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Introductory flight

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Two people barely fit side by side in the tiny cockpit. The engine roars to life as the propeller spins to an invisible blur. The pilot taxis the Cessna 172 to the runway while speaking to the control tower in techno-babble. After lining up his aircraft, he revs the engine, gains speed, and lifts off the ground. The slow, bumpy climb continues to 1000 feet, where the macho guy levels her off. Look out the window for a bird's-eye view of Miami and notice the hundreds of lakes and canals that fill the landscape. A seemingly endless stream of cars traverses a crisscrossing maze of asphalt. The Atlantic Ocean looks bluer from this altitude. If macho man is brave enough, he might let you take control, an experience both thrilling and scary. A half-hour later the airplane glides toward the ground, softly touches down on the runway, and you leave a wiser person. Most flight schools offer the short trip, called an introductory flight, as bait to reel in new students. Cost: $20 to $60. A reservation is recommended. Be careful. Once you're hooked, it will cost $4000 to $5000 to log enough time to get a license.

 
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