Frequently Asked Questions
Learning to fly is not difficult, but it does require study, practice and commitment. The Federal Aviation Administration has a series of regulations (known as FARs) that spell out the requirements for different ratings and aircraft.
You will follow a series of steps when you learn to fly. You must master aeronautical knowledge. Then you will achieve flight proficiency and finally, you acquire experience by amassing training hours in the aircraft.
But before that, you must meet the basic FAA criteria:
Be at least 16 years old (14 years old for operating a glider or balloon).
Be able to read, speak, write, and understand the English language.
Hold at least a third class medical certificate (not required for glider or balloon certificates) from an aviation medical examiner (AME), who is an FAA-approved doctor. If you have physical limitations that make it difficult for you to meet the medical requirements, the FAA may place operating limitations on your pilot certificate to ensure the safe operation of the aircraft.
How long does learning to fly take?
To earn a private pilot certificate requires a minimum of 40 hours of flight training: 20 with an instructor and 20 solo. Few people complete their training in the minimum amount of time; most take 60 to 80 hours.
How long does a lesson last?
Although most lessons are based on a one-hour flight, they may take two hours from start to finish because there are pre- and post-flight discussions in which you and your certificated flight instructor (CFI) talk about what you're going to do during your flight, how you performed, what you did well, what needs work, and what you'll do on your next lesson.
Can I carry passengers?
Student pilots cannot carry passengers when flying solo. Friends or family may ride along on dual lessons (when the instructor is in the airplane), if your instructor approves. Recreational and sport pilots can carry only one passenger at a time; private pilots may carry as many passengers as the airplane will legally seat, provided it stays within the airplane’s performance and weight-and-balance limitations.
How do I pick a flight school?
Search the internet for aviation schools in your area. Then call and visit them. Look around and have an instructor explain the school's training program. Ask a lot of questions. Ask students how they feel about their training experiences. Remember, you are the customer.
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 aircraft, such as how to navigate from one airport to another. Before you can earn a pilot certificate, you must pass the FAA knowledge test on this information. We provided both individual ground school lessons as well as an FAA-approved home-study course.
When will I actually begin flying?
You'll be flying on your first lesson, with your certified flight instructor's help, of course. With each successive lesson, your CFI will be helping less and 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, in which you will fly as the sole occupant of the airplane. After you solo, you and your CFI will work on such things as flying cross-country trips to other airports.
Once I earn it, what can I do with my pilot certificate?
The options are endless! Take local sightseeing flights with friends and family, travel farther for business or recreation. Test your mettle (and your stomach) learning to fly aerobatics for fun or competition. Build and fly your own aircraft or restore and fly antique/classic aircraft. Join a flying club to connect with other aviation enthusiasts. You can also support a growing number of flight organizations that support humanitarian causes, such disaster relief or transportation for non-critical medical treatment.
How many days a week will your schedule allow me to fly?
7 days a week! We are closed for major holidays, however.
How can I continue my training during bad weather?
We use our FAA approved flight simulator. It provides a wrap-around display that allows you to practice new maneuvers in a safe environment. We also offer ground training and encourage chair flying.
How do you monitor my progress?
In addition to monitoring your records you will undergo stage checks during your flight training. This includes ground and flight evaluations to ensure quality training with the Chief Instructor and/or Check Airman.
Pay as you learn.
Any school that wants large upfront payments is likely hoping that you take 20-30 hours and then quit. It’s the “gym membership” version of a flight school. Those lump sum payments are not reimbursable. We want you to succeed and finish, and thus we only charge as you go.