June 18, 2024

Getting Your Private Pilots License – The First Time Out

After four decades of being a Certified Flight Instructor I have seen hundreds of student pilots fail to finish the requirements of the private pilots license and go home with their tail between their legs. This does not have to be the case. The following “check list” and sage advice will improve anyone’s chances of completing the F.A.A. private pilots licensing process.

First review what the F.A.A. requires of you and your instructor in getting you you’re license and how you can optimize your time and money. These are the two requirement that stop students from obtaining their license most often:

  • Have a current third class medical certificate. Many student pilots put this physical off and begin flying. Let’s face it; flying is more fun than going for a physical exam. However, all prospective candidates should get the physical exam out of the way before they begin flying as not everyone passes the exam.
  • Log at least 40 hours of flight. This requirement is usually what stops student pilots from completing their training and since it is the biggest obstacle to be over come, requires examination.

Most people could take a successful check ride with a flight examiner after 40 hours flight time. The problem lies in timeliness and continuity of training. Once you’ve found a flight school and instructor that you like, scheduling one flight lesson per week will likely spell doom to your bid at the private pilots license. Poor weather will likely cancel one half of your lessons, leading to the biggest problem facing part time flight students: remembering what you did on your last lesson. The longer the interval between lessons, the less productive the next lesson will be. This is the single largest reason people go over forty hours of training and run out of the money they had allotted for the license.

So how does one get multiple flight lessons per week and retain what they’ve learned and stay on schedule and within budget?

  • Have all the money you need before you start. If it costs $5,000.00 to get through all your requirements, have it the day before you begin.
  • Start at the right time of the year. This varies around the United States. If you live in a place where it snows, don’t start flight training until winter is over and the weather is better.
  • Length of days: Unless you can exit work for two or so hours at least twice per week, wait until daylight savings time is in effect and resolve to fly after work. Studies show three flight lessons of at least one hour per week is the optimum for learning and retention.
  • Over book your lessons: Since you should be flying at least three times per week book four or even five slots in the flight schools calendar. Weather will cancel out about ΒΌ of all your lessons anyway.
  • Lastly, flight instructors live for the serious student. Once you’ve found an instructor you like, (this may take more than one try, but it’s worth it) express your resolve to finish as quickly as prudent what you are beginning. Your instructor will work harder for you.

Getting the coveted private pilots license is expensive, requires study and practice. Using the checklist points above increase your chances of success greatly.

Pilots from “Jet Jocks” to “$100 hamburger chasers” are wise to belong to the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. Find them at: http://www.aopa.org/.