Getting Your Private Pilot LicenseEdit
This wiki is put together in order to aid all of those out there who may be interested in the aviation field. More will come, but at the moment I am more concerned with putting the very basics out there to get people interested in aviation. Sections about aerodynamics, flight maneuvers, and other resources will follow. The idea is to eventually create a free resource for training that may reduce the great burden that falls on the shoulders of every emerging student pilot.
The two greatest questions that may dissuade people from or entice people into flying are the questions "what?" and "why?".
A Private Pilot License permits the holder to operate an aircraft under visual flight rules. In most countries, a private pilot possessing an instrument rating may also conduct flights under instrument flight rules. Passengers may be carried and flight in furtherance of a business is permitted; however, a private pilot may not be compensated in any way for services as a pilot and must pay at least the pro rata share of a flight's expenses. Neither passengers nor cargo may be carried for hire.
For more information see: w:Pilot certification in the United States#Private Pilot
People become pilots for many reasons. You may do it to have a goal to work at. You may do it because you need a way to commute to work faster. You may do it because it is your life long dream. Whatever the reason, aviation will become a way of life for you if you do. It is an extremely expensive investment, and there's no going back - so you better be sure that's what you want to do. Or go join the military. That's probably the best way, if you're young enough.
It's not just as easy as jumping into the cockpit and fire-walling the throttle, there is some work for you to do first.
What You'll Need To DoEdit
According to the FARs (Federal Aviation Regulations) there are some things you'll need to do to become a pilot.
1. First you will need to be at least 17 years old at the time of certification.
2. Have a current FAA third-class medical certificate.
3. Log at least 40 hours of flight. At least 20 hours of flight with an instructor. At least 10 hours of solo flight.
2. You must be able to read, speak, and write in English. This is so that pilots can communicate between each other and with the air traffic controllers.
3. Pass two knowledge tests. a) The FAA Private Pilot Airmen Knowledge written test (on which you must score at least 70%). b) An oral exam administered by an FAA Designated Flight Examiner during a portion of your checkride. There is no pass/fail score given, simply a session where the examiner ensures that you have the proper knowledge to safely conduct flight as a private pilot. There is no requirement as to what questions must be asked or how long it should take, it is up to the discretion of the examiner. Some have been rumored to do straight Question/Answer oral exams, while others conduct their oral exam more like a discussion.
PLEASE NOTE: There is a new FAA approved Sport Pilot category which now permits a class of aircraft to be operated by individuals with a Sport Pilot license. This license has less stringent requirements, e.g. a valid U.S. driver's license can be used as evidence of medical eligibility (provided the individual does not have an official denial or revocation of medical eligibility on file with FAA). For more info, see www.sportpilot.org
What to Start WithEdit
Before you even try to spend your money on flying, try to get an introductory lesson at a lower price, or a ride in an airplane from a neighbor. You want to know from the beginning if this is something you want to do. After that, get all the information in written form you can. The ASA FAR/AIM book is an excellent resource for all the regs, though Jeppesen's Private Pilot Manual is a more readable form. Buy both of these books, and read as much of them as you can. Go in to the whole situation with as much knowledge as you can, and use that knowledge to supplement the practical training you will receive as a student.
Choosing a Flight SchoolEdit
In aviation, there are two types of schools: the larger more corporate flight schools, known as a "Part 141" school (a reference to the section of Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR) which dictates operation of said school), like Sporty's, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, etc., and the smaller "Part 61" flight schools, that typically are nothing much more than an instructor that calls his flight school his home business. The FAR Part that the flight school operates under has nothing to do with the quality of instructor you will find there. Either school will get you to where you wish to be. However, Part 141 schools are normally designed for "streamlined" training, that is, creating a lot of pilots in not a lot of time. These types of schools are typically more beneficial for those seeking to become professional pilots, due to slightly lower minimum requirements in terms of hours, and are usually structured as an "aviation immersion", where you walk, talk, eat and sleep aviation. A Part 141 school is overseen by the FAA very closely, ensuring that the pilots, instructors, aircraft, and owner/operators all meet the standards as outlined in 14CFR 141. Part 141 schools are generally much larger than a Part 61 operation, and are required to have an FAA approved curriculum. Part 61 operations can be owned by one or two instructors, and are typically small. Keep in mind, though there are schools that operate under part 61, it does NOT have to be an official "school" to teach you how to fly. Your neighbor the flight instructor could instruct you under part 61 regardless of a school affiliation. However, there are regulations that pertain to the aircraft used for flight instruction, which your instructor needs to be aware of if he is using a privately owned aircraft. Both are good, but again, you must keep your goals in mind. A Part 61 school will be fine for renting and learning to fly a Supercub, but it may not be the best choice on the road to becoming an ATP. However, whether you conduct your training under Part 61 or 141, you can reach the same level, and attain the same certificate without limitations. Talk to graduates from your local schools, and see who they'd recommend. Remember, pilots want safe pilots flying with them, and if they don't think a certain instructor trains competent pilots, heed their warnings, you want to be the very safest pilot in the air.
Flight School For DummiesEdit
Remember during your training this one thing: "I CAN DO IT." Regardless of how tough it may seem along the way, you will always regret it if you decide half-way through that you did not have what it takes. Your own drive is probably the greatest of your allies.
Flight school can cost a lot. The average flight training for a Private Pilot Certificate costs about $10,000 dollars. (2008) Most flight schools charge by the hour. Typical rates for a training airplane is $125-$150 per hour. Typical rates for an instructor is $35-$60 per hour. The current average student in the US will need between 50 and 70 hours to get the private pilot certificate. Again, the quality of the training, and your own commitment are going to play a role in this. If you cannot afford to fly every day for a month, your price is going to increase due to the extra time it will take you to get back in the habit every week when you do fly. The best and cheapest way to get your certificate is to do it all at once. That way, you can feel your progress, and have a more intuitive grasp on how the plane flies. This is crucial to the training of a successful pilot. There are organizations that offer scholarships to people wishing to become pilots. As well, there are companies that specialize in loans for those interested in learning to fly, so that you can have the money available to complete your training in a timely manner. Someone at your flight school can help you with these different options.
The Framework Of RegulationsEdit
You are going to move in an environment where safety is the main factor: the world of aeronautics. For this reason the rules and regulations are created so that they can be adapted to the world of aeronautics today to guarantee the safety of those who, at present, take part. The great majority of countries that take part in aeronautical activities move in a framework of regulations always for the reasons of security. We are interested in the regulations that affect the Private Pilot and the 'insight flying. (VFR Visual Flight Rules.) The organizations that are active at different levels, [World, European, National and Regional] produce the text and carry out the regulations and controls that apply to them. All that are active in aeronautics, and in particular the users, depend on such organizations. We are going to take and look at these frameworks of regulations that you will move in to get the title of Private Pilot and In sight flight VFR. We are interested, right away, in the aspect of the regulations that affect us closely. You are going to need to know the rules of navigation. We are talking about the license and the privileges it offers, the rules of pilot training. In particular certain qualifications and the medical condition of the trainee pilot. We will look at what is an 'aircraft'. The term is generic and designates all apparatus that can take off and move in the air: airplanes, microlights, helicopters, hang gliders, balloons, and so on.