How to Get a Pilot’s License

Get a Private Pilot License

The old saying is that ‘If God didn’t mean for man to fly, he wouldn’t have invented airplanes’. People have had a fascination with flying for centuries. From the Greek mythology of Icarus who attempted to fly using wax coated wings to DaVinci and his classical plans for flying machines. After the Wright Brothers made history at Kitty Hawk, man’s obsession with flying grew. With today’s advances in aviation technology, more and more people are fulfilling that dream of flying by getting their pilot’s license. A pilot’s license opens up many opportunities for the flying connoisseur. You can learn to fly small engine planes, private jets, commercial airliners, and a number of other craft. When considering how to get a pilot’s license, you need to know that there is a lot to learn and a large number of hours you need to devote to it. But once you get your license, the sky is literally the limit.

Different Types Of Pilots Licenses

There are a several different types of pilot licenses or certificates. The most common and the one that most people start with is the private license. You need this license before you can do any kind of flying in any craft. The private license allows you to fly simple aircraft while adhering to the Visual Flight Rules (VFR). VFR means that as a pilot, you can see at least three miles in front of you. A private license also allows you to carry a safe number of passengers in your plane but you may not charge them as if it were a business.

The other common types of pilot licenses are commercial certificates, flight instructor certificates, and airline transport certificates. Each certificate has its own requirements and rules that every pilot must follow. Besides the basic certificates, pilots can also receive different ratings that qualify them for different aircraft, flight conditions, or techniques.

Finding the Right School or Instructor

Finding the right place to get your license and learn how to pilot an aircraft is an important decision. There are flight clubs, private instructors, and formal flight schools that you can attend and all are certified to teach. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulates all flight courses (they don’t want anyone up there who doesn’t know what they are doing) and they make sure that each training method follows the proper rules and requirements. Flight schools are by far the most common and the most expensive. Flight schools have schedules and classes that you will have to make time for. It is just like a regular school and if you are not there for class, you don’t get the credit. However, there are cheaper and more convenient alternatives such as instructors and clubs. These alternatives might be a better option for someone with a busy schedule or a limited budget. The best way to find what you need is to ask around the local airports for information about schools, flight clubs and private instructors that are available in your area. The people in the business are likely to know.

A lot of would-be pilots prefer working with a private instructor. But just because they have the experience to teach does not mean they are the right instructor for you. If you go with an instructor, make sure that you choose an instructor that you are comfortable working with. Try asking them to take you up on a demo flight to see how they handle an aircraft. They can explain to you how things work and give you a general idea of what to expect in order to receive your license.

Get Medically Cleared

First of all, to qualify for a private pilot’s license, you must at least be 17 years of age and in te united States, you need to be fluent in speaking, rteading, and understanding English. Furthermore, you have to undergo a pretty rigorous physical exam in order to qualify for training. You must obtain a medical certificate from a qualified doctor of aviation medicine. Your instructor or your flight school can recommend one to you or you can ask your family doctor. The cost for the exam is usually around $50. Once you contact an Aviation Medical Examiner (or AME), they will check you over to make sure that you meet the FAA’s medical requirements for pilots.
They will do a thorough exam to determine if you are healthy enough to pilot an aircraft. If you want to know all the medical requirments, you can check with the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA)’s list of the FAA’s medical requirements.

Some medical conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, and motion sickness may require special permission from the AME before you can begin training. It all depends on the severity oif the condition. Other conditions may be more serious such as epilepsy or heart diseas and these can get you quickly disqualified.  So before you go through the trouble of an exam, be honest with yourself on just how healthy you think you are.

Age plays a factor with your medical examination. If you’re under 40, the examination is valid for three years before you have to undergo it again. But if you are older than 40, the exam is only good for two years.

The Basics of Flight School

If you decide to go with a formal flight school, you had better have the cash to spend on it. A licensed flight school can cost anywhere from $3,000 to $4,000 for both ground school and flight training. The ground training by itself is a three-to-five week course. Flight training involves 40 hours in the pilot’s chair. Out of that 40 hours, 20 of those will be with an instructor and 10 hours will entail flying solo. However, these are just the minimum requirments. In reality, most pilots need around 60 hours of flight training before they’re ready to be certified.

When you are ready, your instructor, whether private or with a formal school, will give you an endorsement certificate.After that, an FAA examiner will give you a practical test where you will demonstrate your proficiency and knowledge during an oral exam. You will also need to take a knowledge test to show that you are ready to get your license.

Study For The FAA Test

You will have to take a computerized FAA test when you and your instructor feel that you are ready. You do not need to take any classes from a formal flight school to take this test. You can use the FAA Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge to study by because it covers everything that will be on the test. There are also many websites that provide practice for the test. You can take the test at FAA testing centers or other licensed providers. The test consists of 100 multiple-choice questions.

Complete Your Solo Flight and FAA Exam

Before you take your final FAA exam, you need to complete a minimum of 40 hours of flight time. You will be with an instructor most of the time but you will also have to do some solo flights. Once you have completed your required number of hours and you feel you are ready, you can take the final FAA check ride exam. This is when an FAA-certified examiner go up with you for a flight and ask you questions to determine your knowledge and abilities. If you pass this final test, you will get your private pilot’s license with a VFR. You will be qualified to pilot small, single-engine craft either during the day or at night as long as weather conditions are good. Remember, you must be able to see up to three miles. Even after you receive your pilot’s license, you will also have to keep up with current FAA rules and regulations.

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