What to Expect with a Discovery Flight

I don’t know what I did to convince you to come check out my little blog, but I’m extremely glad you’re here!

If you don’t know me yet, I’m a flight attendant that fell in love with aviation and travel. I now blog about my flying experiences and travel. Sometimes I do tips and tricks, but it’s usually humorous trip experiences I have…because I tend to end up in kind of silly situations.

I usually get asked what got me into aviation, so I’ll try and do a quick summary here: I proposed to my now wife right after we graduated college. We moved to Georgia for her to go to graduate school because she is way out of my league being pretty and smart.

In Georgia I started out with assistant managing a restaurant. Then after a hurricane caused us to drive back to Texas, I applied to become a flight attendant because my wife’s cousin was a flight attendant and he, kind of helped me get an in.

During flight attendant training, my classmates kept telling me that I seem like the kind of person that would end up being a pilot. I discounted it and shrugged it off.

Throughout the first 3 years working as a flight attendant, we moved back home to Texas and I kept thinking about being a pilot. It all came together when I was at Disney World with my wife and I said, “We could be taking trips like this pretty much all the time if I was making pilot money.”

Of course, this led us into a serious conversation, and I decided I should think about it seriously and explore all that goes into becoming a pilot.

I found out it all starts with a discovery flight to see if being a pilot is even the right move.

Research Flight Schools First

One of the most important things you can do BEFORE you start your flight training is to research the places around you.

I thought I knew my hometown. I thought I knew the area I grew up around. Then I looked up all the airports and flight schools around me.

May be an image of one or more people and sky
[A view of the Dallas Cowboys stadium and Texas Rangers stadium as seen from the sky.]

It turns out, I was ridiculously ignorant about my own stomping grounds; despite me going and walking around Clearfork. There were tons of different airports within an hour drive of my apartment.

So, I started calling.

It was mildly annoying because I guess I have a feminine phone voice or something and kept getting called “ma’am” or “miss” initially, but I eventually narrowed it down to a single airport that housed three different flight schools.

I then went to the airport and priced the schools. I know aviation is expensive and I’m a baller on a budget, so I had to find the best deal for me.

This work could have been done online, but it was right before the pandemic really took off and masks were only barely working into the public sphere of commonality.

Plus, I think I’m a little more charming in person.

While visiting I was able to find a flight instructor that I hit it off with pretty well, and I started asking what to expect for a discovery flight. I also asked what to expect for a typical flight lesson, but the discovery flight was my main concern here.

What to Expect for a Discovery Flight

I’m a man of consistency, so when the instructor told me that a discovery flight will likely go very similarly to an actual flight lesson, I was pretty pumped.

It all starts with the brief. This is the part of the discovery flight and lesson where you get a rundown of what is about to go down.

The best part of this rundown is that it’s actually explained, unlike the rundown Jim Halpert was supposed to get done for Charles Miner (Miner…I hardly know her!!!).

That might be the only The Office reference I make here, but probably not, so I’m sorry.

During the brief for a discovery flight, the instructor you go up in the air with will talk you through the process. You’ll likely start with a walkaround to assess the aircraft. This happens at every single flight. All the way from a student pilot to the airline pilot, the pilot in command will do a walk around.

Keep in mind, the instructor wants you to become his student, so they will likely do their best to schmooze you up real good.

After your walkaround, you get to go up in the air. My discovery flight was extremely cool because I got to go up in a 1942 Aeronca Champ that was actually used in WWII to train the National Guard pilots for battle.

May be an image of airplane
[The 1942 Aeronca Champ I did my discovery flight in.]

This was legitimately some pilot’s holy grail airplane, and I got to go up in it and fly it for my freaking discovery flight.

I’m still a little starstruck.

May be an image of one or more people and outerwear
[Me in the pilot seat. Masked up for safety.]

The instructor will likely let you assist in the takeoff, but because my flight was in a tailwheel and it requires special training, I didn’t get to do the takeoff.

But that’s okay because once we got up in the air, the instructor said the magic words, “Alright, your controls.”

That little phrase gave me so much excitement and joy that I truly didn’t really know what to do. But the main goal of this is to get a feel for flying. The main reason you have an instructor in there with you is because if you get yourself into any weird situation, they will help you out. They’re well trained for almost any scenario. At least, any scenario you could get yourself into during a discovery flight.

Remember the goal is to see if you like it. You will be in full control of the aircraft and will be able to move it in all three dimensions of space. It might be a little disorienting or make your stomach churn, but that’s okay. That is the whole point of the discovery flight.

For the landing, the instructor will for sure land, but they most likely will let you follow along. Again, my flight was an exception because it was in a tailwheel.

After the flight, you go back to the instructor’s office and will do a debrief. This is where you will be given the opportunity to ask any and all questions you have. No matter how dumb or simple you think the answer may be, ask it. The purpose of this is to get you acquainted and make you want to go to the flight school.

Decision Time

Once you’re done with the debrief, you simply go home. You don’t have to make any decisions yet. You may do your discovery flight at one school, then actual training at another school.

This is what happened to me. A whole month after I did that initial discovery flight, I posted on social media like a good millennial, to share with everyone that it’s what I wanted to do. A friend of mine from college reached out to me in that post and told me to check out her husband’s flight school he just opened up.

It was in this way that I ended up at Harbour Aviation. They’re a little flight school ran out of Bourland Field in Cresson, Texas. Check them out for sure!

I recommend, if you’re even kind of interested in becoming a pilot, or just aviation in general, to find a local airport and do a discovery flight. If you don’t want to spend the money for one just yet then go talk to the people there. You’ll learn so much just from being around airplanes that makes it extremely worth it.

Remember, we study not to be pilots, not to be good pilots, but to be the best pilots! Now, go out there and be the best.

4 thoughts on “What to Expect with a Discovery Flight

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