Naturalists have gone to great lengths to understand how some species can fly with such ease, hiding for hours behind crowded economy seats to glimpse the mysterious creatures in first class. Observe winged creatures in their natural habitat with today’s Groupon: for $119, you get a one-hour introductory flight from A.T.C. Flight Training Center, located at the Potomac Airfield in Fort Washington (a $240 value).
A.T.C. Flight Training Center equips beginner pilots with the mental agility necessary to tame the sky’s hulking metal beasts, guiding them through hands-on lessons in climbing, descending, and navigating. Seasoned veterans take time off from cultivating the airfields to impart their in-flight expertise on newcomers with little or no cockpit experience. A round of preflight instruction acquaints pupils with the components of their Cessna 172 plane and answers common questions, such as “what do clouds eat?” After a smooth, pilot-guided takeoff, students are put in charge of the controls for a full hour of gentle turns that can count as credit toward an FAA private pilot license or future lessons at the flight center. For an extra fee, eager aviators can extend their lesson beyond an hour, fly over sights by request, or land at a different airport.
Pairs of students can combine two separate Groupons in one visit, allowing each an hour of flight time in the course of a three-hour flight. For no extra fee, up to two passengers can observe students on each flight, though restrictions on weight and number of Top Gun references permitted apply.
A.T.C. Flight Training Center
A.T.C. Flight Training Center has guided fledgling pilots through the skies with FAA-certified instruction since 1991, emphasizing good judgment, quick decision making, and practical skill. With approval from the Secret Service and FBI, and permission slips signed by their mothers, the seasoned instructors teach their flight courses in an airborne classroom high above the Potomac River. They lay out a clear path for students to earn FAA private-pilot certification through classroom lectures, hands-on flight instruction, and the Jeppesen ground and flight syllabus. Flight lessons aboard the center's two Cessna 172 planes cover basic flight techniques, such as fending off territorial weather balloons, before moving on to jaunts to other airports, night flying, and more advanced skills.
Already experienced pilots can instead embark on leisurely trips in a Cessna 182, outfitted with GPS navigation and autopilot. At the center's shop, staffers further outfit pilots with headsets, charts, and approach plates, as well as ASA training materials, aviation books, and films about flight.