this initial phase of your flight training, your goal is to develop the
skills needed to inspect the aircraft before each flight (preflight the
aircraft), taxi to the runway, take off, fly around the airport traffic
pattern, and land your aircraft all alone, without your instructor's help.
In other words, to solo! To do that, you'll need to understand many new
concepts while learning some key terms from aviation's vocabulary. But
most important, you'll need to learn how to fly the airplane under
favourable weather conditions at your local airport, including when and
how to communicate over the radio.
doesn't stop after you solo. In fact, once you've flown by yourself,
there's much more for you to learn as you prepare for the next
milestone in your training. In most cases, after your first solo, you'll
have a couple of supervised solos — you'll fly part of a session
with your instructor and the rest alone, much like your first solo. Then
your instructor will allow you to practice by yourself at your home
airport, perhaps specifying certain weather conditions or areas in which
you're allowed to fly. You'll need to master operations in the airport
traffic pattern, understand winds, and learn to recognize when conditions
are beyond your capabilities. It's also time to learn more about leaning
the engine's fuel/air mixture and other finer points of aircraft
operation. A thorough understanding of your aircraft's systems and
operations will serve you well as you progress in your training.
this stage of your flight training, you may feel like all you're doing is
practicing manoeuvres — over, and over, and over. Why now? Well, you
do have to master these skills before you take your check ride, but
you'll want to have them under your belt before you begin your
cross-country flights (which will be coming up soon). It's also time to
think about taking the written tests which vary in format from country to
student pilots, the cross-country phase of training brings a new rush of
excitement. All the elements of your training come together as you expand
your aeronautical horizons, first with your flight instructor and, then,
by yourself as you close in on the solo cross-country experience
requirement of the pilot certificate that you're pursuing. Part of the
excitement, no doubt, comes from the realization that you're nearing your
objective. There can be apprehension, too, and perhaps even a fear of
getting lost — but your knowledge of the established and proven procedures
for just that contingency should help to alleviate any concerns.
nearly finished training for your pilot certificate. The next training
objective is the flight test, which will vary from country to
country in its requirements. Upon passing this milestone, you will have
qualified as a private pilot!
long does learning to fly take?
Learning to fly is not difficult, but it does require study and practice.
Your aviation authority itemizes the things you must learn and the minimum
hours of training and solo flight to earn a private pilot certificate. The
minimum hours will vary from country to country but averages at about 45
hours. Few people complete their training in the minimum amount of time;
most take 60 to 80 hours.
How long does a lesson last?
While most lessons are based on a one-hour flight, they may take two hours
from start to finish because there's more to it than flying. There are
pre- and post-flight discussions, in which you and your certificated
flight instructor (CFI) talk about what you're going to do during your
flight, how you performed, what you did well, what needs work, and what
you'll do on your next lesson.
How safe is it?
General aviation (GA) is as safe as any other mode of travel, if not
safer. You don't need a parachute because airplanes (and helicopters) do
not fall from the sky, even if the engine stops. An aircraft without an
engine, even if it's supposed to have one, is a glider and can be guided
safely to the ground. If an engine quits, for example, the most common
cause is the pilot ran out of gas. In other words, flying is as safe as
the pilot makes it.
What kinds of licenses are there?
Pilots earn certificates, not licenses. Students work toward either a
sport, recreational, or private pilot certificate. While the training for
these is basically the same, the sport and recreational certificates are
designed for fun flying close to home. In other words, sport and
recreational pilots don't need or get the same training that private
pilots must have for flying at night, on cross-country trips, or in more
earn a private certificate, you can move up the ladder, if you so desire,
to a commercial certificate, which enables you to fly for hire. A flight
instructor certificate enables you to teach others to fly, and an airline
transport pilot certificate is needed to captain an airliner. You can add
a number of ratings to these certificates that let you fly airplanes in
bad weather, seaplanes, gliders, helicopters, balloons, and airplanes with
more than one engine.
Can I carry passengers?
Student pilots cannot carry passengers when flying solo. Friends or family
may ride along on dual lessons (when the instructor is in the airplane);
however, it's a good idea to discuss this with your instructor in advance.
Recreational and sport pilots may carry only one passenger at a time;
private pilots may carry as many passengers as the airplane will legally
What about a medical exam?
In most cases, a student pilot certificate is also the medical
certificate. This dual-purpose piece of paper is good for 24 months or
less if your are over 40 years of age, and you get it from an aviation
medical examiner, who is an aviation authority-approved doctor. Your
instructor or flight school can connect you with one. You will need your
student/medical certificate before you can fly an airplane solo (with out
an instructor on board the aircraft), but it's often a good idea to get it
before you start training.
What's ground school?
Flight training is divided into two parts: ground school and flight
training. Ground school teaches you the principles, procedures, and
regulations you will put into practice in an airplane — for example how to
navigate from one airport to another. You have several ground school
options, including a scheduled classroom course that may be offered at a
flight school, weekend ground schools, or a home-study course.
When will I actually begin flying?
You'll be flying on your first lesson, with your flight instructor's
(CFI's) help, of course. With each successive lesson, your CFI will be
helping less and less, until you won't need any help at all. When you
reach this point, you will make your first solo flight, an important
milestone in every pilot's training, in which you will fly as the sole
occupant of the airplane. After you solo, you and your CFI will work on
such things as flying cross-country trips to other airports.