For those who’ve always dreamt of taking to the skies on a whim, strapped into the cockpit of your own personal aircraft, then you should sign up for an introductory flight at a reputable flight school. Also known as a “discovery flight”, this event is your chance to see what it’s like to attend flight school and fly an airplane – that’s right, you’ll actually take the yoke and fly as pilot in command (PIC) under the guidance of a certified flight instructor (CFI). Once your introductory flight is booked, you’re not required to learn anything, necessarily. However, you may get more out of the experience by doing some light studying on key concepts around aviation and flying. If you’re ready to soar to new heights, introductory flights give you the insight you need to see if flying is right for you. Let’s take a look at five things you should know before hopping in the cockpit and cruising thousands of feet above the ground.
1) Mentally Prepare
The most competent aviators are level-headed, disciplined, and mentally strong. Before your introductory flight, you can prepare by doing some mental exercises common among pilots. Take a look at some of the following options to work into your daily routine:
- Stick to a regular exercise routine and healthy diet. You’ll need to pass a medical exam before being accepted into a flight school. And, it’s better to be overall physically fit, as flying can be a demanding activity.
- Consider yoga or meditation in your free time, both of which have been proven to reduce stress by allowing you to better recognize certain emotions.
- Practice gratitude day to day. Search for things to be thankful for to boost your outlook on life and promote a more positive attitude.
- Try a flight simulator before participating in the real thing. Even a simple video game like Microsoft Flight Simulator X can help provide you with a more accurate experience of what it’s like to fly.
You may also want to consider taking motion sickness medicine and avoid eating any big meals before your flight to ensure you’re comfortable throughout the entire experience.
2) Research Air Safety & Regulations
Overall, flying a plane is actually an extremely safe activity, with the lowest accident rate out of all types of long-distance transport. If you’re nervous about your upcoming introductory flight, researching the safety components of the airplane you’ll be flying and FAA regulations can help ease your mind. For example, the popular Cirrus SR-22 comes equipped with a safety parachute system that gently lowers the plane to the ground in the event of an emergency. Plus, the list of FAA regulations that control the country’s air traffic is wildly extensive. Before your introductory flight, take a look at the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Parts 23, 61, and 91, which is a set of operating and flight rules that civil pilots – including you – must follow.
3) Read Up On Weather Patterns
The first thing to know about becoming a pilot is whether weather can be your best friend or your worst enemy. On the day of your introductory flight, the sky needs to be clear in order for you to get flight clearance. This is for your safety and the safety of others. Regardless, study things like the Coriolis effect, wind speed, high- and low-pressure systems, warm fronts, and cold fronts to understand some basic effects you might experience. Eventually, you’ll learn everything there is to know about weather and other flight principles in ground school, but even a novice-level of knowledge around rain, wind, fog, and other meteorological elements will come in handy during an introductory flight.
4) Refresh Your Math Skills
Even if math wasn’t your strongest subject in high school, you can still become a competent pilot. Make sure to brush up on basic arithmetic skills like addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division – eventually, you may need to make calculations on the fly (no pun intended), and strong fundamentals will only contribute to your success. The understanding of spatial relationships between objects can help when plotting navigational charts. Of course, a pilot may need to use even more complicated math like algebra and trigonometry, but that may be better learned in the classroom. For now, just have fun!
5) Get Ready To Fly!
The big day has finally arrived – will you be prepared? Beforehand, research the process of flying an airplane. The first thing your instructor will run through is a private plane checklist and specific startup procedures. Once you’re at a safe altitude, the CFI will hand over the controls to you and take you through some easy maneuvers, including straight-and-level flying, turns, climbs, and descents. If you ask, they may even show you some more advanced maneuvers like a stall, rolls, or steep turns.
Are you ready to try an unforgettable introductory flight?
Inflight Pilot Training is Minneapolis’ highest-rated flight school, offering fun, affordable introductory flights for all types of aspiring pilots. You’ll first undergo some ground training and then you’ll get to fly an aircraft under the direction of a CFI. You can take an aerial tour of downtown Minneapolis, Lake Minnetonka, or even fly over your own home from 3,000 feet above.
Ready to get started? Purchase a Discovery Flight from Inflight Training today or call (952) 698-3000 for more information about our certification programs.