The Private Pilot Certificate is the most common goal for new students. If you want to fly for a living, this is the first step down that road, but it is also your “License to Learn,” and the first goal of most new pilots. Once you have your Private rating you are free to fly when and where you please, opening up a world of opportunities and experiences you can only imagine: flying to the beach with friends and family, a quick trip for dinner in another state, or flying over the traffic to grandma’s house for Thanksgiving. Like all the ratings, you can get your Private Certificate on your schedule.
So what does that really mean? For most aspiring pilots, the Private Pilot License (PPL) is the goal they pursue first. Every commercial pilot starts with a PPL, so it’s step one if you want to fly for a living, but it’s also the most common rating by far, and many pilots do not pursue a rating beyond this one. With your PPL you can fly any time the weather is clear enough to see the ground and horizon, including at night, to almost any airport in the US and many outside, in a variety of aircraft, over any distance you choose, with or without passengers.
Interested? Here are the key points and most common questions:
How long does it take to earn my Private Pilot Certificate?
The Private certificate requires a minimum of 40 hours flying time, including a minimum of 10 hours of solo flying. During these flying hours, you must also perform a series of specific objectives including multiple types of landings, a variety of flight maneuvers, cross-country flight planning, preparation and navigation, communication, and more. While it is possible to achieve the requirements for a license checkride in 40 flying hours, most pilots spend more time improving various aspects of their flying, so the total is often much higher. Nationally, the average is over 70 hours – at FFC, most students complete their PPL around 50-60 hours. How often you are able to fly during your training also has an effect on how many hours it takes to be ready to pass a check ride. Therefore, the more regularly you can fly (we recommend 2-3 times per week if possible) the more proficient you will be, resulting in a shorter time to achieve your license and a lower total cost to earn your license. All of that said, a license can certainly be earned more slowly if your schedule or finances require spreading out the hours, and many pilots have earned their wings this way – we can help you fly on your schedule and budget.
What does it take besides the flying time?
Earning your PPL takes a certain degree of dedication for sure. Besides flying the requisite hours and learning the required maneuvers and practices, you must also acquire knowledge pertaining to weather, radio communications, regulations and laws, the physical principles of flight, airplane systems, navigation and more. All of this is information you will need when flying, but it will require studying outside of the time you spend in a plane. Some pilots choose to enroll in Ground School, others pursue this knowledge with their flight instructor, and still others study on their own using a variety of printed, online, and proprietary training materials. However you learn it, this knowledge is essential, and before attempting your Check Ride, you must pass a written knowledge test administered through the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration).
How much will it cost?
Besides being probably the most common question we receive, this is also a source of much concern and unfortunately, many abandoned dreams. As mentioned above, the more often you fly while training, the faster you will likely be able to earn your license. While this may mean a higher cost per month, it will also mean a lower total cost for your license as you will spend less time re-learning and re-gaining proficiency lost between flights. Because of the wide variety of circumstances, experiences and learning styles, it is impossible to pinpoint a total cost for your license, but for most students the total costs will fall between $9,000 and $15,000. Yes, that is a wide range, but there are many different scenarios when learning to fly. It is also essential to bear in mind that these costs are not due up front, and if you are concerned about the cost, please contact us: There are scholarships, grants, government programs, and a variety of options for financing the costs of your training – we can help you to find a way to achieve your goals!
Have additional questions? Don’t hesitate to Contact Us.