Fun flights for a new pilot

…or any pilot.

So you’re getting comfortable as pilot in command and you’ve completed those first big milestones: solo and private pilot certification. Now what? Well you’re probably working toward an advanced rating, maybe eventually a career in aviation, or just having fun. With flight training, consistency is the name of the game, but I’d recommend you stop and smell the roses. Here are a few recommendations for fun and meaningful flying to-dos for your training checklist.

Land on a grass strip

Landing on a grass runway can seem foreign and scary when you think about it for the first time. The unknown factor is what made me hesitate at first but it’s a great experience and will help your landing confidence and technique. As it turns out, the grass is much more forgiving than the pavement so your grass strip landing is likely to be a greaser. Check out this video of some fun landings on grass strips.

Fly to a new airport

Don’t get stuck in the routine of the same routes and the same airports. Plan some trips to new destinations! The experience is valuable and will likely get you more comfortable flying to unfamiliar airports. We have a famous airport nearby Sporty’s Clermont County (I69). To the southwest of Cincinnati in Louisville, KY is Bowman Field (LOU) – one of the longest continuously operating, general aviation airports in the United States. Bowman has a unique art-deco design that’s definitely worth the trip to see and it has a fantastic French restaurant, Bistro Le Relais. Speaking of restaurants…

Fly for a meal

Among our favorite flights is for breakfast as I love biscuits and gravy. We have two airports within a 40 minute flight that serve up hearty breakfasts. When you get up in the air just after sunrise the air is smooth and calm like no other time. Every pilot needs a good airport restaurant choice for breakfast, lunch and dinner by airplane. It’s the perfect introduction to flying for your non-pilot guests.

Fly someone important to you

Sharing flying with a loved one or a mentor is a wonderful experience. For me, my dad sparked my love of aviation so I promised to take him up as my first passenger. It was an amazing experience for us both. Whether a parent, spouse, friend or fellow pilot, taking up a passenger is a great way to have some fun and give someone a thrill.

Fly without your iPad

A worthy adventure and test of your pilotage skills is to fly only by visual markings from the ground. “RRR” as it’s often called – roads, rivers, and railroads – is a fun way to learn the area around your airport better. It’s much more engaging than staring at an iPad screen and it’s a potentially life-saving skill to have in case your technology fails.

Read this article from Student Pilot News by Charlie Masters on the topic. When tasked with a long flight that would have taken him direct over mountains, deserts and forests, he opted for the more inhabited route that takes more time but gives you more options in case of emergency. 

Fly a different airplane

If your flight school has multiple types of aircraft, I’d recommend taking advantage. Being comfortable behind the controls will make you a better pilot. Even if your training facility doesn’t have multiple types, consider flying various models or even different avionics suites for the diversity.

What else would you recommend for the newer pilot looking to have some extra fun while getting their hours?

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I'm a pilot and part of the Sporty's Pilot Shop team in Cincinnati, OH. I'm also a University of Cincinnati alumnus. I've been flying and working on airplanes with my Dad since I was old enough to hand him a wrench. I've worked at Sporty's for more than 8 years and love every minute of it.