Your First Flight

Your First Flight

Date published
Mar 8, 2020
Charath Ranganathan
What does your “demo flight” look like?
Private Pilot
Getting Started
Congratulations on your decision to become a pilot! Flying is one of the most rewarding hobbies that you will pursue. It offers you a unique perspective (literally) on the world.
Flight training is also unique in a few ways from, say, learning to drive.
  • You will fly the plane from your first lesson. Most students take off and perform basic flight maneuvers, and some are even able to land the plane on their first flight! Your instructor will be there to guide you, support you, and make sure that you are safe.
  • You fly the plane on your own before you get your pilot certificate! In fact, the act of soloing the plane, i.e. flying the plane by yourself, without the instructor onboard, is one of the major milestones in a pilot's training.
So, what can you expect during your first flight lesson?


Our first meeting is a chance for each of us to get to know the other. During your flight training, you and I will be working closely - physically and mentally. It is imperative that we are able to work together as a team, and that we understand each other.
On my part, I like to know a student's motivation in learning to fly and answer some basic questions:
  • What piqued your interest in flying?
  • What are your goals? Are you looking to fly for recreational purposes or are you thinking of an aviation career?
  • What can I do to support you in the pursuit of your dream?
On your part, you should make sure you are comfortable with me -- my approach to teaching, my background as a flight instructor, and whether you feel that I will help you reach your goals. This is your time to clarify your doubts and I encourage you to ask me as many questions as you would like.


Prior to beginning flight training, all flight instructors are required to verify that you are a citizen of the United States and endorse your log book with that information. We are also required to maintain a copy of your proof of citizenship and the endorsement.
The most common form of citizenship proof is a U.S. passport. So, please plan on bringing your passport with you to our lesson.
If you are not a U.S. citizen, you will be required to submit an application for TSA screening at the Alien Flight School Program (AFSP) and be approved prior to beginning training. If you are not a U.S. Citizen, please let me know as soon as possible and I can guide you through the process of TSA approval. It takes about 6 weeks and costs about $250 to get your TSA approval.

Lesson Overview

This flight is your chance to have fun while doing as much or as little of flying as you want.
You will join me in a preflight check of the aircraft where we make sure that the aircraft is fit to fly (airworthy). After that, we will start the engines, get the weather, and taxi out to the runway. We conduct a check of the engine and the flight controls, and then we get our departure clearance and we're off to soar in the sky!
I normally like to take first time students south from El Monte to the Long Beach harbor area. It's a short (15 minute) flight and the air is always smooth over the ocean.
You will get to take off the aircraft, level off at altitude, and fly us to the Long Beach area. I will always be there supporting you, communicating with air traffic control (ATC), and making sure that we have a safe flight.
During the flight, I will take over the controls any time you want to take pictures or even if you just want to look out the windows and enjoy beautiful Southern California from the air.
At the end of the flight, I will enter the first entry in your log book, and you are on your way to becoming a pilot.
There is no pressure for you to do anything you don't want to do. So, sit back, relax, and have a fun flight.


You should wear comfortable clothes and closed-toe shoes. A baseball cap is perfectly acceptable, especially in the summer. Sunglasses are also a good idea, especially here in Southern California where the sun can get really bright.
If you'd like to bring some water with you, that is perfectly fine. Just remember that there are no restrooms on board.

Checklist (Things you need)

For your first flight, you will need the following:
  1. Your U.S. passport or other proof of U.S. citizenship.
  1. A pilot log book.
  1. A way to pay me - I take cash, check, Venmo, and PayPal.
And, of course, your enthusiasm!
For a more detailed look at the most essential things you will need during your training, check out my article.
I look forward to the pleasure of guiding you on your aviation journey.