Earning a private pilot’s license can provide you with a variety of opportunities. Some people desire the license for sport or pleasure, while others seek a new mode of primary transportation. By the end of training, you’ll be able to navigate a small aircraft by yourself. Here is how to get started.
A private pilot applicant should be 17-years-old and fluent in English. Before you begin the course, you will also need to be determined medically qualified by an FAA-designated Airman Medical Examiner. Your medical certificate will be valid for 3 years if you’re under 40-years-old, and 2 years if you’re older. The medical certificate isn’t mandatory to begin flight training, but you will need it to fly solo.
A ground school course lasts 3-5 weeks. You’ll study flying regulations, aerodynamics, radio communications, navigation, airport operations, physiology, weather and aircraft systems. The information you gain in this course will be pertinent for the duration of your flying experience.
You’ll fly for 30-40 hours with an instructor over the course of your education. Each lesson will take two hours, but you will only spend one hour in the air. The other hour will be spent on pre-flight and post-flight briefings.
During the last stage of training, your instructor will allow you to fly solo. After successful solo flights, you’re eligible to take your license test.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will give you information on the location of your written test, which is usually administered via computer. It will cover information learned during ground training and flight training. The test is 2.5 hours long, and you must answer 60 multiple-choice questions. To pass, you need a 70%.
The last phase of licensing is called a “check ride.” Prior to this flight test, you will need specific experience in solo flights, cross-country flights, takeoffs, landings and nautical flights. Your instructor will make sure you have adequate training before applying. To qualify for a check ride, you will need a written recommendation from your flight instructor.
To start the test, an FAA examiner will give you an oral exam. After the verbal questions, you will both board an aircraft and the examiner will evaluate your skills. The entire process can take 2-6 hours, depending on your skills and the examiner’s methods.
Pilot’s Certificate and License
Assuming you pass all tests and evaluations, you will be awarded a temporary pilot certificate. The FAA will send your permanent pilot’s license in the mail, but it could take a couple months to arrive.
Earning your private pilot’s license takes time, effort, and some expendable cash, but it can definitely be worth your while.