Flying Experience: Interview with Malcolm Howland

Continuing with our new experiences around the UK, we certainly have a treat for you extremists in Lincolnshire…Microlight and light aircraft flights! We catch up with the owner, Malcolm Howland as he soars in from the airfield.

Hey, thanks for talking to us today Malcolm. Firstly, how did you get into flying and how long have you been doing it for?
Well, I first got into it when I went on a week-long Hang Gliding introductory course with three friends, back in 1979. By the end of this week, I was able to fly solo and stay aloft for 20 minutes, it was an amazing feeling. That was it – I was hooked on Flying. Over the next 15 years while flying for recreation, I also gained my microlight licence. Shortly afterwards I earned my instructor rating, issued by the British CAA, and was paid to fly!

In 2000, I gained more experience, I decided to jump out of the safe environment of salaried employment to start my own flying school – Fly365 at Wickenby, Lincolnshire. Since then we have sent 100’s of people aloft to experience the gift of flight.

Out of all the aircraft you offer for the experiences, which is your favourite plane to fly and why?
This is a difficult question to answer, as the aircraft are as different as chalk and cheese, from the all-metal Cessna with its 4.5 litre engine to the flexwing (hang-glider type) Microlight, which could be considered motorcycling in mid-air. In between the two is the fixed wing microlight, which offers incredible visibility and manoeuvrability, and is also a cracking way to see the Lincolnshire countryside!

Quite a variety then! Ok, so tell us more about the experiences you offer.
We offer the experience of flight as a fantastic one-off gift, or as full training to earn a Private pilot’s Licence. All flights include the opportunity for participants to take control of the aircraft, and they always go away from the airfield grinning ear to ear!

What would you say is the best thing about your flying lessons?
I would have to say the uncluttered skies of Lincolnshire, they allow freedom to roam and a totally different way to see the area’s magnificent landmarks, such as the Lincoln Cathedral or Humber Bridge. We always advise participants to remember to take as many photos as possible; some customers find the experience of flying and the amazing view so exciting that they forget to take photos, and there are some great opportunities from up there!

…and what makes them so different, why will our Extreme Element customers want to do your experience?
Lincolnshire and the gift of flight…. It’s a bit of a secret!

What has been your most stand out or most memorable flight so far?
Working for a humanitarian de-mining company in Africa. We flew flexwing Microlights over known areas of mines or unexploded ordinance surveying for their removal and destruction. It was flying with a real positive purpose!!

Wow, that’s fantastic! What’s the best part of the job for you?
Seeing a student do his/her first solo flight, and the pleasure in seeing others enjoying the experience.

What else do you have to offer at your centre?
There’s a visitors centre, the airfield is a former RAF bomber base and was used as a satellite station by two Lancaster Squadrons during World War 2. There’s a museum to remember their sacrifice – from our airfield alone, over a thousand aircrew never came home. There’s also a viewing area where all are welcome to come along and watch, and there is a restaurant for hot and cold drinks and food.

What conditions keep your feet on the ground, or can you fly whatever the weather?
We wish! Unfortunately, flying is a very weather dependent activity Rain, low cloud, high winds and low visibility will all keep the aircraft in the hangar. We want all participants to go home having enjoyed their experience, not just glad they survived it! The best bet is to ring in on the day of your flight, just to double check.

What sort of response do you get from people after the lessons?
People are very positive and enthusiastic about the whole experience, dying to do it again!

Anything else our customers can expect to gain from flying with you?
Yes, but they will have to come and try it to find out!

Thanks for talking to us today, sound right up your street…or runway? Microlight Flight Experience

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