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Your Helicopter Intro Flight: 8 Things to Expect

introductory helicopter flight lesson

Prepare to take to the skies! The first step on your journey to receiving your helicopter pilot’s license is an introductory flight, sometimes referred to as a discovery flight. This is your first chance to experience the thrill of flying. While seated alongside a certified flight instructor, this introductory helicopter flight lesson includes your active participation as you familiarize yourself with the components and control functions of the aircraft. 

A discovery flight is a safe, supervised way to enjoy the exhilaration that comes along with being a helicopter pilot before making the bigger financial investment of in-person or online ground school and flight time with an instructor. Time spent aboard the helicopter during your intro flight counts toward the required flight time for the license, certification, or rating you choose to pursue. As you gear up for your introductory flight lesson, here are eight things to expect during your typical helicopter discovery flight.

Learn About Your Helicopter Intro Flight Upon Arrival

Before you board, your certified flight instructor will get to know you and share an overview of your introductory flight lesson.

As the date for your discovery flight creeps closer, the anticipation will build! At last, the day will come for you to prepare for take off. Upon your arrival, your certified flight instructor will give you a warm welcome and ask a few questions about your level of interest in flying and discuss the details of the flight. He or she may also confirm the discovery flight option you’ve chosen, aboard either an R22 or R44 helicopter, if you’re setting off with us!

You’ll receive a short introductory ground lesson prior to take-off, including a preflight safety briefing. The instructor will walk you through the plan for your flight, review the weather, and give you an overview of the aircraft’s controls. Before boarding the helicopter, you and your instructor will take a safety walk to inspect the aircraft and begin the preflight checklist. Ground instruction takes approximately 30 minutes.

helicopter intro flight
Before takeoff, your certified flight instructor will give you an overview of what to expect during your helicopter intro flight.

Test Your Pilot Skills During Your Helicopter Flight Lesson

During your introductory helicopter flight lesson, you will be offered access to the controls of the aircraft — your first experience as a true pilot!

Depending on the discovery flight option you choose, you may spend 30 or 60 minutes in the air during your introductory flight lesson. Your instructor will be in control during take off, but once you’re airborne, you (or the pilot) can take over the control and fly for the duration of the flight. You’ll be invited to try hovering and flying straight-and-level — a thrilling experience unlike anything you’ve done before.

During your flight, you’ll be provided with a headset to wear. Pilots use headsets to communicate with each other and to reduce noise from the cockpit. Your headset will allow you to clearly hear and speak to your instructor during the helicopter flight lesson. Your discovery flight is designed to introduce you to all aspects of flying and communication is an essential part of it. 

Your certified flight instructor will likely steer clear of hazardous or choppy weather on your introductory helicopter flight lesson. Your intro flight will likely take place on a calm day, but a small amount of turbulence is normal and should be expected. Fortunately, it’s uncommon to get sick during your intro flight. However, if you begin to feel nauseous, alert your instructor and he or she will try to safely and efficiently get you back on the ground.

Some of our intro flight options allow up to two additional passengers to join you on your flight. If your flight option allows, grab your friends or family and take them on an adventure you’ll never forget!

introductory helicopter flight lesson
Hop in the pilot’s seat and experience the exhilaration of flying during your introductory helicopter flight lesson.

Prepare for Landing: After Your Introductory Helicopter Flight Lesson

Upon your descent, you’ll have a chance to discuss your flight school options with your instructor.

After your introductory helicopter flight lesson, you’ll want to grab some photos in front of the aircraft. (If you’re flying with us, make sure to tag us @IndependentHeli to share your experience!) After all, a photo tells a thousand words and the experience of your first flight is one you’ll want to remember for ages! If friends or family members joined you for your discovery flight, be sure to include them in the photo ops. 

You’ll also have time to ask your instructor questions about flight training, if you decide to pursue your private pilot license. This can be a one-on-one conversation, to make sure you feel comfortable asking the right questions about your next steps in your goal to become a helicopter pilot. Our flight school programs include online ground school as well as training courses and certifications for private pilots, commercial pilots, certified flight instructors, and certified instrument flight instructors (CFII). Remember, from your very first discovery flight, to ground school, to flight training and check rides, you can take every step to earning your helicopter private pilot license right here with us!

helicopter flight lesson
Following your helicopter flight lesson, you’ll have a chance to ask questions about the next step in your training to become a helicopter pilot

Whether you’ve always dreamed of becoming a pilot or your aviation dreams are just taking flight, discover the joy of flying with a helicopter intro flight from Independent Helicopters. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram to stay up-to-date on our schedule of events, learn more about helicopter flight training, or schedule your own private adventure.

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