What Does It Take to Become a Pilot?

Oct 31, 2016

If you like to travel and fly, perhaps you have thought about becoming a private pilot before. If you don’t know anyone that flies planes in their leisure time, however, becoming a pilot can seem like a daunting or even impossible task. The truth is that it is not too difficult, but there are some steps that need to be taken before you can fly on your own.

Learn to Fly

First things first, you will need to learn to fly and meet certain requirements to attain your pilot’s license. There are several different types of licenses depending on whether you wish to become a private pilot or fly in a commercial capacity. There are many flight schools across the nation that can teach you to fly and help you attain the required number of hours to get your pilot’s license. Before investing the time and money, make sure you understand the requirements.

To get your pilot’s license in the United States, you will need to:

  • Be at least 16 years old
  • Read, speak, and understand English
  • Receive a certain amount of instruction and flight hours
  • Pass a medical exam
  • Pass a written evaluation
  • Pass a flying test given by an FAA-approved instructor

Pay for Flight Training

All in all, attaining a private pilot’s license generally costs between $10,000 and $12,000. This amount is spread out over the course of your training and includes books, aircraft rental, flight instruction, and exam fees. Before setting out on your first flight with an instructor, make sure that you understand the flight school’s aviation insurance. Some schools may only carry insurance that covers certain types of damage.

Spend the Time

To attain a pilot’s license, a minimum of 40 flight hours must be logged, 20 of which are with an instructor. Most students need more than this to learn to fly and be ready for the examinations, however. The average is about 60 to 70 hours. Learning about flying, regulations, and the basics of maintaining an airplane will also require an immense time investment, roughly two to three hours per hour of flight time.

Take the Tests

After completing your flight training and medical examinations, you just have to pass the written test and check ride. The check ride, or practical test, is administered by an FAA certified examiner and usually takes about two hours. The written test takes about one hour. Once you have successfully completed these tests, you will be able to fly on your own. From here, you can look into purchasing your own aircraft, participating in fractional ownership, or completing the additional training needed to become a commercial aircraft pilot.