Thursday, July 12, 2012

First Flight: $99 lessons let you find out if flying is right for you - Ace Aviation and Flight School at Reno/Stead Airport (KRTS), Reno, Nevada

RGJ reporter Scott Oxarart, right, listens to basic flight instructions from Jack Suierveld of Ace Flight School at the Reno-Stead Airport on June 11. Oxarart was able to pilot the plane — with lots of oversight from Suierveld — his first time out.  

RGJ reporter Scott Oxarart takes off in a Diamond DA20-C1 aircraft with instructor Jack Suierveld during a flight lesson with Ace Flight School at the Reno-Stead Airport on June 11. 

I pushed the throttle of a Diamond DA20-C1 single-engine propelled aircraft, gently tugged on the control stick and slowly lifted it off the runway of the Reno-Stead Airport.

I put pressure on the two rudder pedals at my feet — trying to keep the plane straight. It was the first time I had ever been in an airplane that didn’t say “Southwest” on the tail.

Confused by the dozens of gauges and numbers on the dashboard of the two-seat, $130,000 plane, I was learning on the fly in every sense of the phrase.

Ace Aviation and Flight School is one of three in Stead that puts you in the captain’s seat. The school offers introductory flight lessons for $99 to see if flying a plane is your next hobby or job.

If it is, you can work toward your private pilot’s license, which enables you to rent or buy a plane to take on direct trips for leisure or business. If you don’t like it, you can stick with commercial flights and at least say you tried.

“Our first flight lesson is just an orientation,” Ace Aviation pilot Jack Suierveld said. “Not only about basically flying the airplane, the prospective student does the taxiing, the takeoff, the climb, the cruise and is instructed the whole way.

“But it’s one foot in front of the other, one step at a time throughout the learning process.”

Getting a commercial pilot license is a commitment, but Suierveld will work with students every step of the way. He has young people who want to learn to fly the family plane. He also has retired men and women who want to put a line through a bucket list and fulfill a lifetime dream.

First flight

When you arrive for your appointment, Suierveld goes over the basic instruments and tools you’ll be using to help take off, steer and maneuver while in flight. The process took just 20 minutes.

You then hop into the aircraft, which reminded me of a two-seater go-kart. Like the go-kart, the parent has full control. If the kid, or student in this case, takes control and has trouble, the parent can step in and make corrections.

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