Private Pilot

What is a Private Pilot certificate?

The Private Pilot certificate is your first step into the world of aviation. As a private pilot, you may fly an aircraft for pleasure, day or night, and you may invite your friends and family to join you.

Many people choose to become a private pilot to enjoy easy weekend getaways, to unwind with a relaxing flight after work, to go sightseeing, or just to experience the sheer pleasure of flight. For a pilot, the sky is the limit.

Obtaining your Private Pilot certificate is straightforward, and a lot of fun. Flying is an acquired skill, similar to driving a car or sailing a boat. Like all such endeavors, practice makes perfect. And when you take off for the first time as a pilot in command with your newly earned Private Pilot certificate, you'll experience a sense of accomplishment that will be hard to beat.


How do I obtain the privileges of a Private Pilot Certificate

    • U.S. citizen seeking flight training
      Need to show Proof of citizenship prior to recieving flight training. (READ MORE AOPA)

    • Alien (non-U.S. citizen or national) seeking flight training
      Need TSA approval prior to recieving flight training. (READ MORE AOPA )

    • Be at least 16 years old to begin flying lessons. [§61.83(a)]

    • Be at least 17 years old to obtain a Private Pilot License. [§61.103(a)]
    • Be able to read, speak, and understand the English language. [§61.103(c)]
    • Obtain at least a Third Class Medical Certificate. [§61.23(3)(i)]


Flight training consists of the following:

  • 40 hours flight time minimum
  • 20 hours flight training from the Certified Flight Instructor
  • 3 hours of cross-country flight (more than 50 nm away)
  • 3 hours of night flight including
  • 1 night cross country flight of more than 100 nm
  • 10 night takeoffs and landings to a full stop
  • 3 hours of instrument flight training
  • 3 hours in preparation for the private pilot practical test
  • 10 hours of solo flight time including
  • 5 hours of solo cross-country flight
  • 1 solo cross-country flight of more than 150 nm to at least
  • three airports of which one is at least 50 nm distant.
  • 3 takeoffs and landings at a tower controlled airport 

This flight time generally takes about six to seven months to complete depending how much time the student can devote to flight lessons as well as the weather conditions.


The costs vary depending on the student's ability, the type of aircraft flown, and how often the student flies. Generally, the Private Pilot license will cost between $6,000 and $9,000. This includes the aircraft rental, instructor flight and ground training fees, books, materials, knowledge test fee, flight physical, and examiner's fee. Remember, this is a hobby that can last a lifetime.

Modules of Learning

Module 1: Pre-Solo Learn about airplanes and flight. Learn to perform basic maneuvers, take-offs and landings. The goal of this module is to prepare you for solo flight. You will fly solo when YOU are comfortable and WE are comfortable--safety is paramount. The time is takes to solo varies from student to student.

Module 2: Cross-Country Learn about navigation, weather, and flight planning. Cross-country flight training prepares you to fly to other airports. You will make one or two cross-country trips with your instructor and two solo trips. You will also begin night training which includes a night cross-country trip with your instructor.

Module 3: Flight Test Preparation The final module prepares you for the written knowledge test and the oral and practical flight test with an FAA examiner. Before we sign you off as being competent to pass the exams, we make certain that you are adequately prepared and confident to pass.


The Reward: Your Private Pilot License!


Training Talk

Here are a few of the terms your're likely to encounter during your traning:

Flight that commonly involves barrel rolls, spins, and other high-performance maneuvers.
A movable surface on the back of the wings that changes the roll of the airplane.
A curved body, such as a wing, that causes lift when air moves over it.
Air Transport Pilot
A pilot who has completed the Federal Aviation Administration's requirements for the Air Transport Pilot certificate, including a minimum of 1,500 hours of flight time, and passing a knowledge exam, and flight test.
The state of being capable of flight, usually referring to an airplane's mechanical condition.
The radios, and navigation instruments.
Check Ride
The "driver's test" a pilot takes in the airplane to earn a certificate or rating. Also known as the Practical Test.
Commercial Pilot
A pilot who has completed the Federal Aviation Administration's requirements for the commercial certificate, including a minimum of 250 hours of flight time, and passing a knowledge exam, and flight test.
Meeting the legal requirements to exercise the pilot certificate. Usually, it requires a certain number of hours of flight time over a given period of time. 
Dead Reckoning
A method of navigation that requires a pilot to fly a certain direction for a certain time at a certain speed to reach a destination a know distance away.
Moveable sections of the tail that pitches the nose up or down.
Federal Aviation Administration
The division of the U.S. Department of Transportation that regulates aviation, including pilot certification, and aircraft operations.
The movable section of the wing that increases lift and drag, and allows for slower, steeper descents during landing.
Flight Computer
A manual slide rule, or electronic calculator used to determine wind correction, fuel consumption, airspeed, and other performance calculations during flight planning.
Flight Review
A review of flying skills and aviation knowledge conducted by a flight instructor every two years.
Global Positioning System (GPS)
An array of stationary satellites that allows users to locate their exact position on the earth.
Horizontal Stabilizer
The horizontal sections of the tail that include the elevators
Instrument flight
A flight solely by reference to the cockpit instruments during low visibility or bad weather.
Instrument weather conditions
Weather that includes reduced visibility and cloud ceilings that require a pilot to fly by reference to his or her cockpit instruments.
Knowledge exam
The written test on theoretical material required by pilots, such as regulations, aerodynamics, and weather.
A register book that lists a pilot's flight time, instructor endorsements, and completed training topics.
Main Gear
The landing gear underneath the fuselage of the aircraft; usually under the cockpit.
Medical Certificate
A legal document issued by an aviation doctor stating a pilot is physically fit to fly. A valid medical certificate is required to be in the possession of the pilot during all flights, and it serves as a student pilot certificate while the holder is training.
Multiengine Aircraft
An aircraft with two or more engines
Non-towered Airport
An airport without air traffic control; pilot fly into and out of these airports using standard operating procedures to avoid one another.
Nose Gear
The landing gear nearest the nose to the aircraft in a tricycle-gear airplane.
Part 61
A section of aviation regulations describing pilot training at flight schools, including subject matter and flight-time minimums. Most flight schools train their students according to Part 61.
Part 141
A section of aviation regulations describing training at flight academies, such as universities. Because of the intensive, structured nature of these training programs, their students are permitted lower minimum flight-time requirements than those at Part 61 schools; the material covered, though, is identical, since all students pilots must meet the performance criteria published in the Practical Test Standards.
Navigating by reference to a map and visible landmarks.
The up and down movement of the aircraft's nose about the center of gravity.
Practical Exam
The "driver's test" a new pilot takes in the airplane to earn a pilot certificate. Also known as a "check ride."
Practical Test Standards
The guidelines published by the Federal Aviation Administration outlining the minimum pilot performance on practical exams.
Recurrent Training
Annual or semi-annual training used to refresh a pilot's knowledge and skills in a variety of flight situations, including in-flight emergencies.
The rotation of the airplane around its nose-to-tail axis.
Section of the tail that moves the nose to the left or right.
Rudder Pedals
Foot pedals in the cockpit that control the rudder, brakes, and steering of the aircraft.
The ability of an aircraft to return to level flight on its own after the controls are moved.
Tailwheel Airplane
An airplane with a small wheel underneath the tail of the aircraft, and two larger wheels under the wings. Also called "conventional gear" aircraft.
Type Rating
A rating to a pilot's certificate that states he or she is able to fly a particular type of sophisticated or large aircraft, such as a Cessna Citation X Business Jet.
Vertical Stabilizers
The upright portion of the aircraft's "tail".
Visual Flight
A flight made by referencing the horizon and other outside landmarks.
The level, "wagging" back-and-forth movement of the aircraft's nose about its center of gravity.