Trial Instruction Flight (TIF)

To give you a better understanding of what’s involved, here is a student’s experience of a TIF: 

The big day had arrived. I’d always wanted to get a pilot’s license but had no idea how. I got in touch with Merimbula Air Services and they explained that the first step was to book a TIF to decide if I was going to like it. 

When I turned up in the morning, I met my instructor who was relaxed and friendly. 

I was briefed on what we were going to do in the air and he told me the aircraft had dual controls so that either of us could fly. He explained that he would say “you have control” when he wanted me to fly, and I would reply “I have control” making it safe and easy to transfer control of the aircraft during the flight. 

He mentioned that there is a bit of study of the theory needed to attain a license but that it would come down further the track and I could choose to either self-study or get assistance with the subjects. He said that today the focus would be on what I could expect to see, feel and do. 

Before the flight we walked around the aircraft (A Cessna 172) and performed certain checks that the instructor said were needed to ensure that the aircraft was safe to fly and had enough fuel and oil for the flight. He said this was called a “Pre-flight.” 

We hopped in and the instructor went through some more checks before starting the engine. I had my own checklist so I could follow through as he explained each process. I then got a chance to taxi around on the ground. I found this a little challenging at first as the steering whilst taxiing was done with my feet using the rudder pedals! I had to literally sit on my hands so as not to revert to the habit of steering those years of driving had instilled! We then taxied out on to the runway. My instructor said he would do the take off and suggested I follow through on the controls. 

As we accelerated down the runway, I was surprised at how quickly we took off. It was amazing to be flying! 

Before I knew it, I was taking control! I was a little nervous but found it exhilarating at the same time. We did some turns, climbed and descended. I started to relax and get a feel for the aircraft. The views of the coast were stunning. 

Whilst practicing level flight the instructor varied the power to higher and lower settings. He explained that the picture held in the window relative to the horizon was called “attitude “. He showed me that for changes in power settings if we had the correct attitude we would stay level. Next reduced the power back to idle to show me   how safe a glide is in a C172. That was a pleasant surprise as the plane wanted to keep flying in a gentle glide descent even with no power. 

As we headed back to the airport, I was talked though a descent to the runway while being reassured that the instructor would take over for the landing and I could follow through on the controls. Another pleasant surprise was that the landing was much  smoother than some I had encountered with big airliners. 

I cannot begin to explain how much fun this was, how exhilarating it was to be able to fly myself and how amazing the views were! I was able to log the time in a logbook to start the journey to become a pilot. I have taken my first step! 


Note from the Instructor  

As one of the instructors at Merimbula Air Services, and with over 1,500hrs instructing experience, I have seen many students come through our doors. Some have become airline captains or corporate pilots, some fly privately perhaps flying for their business and others just want to fly for the sheer joy of it. There are a lot of different journeys that can be had, but they all start with the Trial Instructional Flight. We offer a very personalized “one on one” service as everyone has different strengths and weaknesses, and we all learn in different ways. To this end we tailor our training to suit a variety of students of varying backgrounds and ages. Our goal is to see everyone achieve their individual aviation dreams. 

Matthew Allen, 

Head of Operations. 

Merimbula Air Services 


(Our Instructor Matt, showing a student the controls of the aeroplane)