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How To Get A Private Pilot's License

May 29, 2008
You can get a private pilot's license in the U.S. as long as you're over 16 and healthy - a basic license allows you to fly single-engine aircraft and carry passengers. Once you have a basic license from a flight school, you can upgrade at any time to a commercial or professional license. Here's how to get a private pilot's license step-by-step:

1. If you're 16 or over, and speak and read English fluently, you're all set to start the process. Pilot training requires fluency in English because this is the language used by the world's control towers and airports.

2. Do some research about flying lessons. Contact local aviation airports to find out where the flight schools are located in your area.

3. The next step is to enroll in a licensed flight training program. Relatively inexpensive, flight school can cost $3,000 to $4,000 for both ground school and pilot training.

4. Before you start flight training you're required to get a medical certificate from a doctor of aviation medicine to ensure you're healthy enough to fly and handle the requirements of pilot training. If you don't know where to go, ask the flight school for information on where you can find a good doctor.

5. Successfully complete a ground school course. These typically last 3-5 weeks.

6. Write the FAA test after you've completed all course work. This test has 100 multiple choice questions, and you can take it at Federal Aviation Administration centers or with any test providers that are licensed to administer the test.

7. Complete 30-40 hours of flight training with an instructor. Practical experience is crucial to getting your license, for obvious reasons. You don't have to own a plane for this - the school provides students with access to a plane.

8. Finish a solo flight with an instructor - think of this as your "in-air" preparation for the final test.

9. Write the final exam - this is called a check ride. An FAA-certified examiner administers this test, asking you questions and coming with you for a flight to test and assess your flying skills.

10. If you successfully pass all final tests, you're granted a private pilot's license with a visual flight rating. This means you can fly a single engine aircraft at day or night in conditions that provide good visibility.

Flying lessons aren't easy - it takes a lot of skill to fly a plane, but that doesn't mean most people can't do it. In fact, you'd be surprised how many people, with the right pilot training, have the ability to become excellent pilots. Flight training is only as good as the instructors. Before you sign up for flying lessons, make sure you find a good school with a reputation for success. Quality aviation schools will help you gain the skills you need to learn to fly.

A lot of people dream of taking flying lessons. If you're one of those people who want to learn to fly, research the pilot schools in your area. Every aviation school is different, so try to find one that you feel comfortable with. These days most pilot schools have written manuals, videos, and computer aids to help with the process of learning aerodynamics and how to operate a plane.

Before you pay for lessons, read through some theory manuals yourself and get a grip on some of the material to see if you really like it.
About the Author
To learn more about flight training, check out the Flight Training Web Site.
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