Special feature

FLY2022: A great year of flying

The #FLY2022 Challenge set a target of 2022 minutes of flying – and we’re glad to report many nailed it. And for those who didn’t, they still enjoyed being in the air. Here’s a selection of just some of the pilots who took part…

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Ross Ringham fulfilled a dream gaining his PPL during 2022

Ross Ringham

In July, I passed my skills test and gained my PPL, a lifelong dream. It was a real adventure, particularly as I took my Skill Test in the hottest week of that freakishly hot summer. As I discovered, there is no place to hide from the sun under the bubble canopy of a Robin HR200, even if you do feel a bit like a fighter pilot!

Thanks to the amazing people at Crowfield Airfield, I’ve already been able to fly a Super Cub, an Auster and an Aeronca Super Chief, and I’ve dabbled in aerobatics in the club’s Robin R2112. As a kid brought up on Biggles books, tailwheel and aeros are where it’s at!

While I always knew I’d love flying, the real surprise of 2022 has been discovering so many amazing people. That starts with the superb team at Crowfield, where the two grass runways are kept in immaculate condition by father-and-son owners Ross and Andrew, and where the quality of tuition is incredible.

My flying instructor, Damian, was a Tornado pilot, before becoming a test pilot. He still teaches RAF students alongside civvies like me. It was reassuring to realise there was very little I could do that could surprise him, although I gave it a good go on occasion!

Nick, Crowfield’s head of training and examiner, also flew Tornados, and then went on to become a 747 captain. He happens to be FLYER’s safety editor, too. Safety and attention to detail matter at Crowfield, and I count myself lucky to have had such experienced hands to learn from so early in my flying career.

With a full-on day job (and even more demanding dog!), groundschool would have been a really tough ask without the online classes run by Ash, one of the industry’s characters who illustrates lessons with colourful, real-life stories from his decades as a commercial pilot.

Then there’s Ian, a controller at Norwich who flies a Van’s he built with his dad, who put me through the new R/T exam. Having done most of my flying around Suffolk, where there isn’t anyone to talk to on the radio very often in air, never mind on the ground, that exam was hard work!

There are so many other people passionate about flying who’ve made the year a pleasure, including Adam and Heather (thanks for the Auster and Aeronca sorties, and teaching me how to conduct a compression test), Tim and Ava who run Beccles Airfield and who gave me a ride along the runway in a service vehicle, and Luisa who showed me the working end of the tower at Wattisham Airfield.

I’ve even had the pleasure of meeting FLYER’s Ian Seager, who has promised to fly into Crowfield for a coffee one day soon. (I’m still waiting, Ian…)

You might ask: Why has it taken so long to discover this amazing world?

In a word: Money. Flying is expensive! As a kid, I was hoping to attend an airline academy (where all your training costs are covered by the airline in return for a commitment to working there after you graduate) but they all disappeared before I could get there in the early ‘noughties’.

How can 2023 possibly top 2022? Well, I’m planning to gain my tailwheel conversion, achieve an aerobatics rating, and start work on a distance-learning CPL theory course. I’m hoping to fly some different aircraft, including biplanes and, if I can wangle it, a Chipmunk.

And I can’t wait to meet many more inspirational people who are just as in love with taking to the skies as I am. Thanks 2022.


Ben Twings flying over the Rockies, Colorado

Ben Twings

Watching the Livestream Extra recently prompted me to undertake a quick bit of log book arithmetic. So far, 93 hours total, but 2022 minutes passed by on 14 June somewhere over the Rockies in Colorado flying between Grand Junction to the West and Limon to the East.

We would have dropped into Leadville if it wasn’t for the 30kt crosswind, instead taking a bit of a battering at 15,000ft.

The trip was to bring my RV-8 back home that got stuck there when international GA suddenly stopped in 2020, following the opening up earlier this year.

Geoff Elliott-Howell aka gingergeoff also gained his PPL in 2022 with Aerobility

Geoff Elliott-Howell

I began watching the FLYER Livestreams at the end of last year and I loved the idea of the #FLY2022 challenge. But I never thought I’d be able to fly enough hours to be able to enter. However, I was selected as Aviator of the Year at the Aerobility Ball in late November.

I began my PPL training in August 2019 with Aerobility as I am a wheelchair user with a hereditary chronic condition, which causes muscle wasteage (Charcot Marie Tooth disease). After quite a few hours training (most of them in the circuit), I passed my Skill Test in April this year – even more reason why I thought I wouldn’t be able to compete 2022 minutes of flying this year.

It turns out I was wrong and since passing my test, I have flown 40 hours and 5 minutes, so 2,405 minutes in total and my 2022nd minute was during a flight back from Gamston in October after seeing some friends for lunch.

Since I passed my Skill Test I haven’t had a particular challenge in mind but have spent my time exploring different airfields including Duxford, Shobdon, Retford and even Bristol.

For me, the best thing about flying is the group of friends I have made. At Aerobility they pride themselves on making sure anyone can fly and, I have flown with a diverse group of people – amputees, spinal cord injuries and those with mental health issues.

Flying has given me a confidence I didn’t expect and in the words of Mike Miller-Smith, “If I can fly, what else can I do?”.

I love the FLYER Livestreams and the website. Keep up the good work and remember, Ed doesn’t always win!

Martin Leusby, parked on what’s left of the old Vickers runway at Brooklands

Martin Leusby

What a great idea #FLY2022 was! Especially to a number-nerd like myself. With waterlogged strip and fog, this is a great opportunity to reminisce on how good a year it’s been.

I’m sitting at 6660 minutes, with little chance of much more, but with 159 flights this year, I’m happy. None were particularly long (but the Guernsey Rally with headwind took 140 minutes), and a couple were remarkably short.

Both East Kirkby to Loxley, and Barnards Farm to Thurrock were less than five minutes brakes off to brakes on, so the engine and airframe logbooks record them as zero, whereas I logged them at five each.

Managed to land at 18 new (to me) airfields, which is not many, but with 440 logged they are getting harder to find. Tricky new ones included Barling (inside Southend CTR), and despite our PPR, a resident microlight pilot was very surprised to see a 172 land at London Colney.

It was perfect to walk the few yards to the De Havilland Museum! By the time we returned he’d very kindly cut the grass to make our departure a little easier from 05 (314m). Another one, finally landed on, was Bovingdon which I fly over regularly, never seeing any activity, and had struggled to get permission.

There were super fly-ins at Kittyhawk and Heveningham Hall and many others, but the best attended was Stoke Golding with more than 130 visitors. Bicester Scrambles with the Vintage Aircraft Club were excellent and make the fee to join VAC completely worthwhile.

Other highlights include collecting Wellington bomb-aimer John Bell (100 years old) from Shoreham and taking him to the last ever Project Propeller, with an agreed low pass at Brize Norton, enroute to Halfpenny Green.

But my favourite must be being allowed to land on what’s left of the old Vickers runway (400m of concrete) at Brooklands – one of only five fixed-wing and the only nosewheel aircraft. Considerably smoother than rough grass next to the museum.

It’s been a great year, so roll on 2023!


David Johnstone, still flying at 80

David Johnstone

I finally passed the 2022 minutes challenge with 46:55 flown which is 2,815 minutes. But I passed a major milestone back in May when I passed the 2,000 hr milestone. I’m now on 2026:49.

I’ve flown mostly Permit aircraft over the last 28 years, starting with an Avid Flyer back in 1995. Then built a Van’s RV-9A in 2004, and just to keep my hand in I’ve built a Eurofox Tug for the Herefordshire Gliding Club in 2014.

I’m in my 80th year and hope to continue flying for some time to come.

Carol de Solla passed 2,022 minutes despite breaking a bone

Chipmunk Carol

Tah-dah! Completing #FLY2022 inside six months is pretty good for me.

It took: 28 flights, 15 days, 11 unique airfields, nine unique passengers, two unique aircraft, one unique broken bone (now healed, but it did write off six weeks).

Paul Levio bought a share in a Jodel during 2022

Paul Levio

This year I have flown more than 2022 minutes, total for the year will be about 75 hours.

It’s been a mixed year. After completing the microlight instructor course in 2021, this having been put back a year due to Covid and personal problems, my ambition for FLY2022 was to gain my instructor rating.

First flight of the year on a freezing January morning was my instructor test. It didn’t go well, just a partial pass that would require another flight test. Three weeks and a few practice flights later, the retest. Failed! Not a good start to the year.

Come spring I decided to get the SSEA rating on my NPPL, as there is much much more value in the used market for Group A than three-axis microlights. The introduction of 600kg is driving up second-hand prices of popular aircraft such as C42s and Eurostars.

This time the training and test proceeded without a hitch and I passed in May. So what to fly?

I came across a share in a vintage Jodel 112 at nearby Watchford Farm and jumped at the opportunity.

Summer had arrived and I did tailwheel differences training on the Jodel, finally flying it solo in August. Around this time I decided to attempt the microlight instructor test again. Confident I would pass after the experience early in the year, I… failed!

That was devastating and I wanted the Earth to open up and swallow me whole.

I continued flying into the autumn gaining experience on the Jodel.

Winter is here and opportunities to fly the Jodel are decreasing. I am going to visit a well-known and respected microlight instructor for some advice and encouragement on taking the instructor test again. Hopefully #FLY2023 will be the year for me to finally gain my instructor rating.


To date: 47:35 hours to date (2,855 mins). A little over 20 of those came from completing IR(R) and night ratings.

Other than that, personal highlights:

  • First trip abroad, to Ostende, felt I wanted to do something different to the L2K standard.
  • Five trips including overnight stays
  • Bembridge, Isle of Wight, for my birthday
  • Liverpool for the Grand National festival
  • York (via Rufforth East) for the Ebor festival
  • Shoreham to visit friends and go to Goodwood (landing at Goodwood on a race weekend is crazy money)
  • Birmingham for a conference at the NEC

For me using an aircraft as a real mode of transport, despite the hurdles put in place in the UK, is a goal for me. Being overhead the QE2 bridge on a Friday evening looking down on those stuck in the traffic, makes me feel fortunate (and a little smug) not to be in it.

I have tried to minimise A to A flights, however, I try to include others when I do, in fact the only time I have flown without at least one passenger, was flying an aircraft to maintenance and the five solo circuits required for the night rating. Flying is never cheap so sharing the fun with others always makes it easy to justify to myself.

Paul Wheal

I must admit that I forgot all about the challenge until just now, had a quick gander at my log book and checked my hours. The total so far this year is exactly 42 hours, which surprised me.

Early this year I got signed off on a C42 microlight, although I have mainly flown our group C172 since.

Highlights this year were two trips to Alderney to practise IFR approaches and enjoy good lunch. And in late October for the first time since lockdown I got night current again; as we fly from a grass strip, we need to land at an airport like Oxford and stay over.

Annabel Cook

Annabel Cook (aka AerBabe)

Here’s how my 2022 went:

January to April: no medical or flying since surgery in 2020

Late April: started refresher training

Early May: got medical back. Started planning to join the Raduno

Mid May: Skill Test passed, paperwork sent to CAA

Late June: aircraft still in maintenance. Joined the Raduno via Ryanair

August: Aircraft finally out of maintenance. Club checkout

Early September: two short local flights squeezed in around mixed weather

Mid September: with five hours of P1 time since 2019, departed for Europe for the first ever time in the LH seat

Late September: returned, having logged over 22 hours across the continent

Early October: two landaways in the UK/ Second one saw me pass the 2022 minutes

November: weather was ****

Late November: aircraft went back into maintenance

So I did it. I don’t know how. Everything was against me other than just enough luck to squeak past the 2022 milestone.

But I did it. And I did it in style and despite quite a few challenges.

Richard Tyler, inset

Richard Tyler

I wanted to write and tell you about my pretty amazing 2022. It started by completing my flight instructor rating with the great team at Blackbushe aviation. Sadly I haven’t been able to do any manned instructing so far this year as I’ve been extremely busy with my day job and been deployed to work in the US.

I passed my 2022nd minute in 2022 while en route from David Wayne Hooks Airport in Houston to Roswell, building instrument hours for my FAA instrument rating which I completed last week.

But why did I say ‘manned’ instructing? That’s because I did train seven new Zephyr flight crew as Pilots and Mission planners.

What is Zephyr, I hear you say? Zephyr is a High Altitude Platform Station (HAPS) , a large, lightweight uncrewed aerial system, designed to fly high in the stratosphere for days on end.

This summer, myself and the team from Airbus in Farnborough and Huntsville Alabama, operated Zephyr for more than 93,480 minutes without landing or refuelling! To save you getting your calculator out, that’s 64 days and 22 hours.

In addition this aircraft covered more than 30,000nm flying from Yuma Arizona out of Central America before returning to Yuma.

Sadly I couldn’t log all 93,480 minutes myself, but certainly spent a lot of time enjoying the view from 64,000ft every morning, and seeing how much darker the sky gets at 75,000ft.


#FLYER2022 has been a fabulous year, and I really hope it has for you all.

The year began in a promising way when, in January, the weather was nice enough for a trip to Oban for lunch in my ‘share-o-plane’. Followed by trips to Islay and Fife shortly after, as well as some local general handling sorties in readiness for the instructor course.

Passed #FLYER2022 minutes during the last third of my instructor course, the day before the spin element was conducted.

Returning home with a fresh FI(R) I took my auntie and cousin for a lunch trip at Oban, but it transpired many non-aviation folk had the same idea on this beautiful June summer’s day and we were unsuccessful in being seated at the local hotel…

So I spouted out, “not to worry auntie, we’ll just hop over to Glenforsa, it’s only 10 minutes flying time away, over there on Mull… (pointing to Mull). It has a hotel and restaurant attached to the airfield and is very well known”.

Gave them a call and 45 minutes later we were ordering lunch, soft drinks and in basking sunshine watching the aeroplanes go by to the beautifully picturesque Glenforsa. Tick. A new airfield for me and I’m based only an hour or so away!

As my ‘share-o-plane’ has been offline since July (we decided to zero time the engine after a tow bar incident but should have her back before Christmas! Yay!), I have been flying the club Robin in both a renter and club instructor capacity.

I have two students; one is up to Stalling and the other flew Effects of Controls (2) recently.

Talking about flying recently, I flew both students not long ago, and must have passed my new personal target of 4,044 minutes while demonstrating a clean stall and I am up to a total of 4,090 minutes now, I very much doubt I’ll be getting anywhere near 5,055 let alone 6,066!

What better way to surpass my revised target while introducing people to the wonderful world of flying?!

This year I have racked up the most hours I have in such a long time, a total (so far) of just over 68 hours with an additional five hours FNPT2 time as part of the FI course.

These hours have been spread over 70 individual flights and 102 take-off and landings. I’m hoping my ‘share-o-plane’ is back soon as I have only four hours until my logbook ticks over to 800 hours which, in the grand scheme of some here, isn’t that muc, but I did have nearly eight years away from the saddle, as it were.

This year has been immensely enjoyable and am looking forward to seeing what #FLYER2023 will bring to the table!


Yippee! Passed 2022 minutes today during solo consolidation. Something I never thought I’d be allowed to do after a very rocky start to my training.

I’ve had a ball this year. Can’t wait for 2023.

Thank you to everyone on the FLYER Forum who has helped me to keep going through the tricky bits – giving lots of advice and support, taking me flying, and even sending me homework to get me through the exams (eight down, one to go).

Skydriller over the Alps


Highlight of the year had to be the 2022 Raduno to San Marino, Padova and Venice in the summer. It was really special because for the first time I actually managed to fly through the Alps! (pic above)

Routing across the Massif Central to Gap, then through the Col de Larche into Italy, it was an experience I’ll not forget, especially putting into practice the theory I had read about flying in mountains – finding the ‘free lift’ from the wind blowing across a valley for example.

And flying along and into the Lido, and hopping on a water taxi to Venice is an experience not to be missed. A classic Raduno (thanks Riccardo!) – meeting up with old friends, making new ones, and seeing new places, memories to keep forever, it’s why I love to fly GA.

Also, I just completed my 2,000th minute this year. A rather special flight with my daughter.

Now 14, she has flown with me before, but this was the first time she has wanted to actively take the controls and learn how to fly the aeroplane. She was pretty good…

An aircraft pull for charity organised by Steve Hornsby!

Steve Hornsby

As part of 2022 Planning I set out to raise at least £2022 for charity using GA and my local airfield as inspiration.

I organised an All Weather Plane Pull with my non-aviation work colleagues raising lots of news for the local area and got all the participants to raise money for Action For Children.

Unfortunately we failed – we raised two times (2022… get it?!) the target of £2,022-plus sum, raising a massive £4,429 for the charity.

We had a choice of two aircraft on the day and had to select a PA28 instead of the Miles Gemini due to forecast wind gusts. Thanks to a good warm up and with aviation safety in mind we had zero injuries.

The group was split into two groups to create competition and make pulling the PA28 more challenging.

And they pulled the aeroplane more than 1km, which was two lengths of Eshott 01/19 runway. At the end of the challenge there were a lot of tired breathless people who battled 18G40 directly down 19 runway!

David Bareford

Although I have only 380 minutes in a Tomahawk for 2022, does my 3,900 minutes as P1 in hot air balloon flying count? Remember, there are other ways of flying. If so, I passed my 2022 minutes at the Midlands Air Festival in June.

This year I have managed to fly to Belgium, Spain, France, Slovenia, USA and Mexico – and out to Ecuador.


Passed the 2022 hours this weekend. It’s been an interesting year, including getting my SEP rating renewed after more than two decades, allowing me to fly as PIC for the first time in over 22 years. Loving being back in the air.

My 2022 hours in summary:

  • P.u/t 10.9 hr
  • P.1/S 3.1 hr
  • P.1 19.7
  • 34 Flights
  • Six Aerodromes
  • Five Aircraft (all Cessna 152)


These weekend jaunts mount up. 8:55 last weekend alone, taking in landings at Blackbushe, Hawarden, Kirkbride, Glenforsa, Plockton, Oban and Sleap, and with overflights of Barra, Benbecula, Sollas and Broadford.

We would have been taking @AerBabe’s PA28 out of Farnborough for this trip but the weather was not conducive to her flying.


Five aircraft in my logbook while still a student – a little consistency please! Though, the first time up in a blommin’ month, so felt great. Watch here


Sad lad that I am, I’ve got a ‘minutes countdown to next 2022’ calc on my logbook spreadsheet.

A recent outing to Leicester puts it on 160 minutes to go for my third 2022 cycle. My attempt to put 22 new airfields has failed dismally… all I’ve done is make it even harder to do 23 next year. 


I just went over 5000 minutes this year but I’m still short of 500hr in total (hopefully this month).


I sort of ignored this thread as I didn’t really think that I’d get to that level this year. But I have just done a tot-up and found I’m 38h15 this year. Mostly getting my PPL, but now starting to venture out on my own and with passengers.

Here’s hoping that without the structure of learning to fly, I can get up to 2023 minutes next year.

By strange coincidence, I was 33h 35m (2015 minutes) before my skills test so I nearly did exactly 2022m of learning in 2022.


Totting up to see where I’m at so far this year, 1733 minutes (just shy of 29 hours) plus 15 or so hours on sailplanes. All in all a good year so far!

The highlight has to be doing my tailwheel conversion with Matt up at farmstripflying, it was enormous fun in his Cub, it’s just a shame I don’t actually have a tailwheel to fly!

The TMG has provided lots of opportunities, including soaring it for the first time (reaching 6,000ft and 75 minutes for just over 20m on the tacho), carrying my first ever passenger in it, doing my first solo engine-off landings in it, and taking it to Lee and Compton.

I’ve also taken my wife up for the first time in a PA28 – and she claims she wasn’t terrified.

Riccardo de Nardis with inflatable friends. Photo: Annabel Cook


Completed the #FLY2022 Challenge on the flight back home from the FLYER Raduno. I also passed the 600 hours with my own aeroplane on the same flight. 

Aerotech Flyer

I only realised today, while updating some tech logs, that I actually passed my 2022 minute total for this year towards the end of March.

In fact, it was appropriately on a lovely day where I had earlier flown a post-annual check on a very nice Supercub to Bericote Farm (a wonderful strip next to the Avon near EGBE.)

Landing back at Coventry a few minutes later, our avionics engineer asked me to fly him in an Arrow with some autopilot issues he was investigating.

We had hardly got back on the ground when my engineering partner Robert told me to jump in his car and he sped away to Shirley near Birmingham Airport to a small strip in the centre of a Christmas tree farm, so I could get a C182T back to Coventry just before EGBE shut at 1700. 

It was a nice way to pass the 2022 min mark, all of which has been on GA piston engines, some larger than others, but the headwinds have played their part this year. For instance, a five- hour leg back from Cannes in the C340, and another trip from Lee in a gale where the little C150 was making 38kt over the ground! 

Overall, it’s just been great to be flying normally post-covid restrictions and we’re all looking forward to some fun summer BBQs and local strip fly-ins.

Who knows what’s in store for Coventry, but we’ll keep flying and fiddling while the developer’s plans falter and burn… hopefully.

Chris Winch reenacted his first solo, which was in November 1962 in Auster G-AJUE, in the same aircraft almost 60 years later. And a big 'thanks' goes to owner Peter Cole, too!

Chris Winch

I managed to reach the 2022 minutes on a flight in my Hornet Moth from Lee on Solent to Middle Wallop for their Wings and Wheels day.

Another milestone was a reenactment of my first solo in November 1962 in Auster G-AJUE, with another solo flight in the same aircraft almost 60 years later, courtesy of the current owner Peter Cole.

On the last day of November I flew the PA12 above the clouds to see the sun to the south of Jersey.

All in all a good year of flying for me, I hope to get to 10,000 hr in the next few months to round off my 60 years of flying.


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