How to get a
Private Pilot

Experience a Flight Lesson
Flight Training Syllabus
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Landing at Meigs. All images courtesy Microsoft Flight Simulator v. 5

On average, it costs about $3,500-$5,000 to complete the training necessary to receive a Private Pilot license. This includes books, written test fees, aircraft rental, instructor's fees and other miscellaneous costs. It varies depending on the kind of flight instruction and the individual progress of the student pilot.


The Private Pilot license requires a minimum of 40 hours of training. The average is closer to 65 hours. An average flight lesson lasts about 2 hours. If you are lucky enough to be able to set aside a full block of vacation time to earn your license at a school and location with good weather, you can actually complete the training in only 2 weeks. Most people have to stretch the program over several months to accommodate work schedules and bad weather. You can take up to two years to complete your training before you are required to start over again.

To receive a Private Pilot license you must pass an examination for a Class III Medical certificate. You can train with an instructor without the medical certification but you cannot fly solo without it. Basic requirements are: 20/50 uncorrected vision in each eye or 20/30 vision or better in each eye with corrective lenses. No color blindness in distinguishing red, green and white. No serious diseases of the eyes or ears. Ability to hear a whisper at 3 feet. No vertigo or equilibrium problems. No clinical diagnosis of mental disorders, psychoses, alcoholism or drug dependance. Not subject to epilepsy or convulsive disorders. No established medical history of heart attack, angina or coronary heart disease. note: check Federal Aviation Regulations Part 67 for further information.


To be able to apply for a Private Pilot license you must have at least 40 hours of flight time which includes a minimum of 20 hours of flight instruction and 10 hours of solo flight time. Training can be received at a Fixed Base Operator (FBO), which is a commercial business that provides aviation services and flight training, or a so-called Part 141 FAA approved flight school which uses an established flight training curriculum. The 20 hours of instruction must be with a Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) and must include at least 3 hours of cross country flight, 3 hours at night including 10 takeoffs and landings at night and one night cross country flight of at least 100 nautical miles total distance, 3 hours of instrument training, and 3 hours of preparation for the Private Pilot flight test. In addition to basic flight proficiency, solo flight must include at least 5 hours of solo cross country flights. note: check Federal Aviation Regulations Part 61.109 (Aeronautical experience) for further information.


Before the end of flight training, the student pilot must pass a written examination which covers a full range of topics ranging from the physics of flight, the mechanical operation of the airplane and its instruments, navigation, meteorology and Federal Aviation Regulations. The bulk of this subject matter is covered in text book reading and ground school training, which can be completed before or during flight training. When flight training is completed, the applicant for the Private Pilot license must successfully pass a flight test conducted by a designated FAA Flight Examiner. During the flight test, a standard series of flight manuevers, including stalls, turning maneuvers, take offs and landings are performed.


Want to know more about how you actually learn to fly an airplane during flight lessons? Click here to experience a sample flight lesson. Also, click here to view a detailed flight training syllabus.

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