Congratulations on deciding to pursue a pilot’s license! It is a unique and rewarding experience, which you will soon be able to share with your family and friends. The purpose of this document is to familiarize you with the experience and knowledge areas required to successfully complete your training and earn a Private Pilot’s license.
A person of any age group is welcome to take an introductory flight and experience the joys of aviation. However, to be eligible to train for a Private Pilot’s license, the student must acquire some time flying solo in an airplane. To be eligible to make a solo flight, a person needs to have acquired at least a 3rd class FAA Medical certificate and a Student Pilot Certificate (Which is awarded at the time of the flight physical). Because flight training involves soloing an airplane, or acting as Pilot-in-Command of an airplane, you need to have a medical exam in order to finish flight training. The medical or physical exam is conducted by an authorized physician, with the intent on ensuring the aviator meets the health requirements set forth in the Federal Aviation Regulations (CFR FAR part 67) to safely operate an aircraft. A list of medical examiners can be found on the following website and it is where you will go to set up your flight medical appointment.
The 3rd class FAA medical standards can be found here (FAR 67.301)
Flight training may be conducted prior to the initial solo flight without a medical or Student Pilot certificate; however, this is not recommended. It should be noted that acquiring a medical certificate as soon as possible will ensure the student is medically eligible to complete the required flight training before having spent unnecessary time and funds to be ineligible later on.
To be eligible for a Student Pilot certificate, a person must:
- be at least 16 years of age for the operation of an airplane in solo flight
Throughout your flight training, you will have acquired at least 40 hours of flight time in a single-engine airplane. During this time, you will have learned the essentials of flight, how to safely and positively control an airplane, perform takeoffs and landings, and learn a handful of exciting flight maneuvers. Also, you will learn the skills necessary to be able to fly an airplane in your local area as well as navigate to and from distant airports. This navigational skill is known as cross-country flying. No, it does not mean you will travel from here to New York City and back. Yes, it does mean you will fly to and from an airport over 150 miles away. This is sufficient, because it allows you, the pilot, to develop skill sets allowing you to complete trips of any scale, ranging from airports 10 miles apart to airports several thousands of miles away. Also, we will fly for a few hours at night, to learn the differences between daytime and nighttime flight.
There is no need to worry! Many private pilots, commercial pilots, and airline pilots have completed these phases. It is very safe, and VERY interesting. The purpose of completing solo, cross-country, and night flights is to build experience and apply your newly acquired knowledge to real-world scenarios. These methods are essential to bringing out the safe, confident, and proficient pilot that has been hiding inside you all these years. Now we shall take a look at the important list of experience requirements the FAA wants us to accomplish on our way to shaping you into an aviator. To put it simply, it is the breakdown of flight time you need before showing up to the Private Pilot practical exam, or check ride, where you will be awarded your Private Pilot’s license after completing a short discussion of Aerodynamics, Aircraft components, Airspace, etc. and a flight skills evaluation.
Experience Requirements (minimum flight hours for certification under FAA Part 61)
- 40 hours of flight time (this is called total time)
- 20 hours of flight with a Certified Flight Instructor, (this is called dual time) including:
3 hours cross-country time
3 hours night time, with 1 night cross-country of over 100 mi. total distance
10 Take-offs and Landings, with each landing coming to a full-stop
3 hours of flight by reference to the Instrument panel (this goes by fast)
3 hours of flight training within 60 days of the Private Pilot practical test
- 10 hours of solo flight time, including:
5 hours solo cross-country time
1 solo cross-country flight of over 150 miles total distance, (this means the
ENTIRE distance) including landings at 3 different points, with one
segment being at least 50 miles between takeoff and landing locations
3 Takeoffs and 3 Landings to a full stop, with each landing involving a
flight in the traffic pattern, at an airport with an operating control tower
What a mouthful! It may seem quite daunting at first, but there is some good news. The entire process really does fly by, literally. At Del Sol Aviation we have a training syllabus designed to efficiently take you from a sky-watcher to a pilot. The first 10-15 hours of training is designed to give you the tools that will be applicable throughout your flying career. We will introduce the aircraft as an extension of you, carrying you to and from wherever you command it to be. Once you are comfortable with operating the airplane in maneuvers and takeoffs and landings, you will be able to solo the aircraft. This is a moment you will never forget, and it will also be a great learning experience because, for the first time you must make decisions and perform takeoff and landing procedures for yourself. You will then go up with another instructor to verify our progress and we will begin our cross-country training.
From then on, we will focus on cross-country flight. This will be where your basic flying skills are applied to taking actual trips in an airplane. Even more pilot-in-command skills are earned in this phase, because now not only are you responsible for taking off, flying, and landing… but are also the navigator-and a competent one at that.
The number of training lessons and time acquired varies from individual to individual. Some pilots wait until they have built over 70 hours of flight time to take their check ride, while others are ready to earn their licenses right at the legal experience limit of 40 hours. Because the costs and flight time built from each pilot vary, the average amount of time built prior to the check ride tends to be around 55 hours. (See below for a brief summary of the possible costs).
You will need to study the Jeppesen Private Pilot Training Materials or an equivalent, be able to pass the pilot written exams by 70% or better and receive sign-off by your instructor on each practical application and performance.
Finally, we will schedule your check ride with a Designated Pilot Examiner. Once you have completed this, you will be awarded a Private Pilot certificate!
For the purposes of taking the FAA Practical Test, a Private Pilot applicant must:
- be 17 years of age
- be able to read and write fluently in the English language
- receive a knowledge test endorsement from an Authorized Instructor
- pass the knowledge test with a 70% score or better
- receive 3 hours of flight training, with additional ground training within 60 days prior to the Practical Test
At this point it is likely to seem like there may be a lot of information to be handled at once. To put the flight training process into perspective I like to associate it with learning to drive a car. The first time you sat in the driver’s seat and hit the gas pedal and brakes probably seemed a bit awkward at first. Maybe the amount of traffic, as well as the speed limits, road signs, weather, and so on created a different environment to learn from. Aviation is exactly the same in that there is somewhat of a sharp learning curve in a pilot’s first few lessons. There is no reason to panic though, because this feeling passes within a short time. A ton of brand-new information is presented in the first lesson, but within a few flights this feeling of being overwhelmed passes. When it does, you will feel more comfortable and ready to absorb knowledge like a sponge absorbs water. This initial difficulty causes the human brain to prepare itself to deal with and react to new information and experiences-which will not be forgotten anytime soon. Because of this, pilots tend to develop flying skills in much the same way as a person learns to drive a car, with experience leading to perfection. Good luck, and have fun!
Estimated Costs (note: These tables reflect an average flying pace of 2 to 3 hours per
week, with an average student in average completion times-the actual costs may be considerably lower or higher, depending on additional instruction or solo times.)
Times are reflected at a rate of $125 an hour (h) for a Piper Cherokee and $150 an hour for a Piper Arrow complex aircraft for commercial and Certified Flight Instructor Training. An additional $55 is charged for each hour of flight instructor time. In summary, for private pilot training the average minimal cost is:
Aircraft rental: $125 an hour Instructor: $55 an hour (applies to in-flight and in-class ground school training)
Aircraft at 55 hours: $6875 + Instructor for 25 hours: $1000 + Books, Material and Equipment: $405
Total average student cost: $8280 (The equipment cost includes a $200 dollar headset. Depending on the preferences and budget of the student, this can cost as much as $900.)
Initial Pilot Shopping List (note: The minimum possible prices of the following items are reflected in the cost estimates. It does not reflect medical examiner fees (around $70) and check ride examiner fees. ($300) It is possible to spend an infinite amount of money on extras such as additional textbooks, fancy gizmos and other non-essentials.)
You will want to buy a private pilot training kit, which includes all the materials and tools to get you started towards your goal.
Other considerations that may make:
- Sunglasses and any Sunscreen (Pilots fly around confronting a full sun often in the summer. Protect yourself from the danger of sunburns like you would outdoors)
- Private Pilot Oral Exam Guide ($15)
- Private Pilot Practical Test Standards (Available to download and print from www.faa.gov)
Have any questions? Feel free to write an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.