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Southport and Merseyside Aero Club is a long established and professionally run members' club operating a Cessna 172N out of Liverpool Airport. Members take the aircraft far and near, for local jaunts and for serious alternative transport - such as visiting the Isle of Man TT Races each year.

The Best Way to Fly

Private pilots are normally able to fly in three ways.

• Own their own aircraft: Ownership costs are typically £8,000 a year or more (before the aircraft has even moved), plus fuel and oil (approximately £50 per hour).

•Hire from a Flying School: A Flying School rented Cessna 172 costs typically £160-£190 per hour in the North-west). Flying School Pilot Order Book Rules normally impose restrictions which significantly limit the flexibility of when and where you can go, and you normally have to fly with them at least once every 30 days to maintain their recency requirements.

• Join a group: Group flying for a Cessna 172 is typically £80 - £100 per month (whether you fly or not) and £60-£90 per flying hour wet. Groups often require a pilot to have at least 100 hours post-PPL flying experience. The cost of buying a "share" is likely to be in the range £5,000 - £10,000 for a reasonably modern aircarft, depending on numbers in the group, but this share can be resold if the member leaves the group.

Southport and Merseyside Aero Club offer a fourth way to fly - the Members Club - which is probably more economic than any of the three above. The club charge for flying Alpha Victor is £1.60 per tachometer unit (or £1.40 per tachometer unit if the mebers pays a slightly higher Annual Subscription.  This equates to a chock to chock cost of just £123.00 per hour wet at the higher rate, or £108.00 per hour at the lower rate.  Constraints on members are very few, with recency requirements, destinations and possession times as limitless as would be possible if you owned your own aircraft. Read more