Flight Training Information
Aviation is unforgiving of mistakes. Flying, being 3 dimensional with a 4th dimension, I’ll call “situational awareness”, is a safe form of recreation and transportation. Make sure your aviation goals are coupled with quality instruction, constant self-improvement, approached with an attitude of confidence in your abilities, a healthy respect for the dangers, and the constant evaluation of your environment and it will be a safe, fun, and a rewarding experience.
Instructor and Student Relationship:
The FAA has adopted an operational training concept that places the full responsibility for student training on the flight instructor. In this role, the flight instructor assumes total responsibility for training the student to meet the standards. The student should get impartial opinions of the flight school and/or instructor he/she intends to employ. The flight instructor will provide you guidance, and arrange for your academic and flight training lessons. These lessons are presented in a logical manner to achieve desired goals. After each flight, the flight instructor will review the day’s lesson. This will be the time to clear up any questions. It is important that misconceptions be clarified while the subject is still fresh in both the student’s and instructor’s mind. Following the lesson, the flight instructor should assign the next topic to be studied. Everything in flight training starts in a book. Book knowledge is read, studied, reviewed, and learned. The student is solely responsible for getting the most from their study, review, and reading. Without knowing the written information (maybe by rote memory only) the student will never remember it or learn it in an aircraft. Immediately (usually within days) the student is then orally quizzed by an instructor on what was learned. After the oral quizzing, further discussion and review, the instructor may present other information on the topic. After this review (called a “Preflight Briefing”) the student and instructor get in a plane and practice what was discussed. The instructor will demonstrate the maneuver (i.e., landing) then have the student talk the instructor through the maneuver, followed by the student attempting the maneuver with assistance from the instructor. Eventually the student will have to accomplish and master the maneuver without any assistance from the instructor.
- Some things a student will excel in and be naturally good at. Other things will need instruction and practice. There will be a few things that come up that may frustrate the student causing him/her to “plateau”. This will require further instruction and maybe instruction from another instructor to get through. Nothing can be skipped or glossed over.
- There are very specific standards set by the FAA that the student is required to meet and a set syllabus the instructor is required to follow. There may be some deviation in order of presentation.
No person will be more influential in nurturing a desire to fly than your first flight instructor. A good flight instructor will make the flight training process enjoyable while challenging, teaching the intricacies of flight at a pace suitable to the student’s schedule and level of learning. It is therefore important that you are comfortable with your instructor and his or her method of teaching. If a personality or major schedule conflict arises, find someone else to teach you. A professional flight instructor will understand and accept your choice to fly with someone else. Remember, you are the one paying for the flight lessons. Ask them questions and gauge their responses. Most will offer to take you on an introductory flight -- short, inexpensive flights which allow you to observe their flying and teaching skills. If you find a potential instructor, ask for references. Professional flight instructors will be more than happy to provide you with a list of satisfied customers.
15 July 2016 UPDATE: Third-class medical reform was signed into law after Congress approved the changes earlier this week as part of the FAA’s short-term authorization bill.
Bottom line: Basically, if you've had an FAA Medical in the last 10 years you won't ever need to do another 3rd Class Medical exam again. There are a few exceptions and some other minor requirements. See the link for details.
Click here for the NEW FAA MEDICAL FAQ
Prior to beginning flight training, a flight instructor should interview you about any health conditions and determine your goal as a pilot. Good advice would be to obtain the class of medical certificate required, for the certificate level you ultimately want, before beginning flight training. Finding out immediately whether you are medically qualified could save time and money.
- Introduction flight – Does the student get sick, scared to death, or “just doesn’t like it”?
- 2-3 Introduction flight lessons – basic aerodynamics, basic aircraft components, preflight, basic flight maneuvers (straight and level, turns, climbs, descents), takeoffs, introduction to landings, basic communication requirements, introduction to aviation safety (attitudes, practices, methods). Continued lessons if the student is still interested.
- Solo flight – Student needs to be 16 years of age. Average flight time requirements are about 10-20 hours. Everyone is different.
Costs (pricing as of November 2016)
- Aircraft rental - $148/hour (+ state tax)
- Flight Instructor - $50/hour (both air & ground instruction)
- Flying Club dues - $35/month – This covers headset use, emergency equipment use, classroom facilities, and a cheaper rental rate.
- Books - $300 would buy you everything you need, but you can spend less by shopping on-line, borrowing, or copying.
- Medical Certificate (Required for Solo and further flight training) - $125
Estimate to Solo Flight
• 15 Flight hours with an Instructor X $198 = $2970 (with tax)
• 10 ground instruction hours with an Instructor X $50 = $500
• Books - $150
• Medical Certificate - $125
Total = $3745
Estimate to Private Pilot Certification (this includes the cost to solo)
• 35 Flight hours with an Instructor X $198 = $6930 (with tax)
• 15 Flight Hours Solo X $150 = $2250
• 15 ground instruction hours with an Instructor X $50= $750
• Books - $150
• FAA Costs - $300
Total = $10,380
(Budget $2000 per month for 5 months - This is a planning guideline and as your training progresses, I will assist you in seeing if you are on, ahead, or behind in this estimate)
Ways to reduce this cost
If you are disciplined, these tips will conservatively save you $2000-$2500 in getting your Private Pilot license. Study, Study, and Study!! Do the homework I assign. I will ensure you integrate referenced material and correlate (highest form of learning) the material more efficiently. By doing this our ground lessons will just require I ensure you have learned the material completely and correctly. (30-45 mins) Otherwise I end up teaching the material. (1.5 – 2 hours) This cuts your ground instruction time in half. Study and be prepared for each flight. We can spend 2 hours in the air with me teaching you what you should have learned on the ground or 1 - 1.5 hours of you practicing the maneuvers.
Come to our preflight briefing a ½ hour early to get the weather report, fill out the weight/balance computations, and do the preflight. This will save you ½ hour every time you fly. If you don’t do this, we will end up spending time doing it. Spend time in the aircraft (with the engine off) reviewing various checklists and learning what all those funny looking gauges and buttons do. This will save you approximately $30-$40 per flight trying to remember how to do the run ups as the meter is ticking.
Take your FAA Written Exam (required for Private Pilot License) at about the same time you solo (10-15 hours of flight training). Taking the exam about this time allows you to have an idea of what the exam is all about but you still have a lot to learn. Studying for the exam will teach you much of what you need to know without paying for flight time while doing it. Taking it any later and you end up studying for the exam and not flying. Your flight skills will degrade just before you take your practical exam with the FAA.
This is based on the student’s schedule and the instructor’s schedule. Initial training is best done at a minimum of 2-3 days per week. The less frequently a student flies the longer it takes. If the student only flies once every two weeks, it would be next to impossible to accomplish anything significant.
There is a plethora of information and it is best taken in small, definable chunks. A little bit each day is best and a review of material learned is necessary. A training syllabus is an effective way for the flight instructor to lead the student through the proper steps in learning to fly safely. When beginning flight training, the development of good study habits includes the practice of visualizing the flight instructor’s explanation plus those of the textbook. Study habits should include time spent with cockpit familiarization: reviewing checklists, identifying controls, and learning the cockpit arrangement.
When it comes time for your flight review, I can help. Start by following the link...... BI-ANNUAL FLIGHT REVIEW This is a detailed discussion on planning for your BFR with a CFI.
Trends in Flight Students who do not complete their training:
**Does not study material on their own - I have found that students don't get into the books like they should. Trying to learn in the air is almost impossible if you don't have a good basis of book knowledge before you leave the ground. Poor study habits will lead to more cost, more time, and eventually frustration when the time and money run out.
**Not properly involving their significant other in planning their training. Flying and learning to fly (like golf) can take a significant amount of time. The student needs to make others in their lives aware of this time requirement up front. Home study, online classes, PC based flight simulators, attending ground school during a working lunch can all assist in minimizing time away from family.
**Not properly budgeting for expenses. Cost is a large factor in incomplete training. Having the money upfront is not a requirement but planning to have the money in the future is.
**Not discussing goals with your CFI. You have to be realistic and honest with what you want to accomplish and in what amount of time you want to do it in. Too many times I have seen a Private Pilot wanting to get an Instrument rating when not being able to handle the aircraft in a non-instrument (VFR) environment first.
**Not interviewing and hiring the right CFI. You are going to spend a lot of time and money with this person. Make them earn it. You are an employer hiring an employee. Don't let them waste your time or resources.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
1. Q. Is it difficult to fly an aircraft?
A. No. It is not particularly difficult. As a beginning student pilot, you will do most of the actual flying (handling the controls of the aircraft).
2. Q. When may I begin to fly?
A. Immediately. However, you will need to apply for certain certificates, as described in this guide, in preparation for solo flight.
3. Q. Is flying safe?
A. A well-built and maintained aircraft, flown by a competent and prudent pilot, makes flying as safe or safer than many other forms of transportation.
4. Q. If engine failure occurs, what will happen?
A. Modern aircraft engines are very reliable and complete engine failure is a rare occurrence. If the improbable does happen, you will not “fall out of the sky.” Just do what the instructor had you practice during lessons—select a good landing area and land.
Student Pilot Flight Training
1. Q. Are there a set number of flight instructional hours I will receive before I solo?
A. No. The instructor will not allow you to solo until you have learned to perform certain maneuvers. These maneuvers include safe takeoffs and landings. You must be able to maintain positive control of the aircraft at all times and to use good judgment.
2. Q. What should I know about Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) prior to my first solo?
A. Your flight instructor will determine that you are familiar with appropriate portions of 14 CFR part 61, the general and visual flight rules of 14 CFR part 91, and will administer and grade a presolo written test prior to solo endorsement. The presolo written test will also include questions on the flight characteristics and operational limitations of the make and model aircraft to be flown.
3. Q. Does a student pilot automatically have the privilege of cross-country flying after soloing?
A. No. An instructor must have reviewed the pilot’s preflight planning and preparation for solo cross-country flight and determine that the flight can be made safely under the known circumstances and conditions. The instructor must endorse the student pilot’s logbook prior to each cross-country flight, stating the pilot is considered competent to make the flight. Under certain conditions, an instructor may authorize repeated solo flights over a given route.
4. Q. As a student pilot, am I permitted to carry passengers prior to receipt of my private pilot certificate?
Student Pilot Requirements: Medical and Student Pilot Certificates
1. Q. If required, how do I get a medical certificate?
A. By passing a physical examination administered by a doctor who is an FAA-Authorized Aviation Medical Examiner.
2. Q. Where do I get my medical certificate?
A. From any FAA-Authorized Aviation Medical Examiner. There are numerous doctors who are FAA-Authorized Aviation Medical Examiners.
3. Q. Where can I get a list of FAA-Authorized Aviation Medical Examiners?
A. The FAA lists a directory on the Internet on the Civil Aeromedical Institute’s web site. www.faa.gov/pilots/amelocator/
4. Q. When required, what class of medical certificate must a student Pilots have?
A. Third-class, although any class will suffice. Medical certificates are designated as first-class, second-class, or third-class. Generally, the first class is designed for the airline transport pilot; the second-class for the commercial pilot; and the third-class for the student, recreational, and private pilot.
5. Q. If I have a physical disability, is there any provision for obtaining a medical certificate?
A. Yes. Medical certificates can be issued in many cases where physical disabilities are involved. Depending upon the certificate held and the nature of the disability, operating limitations may be imposed. If you have any questions, contact an FAA-Aviation Medical Examiner prior to beginning flight training.
6. Q. Must I have my medical certificate, when I am piloting an aircraft in solo flight?
A. Yes. The certificate should be in your physical possession or readily accessible.
Cessna 172 (The Aircraft used in training)
Though strictly speaking it's not a pure trainer, the 172 is one of the most common airplanes used by flight schools. There are really three Cessna Skyhawks — the newest versions, produced since 1996, are 180-horsepower and 160-hp airplanes with fuel injected four-cylinder Lycoming engines; the 1984 through 1968 models with the 160-hp or 150-hp four-cylinder Lycomings; and the early ones (1956 to 1967) with 145-hp Continental six-cylinder engines. 172s are also very common instrument training aircraft as well as a very popular rental model. Learn to fly in a 172 and you'll be able to rent and fly from almost any fixed base operator (FBO) worldwide.
Suggested Study Materials
- Federal Aviation Regulations
- Aeronautical Information Manual
- AC 00-6, Aviation Weather
- AC 00-45, Aviation Weather Services
- FAA-H-8083-1, Pilot’s Weight and Balance (Free on-line)
- FAA-H-8083-3, Airplane Flying Handbook (Free on-line)
- FAA-H-8083-25, Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge (Free on-line)
- FAA-S-ACS-6 (Change 1) (Airplane) (Free on-line)