Learn to Fly an Airplane

Fly an airplane: up in the air
Racin’ the wind | © encoreflight.com

Humans have wanted to fly like birds since the earliest times. Take a flight lesson, fly an airplane, and go where eagles soar. Fly over Dodger Stadium, DTLA, the Malibu coast, and other iconic Los Angeles landmarks. At first you may see a white blur, and then the letters of the Hollywood Sign unfold in reverse. After buzzing past the Hollywood Sign, you can enjoy the view of the downtown skyline.

Fly an airplane: flight school
Ready to fly


Before the flight lesson, you learn about aerodynamics (lift, thrust, drag) in ground school. Some flight schools also have a flight simulator where you can learn to fly an airplane and practice takeoffs and landings.


I step upon the wing of the Piper Arrow, a small, single-engine propeller plane, and then hop into the cockpit.

Now for the flight lesson. Fasten the seat belt, adjust the seat, shut the door, and plug the headset into the console. I pull the door toward me and leave a little crack open to let the breeze in the cabin. Now I am all set to fly. Wait just a bit, the flight instructor, Danny, has to run through a checklist in order to test the major components of the airplane before take-off. Propellers start spinning. I keep thinking that this is the tiniest airplane I have been in. Air traffic control gives the green light and the plane taxis down the runway. The instructor pushes the throttle to full power, the plane rapidly picks up speed and feels light as a feather. The instructor pulls back on the yoke, and we are up in the air.

Grabbing Control

The airplane is definitely susceptible to the whims of the wind, and as we ascend, the plane lurches a little.

At about 2,000 feet, Danny asks me if want to take over, and without hesitation, I greedily grab the yoke with both hands. I continuously make minor adjustments in order to maintain level flight.

An Aerial View of Los Angeles

Occasionally, I am instructed to head for specific landmarks and building clusters. A constant flow of wind pours in through the front, which invigorates my spirit. The Hollywood hills are on my right and at the end of the ridge I bank the plane so that we can take a look at the other side of the hills. I spot Griffith Observatory atop its southern perch of Mount Hollywood and marvel at how majestic it looks. With its purplish domes, golden travertine walls, and commanding view of the city, the observatory really is a crown upon LA.

The city I live in, the city of angels | © latimes.com

The Hollywood Sign

At first I see a white blur, and then the letters of the Hollywood Sign unfold in reverse. And then it hits me – I have just buzzed past the Hollywood Sign. After sweeping by so close, I picture the hikers above the sign and wonder what they are thinking.


As I look to my left, I rub my eyes, blink, and enjoy the view of the downtown skyline.

Santa Monica

I turn the plane toward the ocean and the Santa Monica pier is directly in front of me. I watch the sailboats pour out from Marina del Rey into the boundless Pacific. When I reach the pier, I head north on the coastline toward Malibu. With the water on my left and the Santa Monica Mountains on my right, I admire the stately mansions on the cliff’s edge. I pull back on the yoke and watch the plane climb to over 3,000 feet.

Freeways Never Looked so Great!

Ultimately, the range flattens out and provides a perfect passageway back to the Valley. I turn again and follow the river-like 101 freeway. As I look below, there are so many backyard pools. It seems that everywhere I turn, everywhere I look is another charming village or eclectic neighborhood. From this vantage point, I appreciate the beauty of the city and all of its glorious sun-draped facets. The terrain here is packed full of scrumptious nooks and crannies with the sporadic architectural morsel and tantalizing plateaus frosted with homes. I think about all of the poor saps stuck in freeway traffic directly underneath.


The instructor takes control again and expertly lands the plane. And so concludes my aerial adventure above LA.


From LA, follow the 101 N. After passing the 405, take exit 21 for Balboa Blvd toward Encino. Turn right onto Balboa Blvd and drive 3 miles. Encore Flight Academy will be on your right.

Schedule a course to fly an airplane with Encore Flight Academy: https://encoreflight.com/

Flight Information

Flight Time: 40 minutes
Aircraft: Piper Arrow