatever your reason to come flying, you’ll enjoy a truly exhilarating experience that’s right up there with the best of them.

How about this?:

Take control in a flying lesson in a two-seater Cessna aeroplane near Perth, Scotland. This is a perfect excuse to catch the flying bug.
From £99 per person from Experience Days (at time of writing)Learn more°

Microlight flying


Feel the wind in your hair as you fly in a microlight high above the beautiful countryside.

Soar into the blue and take a flight of fancy you won’t forget in this magnificent microlight flying experience. Lithe, lightweight, and nimble, these cracking little crafts are great fun and the perfect way to experience the thrill of flight. You’ll even get the chance to take the controls yourself. Enjoy the rare vista of the countryside from above and experience the truly uplifting sensation of flight as you swoop and soar with the wind in your face and your head in the clouds. This is a truly exhilarating experience and a fantastic day out that’s right up there with the best of them.

On your arrival at the aerodrome you will meet your instructor and undergo a briefing which explains the health and safety aspects, the theory behind microlight flight and an explanation of what’s to come. Then you’ll accompany your instructor to the craft where you’ll have the chance to get acquainted and become familiarised with the controls. Then it’s time for take-off! During the flight, and at your instructor’s discretion, you may take control of the craft and fly it yourself. This can even count towards a microlight Private Pilot’s Licence.

Fancy a sightseeing tour instead? Perhaps a hot air balloon flight will tickle your fancy. Prefer your aerial fun to be fixed firmly to the ground? Try these flight simulator experiences.

Fancy taking to the skies? Then bring your a-frame and rise to new highs in this thrilling microlight experience. Hop onboard, strap in and get ready to soar up, up and away. Microlight flying is a fun-filled experience where time flies and one flight is never enough – so prepare to get hooked! Enjoy panoramic views from your open cockpit and a sensation that’s nothing short of exhilarating. As if that’s not reason enough, you’ll have the chance to fly it yourself which can even count towards your own license. Time will literally fly in this invigorating experience so no doubt you’ll be back to do it again. And again. And again…

Food for thought:

Near Beverley in the East Riding of Yorkshire, take your seat in a fixed wing microlight for a 60-minute flight. Depending on circumstances, you might even get to take control of the aircraft.
From £145 per person from Red Letter Days (at time of writing)Learn more°


Take to the skies in a spectacular glider and enjoy the extraordinary thrill of soaring in silence. Serene and graceful, these powerless crafts literally glide through the air, providing a peaceful yet exhilarating experience and a rare glimpse of the countryside from several thousand feet up. There’s no engine and few controls which creates a paper aeroplane effect – the craft is constantly moving downwards in a graceful descent, but you’ll discover how pilots use thermal currents to stay in the air and elongate the flight, before having the chance to take over the controls yourself.


Fly in a glider and experience the sound of silence as you glide gently back down to solid ground.

You’ll first receive a brief and expert on-ground tuition to learn how the craft stays in the air, before taking a flight in the glider along with a qualified instructor.

To get airborne the glider will be short-winched or towed by a light aircraft – also known as Aerotow Gliding – to a height of around 1,500-2,000 feet before the rope is released. Your craft will then be totally reliant on the guidance of its pilots (that could be you!) and thermal air currents.

During the flight your instructor will demonstrate how to control and manoeuvre the glider, and you may have the chance to take the controls and handle the craft yourself. Or if you prefer, you can just sit back and savour the glorious views as they unfold beneath you (maybe peeking into some back gardens while you’re at it).

If you’ve ever looked up and wondered how it feels to fly like a bird, this could be the closest you’ll ever get, with the added benefit of being protected from the elements in the glider cockpit. Release your inner hippy and enjoy the exhilaration of flying gracefully in a peaceful environment where, once your tow-plane has released you, you’ll hear virtually nothing. Just silence (apart from some enthusiastic chatter from your instructor). Perfect for any age, this is the type of experience that you’ll want to do again and again. And again…

Something to consider:

Have a go at gliding in a half-day course near Croydon. You'll get a full briefing and introduction to the glider from an experienced instructor before emabrking on four 5-to-10-minute flights.
From £143 per person from Buyagift (at time of writing)Learn more°

Helicopter flying lessons

Helicopter cockpit

Take control of a vertical flying machine in an experience that could count towards getting your private pilot's licence.

Whether you’re a budding chopper pilot, a have-a-go daredevil or you just fancy doing something out of the ordinary, this helicopter pilot flying lesson has got your name on it. Experience the thrill of vertical flight and take to the skies in a blur of whirring blades, but be warned – it’s not as easy as it looks! You’ll first learn the ropes from an experienced pro before having the chance to take over the controls yourself. Pilot this incredible craft and try your hand at flying, hovering and numerous other tactics – perhaps even an emergency landing. This is one ‘heli’ of an experience you won’t forget in a hurry!

On the day, you’ll meet your CAA licensed helicopter instructor before undergoing a safety briefing and initial training session to get familiarised with the theory behind helicopter flight. Then it’s time to get strapped into the dual-controlled craft (usually a Robinson R22 or similar) and let the fun begin! Your instructor will demonstrate the controls and perform tasks such as lift-off and landing, but you’ll have the chance to take over the controls at various points throughout the flight. Your instructor will be on hand to give you tuition at every step, and may also encourage you to take on certain challenges – such as attempting to hover. Your flying time can even count towards a Private Pilot’s Licence (PPL).

Prefer seeing to doing? Try these helicopter sightseeing flights or these London helicopter tours. You get the same thrill of soaring high in a helicopter, just none of the work. Effortless is the key!

When it comes to airborne experiences, flying a helicopter is right up there with the best of them. These magnificent machines are the epitome of engineering and can fly up, across, backwards and even hover on the spot. The sensation of take-off is thrilling enough, but when it’s time to take the controls and try it yourself, you’ll reach extraordinary new heights. Just don’t expect an easy ride! Mastering that all-important balance of pitch, thrust, tilt and lift is no mean feat, but you’ll be on cloud nine once you smash it. This is a truly uplifting experience for thrill-seekers in which time will literally fly.

Something to consider:

Try your hand at hovering on a hands-on helicopter experience taking place at Gloucester, Denham, Thruxton, Camberley, Manston, Manchester, Newcastle Upon Tyne, Cumbernauld, Wolverhampton, and Wellesbourne. Your lesson will be split into three separate flights, so you'll observe, navigate, and then pilot a helicopter as you put the theory into practice with the hover challenge.
From £99 per person from Virgin Experience Days (at time of writing)Learn more

Aerobatic flights

Think you’ve got a strong stomach? Think again! With more barrel rolls, wing-overs and loop-the-loops than a Top Gun dogfight, the aerobatic stunt experiences certainly put a new spin on passenger flights. It’s perfect for daredevils who love the danger zone and as thrill rides go, it’s right up there with the best of the best. And once your world has stopped spinning, you may have the chance  to take control and try it out for yourself. Talk about life on the edge. Strap in, hang on, and prepare to meet your need for speed in this heart-pounding aerobatic experience.

Options include:

  • Aerobatic Flight: A passenger flight in a light aircraft such as a Cessna 152, which will perform various stunts and manoeuvres before you get to take the controls and try it out for yourself.
  • Ultimate Top Gun: A thrilling airborne adventure with two top aerobatic stunt planes, usually the high performance Extra 300 aircraft. Watch your instructor in action as you embark on numerous tactics and formation manoeuvres before taking the controls and going head to head with your opponent, complete with tail-chasing and attempting to ‘shoot’ them down, Top Gun style!

On the day you will be met by your instructor who will provide you with a full and comprehensive briefing on safety procedures and what to expect. You will then learn about the various techniques involved in flying and will also have the chance to tailor your experience depending on what you want out of it (and how stomach-churning you want it to be!) Then it’s time to get onboard, where you’ll have time to familiarise yourself with the craft and the controls.

Your instructor will then show you what the plane can do so be prepared for plenty of exhilarating stunts and breathtaking aerobatics! You may have the chance to take the controls and try it out for yourself with the guidance of your instructor.

In the Ultimate Top Gun experience the thrills go one step further. As well as trying out various stunts and manoeuvres, you will also take part in a gripping tail chase with another craft complete with ‘guns’ and smoke effects. That’s one to tell the grandkids!

If ever an airborne rollercoaster existed, this is it. Full of high-speed dips, ducks and dives, this aerobatic stunt flying experience is probably the most extreme and exhilarating thing you can do in a plane. Prepare to be rolled, whirled, and spun to within an inch of your life in this unbeatable aerobatic thrill. And just when you thought your breakfast had survived, it’s time to take control and try it yourself. Talk about thrill! Don’t settle for second best – hang on tight, put yourself on fast spin and let off some serious steam in this adrenalin-pumping high-flying stunt experience.

Something to consider:

Enjoy up to half an hour in the air, undertaking frightening aerial tricks with an experienced pilot at the controls. This experience is available near Maidenhead, Stapleford, Andover, Wansford, Redhill, Blackbushe, Burton-upon-Trent, and Coventry, with different aircraft and durations at each venue.
From £145 per person from Into The Blue (at time of writing)Learn more°

Spitfire, Tiger Moth & vintage plane flights

Tiger Moth

Chocks away, dear boy! Take flight in a vintage biplane in what will be an unforgettable experience.

There’s nothing quite like flying in a vintage biplane with your head in the clouds and the wind in your hair, and these classic flights are right up there with the best of them. Step back in time and strap yourself in to the open cockpit of a biplane from bygone times and experience the thrill of golden age flying.

Options include:

  • Fly a Tiger Moth or biplane: Take to the skies in a two-seater De Havilland Tiger Moth or another vintage biplane such as the Stampe, and experience first-hand the agility of these nimble crafts. Then, at the pilot’s discretion, you’ll have the chance to take the controls and fly it yourself!
  • Spitfire flights: A true and ever-lasting icon of the skies, the Spitfire is one of Britain’s most popular and recognisable aircraft. There are just a few flight-worthy Spitfires left but in this exciting and poignant experience, you’ll get the chance to fly alongside one of these incredible crafts in a helicopter, and watch it perform numerous tricks and stunts.

Vintage aircraft and Battle of Britain enthusiasts: this one’s for you. Ever wanted to follow in the vapour trails of the flying aces? Now you can, thanks to these spectacular vintage plane flights. From taking the controls of the magnificent Tiger Moth to flying alongside a superb Spitfire, get up close and personal with these awe-inspiring symbols of wartime Britain in this adrenalin-pumping adventure of a lifetime. Chocks away!

A top choice:

Take off from Duxford, Cambridgeshire, in a 1940s de Havilland Dragon Rapide where you'll fly wing-to-wing with a spitfire.
From £399 per person from Into The Blue (at time of writing)Learn more°

Chocks away! - What You Need To Know

  • WHEN: Flights take place on selected days year-round. However, flying is extremely weather dependent - you'll usually need to call the venue on the morning of the flight to confirm it is going ahead.
  • WHERE: Flights take-off from airports, aerodromes, and airfields around the country.
  • WHO: Flights have wide appeal, from the young to the old. Forget flight simulators. This is the real deal, and in most of the experiences you may have the chance to take controls of a real flying machine. No previous flying experience is required for these experiences, however there are usually limitations on age, size, and weight. Check the experience details carefully for exclusions.
  • OCCASIONS: Aside from jetting off for a week in Benidorm, when else do you get the chance to jump into a plane or helicopter and take it for a spin? Sure, if you're a millionaire then this will be a normal day for you, but for the rest of us, this is once-in-a-lifetime stuff. Experiences are perfect for memorable birthday and Christmas presents.
  • PRICES: Microlight and gliding experiences start from around £40 per person for short sessions. Helicopter and light aircraft sessions start from around £90 per person. Vintage plane flights start from around £120 per person. More expensive experiences typically include a longer amount of time in the aircraft or one-to-one tutoring. (correct at the time of writing)

(Photo credits to Deltadam; WolfBlur; Memorycatcher; Mrmr59; Moerschy; Alpalm)


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Hi, I'm David. I love finding unique gift ideas, so decided to blog about the best ones here. You won't find junk or tacky products here - I'm only interested in proper presents worth giving (and receiving).

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  1. Can you email me an update as to what flight experiences you have with regards to a spitfire- this is a gift for my husband – we reside in kent so location is not a problem – but wondered if you could email me with a breakdown of opportunities and the cost and duration involved. Thanks.

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