Scotland may be a small country but it has a very diverse geography. The distances required to travel by road, particularly around the coast where the sea lochs can add ten miles easily, can translate to a good deal of time saved going direct by air.
Where then as a pilot do you want to fly from and where should you visit?
There are fewer airfields now than there used to be, a sad loss and one we may all regret. As with the regrowth of the railways opening up lines lost by the Beeching cuts, there may one day be an appetite for better airfield infrastructure.
The main airports may be too busy to welcome pleasure pilots with open arms but they are key to making the most of a visit. Careful shopping for tickets can allow you to visit by scheduled or charter flights reasonably cheaply. The Scottish government has subsidised more routes to keep costs down. Check out Loganair and Hebridean Air for regular flights and tours in the summer season.
Two on my personal bucket list are a trip to Barra where the runway is on the beach and the shortest commercial flight in the world; Westray to Papa Westray, a DVT busting two minutes.
One of my favourite questions for interviewees is, "Where would you fly to if you had the choice?" The answer is pretty consistent, West coast and Skye. The allure of mountains rising from the sea is seductive to many.
There are private fields where you can only go if you have prior permission and there are discounts available in landing fees at major airports if you know how to go about it. It often only takes a phone call to the local club to be able to claim club rates.
It may be that you really need to fly from your local airport but I know of one pilot who found real benefits in driving for over an hour past two airports to learn at a third. The lower cost of lessons and especially landing fees made the trip well worth it. Shop around especially if you don't intend to build on your licence for commercial purposes. Click here for an explanation of your options.
It may be that flying from a busy airport, sharing both tarmac and sky with big jets is exactly what you want. Other pilots may find that unnecessary, stressful and expensive. Flying from a grass strip with miles of uncontrolled and unoccupied sky could be exactly where you want to be.
The good news is that you can do both fairly easily, probably even on the same trip.
This where to fly guide will develop over time and very soon you will be able to add your own recommendations or comments directly onto the page. In the meantime feel free to contact us.
The decision on where to fly should not be an outright geographical one. Consider what type of flying you want to do, costs, aircraft types and of course the club scene.
Sadly many clubs are feeling the pinch and have scaled back the social side. There are very friendly helpful ones and one or two who view strangers as an inconvenience. Your experience may of course be different so I will not judge, you can do that for yourself.
There are a good few exciting businesses where you can get into the air even if you are not a pilot. You can take a seaplane flight up the West coast, a trip in a glider or try your hand at hovering in a helicopter just for fun. Yes it is as hard as you think it is. I lasted 30 seconds and apparently that's quite good.
I will update this section with links to places or people I have visited and written more about, click on the links below to read the articles.
These Aerodromes are licenced under the Public Category with the CAA.
ABERDEEN Airport Ltd
5miles NW of Aberdeen City Dyce Aberdeen AB21 7DU
Balvanich, Benbecula. Western Isles. Highlands & Islands Airports ltd Inverness Airport
DUNDEE Airport Ltd
2 Miles from City Centre North of River Tay Head office Inverness Airport. IV2 7JB
EDINBURGH Airport Ltd
EH12 9DN 6 Miles W of Edinburgh
GLASGOW Airport Ltd
6 Miles West of Glasgow Paisley Refrewshire PA3 2ST
Highlands & Islands Airports Ltd Inverness Airport IV2 7JB
Port Ellen Isle of Islay Argyll. Head office Highlands & Islands Airports Ltd Inverness airport.
Highlands & Islands Airports Ltd. Inverness Airport.
1 Mile NE of Prestwick Glasgow Prestwick Airport Ltd Prestwick Ayrshire KA9 2LP
Stornoway, Isle of Lewis Highlands & Islands Airports Ltd Inverness Airport
Virkie, Shetland Islands Highlands & Islands Airports Ltd Inverness
Isle of Tiree Argyll Highlands & Islands Airports Ltd Inverness Airport IV2 7JB
Caithness Highlands & Islands Airports Ltd Inverness Airport IV2 7JB
The following aerodromes are licenced under the Ordinary category with the CAA.
While there may still be training facilities at these airfields they will frequently require you to have permission to land PRIOR to departure from another field.
Eoligarry, North Bay Isle of Barra. Highlands & Islands Airports Ltd Inverness Airport IV2 7JB
3 Miles NW of Campbeltown. Argyll. Highlands & Islands Airports Ltd Inverness Airport IV2 7JB
5.3 Miles SW of Arinagour Isle of Coll Argyll & Bute Council Kilmory Castle Lochgilphead Argyll PA31 8RT
W side of Colonsay Island Argyll & Bute Council Kilmory Castle Lochgilphead Argyll PA31 8RT
5.5 Miles West of Aberdeen. Mr Simpson 27 Anderson Dr Aberdeen.
1 Mile N of Cumbernauld Village Cormack aircraft Services Ltd Cumbernauld Aerodrome. Duncan McIntosh Rd Cumbernauld G68 0HH
13 Miles NNE of Kirkwall Orkney Islands Council Council Offices Kirkwall Orkney KW15 1NY
25 Miles SW of Sumburgh Head National trust for Scotland Balnain House 40 Huntley St Inverness IV3 5HR
28 NM Northeast of Kirkwall Orkney Islands Council Council Offices Kirkwall Orkney KW15 1NY
5.3 Miles N of Oban Argyll & Bute Council Kilmory Castle Lochgilphead Argyll PA31 8RT
22 NM North of Kirkwall. Orkney Islands Council Council Offices Kirkwall Orkney KW15 1NY
3 Miles NE of Perth . Morris Leslie Ltd Perth Aerodrome PH2 6NP
20 NM NE of Kirkwall. Orkney Islands Council Council Offices Kirkwall
17 NM North of Lerwick. Head office BP Exploration Operating Co Ltd Sullom Voe Terminal Mossbank Shetland ZE2 9TU
14NM Northeast of Kirkwall. Orkney Islands Council Council Offices Kirkwall
4.5 Miles NW of Lerwick. Shetland Islands Council Infrastructure dept Transport & Environment Services Grantfield Lerwick Shetland ZE1 0NT
22 NM N of Kirkwall. Orkney Islands Council Council Offices Kirkwallwhere to fly to pilot home.