If flying is your passion, then you’ve probably dreamed of getting your pilot’s license. You can fulfill that dream with some hard work and a little guidance in the right direction. It is certainly not a difficult-to-achieve goal. As long as you work out a reasonable schedule, you will be able to call yourself a pilot in no time. Your dedication in putting in the practice hours and your adherence to safety protocols will make the difference between success or failure.
Prior to scheduling your first lesson, decide what your ultimate goal is. Is a recreational license suitable for your needs? Do you eventually plan to fly for a major airline or as a government or military pilot?
Calculate the number of hours it will take you to meet your goal. While there are many students who manage their classes and gain a license in a matter of months, others take more than a year due to cost and scheduling. Assess your budget, which will affect which training method you pursue and how quickly you complete your training.
Various schools or flying academies are available from which to get your license. Seek out a training method and location that best meets your schedule and finances. Calculate how much money you need now and as you continue classes, so you can spread out the cost if you need to.
As well as being within your budget, your chosen school should offer programs that are accredited and regulated by the Federal Aviation Association. You can confirm the legitimacy of your instructor by searching through the database of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association.
After you have narrowed down your choices, visit each school or instructor and take a discovery flight to get a feel for how the lessons are taught. Do not enroll in a program with which you feel uncomfortable in any way. You have numerous choices available to you. Do not limit yourself if you think you could do better elsewhere.
All aspiring pilots also need to pass a written exam conducted by the FAA in order to qualify for a license. Though you need an FAA accredited instructor for your flying lessons, there is no such rule insisting you study in a formal class in preparation for the exam. While some students opt for classes, you can also choose to prepare for the test on your own. Attempt as many online practice tests as possible. Your instructor can also help you become better prepared for this exam.
You are required to spend approximately 15 hours of air time with the instructor before you can try your first solo flight. Getting a pilot’s license requires at least 30 more hours. Once you have completed your studies, test, and 40 to 65 hours of air time, you will be given an oral exam and a flight test by a certified FAA examiner. If you pass, you’re entitled to a license to fly in clear conditions. While a bare minimum of 40 hours of flight time is required for a license in some areas, most students are not competent until they clock at least 65 hours in the air.
One last tip: to start flying solo you need a medical certification written by a doctor of aviation medicine. Don’t wait too long before attending to this issue, since failing the medical exam can keep you grounded.
It’s easier to get a license when you are prepared and know all your goals. If you have the funds, the dedication, and the desire, you will get your pilot’s license before you know it.