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A discovery flight is exactly what it sounds like. It is your first introduction to flying an aircraft and is the first step for many aspiring individuals in getting their pilot’s license. After all, learning how to operate an aircraft is a hands-on skill that you will have to learn and develop over time. The discovery flight is your first leap into this field and will give you a more concrete idea of how the piloting process works and if this career is a good match for you. Some flight schools even offer discovery flights using flight simulators like the AL172 and the A320 Fixed Base Simulators.

The idea of flying an aircraft for the first time is an exciting yet daunting thought for many people. To assuage any worries, a capable instructor from the pilot school will be with you throughout the whole process and serve as your guide as you navigate the skies for the first time. Aside from teaching you the basics, this is also an excellent opportunity to learn about the aviation field from the pros firsthand while giving you a more concrete idea of what to expect in the industry.

Indeed, there is much to look forward to on your first discovery flight. For a clearer idea of what will happen on one, here is a general breakdown of how a typical introductory flight will go.

Flight Overview

Several institutions in the Philippines offer introductory flights, from small flight centers to sprawling aviation academies. You can take it as a student of the pilot school or a private individual who is simply curious about flying.

Discovery flights are often held on days when there is good weather, so you do not have to worry too much about turbulence and other weather disturbances. The entire process usually takes around one to two hours, creating a brief yet memorable experience. Make sure to inquire about any items you need to bring as well as the proper clothes to wear. Doing so will help facilitate a comfortable and informative flight.

What Happens on a Discovery Flight?

The discovery flight process can be divided into three stages:

Stage #1 – Pre-Flight Briefing

After meeting your assigned instructor at the agreed-upon premises, the instructor will give you a short rundown first of what you can expect in the course. They will also highlight important points, including safety procedures, weather, and the aircraft that you will be flying that day. The aircraft used in discovery flights are usually small, single-engine propeller-driven planes that allow at least two passengers, such as the Cessna 172.

Next, the instructor will walk you through the pre-flight inspection. Both of you will go around the aircraft, searching for potential issues like loose screws and cracks from previous flights. Once this is finished, both of you can climb into the cockpit and begin the pre-flight checklist.

The pre-flight checklist is an extensive list of things that pilots need to do first before they can taxi the aircraft. This includes checking fuel levels, testing the engine and systems, and conducting a radio check. When everything is checked and the instructor has determined that everything is in good working order, it is now time for takeoff.

Stage #2 – Flight Duration

Once the aircraft is in the sky, both you and the instructor will be communicating through headphones. The first thing the instructor does is bring the plane to a safe altitude. Doing so allows the pilot to maneuver the aircraft in different ways without fear of going too low or hitting a large landmark. At this safe altitude, the instructor will show you different basic turns, climbs, and descents.

After the demonstration, you have the opportunity to apply all the maneuvers the instructor has shown prior as they guide you along the way. Bear in mind, however, that this all depends on your level of comfortability. If you are uncomfortable or would prefer to enjoy the view, you have the choice to turn this down. This can happen if you experience airsickness, which is common for many flying first-timers. Even piloting students are not exempt from this, but they tend to overcome it after more training.

Stage #3 – Post-Flight Briefing

Once you have finished the allotted time flying the plane, the instructor takes back the control and contacts air traffic control. They then bring the plane back to the premises and land the aircraft.

Following the landing, the instructor will give you a debriefing once the engine is properly shut down. They will offer an overview and some pointers on your performance. If you would like to pursue flying, this is an excellent time to ask questions about what steps you can take next.

Overall, flying for the first time will give anybody butterflies. There is a unique mixture of excitement, nervousness, and anticipation. For you to maximize the experience, take the opportunity to learn more about piloting as a whole and gain some crucial insight and tips from your instructor. Finally, the most important takeaway you should get from the experience is to simply enjoy it. After all, nothing compares to the wonder of touring the skies for the first time.

 

You’ve finally entered a pilot training school, now what? Now that you’re about to go into pilot training, you should use this chance to train and hone certain skills you will need to become a good pilot. These skills are necessary to help you get the job done and keep not only you and your crew safe, but your passengers as well.

And luckily for you, these skills can be easily picked up and refined while still in school. You also won’t need to develop such skills on your own since a pilot school has mentors to teach you the life skills and the necessary fight training to succeed in this career. Read on to learn more about these important life skills that can have a major impact in your career as a pilot.

Communication and Collaboration Skills

While you’re in pilot school, learn how to speak in public settings and converse with instructors and other people in positions of authority. Doing so will help you communicate with passengers on the plane, address their concerns, and help you become more approachable. Communication skills will also help you navigate the hierarchy between you and senior pilots.

Strive to learn how to speak and work with your classmates, especially when working on group projects. Learning to collaborate with others is an important skill as you will not be working alone as a pilot. You’re expected to work closely with your co-pilot as well as crew members, flight attendants, and air traffic control officers for the duration of the flight.

You should also think of your fellow flight students as future colleagues, and interacting with them will help you collaborate with all kinds of people. Take note of how you handle working with people, as the techniques you develop to deal in these situations will work in your favor in the future.

Foresight and Situational Awareness Skills

Pilots should always think ahead and be aware of the weather and their surroundings whenever they fly. So while you’re in pilot training, practice flying as much as you can to develop foresight and situational awareness skills. These skills will help you predict flight outcomes and deal with emergencies like unexpected weather changes.

To learn and hone these skills, you should strive to fly as much as you can in different environments and weather patterns. If you are able to, fly in different airports with different planes to get an idea of how these varying factors can affect the way you fly in the future. Doing so will not only familiarize you with flying, but you will also be able to develop techniques that you can use to ensure a smooth and safe flight.

Concentration and Organizational Skills

While pilots should be masters in multitasking, they should also be adept at concentrating on any given task at hand. One way to help them focus while multitasking by developing good organizational skills. Organizational skills can help them manage their time, the steps and checklists they need to go through before, during, and after flying a plane, and more.

By being well-organized, pilots are able to concentrate on flying the plane while also maintaining awareness of the flight systems. Remember, remaining focused and organized at all times frees the pilot from distractions that might compromise their ability to fly the plane and allow them to handle emergencies without panicking.

Avionics, Aerodynamics, and Aircraft Technical Skills

Don’t just stop at knowing how to fly planes and understanding how they work. Aim to deepen your knowledge by looking up the technical aspects of avionics, aerodynamics, and aerospace engineering. You don’t necessarily need to get an aerospace engineering degree, but understanding the basics of these three fields of study can help you check on the plane’s gears and technical performance.

You will also learn how to fly better as avionics and aerodynamics can tell you what kind of system settings are preferable for certain situations, as well as help you understand how angling your wings or tails can affect how smooth your flight is.

While you’re still training, take this opportunity to ask other pilots and engineers to teach you some of the finer details of avionics or aerodynamics principles. You can also try reading books about these subjects to broaden your knowledge.

Analytical Skills and Knowledge in Mathematics and Physics

Much like aircraft and other technical skills, you’ll also need to sharpen your knowledge in math and physics. As a pilot, you will do calculations and formulas, possibly mid-flight. So practicing mathematical skills and solving math problems in your head will be beneficial for you. In the process of flying an aircraft, you will also be honing your analytical skills, which can help you plan and expect what can happen during a flight.

Practice and solve mathematical and physics problems on your own if your flight school doesn’t offer these classes. If they do offer math and physics classes, solve the problems in your workbook during your free time and try doing them mentally as well.

Sharpening these skills while you’re still in pilot school will surely make you a cut above the rest of your peers. You can also keep improving these skills as you start working and find creative ways to apply them throughout your career.

 

As captain of the plane, the pilot bears the ultimate responsibility for everyone’s safety–both passengers and staff alike. One key component to ensuring everyone’s safety is practicing proper flight preparation. Considering how aircrafts are highly complex machines, understanding how it works and how to keep it in order is an important part of pilot training.

However, due to the complexity of a plane’s instruments and controls, pilots have to check several things first before they can even taxi the aircraft on the runway. Fortunately, all pilots are required to have a handy-dandy checklist nearby to help them stay on top of these points.

What is a Pre-Flight Checklist?

A pre-flight checklist is exactly as it sounds. It is a list of tasks and items that a pilot has to accomplish and check first before the plane can take off. After all, it is easier to address a problem on the ground rather than six kilometers up in the air. Encountering technical issues mid-flight is not only risky, but also potentially catastrophic for everyone on the plane. Thus, the pilot and the flight crew work very hard to ensure that every part of the plane is in efficient working order before it goes on the runway.

The history of pre-flight checklists can be traced to a fatal incident in 1935. It happened on one of the first test flights of the B-17. The account goes that the flight crew forgot to release the flight control gust locks, which led the plane to crash just after takeoff. Boeing, the manufacturer of the planes, realized that the machines were simply too complicated to operate from memory alone. Hence, the company started to require pre-flight checklists, and the practice soon spread throughout the aviation industry.

What Comprises a Pre-Flight Checklist?

Before a passenger even boards the plane, the pilot and the flight crew work hand-in-hand to prepare the aircraft for the flight. Here is a quick rundown of what the pilot goes through to ascertain that the plane is in the right condition for the journey.

Pre-Flight Briefing

In this stage of flight preparations, the flight crew goes over the entire flight plan and makes adjustments as needed. The pilot goes to the airport a few hours before a flight and conducts a briefing with the crew. They make sure that the paperwork is in order and administrative procedures are successfully followed.

In this stage, the crew discusses several things, including:

  • Calculating the correct amount of fuel for the trip
  • Pre-flight analysis (which includes the speed and altitude of the aircraft)
  • Weather predictions
  • Backup plans for different emergency and non-emergency situations

It is also the perfect opportunity to develop crew synergy and get everyone on the same page. In this manner, the crew all have the same mental flight plan and are prepared for any situation that may arise.

Pre-Flight Inspection and Setup

The tasks the pilot(s) has to accomplish in this step can be divided into three different stages:

  • Before starting the engine
  • Starting the engine
  • Before takeoff

This phase is divided as such because novice pilots may easily see the checklist as a series of disconnected tasks. By framing it in this manner, pilots can get a sense of logic and continuity in ticking the tasks off as they go through the list.

The list of tasks that pilots have to do for inspection can vary greatly from one plane to another. To give readers a general idea of what happens, here is a quick rundown of the pilot’s pre-flight inspection list.

1. Daily Inspections (DI)

The DI refers to the physical, in-depth inspection of the aircraft. It is often conducted at the start of the day. The pilot walks around the aircraft and lifts the cover panels to check for leaks, broken parts, structural cracks, and other mechanism concerns.

2. Turnaround Check

The turnaround check works similarly like the daily inspection, but it is often less extensive because the aircraft may be scheduled for another flight. In this step, the pilot is looking for potential problems that came from the aircraft’s last trip. Possible causes of concern include lower tire pressure, loose cowls, and chafing wires.

3. Aircraft and Avionics Setup

In this stage, the pilot(s) go over the systems and controls of the plane. Considering the sheer number of items that they have to check, many airline companies conveniently provide a checklist for the pilots to use. Pre-flight checklists were originally simple in design, but as the aviation industry continued to developed, the list of things that had to be examined became longer.

Some of the things the pilot(s) need to set up in this stage include:

  • Flight management system
  • Performance
  • Radios
  • Electrical system
  • Hydraulic system
  • Fuel system

4. Safety Systems Check

After configuring all the systems, the pilot(s) conducts test runs to ensure that all systems are working properly. If any system is not functioning as it should, the aircraft may be rendered out of commission until the issue is sorted out properly.

Flight Preparation and Checklists Go Hand in Hand

Indeed, navigating a heavyweight machine thousands of meters up in the sky is tricky. It may encounter turbulence, weather changes, and other disturbances while up in the air. Hence, the entire crew, especially the pilots, needs to ensure that the aircraft is in tip-top shape to reach its destination. And pilots would not be able to execute that efficiently without their pre-flight checklists.