How to fly an airplane

Climb into a plane and fly off for a weekend visit with family and friends. Soar above your hometown, seeing streets and landmarks in entirely new ways. Or simply enjoy the serenity and silence of your own high-altitude “Zen.”

Flying for Career

Many aspiring pilots have dreams of taking their passion for aviation and making it into a career. The good news is that the outlook has never been better for hopeful commercial pilots. In 2018, Boeing projected a demand for 790,000 pilots over the next 20 years.

Dig Deeper, Fly Higher

The best pilots never stop learning and honing their skills. Keep up on the latest developments in general aviation with educational articles, blogs by other pilots, videos and podcasts. Take online courses and assess your knowledge with quizzes.

Types of Flying

Things you can do with a pilot license

Every journey to flight is different and will vary based on the time, money, and commitment you are willing spend to make your dream come true. Here is a basic overview of the basic types of private civilian flying:

How to fly an airplane

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Sign up for a free student trial membership in the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association and enjoy six free issues of Flight Training magazine which offers the insight and counsel of experienced pilot-authors to help both instructors and pilots-in-training as they progress toward their goals in aviation. Other benefits of membership include flight planning tools and a training helpline with one-on-one answers and support from instructors.

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B-25J Mitchell
Maid in the Shade

Enjoy a thrilling ride in a fully-restored WWII bomber that is a veteran of 15 combat missions. Flight price: $375 per waist gunner compartment seat (4 available) or $590 for flight deck jump seat (3 available)

SNJ/T-6 Texan

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N2S-3 Stearman
N2S Stearman

Our open-cockpit Stearman is the best way to get the wind in your hair and soak up the Sonoran Desert vistas and mountains. Flight price: $300

C-47 Skytrain
Old Number 30

Ride in Airbase Arizona’s C-47 Skytrain that’s seen more WWII combat than any other known aircraft in the CAF. Flight price: $195 per seat

C-45 Expeditor
Beechcraft 18

Truly a “fly back in time” experience. Flight price: $175 for the right side cockpit seat and $80/seat in the passenger cabin

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Use a joystick or keyboard shortcuts to explore the world in a flight simulator.

Flight simulator requirements

To use the flight simulator, you need:

  • Google Earth installed on a Mac, Windows, or Linux computer
  • A joystick or a mouse and keyboard

Launch the flight simulator

You can open the flight simulator through the menu or by using shortcut keys:

  • In the menu: Click ToolsEnter Flight Simulator
  • Windows: Press Ctrl + Alt + a
  • Mac: Press ⌘+ Option + a

Choose which aircraft you want to fly, where you want to start your flight, and how you want to control your plane.

Note: To change your aircraft, start location, or controller, you must exit the flight simulator first.

  1. Choose your aircraft
    • If you’re a beginner pilot, use the SR22 to learn how to fly.
    • If you’re a skilled pilot, use the F-16 to climb straight up and keep going.
  2. Choose where to start your flight
    • To start from your current location, choose Current View.
    • To start from an airport, choose Airport and pick an airport from the drop-down list.
  3. Set up your flight controller
    • Computer joystick (optional): Under “Joystick support,” check Joystick enabled. Check your joystick’s manual for more detailed instructions.
    • Computer mouse: Place your cursor in the center of the screen. Then, click your mouse button once.

Fly your plane

Monitor everything that’s happening on your flight with the head-up display (HUD). To get help while you’re flying, press Ctrl + h (Windows and Linux).

  1. Heading: direction the aircraft is pointed
  2. Speed: current speed in knots
  3. Bank angle: angle you’re using to slowly turn the plane in a new direction
  4. Vertical speed: rate of ascent or descent in feet per minute
  5. Exit flight simulator feature: click this button to exit the flight simulator
  6. Throttle: level of the engine’s power
  7. Rudder: angle of the vertical axis of the plane
  8. Aileron: angle of the plane when you roll or bank it
  9. Elevator: angle and lift of the plane’s wings
  10. Flap and gear indicators: where the flaps and gears are set
  11. Pitch angle: angle between where the airplane is pointed and the horizon in degrees
  12. Altitude: how many feet above sea level the plane is flying
  1. To taxi down the runway for take off, press the joystick forward to pick up speed.
  2. Once the plane is moving quickly, pull the joystick back slightly to lift off.
  3. When your plane reaches flight altitude and the wings have leveled off, center the joystick.
  4. To change direction, make course corrections, or bank left or right, move the joystick in the direction you want to go. Small movements work best.

Pause or resume a flight: Press the spacebar to pause a flight. Then, press it again to resume your flight.

How to fly an airplane

If you are new to aviation and want a career with the airlines or other opportunities within the aviation industry, then this program is for you. Sign up today and become a commercial pilot in as little as 7 MONTHS! Our Zero to Hero program takes you from start to employment opportunities as a commercial pilot.

Customized Flight Training

How to fly an airplane

How to fly an airplane

How to fly an airplane

Do you already have a pilot license and are looking for additional training? We offer personalized, customized flight training that allows you to continue your education and earn additional rating certificates. We tailor our flight training program to accommodate your busy work and life schedule! Train one-on-one with our highly trained flight instructors.

The Cirrus aircraft is the premier aircraft in general aviation. Whether you are looking for training or rental, we have the programs to meet your needs. Come discover what is meant by “the Cirrus Life.” You will receive one-on-one education on the safety features, advantages, and enjoyment of the Cirrus aircraft that set them apart from the rest. You will get to sit in the pilot’s seat aside a factory trained instructor to see the world as only a pilot can and you will have the opportunity to manipulate the controls of the aircraft. The opportunity is life-changing and the service is second to none. Learn to fly a plane and how to become a pilot.

Whether you are just starting out or looking to upgrade, the Cirrus aircraft is the premier aircraft in general aviation. Not only is the aircraft designed with the highest safety standards, but it is also fitted with the most advanced flight management system. Come train with us and discover what is meant by “the Cirrus Life.” Already a Cirrus owner? We provide all of the Cirrus training courses that keep you proficient and safe in the air.

Begin flight training Today!

To get ahead of the game there are a number of FFA approved aviation training devices (ATD or AATD) to help you begin your flight training. Also, we offer flight sim, or flight simulators here on our campus. Training happens in the sky and in simulators. To learn more about our flight simulator, please contact us today.

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This Agency responsibility is exercised for aircraft registered in the EU Member States, Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, for which a permit to fly is required in line with the relevant provisions of the Basic Regulation.

Cases where the Agency is not involved

When the approval of flight conditions is not related to the safety of the design, the Agency is not involved, but only the Competent Authority of the Member State of Registry, or of the Member State prescribing the identification marks. Examples of such conditions are:

  1. production flight testing for the purpose of conformity establishment;
  2. delivery/export flight of a new aircraft the design of which is approved;
  3. demonstrating continuing conformity with the standard previously accepted by the Agency for the aircraft or type of aircraft to qualify or re-qualify for a (restricted -) certificate of airworthiness.

Applicable regulations and procedures

Regulation (EU) No 748/2012 contains the applicable provisions for the approval of flight conditions.(see also the associated change to Regulation (EC) 2042/2003). Acceptable means of compliance and guidance material have been published simultaneously by the Agency, in ED Decision 2007/006/R.

Appropriately approved organisations (DOA and POA) may have the privileges to approve the flight conditions and issue the permit to fly, under certain conditions.


DOA can apply for an extension of their privileges with an EASA Form 82 and POA can apply for an extension of their privileges to their Competent Authority. Please contact the relevant National Aviation Authority, or EASA for POA it has issued, for further detail

In the absence of privileges, an applicant has to follow the following process to obtain a permit to fly:

  1. Send an application form to EASA in order to get an EASA approval of the flight conditions proposed to support the issue of a permit to fly by the Member State of Registry, or by the Member State prescribing the identification marks: EASA Form 37

Important advise The EASA Form 37 includes also the Approval Form 18b as

In order to ensure a fast processing of your application for approval of flight conditions for a permit to fly, it is highly recommended to completely and correctly fill in both the EASA Form 37 and the Form 18b. Form 18b may be provided at a later stage, however, an approval of flight conditions cannot be issued before all forms have been filled in by the applicant and provided to the Agency in time. In order to ensure a fast processing of your application it is highly recommended to send the application forms in electronic form either by E-mail or by Fax which is redirected to the E-mail Inbox.
Both the E-mail address and the Fax number are stated on the application EASA Form 37.

How to fly an airplane

Flying an airplane is surprisingly easy. At it’s most basic level, straight and level flight, it’s all about learning to move with a third axis, Up and Down. You learn the basics of flying in the first 5 to 10 hours while you prepare for your first solo. After that it’s communications, navigations, and safety, safety, safety.

Learning the basics of how to fly an airplane is the first step to becoming a professional pilot.

All good pilots started out by learning the basics “stick & rudder” airplane is controlled, as well as the theory behind it.

The rudder, the yoke, and radio communications are three basic yet major components of flight. Mastery of these three components will give you a solid foundation for your pilot career.

The yoke is the primary control for pitch and roll movements of the aircraft. This control can be turned left or right for roll movement. It can also be pushed forward and pulled backward for pitch movement. Turning the control left and right moves the ailerons of the aircraft. The ailerons are surfaces located on the backside of the wing towards the tip. When using the ailerons for roll movements, one aileron will go up and the other one will go down. This affects the flow of air over the wing. The aileron that moves up or down depends on which way you are turning. If you turn the yoke to the left, the left aileron will move up while the right one moves down.

The forward and backward movement of the yoke allows for the nose of the aircraft to pitch up or down. Pushing the yoke forward will cause the aircraft to aim down and pulling the yoke backward will cause the nose to pitch up. These movements are used mainly when climbing or descending. When taking off you will pull the yoke backwards in order to pull the nose up. This increases the flow of air under the wing creating lift.


The rudder pedals are arguably the most important controls on an airplane. The pedals control the rudder which allow the aircraft to yaw in the air. This control surface provides stability, allows for controlled turns, and allows you to line yourself up with the runway when landing, among other things. The rudder pedals also control the nose wheel and brakes when the aircraft is on the ground. The brakes are applied by putting pressure at the top of the rudder pedal. The nose wheel is controlled by pushing either pedal in the direction you would like to go. Rudder control is extremely important in flight. Without this control input, the aircraft would not fly as effectively as it should. It is imperative that new students grasp the importance of rudder control, as this is sometimes overlooked when first learning how to fly an airplane. Rudder, rudder, rudder!

How to fly an airplane


Communications is a vital part of learning how to fly an airplane. The ability to talk to others allows for a much safer flying environment for pilots as well as those on the ground. Without radio communications airport and airspace could not safely exist. Even the smallest uncontrolled airport relies on communications for coordination and collision avoidance. Pilots must talk to each other as well as aircraft control towers when necessary. It can be scary at first, especially if English is not your first language. The best way to become proficient at communications is to practice! Do not hesitate to get on the radios to talk to pilots or the tower.

The components discussed above merely scratch the surface when it comes to flying but with this basic knowledge you are well on your way to fulfilling your dream of flying. Excellent rudder and yoke control will help you tremendously when training. Pairing that with excellent communications will keep you safe and get you far in your commercial pilot career. Becoming a pilot is one of the most fulfilling things you will ever do but learning the basics of flying airplanes is just the beginning!

Skip Bailey does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.


University of Nebraska Omaha provides funding as a member of The Conversation US.


How to fly an airplane

Curious Kids is a series for children of all ages. If you have a question you’d like an expert to answer, send it to [email protected]

Why does it take longer to fly from east to west on an airplane? – Henry D, Age 7, Cambridge, Massachusetts

I am a retired United States Air Force pilot and flight instructor, and a few years ago I was sitting in the cockpit of a Boeing 747 airplane. I was 29,000 feet in the sky, flying from New Jersey to Sacramento, California, and then to Hawaii. It took six hours to fly and land the plane safely in Sacramento. After a few hours in California, I continued to Hawaii,which took almost another five hours of flying. That was 11 total hours of flying.

After enjoying the sunshine in Hawaii, it was time to fly back to New Jersey. This trip went much faster. I didn’t stop in California this time, but flying back only took about eight and a half hours. I was still flying the same airplane, and New Jersey wasn’t any closer to California or Hawaii than it had been a few days before.

So why was my flight to Hawaii, from east to west, so much longer than my flight home?

How to fly an airplane

Riding on a river of air

The reason it took so much longer to fly back is the jet stream, a river of fast-moving air high up in the sky.

Jet streams are usually about 100 miles wide. They can be thousands of miles long and are found all over the earth. To be called a jet stream, the wind must be moving faster than 60 mph.

Jet streams generally blow from the west to the east around the Earth, often following a meandering, curved path just like a river on land. The jet stream over the United States never stays in one place – it tends to move farther south and blow stronger in the winter, and to move farther north and not blow as strong in the summer.

So what does this have to do with planes?

Flying into the wind

Airplane pilots measure speed in two different ways. First is airspeed – how fast the wind would feel if you stuck your hand out the window. The second is ground speed – how fast the plane is moving over the ground. When you fly in the jet stream, your airspeed always stays the same, but your ground speed can change a lot because the air around the plane is moving.

On the way to Hawaii, I was flying with an airspeed of 562 mph. But because the jet stream was blowing against my airplane – called a headwind – at 140 mph, I was actually only moving across the ground at 422 mph.

But flying from Hawaii to New Jersey, the jet stream blows from behind the plane and pushes it forward. I was still flying with an airspeed of 562 mph, but the 140 mph tailwind meant that my airplane was moving across the ground at 702 mph.

How to fly an airplane

Pilots plan to go fast

When pilots plan the route of their flights, they often use weather forecasts to find where the jet stream is blowing. When they fly from the east to the west, they try to plan their flight so the jet stream isn’t blowing against their airplane and giving them a bad headwind. When they plan their flight from the west to the east, they look for the jet stream and try to fly so it can give them a big tailwind and help them fly faster. A good plan can help conserve fuel too.

The next time you are flying high across the country from east to west, don’t be surprised when it takes a little longer than you expect. But be excited knowing that when you fly back your pilot is probably hitching a ride along the jet stream to get you home fast.

Hello, curious kids! Do you have a question you’d like an expert to answer? Ask an adult to send your question to [email protected] Please tell us your name, age and the city where you live.

And since curiosity has no age limit – adults, let us know what you’re wondering, too. We won’t be able to answer every question, but we will do our best.

How to fly an airplane

Deep dive into the aviation world and learn how to fly a light-sport aircraft! After a short on-ground briefing, sit in the best seat in the house and take to the skies with your instructor by your side. Feel the thrills of flying an aircraft yourself and admire stunning Hunter Valley region below.

What’s Included?

  • 30 minute flying lesson
  • Pre and post flight briefing
  • Experienced pilot

Whether you’ve always dreamt of flying or are seeking a career in aviation, this 60 minute flying lesson will give you a hands-on taste on what it’s like! After a pre-flight briefing with an experienced pilot, jump into the pilot’s seat and put your newfound skills to the test. Fire up the engine and get a feel for the handling as you taxi the aircraft to the runway. Once airborne, your instructor will hand over the controls and you’ll be flying the aircraft yourself in no time at all! Feel all the thrills and chills of controlling the plane, whilst taking in the rolling hills and stunning vineyards of the Hunter Valley region below. Your trial flight can be entered into your logbook if you wish to pursue a pilot license.

Session Length

  • This experience is 60 minutes in duration
  • Please arrive 15 minutes prior to the booking time

Important Information


Maximum weight limit of 100kg and height of 1.8m.


  • Change your booking up to 48 hours before the start time of your experience
  • Changes are not permitted within 48 hours of your experience
  • Late arrivals or no shows may result in you forfeiting your experience

Numbers on the Day

This is a one-on-one experience with your pilot.


Take off and landing can be viewed from the hangar.


This experience can be affected by high winds, lightning, low cloud and low visibility.

Find safety information, security requirements, rules for flying with pets, and helpful tips when traveling by air with children.

On This Page

  • Travel by Plane
  • What Is REAL ID?

Travel by Plane

Know the rules, tips and resources available to have a safe, low-hassle plane trip.


  • Find child safety information including the safest way for a child under 40 pounds to fly.
  • Review general safety procedures, travel tips, safety records of airlines, and turbulence information.


  • Know the rules for getting yourself, your family and your carry-on items through the airport security screening.
  • The REAL ID Act created a national standard for state-issued IDs. Some states' driver's licenses don't comply with those standards. StartingMay 3, 2023, travelers with state driver's licenses that do not comply with those standards will need passports or other valid IDs to board domestic flights.See if your state complies and when you need to present an alternate ID.

Traveler Information

    and learn how to make a complaint to the Federal Aviation Administration.
  • Get real-time information on airport status, flight delays, and security wait times with the MyTSA App or with these Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) tools.
  • Learn about Trusted Traveler Programs that help you get through airport security and international travel processing faster.
  • Learn more about accessibility rights for travelers with disabilities and TSA tips for travelers with disabilities and medical conditions.
  • Find rules for flying with pets including getting them through security, bringing them in the passenger cabin or keeping them safe in the cargo hold.

What Is REAL ID?

How to fly an airplane

REAL ID is not a national identification card. It is a set of standards that Congress passed through the REAL ID Act in 2005. The act requires that government-issued IDs follow a set of security standards. It also prohibits federal agencies from using non-compliant IDs to verify your identity.

For many people, a state-issued driver’s license or identification card is their REAL ID. REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses and ID cards all have a star marking on the upper part of the ID card.

Check to see if your driver’s license is REAL ID-compliant. See the question under “For the Public” on this REAL ID Frequently Asked Questions page.

Why do I need a REAL ID?

Federal agencies can use your REAL ID to verify your identity. You can also use a REAL ID to:

Access federal facilities

Enter nuclear power plants

How can I get a REAL ID?

You can get a REAL ID when you apply for or renew your driver’s license or state identification card. Visit your state’s driver’s licensing agency website to find out exactly what documentation you’ll need to show to get a REAL ID. Your new license will have the new REAL ID-compliant star marking at the top of your ID card.

When must I have a REAL ID to board a plane?

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the new REAL ID deadline is May 3, 2023. On and after this date, you must have a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license/state ID or another acceptable form of ID to fly commercially within the U.S. This rule applies to all passengers 18 and over. If your ID is not compliant, you must have another form of ID that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) accepts. Otherwise you will not be permitted to go through security at the airport to board your flight.

Besides REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses, other acceptable forms of ID to board a plane include:

U.S. military IDs

Permanent resident cards

Government-issued passports from foreign countries

What happens if I don’t get a REAL ID?

If you don’t get a REAL ID, you won’t be able to use your driver’s license or state ID card to board a plane in the U.S. You’ll have to show one of the other forms of ID that the TSA accepts. Other federal agencies may require a REAL ID for official purposes.

Can I still get a non-REAL ID-compliant identification card?

States do issue driver’s licenses and ID cards that are not REAL ID-compliant. Check with the proper federal, state, or local government agency to see what ID requirements they have for official purposes.

Do you have a question?

Ask a real person any government-related question for free. They’ll get you the answer or let you know where to find it.