How to get a Private Pilot’s Licence in the USA

These are the steps you need to take in order to get a private pilots licence in the United States. It will allow you to fly single-engine aircraft and carry passengers. Upgrading this licence is possible, you can take it to advanced level.

Mini FAQ:

  • Generally, the flight time takes about 6 to 7 months to complete depending on how much time the student can devote to flight lessons and weather conditions.
  • The FAA requires 40 hours of flight time for the private pilot certificate (the national average is about 65 hours).
  • Flight time varies depending on how often you fly and it is important to master each step before pursuing the next one.
  • The costs vary depending on the student’s ability and the type of aircraft flown. On average a private pilot license costs between $7,000 and $9,000 and this includes the aircraft rental, instructor fees, books, materials, knowledge test and the examiner’s fee.

1. Your age must be at least ten or over

It is required that you are 17 years old to take the test however you can start the training as soon as you are tall enough to reach the rudder pedals.

2. Understand, speak and read english

It is essential that you can understand everything, due to the weight of responsibility flying gives you.

3. Get your Class 3 FAA Physical Certificate

You have to get a Class 3 FAA physical from a certified FAA medical examiner. To find a Doctor in your area that provides this service by going to the Federal Aviation Administration’s website.

4. Go to a licensed Flight School

Fees vary depending on the flying club/school,  costs can range up to $9,000 for both flight and ground school training, so its best to shop around.

5. Complete Ground Training

This can be achieved by online study, home study your flight instructor or from ground school.

6. Written Test

Once your instructor signs you off you can take the written test which consists of 60 multiple choice questions. This can be taken at FAA testing centers or with any licensed test providers. (usually at the FBO where you are taking your flight training)
You must get at least 70% right to pass the written knowledge test.

7. Complete minimum of 40 hours flight time

It’s compulsory that you complete a min of forty hours of total flight time , at least 20 hours of this needs to be instructed flight time.(average person takes 55-65 hours)

8. Complete 10 hours of Solo flight time

This is flight time that you take without an instructor on board. Your instructor will decide when you are ready (usually 20 to 25 hours of instructed flight time).

9. Cross country flight

Do a cross country flight that has a total length of 100 nautical miles and has at least 1 point of landing 50 nautical miles straight line distance form the airport of origin. Complete 3 solo cross country flights after that.

10. Night Instruction flight time

Complete 5 hours of night instruction flight time.

11. Final Exam aka “Check Ride”

After your instructor feels you are ready, complete your final exam or “check ride” accompanied by an FAA-certified examiner who will ask you questions and assess your abilities.

12. Congratulations! Receive your Private Pilots Licence

You will now get your full private pilot’s license along with a visual flight rules rating. This allows you to pilot a single engine aircraft (in good visibility) for day or night flying just as long as you abide by the FAR’s (federal aviation regulations) pertaining to your license.

Go check your local FBO!

Search online for your airport including “FBO”  in the search. That will take you to the websites of the FBO’s at your local airport. You can then check to see if they have a pilot training program where you can get your Private Pilots License.

Image credit: szaszlajos

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