So... You want to learn how to fly?
Here are some common questions :
Why should I be a pilot?
Becoming a pilot is rewarding in more ways than I can fit in a small paragraph. For me it has been a great travel tool; not only for pleasure, but also in business. I have found it to truly be a "time machine" living in the South East where mountains, windy roads, construction and drivers with less southern hospitality, make road trips long and dangerous. It is nice to soar above the traffic and be at your destination hours early and have time given back to you and your loved ones. For me personally, flying has been therapeutic. A way to leave your problems on the ground and post-pone them later. Some of the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets I have ever witnessed, I witnessed crossing the Appalachian mountains at 8,000 feet MSL
What is required to get a pilot's license?
Time. Money. Commitment.
...In addition to these, here is what you need from a legal standpoint :
Total Time: 40 hours minimum which consists of at least:
Dual: 20 hours minimum of flight training with an instructor on the Private Pilot areas of operation including:
- 3 hours of cross country flight training in a single engine airplane;
- 3 hours of night flight training in a single engine airplane, that includes at least:
a) 1 cross country flight of over 100 nm total distance; and
b) 10 T/O’s and 10 landings to a full stop with each involving a flight in the traffic pattern at an airport.
- 3 hours of flight training by reference to instruments in a single engine airplane; and
- 3 hours of flight training in a single engine airplane within the 60 days prior to the practical test.
Solo: 10 hours minimum of solo flying in a single engine airplane on the Private Pilot areas of operation including:
- 5 hours of solo cross country flying;
- 1 solo cross country flight of at least 150nm total distance with full stop landings at 3 points and one segment of at least 50nm between T/O and landings; and
- 3 T/O’s and landings to a full stop at an airport with an operating control tower.
To be eligible for a private pilot certificate, a person must:
(a) Be at least 17 years of age to be licensed.
(b) Be at least 16 years of age to solo.
(c) Be able to read, speak, write, and understand the English language. If the applicant is unable to meet one of these requirements due to medical reasons, then the Administrator may place such operating limitations on that applicant’s pilot certificate as are necessary for the safe operation of the aircraft.
(d) Receive a logbook endorsement from an authorized instructor who:
(1) Conducted the training or reviewed the person’s home study on the aeronautical knowledge areas listed in §61.105(b) of this part that apply to the aircraft rating sought; and
(2) Certified that the person is prepared for the required knowledge test.
(e) Pass the required knowledge test on the aeronautical knowledge areas listed in §61.105(b) of this part.
(f) Receive flight training and a logbook endorsement from an authorized instructor who:
(1) Conducted the training in the areas of operation listed in §61.107(b) of this part that apply to the aircraft rating sought; and
(2) Certified that the person is prepared for the required practical test.
(g) Meet the aeronautical experience requirements of this part that apply to the aircraft rating sought before applying for the practical test.
(h) Pass a practical test on the areas of operation listed in §61.107(b) of this part that apply to the aircraft rating sought.
(i) Comply with the appropriate sections of this part that apply to the aircraft category and class rating sought.
(j) Hold a U.S. student pilot certificate, sport pilot certificate, or recreational pilot certificate.
What does it cost?
There is no sugar-coating the cost of becoming a pilot. It can be costly, but a rewarding investment in the end. Considering the national shortage of pilots in the US right now, choosing to become an airline pilot will likely prove to be quite a career in the next decade.
Expect to invest $7,000 - $10,000 in your private pilot license. However, finding a local flight club in your area can save a lot of money if there is flight instruction offered by some of the members. Most Cessna 172 rental rates range from $120/hr to $140/hr. However, if you join a club you can find these rates as low as $80/hr.
How Do I get started?
I would highly recommend visiting your local airport or flight school and taking a couple introductory flights. Flying is certainly not for everybody and unfortunately there is a high percentage of students who start training but never finish to get their certificate. It takes a lot of time, dedication, hard work and study to finally hold that license in your hand. So before you commit, give myself, or another CFI a call; ask some questions, go for a flight or two and you will quicly see if this is something you want to pursue.