Learning to Fly a Helicopter: Taking a Trial Lesson


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Ready for a helicopter Trial Lesson, image by Helen Krasner

When you’re thinking of learning to fly a helicopter, you’ll need to consider different flying schools, instructors, helicopter types, pricing, and many other factors – but don’t forget to make sure that you actually like helicopter flying, rather than just being attracted to the idea of doing it. In order to determine your affinity and aptitude for helicopter flight, you need to go for a trial lesson.

What is a Trial Lesson?

A trial lesson, also called an air experience flight, demo flight, or some similar name, depending on where in the world you live, is an opportunity to find out if you like being in a helicopter. Every flying school offers these flights; for some people they are a one-off experience, while for others they are the start of a complete helicopter flying course.

Your best bet is to phone your local flying school and book a test flight. You will usually have the option of half an hour or an hour; it is worth booking an hour, as this will give you the chance to really experience helicopter flying, take the controls for yourself, and maybe even try hovering.

Helicopter Test Flight: Advance Preparation Required

The instructor will not expect you to have done any preparation before your trial lesson, and will assume you know nothing. However, if you can read up a little about it in advance, this will stand you in good stead, and will probably mean that you enjoy the flight more.

Trial Helicopter Flight Lesson: Preparation on the Day Itself

The weather for a trial lesson is important, and your instructor will only take you for the flight if the weather is suitable. (He or she won’t take you up if there are strong winds, heavy rain, or poor visibility.)

The school will probably have asked you to call in advance to find out if your flight can go ahead, but it is a good idea to do this in any case. You should only fly if you are in good health: Cancel or reschedule even if you have a little cold, as the effects can be magnified at altitude. Wear comfortable clothes, and low heeled shoes. You will probably be able to take a small camera aboard, but check in advance with your instructor.

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