Best $35 Spent On a Joyride

Skyline Aviation

Care for a closer view of the wild blue yonder? Spirit St. Louis Airport in Chesterfield has three flight schools where an average person can learn to fly. The runway leading to a pilot's license involves a minimum of 40 hours' flight time, up to 10 hours of ground instruction and a cost of $2,500. But maybe you just want to dip your toes before taking the plunge. Skyline Aviation offers introductory flight lessons at the reasonable cost of $20 for a jaunt in a two-seater Cessna 150, or $35 for a larger-engine four-seater Cessna 172. Jeff Ryan, 22, a flight instructor with Skyline, gives introductory flights to prospective students each week. The 30- to 40-minute flight often passes by the Arch and may even wing north, upriver toward Alton. Neophytes actually get to copilot the plane. "Once we're at altitude, I explain the basics to them and let them start flying," says Ryan. But not to worry: He adds that any wrong move on the controls can be quickly corrected. The experience is nothing like being a passenger in a flying bus. Here, you're in the cockpit, face to face with infinity, at one with the birds. "Once we're speeding down the runway for takeoff and the nose goes up, you can hear them suck in their breath," says Ryan, "but when the plane has landed, it's often, 'Hey, I want to do this again.'"
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