Whether you're a prospective student pilot, a Seattle-area visitor interested in a unique sight-seing experience, or simply curious to determine whether flying is something you might be interested in, a discovery flight is a great opportunity for you to experience the thrill of flying without major commitments of time or money. We're sure you'll find that flying is not as difficult as you previously thought - but a LOT more fun!
Given that the weather in the Puget Sound can get downright nasty in the early winter, you may be wondering whether it’s a good idea to even try flying during the winter. The truth of the matter is that winter weather is generally
more enjoyable: the cooler weather makes the air more dense (and therefore easier for the plane to operate in), and since the ground is less warm, there should be no noticeable “updrafts” to make your flight bumpy. The downside, of course, is that you may end up having to reschedule due to fog or winds! On the good days, though, you'll get a flight so enjoyable that you’ll be glad you waited!
If you plan to fly in the summer, you should try to request an early morning or late afternoon flight with the objective of flying in smooth air. As previously mentioned, higher temperatures and gusty conditions have the potential to make your flight a little bumpier. Although airplanes are designed and built to handle much more extreme conditions than you'll ever encounter on the hottest Seattle days, there are those people who do not enjoy the slightest bump. If you are one of those people (or are flying with someone who is), please feel free to contact an instructor to discuss strategies for minimizing or avoiding these bumps. We'll do our best to ensure a very positive experience and maximum enjoyment on your flight.
Aviator Flight Services offers three "off-the-shelf" discovery flight options to choose from, all of which include ground instruction, a flight briefing, some amount of flight time, and an official logbook containing a record of your first hour of flight instruction. This entry is an actual, official entry that may count toward a pilot’s license if so desired. The primary difference between the three flights is the length of time that you'll be flying. The three "off-the-shelf" options consist of 30, 45, and 60 minutes of actual flight time (not including the additional ground/classroom instruction and debriefing). Discovery flights cost $149, $199, and $249, respectively. You may choose to begin with 30-minute flight, and then decide to extend your flight time to 45 minutes or an hour while in the air. Additionally, you could choose to create a "custom" discovery flight by picking a destination and then calculating your package price based on actual time flown. Popular destinations for this type of discovery flight include Friday Harbor, Bellingham, or Mount Rainier.
Once you've chosen the type of flight and made a reservation, what should you expect? Lots of fun, excitement, and the thrill of flying, of course!
On the day of your flight, you will meet your instructor, who will take you directly to the airplane you'll be flying and give you a short briefing about what to expect. You'll then get your first lesson, either in the hangar or in the classroom/lounge. Initial ground instruction will cover the theory of flight (lift, power, drag, and gravity), basic control operation, weather theory, and airport operations (similar to driving a car, there are "rules of the road" for airplanes).
At the conclusion of the ground lesson, you might perform a weather briefing with the instructor to determine if the local weather will affect your flight.
After completing the weather briefing, your instructor will lead you through a thorough pre-flight inspection of the airplane in which the instructor will acquaint you with the plane and ensure the airplane's airworthiness, while answering any questions you may have. Keep in mind that these inspections are mandatory for every flight.
When the airplane passes the preflight check, you'll get into the airplane, adjust your seat properly, and your instructor will explain the flight controls and instruments. You'll fasten your safety belt and shoulder harness before beginning the procedure to start the engine and taxi out to the runway. Your instructor will use a checklist to ensure that all of the necessary steps are completed in a logical order and that the airplane is safe to fly. Your instructor may let you taxi the airplane, which you steer with your feet by pressing the rudder pedals.
After all checks have been completed, your instructor will assure you that the airplane is ready for takeoff. Your instructor will taxi the airplane out onto the runway, line it up with the centerline, and begin the takeoff roll. Based on your comfort level and other factors, your instructor may have you keep your hands on the control yoke and both feet on the pedals. You may follow your instructor's movements on the controls, but the instructor will be flying the airplane.
From this point on, you're flying! Now that the hard work is done, the airplane will climb higher, seemingly by itself. The view will be breathtaking. When you're ready, your instructor will inform you that you have the controls, and you'll be officially flying the airplane! Depending on your wishes, your instructor may demonstrate how to fly straight-and-level, make turns, and climb and descend.
Depending on the length of your dicovery flight, your instructor will inform you at some point that it's time to return to the airport. Your instructor will undertake the landing and explain what is happening. As you exit from the runway, your instructor may let you have another try at taxiing the airplane. Once the airplane is parked and secured and you have all your belongings, your instructor will answer your questions regarding your flight and make his first entry in your logbook.