Some people are born with that natural urge to try to drive everything that moves — from bicycles to cars to airplanes.
I’ve never felt that urge. Uber works just fine for me.
So, I actually didn’t find the idea of learning to fly an airplane all that appealing. Still, I decided to do it anyway, because it’s good to push myself out of my comfortable bubble, sometimes.
Also, it was my 30th birthday, and I needed something to brag about.
The next time someone makes fun of me for not knowing how to drive a car, I can clap back at them and say, “At least I can fly a plane.” Ha!
One-Day Pilot Experience
After one quick Google search, I found out about Oxbold — a company that provides gadgets and courses related to extreme sports, including car drifting, paragliding, and a bunch of water sports. One of the courses they offer is a one-day pilot program at Subang Airport — less than 30 minutes away from where I lived.
In this course, anyone (from as young as 12 years old) can try their hands at piloting an aircraft for 30 – 60 minutes without any experience whatsoever. Note that this is not one of those flight simulator games you find in shopping malls — this is a real plane, and you’re going to fly it over Kuala Lumpur.
So, if you’ve always dreamed of being a pilot, stop dreaming and start flying!
- Age limit: 12 years old and above. Minimum age of passenger is 4 years old. Participant above 60 years of age may be required to submit a medical report.
- Height: Min 5′ and max 6’4″.
- Weight: Cumulative weight of participant + guest(s) must not exceed 230 kg.
- Fitness level: You should be able to get in and out of a family car unassisted. This activity is not suitable for persons who are pregnant, suffer from epilepsy, recent head injuries, recurrent fainting, blackouts, high blood pressure, heart conditions, or back problems. If in doubt, please seek medical advice before booking.
- Minimum: 1 pax
- Maximum: Please call to request
How Much Is It?
You can choose between two packages:
- 30-Minute Flying Time: RM800
- 60-Minute Flying Time: RM1,300
Each package is inclusive of a 30-minute ground training (theory of flight, rules of the air, and radiotelephony) and one-day membership. You also have the option to bring up to 2 guests as passengers (to be sitting at the back seats), at a fee of RM200 per guest. Maximum weight of participant and guests must not exceed 230kg.
Rates do not include insurance, meals, or transportation to/from the airport.
Insurance Coverage (optional): RM50 per person (below 70 years old) or RM150 per person (>70 years old). This insurance will cover the insured person for the full activity day, with a sum assured of RM50,000.
Last Minute Booking Surcharge (for bookings within 72 hours before the activity): RM50 per person.
How to Get to Subang Airport from Kuala Lumpur
Often called Subang Airport, this terminal serves general aviation and some turboprop domestic flights. Note that it is actually closer to Kuala Lumpur than Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA).
You can either drive there or book a Grab Car. Read my note here on why you shouldn’t take taxis in Malaysia. If you drive, take the Federal Highway from Kuala Lumpur toward Subang / Shah Alam route, and follow the Subang Airport signboards. You may park your car at the paid car park opposite the airport.
There used to be a train linking the airport to KL Sentral for only RM3.50 one way. However, this service is currently suspended. Oxbold can also organize a private coach to pick you up from your hotel.
Please arrive at the airport at least 10 – 15 minutes before the scheduled flight.
What to Bring
Items 1 to 4 are MANDATORY and will be submitted to the Day Pass Officer. Without these documents, you will not be allowed entry to the hangar, which will result in rescheduling.
- Your IC or passport to enter the hangar (restricted area).
- A photocopy of your IC or passport.
- A printout of the Day Pass application form, which will be emailed to you.
- RM2.00 per person to get a tag to clip on your shirt for security check.
- Smart casual attire, preferably of light fabrics as the plane has no air-conditioning. Acceptable attire includes long or short-sleeved T-shirts, collared shirts, long pants, and knee-length skirts. No singlets or shorts.
- Closed-toe shoes. No sandals, slippers or flip-flops.
- Drinking water (optional).
- Camera (optional).
- A positive, friendly attitude and a good sense of humor! As someone who has been working in the service line for more than a decade, I can’t stress this enough. I wish all restaurants and retail stores could have this as a prerequisite for any customer wishing to enter their premises.
What to Expect on the One-Day Pilot Experience
I initially booked a flight for 17th August, a day after my birthday. However, it had to be postponed twice due to bad haze (thanks, Indonesia). In the end, I got to do it on August 25th.
I met my co-pilot, Captain Andreas 10 minutes before my 5 p.m. flight. As with any other ‘risky activity’, the indemnity form had to be filled up and signed first and foremost.
Done with registration, we checked in for our flight and went through immigration. It was just like boarding a commercial flight — we had to go through the metal detector and all that.
Then, we made our way to the hangar where rows of light airplanes were kept. One was already standing outside. That was the one we were going to fly in.
Captain Andreas gave a brief introduction to the different parts of the aircraft, their functions, and how to control them.
After the briefing, we got into the cockpit and buckled up. The captain proceeded to demonstrate to me how to taxi the plane, and let me try it myself. That seriously reminded me of the car driving tests I took many, many moons ago (which I failed, twice).
Captain Andreas said I did great, although someone in the control tower might stop us any minute now as suspected drunk drivers. He then took over for take-off, because that’s one of most dangerous parts of a flight — along with landing — where things could easily go wrong.
And soon, we were in the air! Once the plane was cruising at a safe altitude, he let me handle the control wheel.
At one point, he started teasing me by making the plane dip. I randomly grabbed something to hold on to, and in my panic, I grabbed the control wheel and pushed it down, forgetting that by doing so, I was making the plane dip even more. So, we really nosedived for a few seconds, with me screaming like a banshee until he finally righted the plane.
Captain Andreas has lived in Malaysia for many years and can even speak some Malay. The guy is a joker; I bet he must be popular with kids. A few times, he made my heart stop by pretending to be sleeping at the wheel.
We made a big circle over some other neighborhoods I wasn’t very familiar with, and before I knew it, 30 minutes had gone by, and we had to prepare for landing. Again, the captain took over the wheel. We did a wheelie on the runway.
After we deplaned, I had to help him push the aircraft into the hangar. Two persons could easily push it without much effort. It’s probably not even as heavy as a car. Then, we took a few more photos together, and said goodbye.
- Courses can be modified to suit group bookings.
- Longer flights and further pilot training courses are available upon request.
- The company reserves the rights to cancel or reschedule any lesson due to weather, serviceability or availability of aircraft, or any unforeseen circumstances.
- No refunds will be given on cancellations made less than 24 hours prior to departure.
So, can I really fly a plane now? No, but people don’t have to know that.
I booked the experience as a birthday gift for myself, and I couldn’t have asked for a better present. Despite my lack of interest in any kind of vehicle, I had a lot of fun. Captain Andreas made it all the more enjoyable.
This experience can be a perfect gift for yourself or someone special (well, it’d better be someone special, because it’s certainly not cheap). You can even make it a group activity with your close friends or a family-bonding session.
Have you ever wished you could fly an airplane? Do you think you would do this one-day pilot experience in Malaysia? Comment below.