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Life’s too short to live with regret and what-ifs. Has piloting a plane always been on your bucket list? Have you found yourself thinking, “I just want to fly?” If so, there should be nothing stopping you from doing so. Although the thought of obtaining your pilot’s license can be daunting and overwhelming, it doesn’t have to be. There are instructors around the country that make it easy to learn how to fly.
Below you’ll find information about how to fly and how to get a pilot’s license. Once you obtain your pilot’s license and begin flying, you’ll only wonder why you didn’t do it sooner!
Learning How to Fly
Learning how to can provide lessons and skills that will last a lifetime. Focus, dedication, hard work, and humility can all be learned when learning how to fly. An account of lessons learned while flying can be found on Air Facts. If you’re interested in becoming a pilot, below is the typical process you’ll need to go through to learn how to fly.
Confirm Your Eligibility
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) outlines their eligibility requirements under FAR 61.103. The basic requirements to begin flight school are that you are at least 17 years old and are able to read, speak, and understand English.
Obtain Your Student Pilot Certificate
Although you don’t need a student pilot certificate to begin taking lessons, you’ll need the certificate before being able to fly solo. Once you have submitted an application, the Airman Certification Branch will review your information and mail you your certificate in about three weeks.
The FAA answers Frequently Asked Questions regarding Student Pilot Certificates.
Obtain Medical Certification
In addition to the student pilot certificate, you’ll need a medical certificate before flying alone. Certificates can be obtained after clearing a physical examination administered by an FAA-authorized aviation medical examiner. You can learn more about medical certification on the FAA’s website.
Find an Instructor
You’ll need to receive lessons from a private instructor or by attending flight school. It’s recommended that you first check with your local airport to see if they offer a school or know of any local instructors. Choosing a quality flight school can make or break your experience learning to fly.
Pass the FAA Written Exam
Before obtaining your pilot’s license, you’ll have to pass the FAA Private Pilot Written Exam. However, many flight schools require this test be passed before they even allow you to fly a plane. Check with your school to see if they require you to pass the test before beginning flight instruction.
Since you’ll need to pass the exam either way, it’s not a bad idea to start studying. Even if your school doesn’t require it for flight experience, the lessons and concepts you’ll learn while studying for the exam will make it easier the first time you get in the cockpit.
Prepare for Takeoff
Once ready, your instructor will allow you to begin flying. While in the air, your instructor will cover basic tasks like takeoff, landing, descents, climbs, and turns. Landing the plane is one of the more difficult lessons you’ll go through.
Once you master these basics, your instructor will cover more in-depth topics needed for solo flight such as emergency and communication procedures. Before receiving your pilot’s license, you’ll need to man a solo aircraft for at least ten hours.
The FAA offers a detailed description of the requirements necessary for various licenses and certifications. The average pilot should be concerned about Recreational Pilot and Private Pilot Certificates or Sport Pilot Certificates.
If you have questions about flight requirements that aren’t answered on the FAA’s website, they recommend contacting your local FAA Flight Standards District Office.
Additionally, if you’re interested in learning to fly for the sake of a professional career, the Bureau of Labor Statistics provides information concerning job outlook and rates of pay.
Cost of Flight Training
Many potential pilots often wonder, “How much does it cost to learn to fly?” They fear that aviation will be too expensive and out of their price range. The perceived costs often prevent many from fulfilling their lifelong dream of flying.
There’s no denying that obtaining a license is a commitment. Instruction varies from school to school, but Aviation Schools Online has a general overview of the expected costs. The site indicates that a sports pilot license costs between $3,000 – $5,000, and a private pilot license costs between $6,5000 and $12,000.
For most considering flying, those licenses will be more than sufficient. As time goes on, pilots can invest more to receive their commercial license or instrument certification.
Remember that flight school, if done correctly, is a one-time cost. Training is an investment in your future. Although your license will have to be renewed, the renewal process is not nearly as expensive as the initial process. Once you receive your license, you should be able to fly for the rest of your life.
If cost is a big worry driving your decision to learn how to fly, Flying Mag offers tips to reduce the costs of flight training.
Choose a Sport Pilot License
A private pilot license takes twice as long to obtain as a sport pilot license. Although the license does come with some restrictions, it allows you to still participate in many basic flights that will suffice for most recreational pilots. Those with a sports pilot license allows you to fly two-passenger planes to any airport in the United States, provided your logbook qualifies you to fly in Class B, C, and D airspace.
A sports pilot license only takes 20 hours to complete. If you choose to one day obtain your private pilot license, the hours you’ve earned for your sports pilot license can be applied to your private pilot training.
If you commit to the program, odds are you’ll see much higher success programs. If you fail a test, you’ll have to pay more to retake it. If you want to learn how to fly, commitment can end up reducing or costs – or, at the very least, prevent you from having to pay more.
Studying is the best was to ensure success when receiving your private pilot certification. You should thoroughly understand the concepts and maneuvers required for each lesson.
Additionally, it’s recommended that you fly as much as possible when obtaining certification. Being familiar with a plane and keeping your skills in top shape will increase the likelihood of success during examinations.
Frequently flying can also reduce your costs because you won’t have to re-learn material. If you want to obtain your private pilot license, be sure you have enough time to commit and money to complete the whole program from the start.
Purchase a Flight Simulator
A flight simulator can teach you how to fly in the comfort of your own home. While you cannot obtain your license by exclusively using a simulator, it can help you gain familiarity with flight processes. A simulator costs about the same as a single flight lesson.
The simulator can be used when you’re not in the air, making it a worthwhile investment for at-home training that you can complete on your own time. Most simulators allow you to connect your rudder pedals and yoke, granting you an authentic flying experience.
Do Your Research Beforehand
Before enrolling in a private pilot program, you should research your school and instructor. Your instructor will make or break your flying experience. If you don’t enjoy being around your instructor, you won’t want to learn from them, and you’ll end up wasting money on the course.
Trust is another important component of aviation training. Your instructor should be knowledgeable and have measurable, tangible experience. If you don’t trust your instructor, you’ll inhibit your ability to learn, likely meaning you’ll need to retake the course.
Some schools may offer packages for your training, as well. Many learning to fly discover that one of the biggest costs is found when renting the plane. Flight schools may offer packages that include instruction, materials, and the plane rental for a significantly reduced cost than if you were to purchase everything for private instruction.
Reputations can also play a big part in your decision of selecting a flight school. When someone asks, “Where did you learn to fly?” you’ll want to be able to answer with pride and honor. A quality flight school will recognize that you are a reflection of their work, and will take time to invest in your success.
Why Wait Any Longer?
There is a popular quote that says,
“Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.”
Learning to fly will be a decision you surely won’t regret.