Learn to Fly
7 day IFR Rating
Student Pilot, obtained Private Pilot,
If you've made the
decision to learn
how to fly, your next consideration should be how/where to get
The following is a set of tips derived from my research into flight
and definitely from a student's perspective. I'm not some
trying to shove some $10,000 curriculum down your throat... these are
experiences in my quest.
fly was easier
than I thought... you can do this.
How You're Going to Get Ground School Training
Your local airport will most likely
"ground school" training. My particular ground school was offered
at an airport close to work. Every Tuesday night after work, I
over to the airport to spend three hours learning the finer points of
My instructor followed a syllabus and used materials provided by Jeppesen.
So I purchased the course and these materials after some research into
what flight schools use. Even though my school
was not FAA regulated (Part141), they used the material that a Part 141
uses (good sign, eh?). I bought the Jeppesen Basic 141
kit, about $200/USD. You don't necessarily need to take a class
the college, but for me, it was a matter of having a schedule, a
and some discipline. Some do well with self study
The point is to cover the information required in Federal Aviation
Traditional ground school will
To find the schools in your area,
listed in an airport directory. A good on-line directory is
also got links for weather, Fuel, Flight Training, Video Tapes, &
Supplies. They even have comments about airport businesses so you
can get a feel for the character of the place.
Intro to Flight & aerodynamics
(knobs, dials, gauges)
Operations (airspace, radios)
(& more weather & more weather)
Weather (again) services
performance & weight/balance
Charts, Pubs, Computers
systems (very helpful)
flight planning (maps)
There are many other sources for
training. A second method may be for you if you're self
disciplined and can focus. Other "individual" sources of training
include self study CDroms offered by Cessna (the folks that make the
as well as CDs and Video tapes from King
Schools. My airport offered free
"rental" of the King & Jeppesen videos as part of the enrollment in
ground school. I found this is quite common and a great idea if
are visually stimulated (as I am). If a traditional ground school
class is not the thing for you, the Cessna and King materials can take
you through everything you need. You could potentially buy the
study materials and move right on to step two (below).
A third method of ground instruction
directly from your Certificated Flight Instructor, at his hourly
That can be expensive. Whoa.
It might also be useful to join
to help you obtain resources, such as AOPA.
They have a free kit to entice you to start flying... give 'em a ring.
fundamentals training (ground school), you'll want to start flying.
When to start? I started after
one of ground school and by week three of ground school had
5 hours in the air and experience in three different aircraft.
How does one find an
In my area, there are probably 10 little airports. Many with
rentals, flying clubs, and most importantly... schools with instructors
(aka FAA Certificated Flight Instructors). A good on-line
is available at AirNav.
Call each one of these and ask about a discovery flight -- usually
$40-50. You'll want not only to review the airport &
find out if they use the materials you've purchased (step one above)
can work with you using those materials. You're looking
for a Certificated Flight Instructor who you will feel compatible with,
not for more ground school, but the in the air, flying-around
kind of training. Other tips and a searchable database can be
Watch out for:
People who are
just looking to
and don't really care about you. Find evidence during your
with each instructor that they care about the pupil, their profession,
and student progress/achievement.
What are the instructor's
they want to be an airline pilot? (You'll find this is quite
You'll want to know if this person is currently and actively looking
an airline job and may disappear on you mid-training. Remember,
motive is an airline career. They only had to do the CFI route to
build time to achieve their goals. Teaching wasn't their first
Is that the kind of instructor you want?
Make sure you're not dealing
with a nutso
that couldn't cut it in the military, socially unstable, etc. A
red light is if they should criticize you during your "discovery"
after all, you're not an accomplished pilot, yet. The CFI
that I decided to go with was extremely positive in their attitude
teaching, flying, and student progress. Was sincere and honest
me about what was possible.
Find out how long it takes
most of their
students to finish? Minimum is usually 20 hours of instruction,
can run as high as 50-60 hours (at $40-$55/hour - American dollars -
pesos). You don't want someone that strings you along. The
CFI that I decided to go with was also extremely detail oriented.
Each session has a goal and was tied with the Jeppesen syllabus.
Progress is measurable, quantified. I like that.
Don't take the quick route
get your private
pilot certificate. This stuff is important and people die when
are made. People are always focusing on the minimums to get the
done. You don't want to be "just good enough," you want to have a
solid understanding of safe practices. Watch out for CFIs that
too much on you in one lesson. A structured learning experience
builds on previous success is a far better learning technique than the
shotgun approach. It may be frustrating to go slower, but the
retention is higher which means your overall costs are lower. And
you're safer in the long run.
Make sure the CFI isn't
(at $30-$45/hour) extensively reviewing materials you learned in ground
school. Unfortunately some do... they need the cash. You
Communication style... can
this person while you're in the air? Are the instructions
Everyone thinks & reacts differently, don't be afraid to move onto
the next CFI if you have any reservations. Be picky.
This stuff is
time or the instructor's by not keeping up with your ground school
Don't fly if you are not prepared for a lesson. You will get the
most bang for your bucks by being prepared. Even the best instruction
fully compensate for lack of preparation.
Stick with the aircraft you
If you plan to "go all the way," then be sure your training aircraft is
IFR qualified so you can use it for your instrument training. I
a lot of time flying different aircraft
which means re-learning checklists and procedures in each
This increases your total training costs. To keep your costs
stick with the same aircraft throughout your Private and Instrument,
Commercial ratings. By doing so, you'll become "the master of the
aircraft" which is a necessary skill level for the commercial pilot
One exception: during your commercial, you'll get some advanced
in a complex aircraft.
Make sure you know why the
you want to
learn how to fly. This is not the place for "get over your fear
flying" therapy -- if you don't listen to what I am saying here, flight
training is going to make you never want to come out of your house
There's some minimal personal risk to flying. If you don't
me, check out the NTSB
accident database. Use this to review accidents in
planes to learn what went wrong. I'm a firm believer in always
your motivations for doing stuff... mine was to add some excitement to
my life. What's yours?
Determine how fast you want
get your pilot
certification. Flying once per week will give you one in 6
For me, I am looking to get it asap... flying several times a week will
be required. The longer the time between lessons, the more the
forgets resulting in more time spent reviewing past lessons. I
want to go too fast that I might miss something important, or build the
right skills to keep me safe.
If you're going to do this,
have the commitment (including finances) to make it happen. I've
got a friend who never got to his solo flight (usually after 20-30
of CFI-led instruction) because of finances. That was well over 5
years ago, and he has never gotten back into it. I wish he would,
its sad not to see others reach their goals, just think how it will
if you don't make it. See step three. Once you start, don't
stop. The aviation learning curve is steep enough to merit consistent
until you achieve your goal.
Find out more about
Information to obtain when you take
ratings, the more the better. Examples: CFI, CFII, MEI,
etc. blah blah
Total time instructor
for single engine,
and multi engine. If they have more than 200-400 hours of
time, they are likely interviewing with airlines. And if they
why not? The instructor I decided on had approximately 1700
approximately 400 hours was multi-engine time, so he's actively
an airline job. He disappeared mid-point through my training,
after my solo cross country. I had to start over with another
who spent several lessons reviewing my skills.
Cost of instruction, per
Any chance of doing a deal on the side? My CFI told me I could
him for instruction on the side which would save me about
Be careful, he most likely wont be covered by insurance, nor will you
you fall out of the sky. If you screw something up, and live,
could always be a lawsuit. I might do a private deal with my CFI
because I happen to be very cost conscious. Turns out most CFI's
do not carry personal liability insurance. Does your instructor
his own insurance in addition to the FBO he teaches from?
Types of aircraft
Cost of each aircraft,
rental fee per
See if you can look at
to determine how busy they are. Will your schedule and theirs
sync up? You're too busy is a really bad excuse.
Talk with other students
for a while) to see who their instructor is, what their experiences
Most everyone I have EVER talked to loves to talk about their flight
This is a possible budget for
private pilot certification. This is not bare minimum, its what I
Be sure what you know what you are
The good thing is if your on a six month time frame, the costs are much
more reasonable than those of us who are on a two month time frame
me). Once you get started, never stop. And keep in mind,
you get your certificate, you'll want to fly at least two times a
at least. Give yourself about $200/month in monthly aircraft
to stay current (at minimum). You could spend much more, and some
will (like me).
Ground School Books
Chocolate to overcome
Headset, good quality, not
the best, not the worst
Discovery flights at
various local airports
Medical Certificate (see
step #4 - below)
Pilot Operating Handbook
(for the aircraft
you train in)
FAA Written Test $80-90
6 at 200
4 at 200
|Aircraft Rental time, depending on type of
|Instructor time (depends on your needs)
You need a medical clearance before
Get it during your initial flight training. Check the FAA
website for medical doctors qualified to provide medical exams for
You want a Third-Class Medical Certificate. If you're under 16,
You can't solo until you're 16 anyway. If you can't speak
go learn.** You've got to be
to speak, read, and understand the English language.
** Usted debe ser
en inglés conseguir un certificado modelo. Tome una clase
** Vous devez
facile en anglais pour obtenir un certificat pilote. Prenez une classe
Typical flying lesson:
1. Preflight weather check
2. Preflight briefing
to be worked on this session).
3. Preflight inspection of
4. Preflight checklists, taxi,
5. In-flight review of
6. In-flight activities as
7. Post flight briefing
- Try to have at least one
keeps stuff fresh in your head.
- Try to get 10-15 hours in
of the various
airplanes. Get some variety - not too much that you're reviewing
the same lessons over and over.
- Be wary of excessive ground
you've already taken a ground class.
- To register
Private Pilot Ground School Training, call 813-253-7980