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Private Pilot TrainingLearn about PPL Training and What It Takes to Succeed
By Kyle Garrett
Private pilot training comes in many forms: you can learn to fly at your local airport with a certified flight instructor (CFI) and a rental plane, you can sign up at a local flight school with several aircraft and CFIs, or you can enroll in a large flight academy with a fleet of training aircraft and dozens of instructors. Whichever way you choose, the private pilot certificate you end up with is the same.
However, if you're planning on becoming a commercial pilot or air transport pilot and flying for a living, your best bet may be to enroll at a larger flight academy for several reasons: academies typically offer "package" deals which can significantly reduce flight training costs as your earn multiple licenses, ratings, and endorsements, academies often hire their graduates as CFIs to help them build flight hours, and larger academies have many aircraft which means you won't spend much time grounded because of maintenance issues and can stay focused on your training. Read more about private pilot licenses.
Private Pilot Training Requirements
Whichever way you choose, you'll be training to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) private pilot requirements. Private pilot candidates must...
- Be at least 17 years old, but can begin training and solo aircraft at age 16
- Read, speak, write, understand, and enunciate the English language
- Posses an FAA medical certificate (first, second, or third class)
- Pass the FAA Private Pilot Airman Knowledge Test (computerized written test)
- Pass the FAA Private Pilot Airman Practical Test (oral and flight test with a designated examiner)
- Accumulate and log the following flight experience requirements:
35-40 hours total time, depending on the type of school you attend (although most students require 60-70 hours) 20 hours of which are dual (with your CFI)
- 10 hours solo (by yourself)
- 5 hours solo cross-country
- 1 solo cross-country flight of at least 150 nautical miles total distance, with full-stop landings at a minimum of three airports and with one segment of the flight consisting of a straight-line distance of at least 50 nautical miles between the takeoff and landing airports.
- 3 solo takeoffs and landings to a full stop at an airport with an operating control tower
- 3 hours of night flying
- 1 night cross country flight of over 100 nautical miles total distance
- 10 night takeoffs and 10 night landings in the traffic pattern, to a full stop, at an airport
- 3 hours of instrument training, meaning flying by sole reference to the instruments