Most Wizards I have played with do not have this spell either prepared or in their book and the reason why is Wizards universally want Fireball and Counterspell. After that either Fear or Hypnotic Pattern. Then finally Haste, Lightning Bolt, Lemund's Tiny Hut.
All these spells are WAY more popular than Fly (even though a few of them shouldn't be) and if you want to get them you aren't getting fly, especially at 5th level used in the example.
That is not to say a Wizard can't have fly and if he knows there will be a lot of cliffs maybe he picks it and is able to minimize that (or maybe he plays an AAracora if he knows this).
The point is Wizards are not routinely doing that at. I think in the 7 years I have been nplaying 5E I have never had a PC Wizard cast fly to overcome an obstacle like this. I have had an NPC cast it on party members, but never a party Wizard, and there have been plenty of cliffs, castles, buildings etc that we have had in game.
Fireball falls off eventually, Lightning Bolt is a less good Fireball, and Haste as it exists in 5e is made to make the martials feel better about themselves.
You're close with Fear and Hypnotic Pattern though, considering they can both completely shut down encounters with 1 casting, assuming there isn't a martial on your team getting in the way.
I think you just play with people who don't leverage the Wizard's strength well enough.
No not always, but when it can be devastating when it is. There are many ways to fly in the game, this is not one of the better ones.
Yeah, those four times across twelve campaigns.
Driving concentration higher than 16 in a point buy game, or getting resilient or War Caster are all going to mean he has less spells to prepare, and loweer saves, meaning even less godlike things he can do, and all of these things combined will still not ensure succcess on a concentration save at 5th level.
You don't even have to get your Concentration super high, the median concentration save you're probably gonna be hit with is a DC 10. Easy peasy, honestly. And for some people, making sure your spells stay on you, where they belong, is well worth the losing 1 prepared spell for 4 levels.
plus, you know, all the other benefits you get with having higher CON (More HP), Resilient (again, More HP and also better Constitution saves which are one of the most common saves in the game) and War Caster (preforming somatic components with your hands full and also the ability to cast a spell as an attack of opportunity)
A giant Eagle starts at 26hps. A single arcer is not going to drop him to his death and if there is a platoon of Archers, then sure they might, but they would also make the Wizard make many concentration saves, and additionally could kill him too, virtually assuring death.
So hitting the Druid for 26 HP would equal around a DC 13 Concentration for the Wizard casting Fly. Easily doable if the wizard tries at all.
y'know, if we both weren't some flavor of wrong because Druids can't turn into a flying animal until Level 8, not even Circle of the Moon druids. And at level 8, the Wizard has had at most 3 opportunities to grab either extra CON, Resilient, or War Caster.
Aaracokra, Fairy, Owlin and Variant Tiefling all have flight at 1st level.
The four races above get it at 1st level. The only other official race I can recall that has flight is the protector celestial which gets it at 3rd level. All of these are earlier than a Wizard can get fly.
That one's on me then (haven't been playing too much 5e, but the pathfinder forum has a total of 4 unique people going to it per week so I'm stuck here if I want to talk about things)
I'm still pretty sure that Aaracokra, Fairy, Owlin, and V.Tiefling still have DM's not allowing them because of the whole "having flying at first level" thing. That or players don't use them because surprise! Flying is actually really strong! Especially at early levels!.
As for the Aasimar, only one version of them actually gets the fly speed (the others just get cosmetic wings) and even then, it's only for 1 minute once a day at 30 feet per round (as opposed to 10 minutes at 60 ft for Fly for however many times you have spell slots above 3rd) and they only actually get it at 3rd level, which is a lot closer to 5th level than 1st level is.