Darren Smith, Flight Instructor
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Private Pilot Requirements

Private Pilot Navigation:  General Info Private Pilot | Why its a good time to become a pilot | Why become a pilot? | What it means to be a pilot | Why Pilots are Amazing People | Getting Started & Training Sequence | FAQs about getting started | How to select a flight instructor | FAQS:  Becoming a private pilot | FAA's Student Pilot Guide Advice to new student pilots | Information for Foreign Students | How to save money on your flight training | Thinking of an Airline Career? | Pilots are very special people by John KingAbout Checkrides | Private Pilot Ground School | Private Pilot Ground School Syllabus | How to Get the Most From Your Ground School | Private Pilot Rating Requirements What to do after the Private Pilot Certificate | Flight Training for Veterans | You Get What You Pay For

The following are current FAA requirements for receiving a Private Pilot Certificate:

1.  Minimum age of 17. While the student can begin flight training at any age, the student cannot take the practical test (checkride) until age 17. 

2.  Ability to read, speak, and understand the English language. 

3.  Hold an FAA Third Class Medical Certificate.

4.  Pass the computer based FAA "written" test, which consists of seventy multiple-choice questions covering:

  • Airplanes and Aerodynamics 
  • Aviation Weather & Weather Services
  • Airplane Instruments, Engines, and Systems 
  • Airports, Air Traffic Control, and Airspace 
  • Navigation: Charts, Publications, Flight Computers
  • Federal Aviation Regulations 
  • Navigation Systems
  • Airplane Performance & Weight / Balance 
  • Cross-Country Plight Planning - FAA Flight plan form
  • Aeromedical Factors & Aeronautical Decision Making
5.  Flight time requirements- Minimum of 40 hours of flight time, including:
A.  Minimum of 20 hours total flight instruction with a Certificated Flight Instructor, including minimum of: 
    • 3 hours of cross country flight to other airports - FAA flight plan form
    • 3 hours at night, including 10 takeoffs and landings and one night cross-country flight of at least 100 nautical miles. 
    • 3 hours in airplanes in preparation for the Practical Test (Checkride) within 60 days prior to that test. 
    • 3 hours of instrument flight training.

    B.  Minimum of 10 hours of solo flight, including minimum of: 

    • 10 hours in airplanes. 
    • 5 hours of cross-country flights to airports 50 nautical miles or more distant from the departure airport, including one flight of 150 nautical miles with landings at 3 points, one of which must be more than 50 nautical miles from the departure airport - FAA Flight plan form
    • 3 takeoffs and landings at an airport with an operating control tower.
6.  Pass a Practical Test (Checkride) with an FAA Inspector or Designated Examiner, which includes: 
  • A review of the student's logbook, medical certificate, and other paperwork. 
  • An oral exam (usually about an hour long) on aeronautical knowledge. 
  • The proficiency flight in an airplane.

Checkride Resources (download):

     Private Pilot PTS (bottom of the page)
     Private Pilot Quick Reference Card
     FAA Flight Planning Form
     Private Pilot Certificate Rating Worksheet (download)
     Airman Certificate/Rating Application, Form 8710 (download)
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