Real Answers from Real Pilots

What to expect for a discovery flight

I am about to fly in 4 days. I’m so excited I can’t sleep, I’m studying aviation in all my free time, and watching tons of videos of discovery flights. online it says its normal for the instructor to do t/o and landing, but I’ve seen many videos where the instructor let’s the new /prospective student do the t/o, taxi, and/or landing. is this normal? I’d absolutely love to be able to fly the t/o and landing.
I’m sure every instructor/school is different. just wondering if anybody knows how common that is.
also has anybody been allowed to use the radio on their discovery flight? I’ve been practicing radio communications with a friend who flies an a320 and really want to try to speak with atc.
thanks in advance and happy flying

Emil,

I am glad that you are excited for your intro flight. Don’t be disappointed if you don’t get to do the takeoff and landing. Walking someone through the takeoff and landing on their first flight is extremely difficult. Takeoff and landing instruction is typically reserved for formal flight lessons, not intro flights for economic and safety reasons. Allowing someone to fly those portions of the flight is not the norm, regardless of what you may have read. If you don’t get to do it, that’s okay. Has nothing to do with you and certainly shouldn’t take away from the entire experience. If anything it typically leaves people wanting more.

If you end up enrolling as a student you will have plenty of practice with takeoffs and landings.

As for the radios, it depends on the situation, but you should get an opportunity to at least attempt to make some calls.

Tory

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Emil,

Don’t take this wrong but reading your post sounds like you’re setting yourself up for failure.

It’s great that you’re super excited (and you should be) but studying aviation and watching videos does not you a pilot make. In my experience too many prospective pilots (particularly those who sound like you) don’t see this for what it is. It’s a DISCOVERY flight. The SOLE purpose of this flight is for you to experience what it’s like to actually sit up front in a small general aviation airplane. It’s not a job interview, it’s not the opportunity for you to show this instructor how much you know, and most important this is not a test to see if you have the right stuff. The instructors comfort level and the conditions will determine how much or how little you’ll do. It will have little to do with what YOU perceive as your abilities. Reason being you’re not a pilot, not even close, and frankly don’t have any skills, yet You may have seen some videos where the instructor allows the new student to “follow” on the controls during the landing. You will not be landing that I promise you and the fact you think you might demonstrates you really don’t understand just how much skill that maneuver takes.

What you should expect is to sit back, enjoy and take in the experience. Going in thinking you can (or should) be doing much of anything again is never a good idea. We get posts on this forum often by people like yourself who say “omg! I’ve been thinking about being a pilot my whole life, I just had my Discovery flight and I got scared, I got sick, I couldn’t hold an altitude, I couldn’t etc etc etc etc. Can I still be a pilot?!?”. This is simply because people put too much emphasis are everything but what this flight is supposed to be. You are not a pilot (yet). Sounds like you definitely will be and again your enthusiasm is fantastic. I’m not trying to discourage or knock you down but I promise you if you relax and turn this into nothing more than the first step in a LONG process you’ll not only enjoy the flight more but you’ll also perform better if given the opportunity.

The only think required for your Discovery Flight is a good attitude and the desire to have fun! Do that and you’ll get perfect score on your first lesson!

Adam

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thanks for the feedback. I was very surprised to learn it happens at all on some discovery flights. my plans are to do flight school basically immediately after my discovery, so I know I’ll start to practice the basics pretty soon anyways. thanks.

you are right. having expectations could definitely make it harder to enjoy /participate in my discovery flight, and the experience (as well as safety) is most important
thank you for sharing your thoughts
I’m sure if I keep this motivation and keep studying it will serve me well throughout ground school and flight school

Emil,

It definitely will and I have zero doubt you’ll do well moving forward. Just not Day 1 :wink:

Let us know how it goes.

Adam

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thank you very much. I’ll definitely update everybody on my 1st discovery flight!

I know flight school will be a difficult and long road, but I know that my motivation and passion will help me push through all the challenges I face.

I’m ready for ups and downs, just like when learning anything. I’m ready for scary moments when I have to put aside my own emotions and focus on handling the plane. I hope with experience I learn aeronotical decision making and can become a wise and humble pilot who can learn from the mistakes of others (and myself)

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Emil,

For a discovery flight you really need to not have any preconceived notions. Regardless of what you have seen or heard, every flight is different. How much you fly or talk on the radio will depend on the CFI, the weather, and on how busy the environment is. Just remembers that there is no pressure to perform to a certain standard, it is really just for you to see how much you really like flying little airplanes.

Chris

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Emil,
I use to do most of the intro flights at ATP in concord, NC. I may have let the perspective student shadow me on the flight controls during takeoff but a landing is out of the question. You can expect that when the CFI gets the plane up to a safe altitude in open airspace they may hand the plane over to you an walk you through so basic turns and descents but don’t expect to try anything crazy. The point of the flight is just to see how small airplanes handle, see how you like being up in the air and familiarize yourself a bit with ATPs aircraft, instructors and program. I don’t want you to be disappointed or think the instructor didn’t like you if they didn’t allow you to do the things you’ve expected. Just a matter of safety. Even if a student told me they have experience landing archers, I still didn’t let them. The risk is just to great until we get you in to formal training and can practice those maneuvers in a more controlled environment.

-Hannah

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wanted to update everybody. my first flight was AMAZING! I got to use the radio :smile: and only made one mistake haha. I shadowed my CFI for the pre flight walk around, helped with sumping, and got to rotate on takeoff! then I did most of the flying with some very shallow turns and got used to how a 6 pack worked. we did some sight seeing, and did a touch and go- the CFI showed me the landing procedure and I got to pull the yoke and rotate once again, then my CFI did the landing. now I’m absolutely addicted and all I can think about is the next time I fly!

Emil,
Glad to hear you had such a great time! Keep that enthusiasm going… it will make all the difference in the thick of training! Let us know if you have any other questions!

-Hannah

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Emil,

Very happy it went so well and you had such a fantastic time.

Sooooo when is the next time you fly? :wink:

Adam

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I remember my first discovery flight outside of ATP. The instructor lined me up on the runway and said “pull the throttle and I’ll tell you when to pitch”…I was like…well alright.

Had the philosophy of if you wanna do this, you have to learn to do it yourself. (Everything but the landing of course).

When I get to CFI, I can’t say I would have the same philosophy lol.

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thats almost what we did. he told me when to rotate and I pulled up on the yoke. I did not touch the throttle.

best of luck becoming a CFI! have you started training for that yet?

thanks! I’m looking at local flight schools, hoping to start flight school within the month. been doing prep by reading some handbooks and the 2021 FAR/AIM

actually I do have a question. so I’m staying with my parents in Oregon but typically live in Los Angeles. is it possible to transfer from one flight school to another? or is that not possible?

I’m putting aside money for my official start date at ATP in March.

awesome ! once again, best of luck & safe flying man.
I’m not sure what I want to do once I have my ppl. I love aviation but not sure if I want a career out of it. do you need a CPL to get a CFI cert?

Emil,

Transferring schools at ATP is rare, very rare. I wouldn’t count on it. If you plan on training outside ATP then that won’t be an issue.

To be a CFI you will need a CPL.

I’m glad your intro flight went well.

Tory

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Emil,

Of course it’s possible. That’s why you have a logbook. Simply take it with you and show them where you left off. They’d bound to be some overlap in teaching but that’s fine.

Adam

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