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More Private Pilot License Information

With a pilot's license, you will be able to start a career as a pilot, fly friends and family around on weekends, pilot your own plane for business trips, compete in aerobatics competitions, assist with humanitarian endeavors… the list goes on and on.

A quick word about safety. We, at Tailwheels Etc. put safety above all else. We turn out safe, proficient pilots

Aviation is heavily regulated by a host of safety standards set by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which is aviation's governing body in the United States.

Our Flight Training will teach you how to fly safely and how to react during those rare occasions of emergency that are beyond your control.

Learn What Getting A Private Pilot License Entails

No matter what your ultimate goal in aviation is - be it recreational flying or a more advanced training program - you must start by getting a private pilot's license. (Word to the wise: technically, pilots hold "certificates," not licenses, to fly, although hardly anyone except the FAA calls them that.) This private pilots license allows a pilot to fly a single-engine airplane under visual flight rules (VFR), meaning visibility of at least three miles, as well as at night. A private pilot may carry passengers but may not be paid for doing so, although the pilot can share operating expenses with the passengers.

Once you have earned a private pilots license, you can work toward other certificates such as a commercial certificate which allows you to be paid for your flying, a flight instructor certificate enables you to teach others, and an airline transport certificate permits you to fly an airliner. You can also add various ratings that allow you to pilot multi-engine airplanes, navigate using instruments in bad weather, and fly different aircraft like seaplanes or tail draggers.

But before you even think about doing all that fun stuff, you have to train and earn your private pilots license.

The prerequisites for a private pilots license are simple; the FAA requires the following:

  • Medical examination. You must pass the basic medical exam that all applicants are required to undergo, certifying that you meet the medical standards for safely operating an aircraft. This medical exam is so important, that we've devoted the entire next step to it.
  • Language. All applicants for the private license have to be able to read, speak, and understand English (the international language of aviation).
  • Age. The FAA says you must be at least 16 years old to fly solo with a student pilot certificate, and 17 years old to get a pilot's license. There is no upper age limit, provided that you are healthy enough to pass the basic medical exam discussed above.
  • Time. A private pilots license requires a minimum of 40 hours of flight time, the national average is 60-80 hours before their final check ride, as well as extra time for study on the ground in preparation for an FAA written test.


Get A Medical Certificate

This physical must be conducted by an FAA-designated Airman Medical Examiner (AME). You can find one of the 5,000+ AMEs, in the USA, by checking out this search site.

If you are in good health, you should have no problem getting your medical certificate.

At the exam, you will first be asked to fill out an FAA application and medical history form. The doctor will then check your vision, hearing, balance, and nose and throat. Finally, the doctor will determine that you do not have any mental or neurological problems such as alcoholism, epilepsy, psychosis, or a serious medical condition like chronic heart disease or diabetes mellitus.

A third-class medical certificate is valid for the remainder of the month of issue; plus

  • 24 calendar months for operations requiring a third class medical certificate, if the airman is age 40 or over on or before the date of the examination, or
  • 60 calendar months for operations requiring a third class medical certificate if the airman has not reached age 40 on or before the date of examination. *

Click here for frequently asked questions regarding the FAA Airmen Medical Certificate.

Don't panic yet if you happen to have a medical condition (even a serious one); it is still possible for you to get a license. However you then would need to an AME to discuss your options (for instance, you may have to always fly with another licensed pilot present).

We require that you obtain your medical certificate because you will need it once you start to fly solo - a milestone that comes more quickly than you might think (sometimes after only 10 hours of flight training!).

Your medical certificate is also your student pilot certificate, a "learner's permit" that is valid for two years while you work toward a permanent pilot's license. Take care this piece of paper - anyone acting as pilot-in-command (PIC) of an airplane must carry a current and appropriate medical certificate on every flight.

We are a FAA Approved Part 141 Accelerated Flight Training School And Also Do Part 61 Training.

  • Schools certified under Part 141 must adhere to an FAA-approved syllabus that specifies the order in which specific skills must be taught.

  • Part 61 schools ultimately cover the same FAA-approved curriculum, but are more free to adjust the order of topics according to specific factors like the student's schedule or weather conditions.

One other difference is that Part 141 schools have a lower minimum flight time required to earn a private pilots certificate (35 hours instead of the otherwise standard 40).

The instructor

One of the most important factors of whether or not you complete our accelerated flight training program is the instructor that you decide to work with, so be sure to speak to the instructor(s) before starting your flight training. Don't be shy… you want to know that you and your teacher will have the rapport necessarily for you to complete your flight training successfully.

Here are some potential questions:

  • Start by asking about his or her aviation background, qualifications, and experience.

  • Check references and talk to former students.

  • Ask to have something explained to you, like a technical point of flying, to see if you follow the instructor's teaching style. This should be a personal connection, so no one can tell you absolutely what to look for, but keep in mind that a key element should be trust.

It's important that you feel comfortable with the instructor you select. Remember, you are going to be spending many hours crammed together in the cockpit of a plane, so be confident that you are going to learn a lot and feel safe with your instructor. Our instructors have some of the highest pass rates in the industry.

Flight Training and Ground school Training

Learning to fly has two aspects: flight training, where you actually get in an airplane and practice various maneuvers, and ground school training, where you get much of the "book learning" you'll learn about the principles, procedures, and regulations of flight.

Flight training

Lessons usually last about two hours, though actual time in the air is closer to one hour, with pre- and post-flight briefings before and after.

To earn a private pilot certificate to fly a single-engine airplane, the FAA says you must log:

  • At least 40 hours of flight time.
  • At least 20 hours flying with an authorized instructor (dual flight). This must include at least:
    • 3 hours of cross-country flight
    • 3 hours of night flying, including one cross-country flight 100 nautical miles or more
    • 3 hours of instrument training
    • 3 hours of practical test preparation with your instructor
    • At least 5 hours flying cross-country by yourself (solo flight).

Once again, these are the minimum time requirements for a private pilots license and most students fly many more hours, depending on ability. The important thing is not how many hours you fly but how much confidence you and your instructor have in your skills and experience. When he/she feels you are a safe and effective pilot, he/she will recommend you for your FAA flight test.

Ground school training

Your study will encompass aerodynamics, airport operations, radio communications, aircraft systems, weather theory, weather reports, navigation, physiology, and regulations - all information that will prepare you to pass a required FAA knowledge test. This is not, however, just information to be learned for a test and then forgotten; it is vital knowledge you will need in order to perform your duties as a proficient, safe pilot.

(Please allow at least one month, prior to arrival at our flight school, for the study of all written materials. You will have to take a written exam before you will be able to do any actual flight training. A score of 80%, or better, is required, for enrollment in FAA 141.)

Pass The Knowledge And Practical Tests

To make sure you paid proper attention to your flight and ground school training, the FAA makes you pass two separate tests before they give you a license to fly.

  • Knowledge test
  • Practical test

Knowledge test

The airman knowledge test examines you on the concepts and information you learned in your ground school training. It is a computerized exam that we administer before you start flight training.

You will have two and a half hours to complete the 60 multiple-choice questions selected from the 711 airplane-related questions in the FAA's test questions. Topics that you can be tested on, in the knowledge test, range from the current FARs to air traffic control information to cross-country flight planning.

A grade of 80% or better is required to pass. Your score from the knowledge test will be valid for two years, after which, if you have not completed your practical test,it must be retaken.

Practical test

Your final exam, much like a driver's license test, consists of a combined oral and flight test in which you demonstrate your knowledge and proficiency as a pilot to an FAA examiner. In the "check ride," as the practical exam is usually called, you will be tested according to the practical test standards (PTS) set by the FAA. These guidelines spell out in detail what will be tested and how you will be tested, so there should be no surprises.

After you have furnished the written recommendation from your flight instructor, the examiner will begin the test with an oral exam lasting one to two hours. The examiner is required to pay special attention to the areas where you were weakest on the knowledge test, so don't think that you can skip that tough "landing" section.

You will then begin the practical flight portion of your check ride. The examiner will test you on certain required procedures from the PTS, in addition to other areas of operation at his/her discretion, such as:

  • Pre- and post-flight procedures
  • Airport operations
  • Takeoffs
  • Landings
  • Go-arounds
  • Navigation
  • Slow flight and stalls
  • Basic instrument maneuvers
  • Emergency operations
  • Night operations
  • Special Emphasis Items

All those hours of flight training you have put in have prepared you for this point.

If your performance meets PTS standards while in dual and solo flight training, you should pass the test with flying colors!

When you have successfully passed the practical test, the examiner will issue you a temporary private pilot certificate, valid for 120 days. Your permanent pilot's license should arrive from the FAA's Oklahoma City office within the next two months.

You have just become a pilot!

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