How do I get a Private Pilot License?

Article Details
  • Written By: Ron Marr
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 01 January 2019
  • Copyright Protected:
    Conjecture Corporation
  • Print this Article

If it is your dream to take to the wild blue yonder, your first step is to earn a private pilot license. This is the most basic of aircraft licenses, and will permit you to operate a single-engine airplane and carry non-paying passengers. The basic restrictions of a private pilot license are that you can only take to the skies under the auspices of visual flight rules (VFR). In other words, you will be allowed to fly either during the day or at night, but visibility must be a minimum of three miles (4.8 kilometers).

Almost anyone in good health can achieve a private pilot license; however, the process is neither easy nor inexpensive. Rules and criteria vary from country to country, specifically in the number of hours a student must spend both flying with an instructor and studying the required manuals and regulations. You must pass a written exam demonstrating knowledge of rules, practices, and procedures. You will also be required to complete a solo flight, during which the aspiring pilot proves his abilities in the air.


The first step in gaining your private pilot license, at least in the United States, consists of finding a qualified flight school or instructor accredited by the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA). Virtually every city or small town with an airport will either offer flight lessons or point you in the direction of a reputable school. This is a situation where you will want to shop around and compare prices, as the cost of a private pilot license averages between $3,000 and $5,000 US Dollars (USD). Thankfully, this sum is not generally demanded up front, and students are often allowed to purchase lessons and materials either individually or in blocks.

There are several other basic requirements, mandatory before you begin your training. You must pass a medical examination, certified and signed by a physician, to prove you meet the health criteria to safely operate an airplane. You can begin your training at age 16, and will be allowed to fly solo under a student pilot certificate. To receive a private pilot license, however, you must be 17 years of age. Last but not least, in the United States, you must be competent in reading, speaking, and understanding the English language.

Assuming that you fulfill these prerequisites, it is now time to go to school. Receiving a private pilot license entails spending a minimum of 40 hours in the air with an instructor. Keep in mind that forty hours is the least time permitted, and most students require 60 hours or more before the instructor deems them ready for unsupervised flight. At this time you will take your solo flight. If passed successfully, you will take a final “check ride” with an FAA examiner who will ask questions in flight and assess your abilities.

As a rule of thumb, you will spend approximately as many hours in ground school as you do in the air. The ground test actually trips up more prospective pilots than the flight test, and is not to be taken lightly. Designed by the FAA, it will cover areas such as basic operation and knowledge, plotting navigational courses, radio procedures, and emergency tactics. Pass this rigorous test, and your solo requirements, and you will be fully approved to fly with the eagles.



Discuss this Article

Post your comments

Post Anonymously


forgot password?