Darren Smith, Flight Instructor
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Learn to Fly!

Getting Started as a Private Pilot

by Darren Smith, CFII/MEI
from PocketLearning, October 2002
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

If you're serious... 
  • Make a commitment:  The most important commitment is the time & money. You must not allow money to become a detriment to your commitment. Flying is not cheap and will not become any less expensive as you continue. 
  • Get a headset:  The purchase of a headset is required by many flight schools. Headsets can be purchased for as little as $100.00 but you may want to spend a little more. A high quality $300.00 headset (or more) is a good investment because you will use it for years. Cheaper headsets may not stand the test of time.   If you plan a career in aviation, then consider getting a high quality ANR headset made by LightSpeed or Bose. 
  • Get a discovery flight.  I’ll help you get hooked. 
  • Start studying!  If you can't or won't establish the priority, don't start. You must keep ahead of the flight program with your reading and preparation. 
  • Get your medical certificate. 
Sequence of Flight Training:

Don't become intimidated by what you are about to read.  I'll explain this in-depth during the course. 

  1. Pre solo phase:  Student undertakes ground school, learns preflight & aeronautical decision making process, taxiing, emergency procedures, takeoff & landing, flight maneuvers (climbs, descents, turns, ground reference). 
  2. Pre solo exam:  exam covering aeronautical knowledge, local procedures, emergency procedures. 
  3. Solo: instructor endorses student for safe solo flight.  Consists of 3 takeoffs & landings while instructor supervises from the ground. 
  4. Cross Country:  instructor introduces night flight, cross-country, weather, weight & balance, airplane performance. 
  5. Solo Cross Country of at least 50 miles.  Instructor determines if student can make the flight safely, then endorses student for solo cross country and reviews flight planning 
  6. Pre-Checkride: review of flight maneuvers and other preparation to pass FAA check-ride. 
  7. Check-ride:  begins with 1 hour oral exam and 1 hour practical exam.  You'll be asked to plan a cross country flight including weather & weight and balance info.  Maneuvers will be demonstrated as required in the PTS.  If successful, a temporary certificate is supplied immediately with the permanent sent by mail. 
In seven easy steps, you're a pilot, and able to explore the fascinating world of aviation.
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All content is Copyright 2002-2010 by Darren Smith. All rights reserved. Subject to change without notice. This website is not a substitute for competent flight instruction. There are no representations or warranties of any kind made pertaining to this service/information and any warranty, express or implied, is excluded and disclaimed including but not limited to the implied warranties of merchantability and/or fitness for a particular purpose. Under no circumstances or theories of liability, including without limitation the negligence of any party, contract, warranty or strict liability in tort, shall the website creator/author or any of its affiliated or related organizations be liable for any direct, indirect, incidental, special, consequential or punitive damages as a result of the use of, or the inability to use, any information provided through this service even if advised of the possibility of such damages. For more information about this website, including the privacy policy, see about this website.