Monday, October 15, 2018, I took a discovery flight (an introductory flying lesson) from Academy of Aviation at Republic Airport in Farmingdale, NY. The route we took went out over the South Shore of Long Island and south over the Atlantic, circling around doing maneuvers and taking in the sights before coming back to the airport and landing on the same runway we took off from.
I’m posting this mostly for posterity, as it was an experience I want to remember and share, but if it helps anyone else who’s thinking about doing this, that’s great. I looked around for videos about the discovery flight experience before doing this and didn’t find that many.
I’ve flown PC-based flight simulators for as long as they’ve existed, and I’ve flown this exact same plane (MS Flight Simulator X even has this plane with the same paint job, let alone the same avionics). But this was my first time flying for real, and yes, it’s very different! The main difference is the wind and the feel of the aerodynamic forces on the airplane and flight controls. It’s nerve wracking at first, because you want to correct for every time the wind knocks you a couple degrees off course, but that’s happening constantly so you pretty much have to learn to relax and let the plane go where it wants. That was the trickiest thing for me, though, and you can see me with a little bit of a death grip on the yoke both on climbout and approach. That’s more a confidence thing than anything else – the plane is very stable if you just leave it alone.
I flew more than I was expecting on this flight – my instructor let me take off, climb out, fly around, approach, and land. What else is there?? She was on throttles and trim the whole time, though, and she took over the yoke whenever we needed to make a tight turn. She was very nice and a good instructor. I do think having flown sims did help me at least in knowing aviation terminology, avionics and basic aerodynamic concepts, so she said I got through about three lessons in one hour on my flight. I was pretty proud of that!