By Steven Daun, National Chief Pilot
Have you ever had that feeling? The one that catches you off guard on a clear day, when the sky seems endless and you watch a hawk soar or a passing plane draw lazy contrails in a sea of blue? When you can’t help wondering, what would it be like to taste that freedom? To fly? Not as a passenger, but as a pilot?
At American Flyers, the answer to that question is closer than you think. Whether you are considering an aviation career or simply curious about what it is like to fly a plane, we’ve made it easier than ever to experience your first flight.
The first step is simply to make an appointment for an introductory flight. We will take it from there, scheduling all of the resources necessary to ensure you have the time of your life.
When you arrive at the airport, you will be checked in by one of our operations staff members who will review what you are going to do and introduce you to your instructor. Your instructor will spend about thirty minutes with you in a briefing room to discuss the weather, the airplane, and what you can expect on the flight. Once this is done, you will move into the flight simulator for the next thirty minutes. Here your instructor will familiarize you with all the controls and teach you about basic aircraft handling. We do this to avoid surprises when you are in the air. This way, you know what to expect.
From the simulator, you will head out with your instructor to the flight line and your aircraft. As your instructor performs the preflight inspection, they will walk with you around the aircraft, explaining what they are doing during each step of the process.
Once the inspection is done, you will climb into the aircraft and secure yourself in the cockpit. You will be flying from the left seat, which is the pilot seat. Your instructor will talk you through the cabin preflight and starting the engine. You will listen on your headset as your instructor communicates with the control tower. You will then taxi your aircraft to the runway under the supervision of your instructor. After a systems check, the tower will clear you for takeoff. Your hands will be on the controls, you will advance the throttle, and as the aircraft accelerates to takeoff speed, you will feel the building excitement of what is about to happen. Your instructor will tell you when to pull back on the yoke, and the aircraft will lift off the runway into the clear blue sky.
Now that you have taken off, your instructor will guide you as you fly the aircraft over landmarks that you only recently viewed from the ground. Everything will look different from the sky, but it won’t take long to grow acclimated, and soon you will find yourself growing comfortable with turns, climbs, and descents. After the first thirty minutes, you will realize that all you have to do is look somewhere, and the aircraft will follow. You are now one with the machine.
This will be the fastest hour of your life, and before you know it, your instructor will begin to guide you back to the airport. You will enter the traffic pattern and see the other aircraft that are also taking directions from the tower. As you turn onto your final approach, your instructor will take the controls, and for the first time during this entire experience, you won’t be flying. Your instructor will land the aircraft and exit the runway, then you will once again take the controls and taxi back to the flight line.
Congratulations! You have now experienced what it is like to be a pilot. After shutting down the aircraft, you and your instructor will secure it in its parking space and then walk inside to discuss your flight. If you have a logbook, your instructor will fill in the flight details and sign the entry line. You now have your first hour of flight time, which will count towards any future training you choose to pursue.
This completes your introductory flight. Your instructor will take you back to the operations team, and they will ask you about your flight experience. They will also give you some information about pursuing your private pilot certificate, which you can earn in as little as three weeks. Even if you are not interested in moving forward with training, we certainly hope you will come back soon for another introductory flight!
Regardless of what you choose, we welcome you to the flight deck.