Your discovery flight cost will vary according to location, duration, and aircraft type. A discovery flight, also known as an introductory flight or trial flight, is the perfect opportunity for aspiring pilots to experience the thrill of flying in a light aircraft for the first time. These short flights allow prospective students to sample flight training and decide if pursuing a pilot’s licence is right for them. But what can you expect to spend for this unforgettable adventure?
Discovery Flight Cost USA
In the United States, discovery flight costs typically range from $150 to $300 depending on the flight school, aircraft, and flight duration. The national average price is around $150-$175 for most locations.
Keep in mind that discovery flights are sometimes offered at a discount from normal flight instruction rates as an enrollment incentive. Flight schools want to make the intro flight affordable to attract new students.
The aircraft used is almost always a two- or four-seat single engine trainer like a Cessna 172 Skyhawk or Piper Archer. These are comfortable, forgiving aeroplanes perfect for beginners. The essential difference between a Cessna 172 and a Piper Archer is that the former is a high-wing aircraft and the latter is low-wing.
Flights usually last 30-45 minutes to provide enough time for basic manoeuvres and some hands-on flying. With the intro flight, expect to be introduced to aircraft controls, basic aerodynamics, airport operations, and safety procedures. You’ll also get to take the controls under the instructor’s supervision for an exciting taste of piloting. Most schools allow you to schedule the discovery flight online or by calling their flight office.
Some things that can increase the cost are opting for a longer flight, a less common aircraft like a rare vintage aircraft, scheduling on weekends, and completing the flight at a busier airport. But for around $100-300, an intro flight gives an unforgettable first aerial experience.
When researching US flight schools online, look for “trial flight experience” or “trial flying lessons” in your state or local area. Call the flight school or book online.
Factors That Impact The Discovery Flight Cost
- Longer flight duration – 1 hour flights cost more than 30 minutes (obviously)
- Weekend or holiday flights – Higher demand may impact prices
- Flights at busy, major airport – May mean higher fees
- Aircraft rental – More advanced aircraft like Cirrus or Diamond cost more
- Shorter flight, like 30 minutes – Gets all the basics for less
- Smaller regional airport or airfield – Lower landing and facility fees
- Trainer aircraft like Cessna 152 – Very low rental rates
- Off-peak times like weekdays – Lower demand reduces prices
- Group package or gift certificate – Bulk savings passed on to you
- Enrolling in flight training – Intro flight cost may be credited
- Manufacturer demonstration days – Opportunity for free discovery flight
The aircraft, airport, duration and instructor are key factors affecting intro flight pricing. But with savvy shopping, discovery flights can cost less than the equivalent time as part of the training syllabus.
Discovery Flight Cost UK
In the United Kingdom, the price for an introductory trial flight is a bit more expensive than the USA. You can expect to pay between £100 to £300 depending on the provider, aircraft, and flight time.
The flight is usually 30-45 minutes in duration. Aircraft options include popular two-seat trainers like the Piper PA-28 Warrior or Cessna 150 Aerobat. For a more exotic experience, some schools offer discovery flights in gyrocopters or open cockpit biplanes, like a Tiger Moth.
Expect to learn basic flight controls, airport procedures, and cockpit orientation. With the instructor’s supervision, you’ll have the opportunity to take control of the aircraft and straight and level. Throughout the flight the instructor will describe what’s happening so that you understand everything.
Check below for trial flights in 20 locations around the UK
30 Minute Trial Flights UK
- 30-minute experience flights chock to chock
- Over 20 airfields across the UK
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What to Expect on Your Discovery Flight
Here is a rundown of what you can anticipate during your introductory lesson:
Before the flight, your certified flight instructor will provide a pre-flight briefing explaining aeroplane controls, basic procedures, and safety. Don’t hesitate to ask questions! The instructor will also explain your respective roles in the cockpit. After settling into the aircraft, you’ll go through a cockpit orientation. The instructor will take control of the the engine start sequence and taxiing out for takeoff, though you may be given a chance to try taxiing yourself.
As the aircraft accelerates down the runway, you’ll feel the surge of liftoff as you leave the ground. As the ground falls away, you’ll have a few moments to get used to the sensation of being airborne. This sensation quickly gives way to the magic of flight!
Once airborne, the instructor will show you how to maintain heading and altitude. Under their supervision, you’ll get to take control of the yoke. Small movements keep the wings level and altitude consistent.
Your instructor will demonstrate basic manoeuvres like climbing, descending, and turning. You’ll learn how the control inputs relate to aircraft performance. You’ll soon appreciate that only gentle inputs on the controls are required.
Too soon, it will be time to return to the airport. Your instructor will take care of the approach and landing, so you needn’t worry about that. The flight concludes with taxiing back to the parking area, apron, or hangar.
Discovery flights provide an unforgettable first aerial experience. Ask your instructor questions and let them know if you want more hands-on time. This is your opportunity to experience the thrill of flying and inspire your aviation journey!
What to Bring and Wear For Your Trial Flight
Arriving prepared will enhance your discovery flight experience. Here are tips on what to bring and wear:
Since the flight is usually under an hour, there is no need to pack extensively. Bring a government photo ID to present at airport security. Also pack sunglasses in case it’s a sunny day.
Your flight school will provide a headset, but you can bring your own if you prefer. If you’re thinking of buying one, look for a lightweight aviation headset that fits comfortably.
Wear comfortable clothes appropriate for the weather. Tight-fitting garments are ideal since loose clothing can impede aircraft controls. Bring layers in case the temperature changes.
Choose closed-toe shoes with slip resistant soles. Sneakers or boots work well. Heels or sandals are not ideal since rudder pedals require foot maneuverability. Leave jewelry and accessories at home. Bulky items could impact aircraft controls. Avoid bringing distracting valuables that might get misplaced.
If you tend to get motion sickness, bring precautionary medication or anti-nausea remedies, just in case. Ginger sweets or antihistamines prevent airsickness but always check with a pharmacist or GP first as anthistamines can make you drowsy.
Pack a light jacket since airplanes can get chilly at altitude.
Avoid heavy meals before flying. Eat a light snack instead. Stay hydrated by drinking water before and after. This keeps you energized and comfortable.
Being prepared with proper clothes, shoes, medication, and an ID enhances your introductory flight. Focus on dressing for comfort and safety as you embark on this exciting aviation experience.
Discovery flights in both the US and UK represent an affordable, low-commitment way to experience the sensation of flight first-hand. Sitting left seat in a light aircraft is an unforgettable adventure for aspiring aviators.