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.
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.