1. How much does it cost to learn to fly?
The cost of flying varies by program and by your own abilities. The average cost is $6,500.00 for a two seat trainer to $7,500.00 for a four seat trainer. This is a pay as you go program. Stop in to review and discuss the costs in detail with one of our flight instructors.
2. How long does it take to learn to fly?
You must have at least 40 flight hours to qualify for a Private Pilot certificate. The time it takes to meet these requirements will vary according to many factors; your schedule, your abilities, weather, etc. The national average is about 65 to 75 hours to obtain a Private Certificate.
3. How much does the special Introductory Flight Lesson cost?
Your Introductory Flight Certificate entitles you to a flight lesson for only $59. Fill out the certificate and schedule a flight with one of our flight instructors.
4. How old do you have to be to learn to fly?
You can be any age to learn to fly. However, you must be at least 16 to solo (fly by yourself) and 17 to get a Private Pilot Certificate.
5. How long does learning to fly take?
Learning to fly is not difficult, but it does requires study and practice. Federal Aviation Regulation Part 61 itemizes the things you must learn and requires a minimum of 40 hours of training (20 with an instructor and 20 solo) to earn a private pilot certificate. Few people complete their training in the minimum time, however; most people take 60-80 hours.
How long it will take you depends on how often you fly. If you do anything every day, you’ll learn it quicker than doing it once or twice a week because you won’t have to “relearn” what you “forgot” between lessons. If you fly every day, you could possibly earn your certificate in 50-60 hours flown in a month or so. If you can only fly part time, it may take you a year or more, and more than 80 hours to earn your private ticket.
6. How long does a lesson last?
While most lessons are based on a 1-hour flight, they may take 2 hours from start to finish because there’s more to it than flying. There are pre- and post-flight discussions, where you and your certificated flight instructor (CFI) talk about what you’re going to do, how you did, what you did well, what needs work, and what you’ll do on your next lesson.
7. Will I get airsick?
Maybe. If you do, it will most likely come early in training, when you’re getting used to the new sensations of flying. The important thing is to not worry about it. In most cases, if you are affected, it will quickly pass as you get comfortable. Let your instructor know how you feel, look out the window, and open an air vent. If the feeling persists, discuss the use of anti-motion sickness drugs with an aviation medical examiner. They can help you over the rough spots, but you should only take them when flying with your instructor.
8. How safe is it?
General aviation is as safe as any other mode of travel, if not safer. How to fly safely, and to deal with the rare emergencies that are beyond the pilot’s influence, will be covered in your training.
9. Can I carry passengers?
Student pilots cannot carry passengers when flying solo. Friends or family may ride along on dual lessons (when your instructor is in the plane) however, and it’s a good idea to discuss this with your CFI in advance. Private pilots may carry as many passengers as the airplane will legally hold.
10. Where can I fly?
Because CFIs must endorse (approve) their flights, students can basically fly anywhere their instructors say they can. Recreational pilots are limited to 50 miles from the airport at which they received training and they cannot fly to or from airports that require talking to an air traffic controller. There are more than 12,000 airports in the United States, and only around 800 have control towers. Private pilots can basically fly anywhere they want, so long as they follow the applicable regulations, such as calling the control tower to request a landing clearance.
11. What about a medical exam?
Your student pilot certificate is also your medical certificate. This dual-purpose piece of paper is good for 24 months, and you get it from an aviation medical examiner (AME), an FAA-approved doctor. There are approximately 6,000 AMEs in the United States, and your instructor or flight school can connect you with one. You will need your student/medical certificate before you can fly an airplane solo, but it’s often a good idea to get it before you start training, especially if you think you may have a medical condition that may delay its issuance.
The exam is not rigorous. It begins by filling out an FAA application/medical history form. Don’t omit information when completing this form. Just like your mother, the FAA doesn’t look kindly on people who lie, deceive, or don’t tell the whole truth — especially when it comes to a conviction for driving under the influence. Medically, your vision must be at least 20/50 without glasses or contacts, or at least 20/30 with them, and you must be able to see red and green. You shouldn’t have a nose or throat condition that would be aggravated by flying, you must have proper balance, and you must be able to hear a whispered voice from 3 feet. You can’t have any mental/neurological problems, such as psychosis, alcoholism, epilepsy, any unexplained loss of consciousness, any serious medical condition such as heart attack or chronic heart disease, diabetes mellitus, or any other debilitating illness.
If you do have a problem, it’s not the end of your flying career. Depending on the problem, your medical certificate will be deferred until further testing is done. Your AME will be able to help you in such cases, and if you and your AME can prove to the FAA that your condition will not make you unsafe to pilot an airplane, there’s a good chance you’ll get your medical. If you have a condition that automatically disqualifies you, such as chronic alcoholism, history of heart disease, or loss of consciousness, you can still petition the FAA for special issuance of your medical.
12. When will I actually begin flying?
You’ll be flying on your first lesson, with your CFI’s help, of course. With each lesson, your CFI will be helping less, until you won’t need any help at all. When you reach this point, you will make your first solo flight, an important milestone in every pilot’s training. After you solo, you and your CFI will work on such things as flying cross-country. And when you’re ready, you’ll make several solo cross-country flights. When you have demonstrated your ability to consistently demonstrate all of the FAA-required skills, your instructor will recommend you for the FAA checkride.
13. What’s the check ride like?
The FAA check ride is broken down into two parts, an oral quiz, where the examiner will ask about things you learned in ground school, and the flight test, where you will demonstrate your ability to perform the skills you have learned in an aircraft. Don’t be intimidated. The examiner isn’t out to fail you. He or she just wants to ensure, just as your instructor did, that you are a safe pilot.
14. What kinds of airplanes can I fly?
There is no regulation saying you have to learn in a particular airplane, but most likely you will learn to fly in a two- or four-seat airplane with one engine and fixed landing gear. It may have a high wing or a low wing, but where the wing is really doesn’t matter so long as there is a wing on each side, and they are both either high or low. How fast the airplane goes really isn’t important either. You’re learning to fly, not going someplace. How far you can fly is important during cross-country training, and the airplane’s range is determined by how much gas it carries divided by the amount of gas the engine burns times the airplane’s speed. Most training airplanes carry 2 to 4 hours of gas and fly at around 100 mph.
You can also learn to fly in higher performance airplanes that have retractable landing gear and seat four-to-six people. They carry 4-to-6 hours of gas and fly at 140 mph to 200 mph. The cost to rent these airplanes per hour is at least equal to their speed, so your training dollar may be better spent on a simpler trainer. You can save the go-fast airplanes as a personal present to yourself after you earn your pilot certificate. Many trainers have just a few communication and navigation radios and all the essential instruments. High performance airplanes generally have all the latest radios including GPS satellite navigation, advanced instruments, and autopilots. Trainers generally do not have autopilots because you’re the one learning to fly — the autopilot already knows how.
15. What’s ground school?
Flight training is divided into two parts, ground school and flight training. Ground school teaches you the principles, procedures, and regulations you will put into practice in an airplane — how a wing generates lift, how to navigate from one airport to another, and in kind of weather you can fly. Before you can earn a pilot certificate, you must pass a computerized FAA knowledge test (with a score of at least 70 percent) on this information. You have several ground school options. You can attend a scheduled classroom course that may be held at a flight school, independent ground school, high school, or community college. There are also intense, weekend-long ground schools. Or you can take a home-study course, which is composed of videotapes and may include computerized test preparation software. Regardless of the option you chose, you’ll need an instructor’s endorsement to take the knowledge test.
16. How do I get from one airport to another?
Learning how to navigate from one airport to another will be part of your training, and you’ll put into practice on flights with and without your instructor. You’ll first learn pilotage, where you look out the window and compare the landmarks you see on the ground to an aviation sectional chart, and dead reckoning, which is used in conjunction with pilotage. Short for deduced reckoning, dead reckoning is flying a compass heading that has been corrected for such things as the wind for a certain time at a certain speed.
There are several forms of radio navigation, and you’ll at least learn how to navigate with VORs, very high frequency omnibearing radio ranges. Located across the nation, VORs transmit radio beams or “radials” for each point on the compass that are selected and indicated on a cockpit dial. Certain radials connect one VOR to another and create “highways” in the sky.
If your trainer is equipped with the required receivers, you’ll learn how to navigate with an automatic direction finder (ADF), which has a needle that always points to the selected station, Loran-C, which uses a nationwide web of radio beams that precisely indicate where you are and an internal computer that will lead you to where you want to go. Then there is the global position system, which is similar to Loran, except it uses satellites rather than ground-based radio stations.
17. Once I get it, what can I do with my certificate?
This is a question you should, perhaps, answer before you start learning to fly because it may have some bearing on the training you need. Flying offers a wealth of opportunities from which to choose. First, there is the obvious. You can make local sightseeing flights with friends and family on sunny afternoons, visiting near-by airports and making new friends. And you can also travel to more distant airports for visits or business. You can also learn to fly aerobatics for fun or competition, build and fly your own plane, or restore and fly antique/classic aircraft.
If you’re an outdoors person, you can reach out-of-the-way locations by learning to fly tailwheel airplanes, which are often better suited to rough landing strips, floatplanes, and airplanes on skis. You can also fly for the good of society. There is the Civil Air Patrol and U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, which conduct search and rescue operations when called upon to do so, and a growing number of humanitarian flight organizations that provide transportation to people in need of non-critical medical treatment (the Air Care Alliance, 800/296-1217, is the umbrella organization for these different groups). These activities are just a few of flying’s possibilities. There are more, and you can learn about them by visiting your local flight school.