Every time a bell rings, an airplane pilot laughs at the implausibility of the television show Wings. Experience the friendly skies from the air instead of your TV set with today's Groupon: for $175, you get a an approximately two-hour introductory flight lesson for two people—including an in-flight digital photo—with FlyBayArea.com (a $349 value). In addition to the lesson, during which you pilot the plane, you will also receive a six-month subscription to the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association Flight Training magazine. Lessons take off on Sundays and select weekdays, primarily at the San Carlos Airport.
Plan on spending approximately one hour on the ground and 45 minutes in the air, with your Fly Bay Area instructor managing the complex maneuvers. The instructors help open the wings and brain cavities of students through comprehensive guidance both on the ground and in the clouds. Before hopping in the cockpit, warm up your aviation education with an hour of preflight ground instruction, which orients fledgling flyers to the aircraft, flying fundamentals, aircraft systems, safety, and preflight procedures. After the lesson, prepare for the 45-minute introductory flight that provides an atmospheric view of the world typically reserved for Al Gore and web-based map browsers. Once aloft, you'll take control of a trusty Cessna or Piper Trainer, learning to taxi, climb, descent, and turn as you navigate the scenic San Francisco Bay, with possible excursions to Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge. You’ll be able to share the entire experience with a friend, who will also be able to verify your newfound flying-ace status to playground naysayers.
Yelpers give Fly Bay Area a perfect five-star average:
Fly Bay Area
With more than 15 years of flying experience, Fly Bay Area creates tours and courses that are designed to bring recreational flying to the general public. They've recently expanded their services to include flight instruction and aircraft rental for budding and experienced pilots. Students can sign up for comprehensive and structured flight courses that count towards a Private Pilot, Instrument Rating, or Commercial Pilot Certificate. Alternatively, participants on Fly Bay Area's tours can choose to see the Peninsula, Pacific Coast/Half Moon Bay, San Francisco & Golden Gate, or the Ultimate SkyTour all around the Bay Area—but instead of exploring each up-close, they view them from around 1,500 feet in the air. Experienced pilots steer four-seat, single-engine planes over the San Francisco Peninsula and Bay, across sweeping redwood forests and the Pacific coast, during sky tours at any time of day. The FAA-approved air-tour company also lets passengers helm the plane's controls on U-Fly tours. During these flights, wannabe pilots can perform basic flight maneuvers and make airplane noises with their mouths, eschewing the extra technical and theoretical lessons required by pilot-training programs. On any flight, staff members can snap high-resolution digital photographs or high-definition videos that document moments of the customer's in-flight experience.