Frequently Asked Questions

There are a lot of variables that affect the cost of learning to fly, including the frequency of flight lessons, weather conditions, the kind of aircraft in which you are training and its availability for scheduling, and individual aptitude. There are three choices: the Sport Pilot Certificate, the Recreational Pilot Certificate and the Private Pilot Certificate. A rough estimate would range between $5,000 and $9,000, depending on the certificate being sought with the Private Pilot being on the higher end of the range. The Sport and Recreational Certificates have severe limitations on the type of aircraft you can fly, where you can fly and under what conditions, in addition to limiting you to only 1 passenger at a time.

The same variables that affect the cost of learning to fly will affect the time it takes to earn your certificate. The FAA has established the minimum number of flight hours needed to obtain a certificate. Under Part 61 of the federal aviation regulations, the minimums are 20 hours for a sport pilot certificate, 30 hours for a recreational certificate, and 40 hours for a private pilot certificate. For the Private, the average is between 60 and 70 hours and if you fly a couple times a week it will typically take about 6 months. Also the more often you fly the fresher your skills will remain and the less time it will take. Each lesson is scheduled by appointment with you instructor and typically last for an hour and a half plus a half hour on the ground for preflighting the aircraft and post flight debriefing.

Earning your license involves preparing yourself to take three tests: a written knowledge test, an oral knowledge test, and a practical test in the airplane. The written exam must be taken first; then the oral test is taken on the same day as the practical test. This combination of oral and practical tests is known as the “checkride.”

You’ll be flying on your first lesson, with your Certified Flight Instructor’s (CFI) help of course. With each lesson, your CFI will assist you less and less until you reach a point of self-reliance. When you reach this point, you will make your first solo flight, an important milestone in every pilot’s training. After you solo, you and your CFI will work on such things as flying cross-country. And when you’re ready, you’ll make several solo cross-country flights. When you have the ability to consistently demonstrate all of the FAA required skills, your instructor will recommend you for the FAA checkride.
You may start your training and logging time towards you license at any age but you may not operate an aircraft as the sole occupant (solo) until reaching the age of 16 and passing a third class medical exam. As a student pilot, your medical certificate doubles as your student pilots license. You must be at least 17 years of age to get a pilot's license. You may not carry passengers with a student pilot's license.

The average age of a student pilot is 34 years old. Many don't start until retirement and we have trained student pilots as old as 76 years young!

No you do NOT have to have perfect 20/20 vision! This was a military requirement that is often confused with the civilian world. If you are reading this now, with or without glasses, you are probably fine. Worst case, as in driving, you may be required to wear your glasses or have them on hand when operating an aircraft. If you are found to be color blind in those colors that are used in aviation, you may be restricted from flying at night.

Subpart D - Third-Class Airman Medical Certificate § 67.303 Eye.
Eye standards for a thirdclass airman medical certificate are: (a) Distant visual acuity of 20/40 or better in each eye separately, with or without corrective lenses. If corrective lenses (spectacles or contact lenses) are necessary for 20/40 vision, the person may be eligible only on the condition that corrective lenses are worn while exercising the privileges of an airman certificate. (b) Near vision of 20/40 or better, Snellen equivalent, at 16 inches in each eye separately, with or without corrective lenses. (c) Ability to perceive those colors necessary for the safe performance of airman duties. (d) No acute or chronic pathological condition of either eye or adnexa that interferes with the proper function of an eye, that may reasonably be expected to progress to that degree, or that may reasonably be expected to be aggravated by flying.

For many people, simply achieving an appropriate weight, exercising regularly, and watching dietary salt will control their mild hypertension. Other individuals may be required to take medications to reduce their blood pressure. Either way, hypertension and its treatment should have little effect on one’s ability to be medically certified to fly.

If an individual with no known history of hypertension is found during the FAA exam to have blood pressure readings consistently higher than 155/95 then further investigation is required. Initially, this should consist of recording the blood pressure twice a day (morning and evening) for three consecutive days. If at least 4 of these 6 readings are 155/95 or less and the applicant is otherwise qualified, then no further action is required and the certificate can be issued. If the three-day blood pressure checks confirm the presence of hypertension, then treatment of some kind will generally be required for certification. Once a person is on a stable treatment plan and their blood pressure is adequately controlled without significant adverse effects, certification can be considered.

Obviously, working toward a career in aviation is a very large commitment, but professional pilots (other than those who receive their training through the military) begin with getting their private pilot’s license. Very briefly, after the private training will follow instrument and commercial training, (instrument training being of roughly the same duration and expense as the private, commercial training of considerably less duration and expense). With a commercial license, the pilot will then have to accumulate several hundred more hours of flight time (as an instructor, charter pilot, etc.), as well as additional ratings to fly multi-engine aircraft, etc., before applying to a regional airline, or to become a corporate pilot. Many people receive their instrument and commercial training with us, then attend flight academies or other operators with accelerated training programs to earn their later ratings. Keep in mind- this is the story in a very small nutshell, but at least it gives an idea of what can follow after the private training, should you choose to pursue a career in aviation.