Private Pilot License: Necessary Steps To Obtain One

Private Pilot

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If you ever dreamed of flying through the sky at night, then the first thing you need is a pilot license. Unfortunately, not everyone is eligible to obtain a flight license in the United States. Luckily, we provide you with the answers and information you are qualified for a private pilot license. 

How to Get a Private Pilot License

How to Get a Private Pilot License

Achieving the necessary steps for a private pilot license is not an easy task. Not everyone is cut out to fly an airplane by themselves. But the payoff of flying is worth the training. In this article, we walk you through the necessary checklist needed for obtaining your license. However, it is essential that you first understand what a private pilot license is and how it differs from other types of pilot licenses.

What Are the Different Types of Pilot Licenses?


  • Private pilot license — Private licenses give more leeway than other types of permits. Pilots can both fly at night and around airports. Also, they are allowed to operate any single-engine airplane. Obtaining these licenses can be a time-consuming process. They involve 40 hours of logged training with 20 hours spent alongside an official instructor.
  • Sports pilot license — Sports licenses are generally the most natural type to acquire. The involve light aircraft (planes, parachutes, gliders, rotorcrafts) traveling at low altitudes for sporting purposes. Typically, these licenses require 20 hours of logged training and no medical examination.
  • Recreational pilot license — These types of permits are generally the same as the sports license, except they allow the pilot to fly more large aircraft. They require 30 hours of logged training — 15 hours of which you must spend with an official instructor.
  • Commercial pilot license — Unlike private, recreational and sports licenses, business licenses you can use commercial permits for economic gain. However, depending on the country, there are different federal regulations regarding the training for obtaining this type of license.
  • Flight instructor license — Assuming you operated aircraft for a significant period, you can obtain a flight instructor license. This license gives you the ability to train other students, but require an intense learning theory.
  • Airline transport pilot license — The airline transport pilot license is the most challenging license to acquire. If you want to be a commercial pilot for a major airliner, you must first obtain this certificate. Doing so require over 1500 hours of logged flying time.

In this article, we will focus on how to get a private pilot certificate.

The Necessary Steps for Obtaining a Private Pilot License

The Necessary Steps for Obtaining a Private Pilot License

Everyone’s journey of getting a private pilot license will be different depending on the avenue of instruction you choose. However, you must complete all of these steps before obtaining it.

Review the FAR 61.103 Requirements

The first step before starting the application and training process is making sure you are eligible in the first place. These qualifications generally include things like age, language and training requirements. We go into the specific information that the FAR 61.103 requires later in this article.

Schedule an Orientation Flight with an Instructor

An orientation flight is your first taste of flying in an airplane. It is important for prospective students to spend for some time in the cockpit with another pilot flying to see if they can handle the stressors of flying. Generally, this test is used to see if an individual suffers from motion sickness, height anxiety or other conditions. Most private instructors or flight schools offer orientation flights.

Acquire a Student Pilot Certificate

If you want to fly solo, the first thing you should apply for is a student pilot certificate. You can find the application on the Integrated Airman Certification and Rating Application website. To acquire the official documentation to fly you must pass the FAR 61.103 requirements and complete the aviation medical exam. We go into the formal requirements for the medical review later in the article.

Choose an Avenue for Training

This step ultimately depends on whether or not you have connections to anyone with a flight instructor license. If you have a qualified family or friend, you can enlist them as a private instructor. Private instructors can also be sought out online. However, most people choose a traditional flight school for training. Flight school involves a university-like curriculum along with hands-on training. Generally, flight school is cheaper than a private instructor, unless you can find a deal.

Complete Dual Training with an Instructor

Before getting up in the air with your flight instructor, you will need to pass a brief written exam. Then you will learn the necessary procedures involved with taking off, landing, and ground operations. Generally speaking, you are required to fly for 20 hours before being allowed to operate by yourself. However, this requirement is relatively lenient, especially if the instructor is private or the student exhibits exceptional flying abilities.

Complete Solo Training Without an Instructor

The minimum requirement for solo flying is 40 hours. However, it is worth noting that this is indeed not a fixed time — some pilots take longer than others. The times vary significantly between how much time each pilot needs before passing their official flight test but rest assured it is rarely the minimal requirement. Often students need to spend 60 to 80 hours before feeling comfortable in the air.Officially though you must spend 3 hours of flight training, 3 hours of flight training with an authorized instructor, 3 hours cross-country flying, 3 hours of night flying, and ten hours of solo flight before attempting the official flight test. You must also land and takeoff ten different times. Once your flight instructor approves of you, you will be allowed to try the fitting portion of your flight test.

Pass the Written Portion of the Test

To take the official flight test, you must first pass the written portion of the test. The test consists of information compiled from the Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs) and the Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM). You will need to study hard before taking this exam. Luckily, there are a lot of study guides and practice reviews to use as study aids. You must pass with at least a 70% to move on to the next step.

Pass the Official Flight Test

Like an official driving test, the flight test will take place with a qualified tester. You can organize this test through your flight school, or online at an official location. The inspector will give you an oral exam to test your knowledge plane systems, standard operating procedure, weather conditions, maintenance information, as well as your psychological condition when flying.Following the oral exam is the practical. During the actual, you will take off, fly, land and perform maneuvers and other standard operating procedures. Often the tester with surprise you with a simulated emergency procedure.Assuming you pass the official flight test, you will receive a temporary flight license while the official documentation for your private pilot license becomes finalized.

What Are the FAR 61.103 Requirements?

This section lists out all qualifications for achieving a private pilot license. Including most of the steps already listen like the initial knowledge exam, medical exam, training, and formal testing. The conduct interviews before training to assess background information and prior knowledge. Notably, you must be 17 years of age to acquire a private pilot license and also speak and write in English.

What Happens During the Aviation Medical Exam?

Essentially the aviation medical exam is like sports physical. A doctor will interview you about your general health as well as your psychological and mental health. This test is vital because pilots often undergo jarring psychological scenarios. You will likely also complete hearing and visual inspections to make sure your eyesight is good enough for flying. Usually, doctors also test to make sure your ears pop correctly under pressure.Aviation medical exams usually cost around $75 to $150 depending on where you go. A third-class medical review will last you five years before you need to get it renewed.

How Much Does it Cost to Get a Private Pilot License?

How Much Does it Cost to Get a Private Pilot License

The pricing of a private pilot license can vary greatly depending on where you go, what instructor you use and what type of aircraft you are flying. Generally, the average flight school costs around $9,000. However, the range prices vary greatly; it could be as little as $4,000 or as high as $16,000.There is a reason why the private pilot license is the most popular type of piloting license. The private pilot license provides the most benefits without the intensive qualifications of commercial flights and the restrictions of recreational aviation. We hope this article was helpful for deciding if the private pilot license is right for you. If you choose to apply, then good luck!

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