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You Want to Learn to Fly an Airplane?

Updated on February 5, 2015

Flying is addictive!

You want to learn to fly an airplane? I think that's a great idea! First though, I want to warn you flying is an addiction! Ok, now that I have warned you, let's get you started earning that Private Pilot Certificate.

First, you need to find a flight school. Let me ask you a couple of questions before we begin your search. What are your long term aviation goals? Is your goal to become a professional pilot and fly for a corporation or the airlines? Or, are you looking to fly for fun and leisure? As in, the weather looks great, I want to go fly! Keep your answers in mind while we talk about the FAA, Federal Aviation Administration. Flight Schools operate under Federal Regulations, set forth by the FAA. There are two sets of regulations, Part 141 and Part 61. Both sets of regulations define minimum requirements (hours) for pilot certification. If you are looking into flying professionally, I would recommend you to start gathering information on flight schools under Part 141. Visit the schools, ask lots of questions, including how long they have been in business. Flight Schools associated with a University are committed to your education and are a great way to go for a person with the desire, ambition and money to attend. There are good flight schools operating under Part 141 that don't offer a college degree, but you will receive good, structured flight instruction there as well. The advantage to Part 141 schools is they are very structured, and the school had to meet certain requirements, approved by the FAA to become Part 141. Due to these strict requirements, the FAA does not require as many flying hours to obtain different pilot certificates. This is an advantage for those planning on becoming a professional pilot. For the rest of the article, I am going to assume you are looking to fly for fun and leisure.

Part 141 and Part 61 are similar for the Private Pilot Certificate. The FAA requires a minimum of 40 flight hours to obtain the Private Certificate under Part 61. Part 141 requires 35 flight hours. With that being said, I would like to inform you the average person in the United States going for their Private License (Private Pilot Certificate) is 70 hours! The difference between Part 141 and Part 61 is not going to make a big difference for you.

Now, to move on and find that flight school! Is there a small airport near where you live? Most likely, yes! There's a good chance there is a small flight school there as well! Some, small city airports also have flight schools. Locate a few and let's go inside and take a look around!

- Is ABC Flight School, Part 61 or Part 141?

- How long has the Flight School been operating?

- How many airplanes do they use for flight training purposes?

- Where is their maintenance done? Do they own their own facility?

- How many Flight Instructors do they employ? Full time number? Part time number?

- Are any FAA Examiners associated with the school?

- Does the Flight School use a training syllabus? Ask to see a copy of it.

- Is a ground school course offered for the Private Written exam, or Videos?

- Fees? Ask about all fees, including insurance, books, examination fees.

- Do they have a Chief Flight Instructor?

The answers you want to hear....ABC Flight School is well established. They have more than two aircraft for training. ( If they don't, sometimes you won't be able to fly when you want to.) They use their own mechanics and maintenance facility. Safety always comes first in aviation! They use a training Syllabus, and offered to show it to you. This is great, it means the instructors are all on the same page. They have a Chief Flight Instructor, good management! They offer a free ground school. Videos are good too, each student has their own learning style. There is more than one full time and more than one part time Flight Instructor. All fees were explained. As you took a tour you saw clean, well maintained airplanes, other students happily coming and going, and you heard an FAA Flight Examiner likes to hang out there. So far, so good.....

Now, you need the best instructor for YOU!

Find a Flight Instructor available on the days, hours you want to fly. Schedule an Introductory flight lesson with that instructor.

- How did you like the Flight Instructor? You will spend lots of hours in close quarters together, so you want to like him or her!

- Does their teaching style suit the way you learn?

- Do you feel safe with this person? Utmost importance! You need to be safe, feel safe and the instructor needs to instill safety in you.

- Will this instructor be teaching for a while? Or are they building time for the airlines, and want to be out the door before you finish up the requirements for your license?

- Will he or she allow you to talk to former students?

- How have their students performed on the required tests for the Private Pilot Certificate? Besides a Medical Exam, three tests will be required; a Written Exam, an Oral Exam and the Practical Exam. The Practical is in the air, with you as Pilot in Command! Smile!

If you like the Instructor and you feel you two are a good match, then you have found your Instructor! Get some lessons booked. Your Instructor will take it from here!

GO FLY!!!!

Never Too Young or Old to Fly!

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Are you a Pilot?

Please share a word of encouragement for future pilots! Thank you and Fly Safe!


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    • profile image


      3 years ago

      Wow very detailed article. Some of the questions I had wrote before reading this article are here as well. Is an important decision to select a flight school and must of all the instructor.

    • Melissa Orourke profile imageAUTHOR

      Melissa Orourke 

      3 years ago from Roatán, Islas De La Bahia, Honduras

      Thanks Bill!

      It's not to late, go up for an intro. flight! Take some lessons and attend a free ground school! What are we going to regret on our death beds? Things we have done, or those things we didn't get to do! Life is an adventure, go for it!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      If I had the money I would do this. I always wanted to learn, but time and fate conspired against me. Oh well, it was fun to hear about your experience. You obviously love it up among the birds.

    • Melissa Orourke profile imageAUTHOR

      Melissa Orourke 

      3 years ago from Roatán, Islas De La Bahia, Honduras

      I am glad I could help! I started flying at age 17 and still love it! My 16 year old is learning now!

    • amanda5577 profile image


      3 years ago from Michigan

      Interesting information! I know several people who are interested in flying and have no idea where to start. Thanks for sharing!


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