Everything You Need To Know About Discovery Flights

Discovery Flight

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What Is A Discovery Flight?

A Discovery Flight is a flight that allows a person to feel what it is like to be a pilot. 

On these flights an instructor or commercial pilot lets the person control the plane to see what flying is like in order to see if becoming a pilot is something they’d like to pursue.

They are normally around an hour long and include a few flying-related lessons to give the prospective pilot an idea of what it takes to become a pilot. 

This is often the first step for any private pilot license or flying certification in general.

How Much Does A Discovery Flight Cost

A Discovery Flight typically costs around $60-80 for 30 minutes and $120-160 for one hour.

It depends on a few factors such as the length of the flight, the aircraft type, location, fuel costs, etc.

Normally, the discovery flight will be offered at a discount in hopes that it will encourage a prospective student to join the flight school

Do I Get To Fly On A Discovery Flight?

Yes, most locations that offer discovery flights will have you fly to get a feeling of what it is like to be in control of an aircraft.

You will not be in control while taking off or landing but the pilot may have you feel the controls to see what it is like.

Most people who have a discovery flight are overwhelmed with everything that happens in the cockpit to get the aircraft into the sky and back on the ground safely.

For this reason, the expectation for the student is to just sit back, relax, and take in what flying is like rather than worrying about actually flying.

Do You Have To Fly During A Discovery Flight?

No, if you do not feel comfortable or would rather just watch you have that option.

There is no requirement at all for you to fly the aircraft and this is not super uncommon for those who have never stepped in a plane before.

It can be nerve-racking to take control of something that is flying 5,000 feet in the air, especially when you do not even understand the basics of flying.

The biggest thing is having an open flow of conversation with the pilot and letting them know how you are feeling and what you are and aren’t comfortable with doing.

What Happens During A Discovery Flight?

You will start by meeting your pilot and having a briefing with them on what to expect.

They will show you the plane and the basic ground operations.

Next, you’ll go fly for 30 minutes to an hour and they will most likely give you control.

Lastly, you will land and have a debriefing on how it went and options on how to start with training if you are interested.

Sport Pilot License

What Kind Of Plane Will It Be In?

Cessna 172 or piper warrior are the two most common. Most likely it will be a single engine aircraft with 2-4 seats. These aircraft are relatively cheap to operate and great platforms to learn on, especially in the beginning of training.

You should not expect anything big or fast, especially for a discovery flight.

The flight is intended to give an introduction to basic flying to let the prospective pilot get a feeling an idea of what it is like to control a machine in the sky.

What Should I Wear For A Discovery Flight?

The most important thing is to wear something comfortable. Do not be like one of our staff members and wear 3 jackets and thermal pants for their discovery ride thinking that it was going to be freezing up at altitude.

Tailor your outfit to the weather conditions, for example, if it is a standard day with some clouds, some jeans and a T-shirt will be fine.

It is never a bad idea to wear sunglasses since you will be that much closer to the sun. With that in mind, if you have them, wear a pair that is unpolarized. If this is not an option for you, it will be fine to wear polarized as well.

If it is ok with the instructor pilot, see if you can bring a small bag such as a backpack. This will allow you to bring other items and keep them in a safe spot on the plane. Things that you should throw in your bag include water, snacks, sunglasses, sunscreen, etc.

If you are able to, you will definitely want to take some pictures. Flying is awesome, you’ll definitely want to share your experience with the world.

Choosing the right pilot headset

Where To Get A Discovery Flight?

Most discovery flights are conducted through flight schools. The reason for this is because it helps potential students discover the idea of flying. It also helps schools find potential students.

If you are trying to find a school this guide may help you out here

If you are curious about the different types of flight schools that you have the option of learning at, check out this guide here

Some discovery flights could be flown through a fixed base operator. In short, these are like gas stations for airplanes, but with tons of other services. They sometimes offer flight schools as a part of the fixed-base operator (FBO).

A quick google search will help you find the nearest one to you. Once you find a school, give them a call, or check out their website to see if they offer a discovery flight to potential students. If so, perfect check them out! If not, no worries, there are tons of other locations most likely nearby that do offer them!

Do I Need To Bring My Own Headset?

Most places that offer discovery flights recognize that offering a service to those who probably have never flown before probably do not have their own headset. 

For this reason, they should provide you with one that you can use for the duration of the flight.

What Is It Like Wearing A Headset?

Headsets are not just to talk with those outside of the aircraft, but also to those within. 

Planes are very loud, especially ones that are unpressurized such as most general aviation aircraft. 

From the moment you turn on the engine, you’ll need to use the headsets to communicate with the pilot and other passengers.

If I Talk, Will It Be On The Radio?

You only talk on the radio by pressing the mic button which is most likely on the yoke of the aircraft (or stick in some instances). 

Any other time, if you talk it is just in interphone which means that only those who are inside the aircraft with you and have a headset will be able to hear you speak.

Can I Get Airsick On A Discovery Flight?

If you have never flown before, there is a chance for you to get airsick if you have never experienced the feeling of flying. It happens more than you would expect. 

Flying in a general aviation aircraft is a lot different than flying commercially in a multimillion-dollar comfort passenger airliner.

It is important to realize that you will be in a small potentially hot space and may get thrown around by the wind which your body has maybe never felt before.

Can I Still Be A Pilot If I Get Airsick?

Absolutely, believe it or not, some of the best pilots got sick when they first started flying. In fact, for those who have a tough time with airsickness, the Air Force puts them in a spinning chair until they get sick multiple times to force their bodies to get over the feeling.

Your body will adapt. Some people may adapt sooner than others, but most likely it will adapt.

How To Mitigate Getting Airsick

You cannot 100% guarantee that you will be airsick proof, but you give yourself a better chance of avoiding it.

Make sure to eat something before a flight but avoid heavy foods. Something easy on your stomach such as a granola bar or some fruit is a great option. It is also important to be hydrated. You can load up your bag that you bring with you with snacks and water.

Eating heavy or fizzy food or drinks will only make you feel bloated so it is a good idea to avoid those types of foods.

If you know another certain type of food makes you feel bad or a certain way or if you are on the fence about a certain snack, just avoid them.

When you ride in the plane, try to keep airflow on your face and try to not move your head around too much. Looking outside, in general, should help a ton.

Lastly, if you are feeling queasy or nauseous before the flight do not be afraid to tell your pilot. It is better to save it for another time if you are not feeling 100%.

Last Notes

Doing a discovery flight is often the catalyst to a very exciting and adventurous flying career/hobby. With that in mind, it is meant to be a fun flight. It is oftentimes the very first time that someone has flown not only in a general aviation aircraft but in a plane in general!

It is important to go into the flight with an open mind and be willing to sit back and take everything in. Flying takes a lot of coordination, practice, and effort. 

Remember that the pilot you are flying with was once in your shoes and now is taking prospective pilots on their own discovery flights. You will be overwhelmed, but do not let that deter you from pursuing an awesome goal.




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