Have you just received a gift voucher from Air Experiences, or are you thinking of giving one as a gift this Christmas? If so, you may be wondering what really happens on the day of your flight. If you’re not sure what to expect, read on to find out more about what you can look forward to on your first flight!
The first thing to do when you receive your voucher is choose where and when to fly. We have locations across the country for most types of flying, and we’ll send you details of how to book as part of your voucher pack, including all the contact and location details.
Most airfields fly seven days a week and operate between 9am and 5pm. Obviously the weather sometimes gets in the way, so we ask all voucher-holders to call the airfield on the morning of their flight just to make sure that it can still go ahead. If not, you can reschedule to any time within the validity of your voucher.
On the day of your flight
First thing’s first: finding the airfield! Make sure you have a good map or in-car GPS with you, and the flying school’s postcode. Most airfields were built in the 1940s, when they were too busy thinking about the war effort to put much thought into making the airfield easy to find (in fact, sometimes exactly the opposite – the RAF tried to make it difficult for airfields to be discovered!). There are often several flying schools on the same airfield, so make sure you have the name of the one you’re flying at so that you can ask for directions if you need to.
Once at the flying school, you’ll probably see a few pilots milling around the clubhouse in pilot uniform. Introduce yourself to them and they will take you to your instructor for the day.
Plan to be at the airfield for at least a few hours, as this gives time briefings, the flight, and perhaps even tea and coffee before or after your flight.
What if I’m scared of heights?
Despite being a pilot, so am I! I can’t climb a ladder without hanging on so tight that my knuckles go white and my legs turn to jelly. Somehow flying doesn’t have that effect on me, nor on the majority of the public.
I’m a flight instructor with over 2,500 hours of flight experience, and over the years I’ve flown with hundreds of people. In that time only one or two people didn’t like it.
Once in the aircraft with the door closed, you get a feeling of security. It’s a bit like being in a car; if you sat on the roof of the car whilst driving down the motorway, you’d be scared to death. But when inside the car with your seatbelt on, you feel quite safe driving at 70mph.
Time to fly
When it’s time for your lesson, your instructor will walk you to the aircraft and show you how everything works. The cockpit looks quite daunting with all the controls and instruments, but remember how you felt when you first got to drive a car – how will I manage to use the clutch, brake, throttle and steer all at the same time?!
Once on board with seatbelts fastened, it’s time to start the engine. This is quite loud, as the cockpit soundproofing is not that good, so you will need to wear a headset, which will allow you to talk to your instructor via an intercom.
Once the engine is warmed up, it’s time for taxi and take-off. Taxiing the aircraft is just like driving a car (in fact I tell my students that the aircraft is just a Ford Escort with wings), then it’s onto the runway.
Take-off is a bit like what you experience in an airliner, but there’s less of a feeling of being pushed into your seat, and a much better view. Again, it’s a little noisy and bumpy as the aircraft speeds down the runway, but once airborne it all goes smooth and you can see the ground getting smaller as you climb away.
We’re up here, now what?
Normally your instructor will give you a while to settle into the flight by flying you over some of the local landmarks (I remember on my first flight, my instructor shouted – look there’s Tesco! We’ll try to make sure you see something a bit more exciting than that!).
Once the sightseeing is done and photos taken, your instructor will let you have the chance to fly the aircraft yourself. Firstly, the instructor will demonstrate how to move the aircraft up/down and left/right, and then if you wish you can take the controls yourself – don’t worry, nothing can go wrong; that’s why your instructor is there.
Instructors are hugely qualified – they have been through years of rigorous training and are tested regularly.
Time flies when you’re having fun, and I can almost guarantee that after what seems like a few minutes, it will be time to fly back to the airfield (most of my students tell me how the 30-minute flight just – excuse the pun – flew by).
On final approach the aircraft gently descends before with a little bump touching safely down on the runway.
Time for photos and certificates
When you’re back at the airfield clubhouse, you’ll have time for photos with your instructor and a chat about what happened on your flight. Many of our airfields also offer a certificate as a memento of your flight.
Your first flight counts towards gaining your pilot’s licence, so if you enjoyed it – why not come back? Browse the rest of our site to find the perfect flying experience for you.