Requirements For Getting A Private Pilot License
Getting a pilot license is a very fun and rewarding experience. There are guidelines set by the FAA that explain what you have to do in order to get a private pilot license. The basic requirements for a pilot license are as follows:
Medical Certificate ? 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. More details about the medical certificate are discussed below.
Age ? You must be at least 16 years old to fly an airplane solo (by yourself) with a student pilot certificate, and 17 years old to get a private pilot license. There is no upper age limit, provided that you are healthy enough to pass the basic medical exam.
Language ? As a private pilot, you have to be able to read, speak, and understand English (the international language of aviation).
Time ? A private license requires a minimum of 40 hours of total flight time, with the national average around 65 hours before the final check ride, as well as extra time for study on the ground in preparation for an FAA written test. The length of your training depends in part on how much time you devote to it. Concentrated full-time programs can be completed in as few as two weeks or a month, while a part-time student typically takes between four and six months of flying a few times a week.
Money ? You can learn to fly on a budget; even still, it is not a cheap undertaking. If you train part-time at a local airport, for example, plan on investing in the range of $4,000 to $6,000, with costs varying widely by region. It is a good idea to consider whether you have the funds to start training and reach your goal within a reasonable time period. Someone who flies a few times a week keeps what they have just learned fresh in their mind. Each lesson allows new topics to be introduced. However, flying only a couple times a month may have you relearning some of the material from the previous lesson. In this case, not only will it take you longer (on the calendar) to get your license, but it might take more flight training hours to get ready for your checkride as well.
But as long as you are having fun, it will be well worth it in the end. Keep in mind that you do not need to pay for all of your flight training up front. Most flight schools let you pay as you go, although you might get a price break by paying for a block of lessons in advance. Another way to pay for your training is through financing. When you learn to fly at a Cessna pilot center, you're eligible for a Sallie Mae Financial Corporation professional education loan ? affordable financial aid from the nation's leader in educational financing (www.salliemae.com). It's easy to qualify, your rate can be as low as Prime +1%, and you can make interest-only payments (as low as $75 per month) until your training is complete. Generally, for students, there is financing available through Sallie Mae Company, Pilot Finance, and Key Bank. Many students also use local banks for flight training loans.
Another way to reduce your costs once you have your license is to share time with other pilots. There are many people who are looking to fly and build time and experience. Most of the time, it is very easy once you are a pilot to find other pilots who will gladly share in the expense of the flight just for the flight hours. Money is one of the largest obstacles to becoming a pilot. That is why so many people put it at the top of their list of questions when considering flying. You should be concerned with the cost, but ask yourself this question: What is it worth to you to learn to fly safely? For me, it was well worth it.
About the Author: Matt Tanner is a Flight Instructor in Atlanta, Georgia. He shares his extensive aviation knowledge with thousands of people each year. His students have become private pilots, aircraft owners, flight instructors, and U.S. Air Force pilots. To learn the best way to become a pilot, go to http://www.privatepilotguide.com or http://www.matttanner.com