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Prerequisite: A strong desire to fly!


What is a Private Pilot Certificate?


A Private Pilots Certificate is really kind of like a typical drivers license. It permits you to fly an airplane, carry passengers and baggage, although not for compensation or hire. Expenses for operating the airplane can be split with passengers in the airplane. Upon the completion of your training program, a written examination, and a flight test you will receive this from the FAA.

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If you have questions about becoming a Private Pilot and cost information please read the FAQ's.

If you are already a pilot and would like additional training go here.
 

A picture of a Private Pilot certificate, front and back.


What are the eligibility requirements to obtain a Private Pilot Certificate?

 

  1. You must be at least 17 years of age when you finish your training and take your FAA practical (flight) test.
  2. You must be able to read, speak, write, and converse fluently in English.
  3. You must obtain a student pilot certificate and at least a 3rd class FAA medical certificate.
    1. You must be at least 16 years of age to receive a student pilot certificate.
    2. You must undergo a routine medical examination that may only be administered by FAA-designated doctors, who are called aviation medical examiners (AMEs).
      1. A 3rd class medical certificate is valid for 3 years if the date of the examination was before your 40th birthday, or 2 years if the date of the examination was on or after your 40th birthday. The medical certificate expires on the last day of the month issued (when another medical examination is required).
    3. Your certificated flight instructor (CFI) or fixed base operator (FBO) will be able to recommend an AME.
      1. An FBO is an airport business that gives flight lessons, sells aviation fuel, repairs airplanes, etc.
      2. Visit Medical Certification-Locate an Aviation Medical Examiner (AME) for a listing of AMEs.
    4. Even if you have a physical handicap, medical certificates can be issued in many cases. Operating limitations may be imposed depending upon the nature of the disability.
  4. You must pass the private pilot knowledge test with a score of 70% or better. All FAA tests are administered at FAA-designated computer testing centers (AvTest, CATS, or LaserGrade). You must also complete the required flight training under part 61 or 141.
    1. The private pilot knowledge test consists of 60 multiple-choice questions selected from the 700+ airplane-related questions in the FAA's test bank.
    2. Under Part 61 of the Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs), you must receive a total of 40 hours of flight time, including a minimum of:
      1. 20 hours of flight training from a certificated flight instructor, including at least
        1. 3 hours of cross-country, i.e., to other airports
        2. 3 hours at night, including
          1. One night cross-country flight of over 100 nautical miles (NM) total distance
          2. 10 night takeoffs and 10 landings to a full stop at an airport
        3. 3 hours of maneuvering an airplane solely by reference to instruments
        4. 3 hours in airplanes in preparation for the private pilot practical test within 60 days prior to that test.
      2. 10 hours of solo (i.e., by yourself) flight time in an airplane, including at least:
        1. 5 hours of solo cross-country time
        2. One solo cross-country flight of at least 150 NM total distance, with full-stop landings at a minimum of three points and with one segment of the flight consisting of a straight-line distance of at least 50 NM between the takeoff and landing locations
        3. Three solo takeoffs and landings to a full stop at an airport with an operating control tower.
  5. As an alternative to Part 61 training, you may enroll in an FAA-certificated pilot school that has an approved private pilot certification course (airplane).
    1. These schools are known as Part 141 schools because they are authorized by Part 141 of the Federal Aviation Regulations.
      1. All other regulations concerning certification of pilots are found in Part 61.
    2. The Part 141 course must consist of at least 35 hours of ground training and 35 hours of flight training.
      1. The syllabus used by a Part 141 school must be approved by the FAA.
    3. There is little difference between Part 61 training and Part 141 training, except that a Part 61 course has more flexibility to adjust to your individual needs.
  6. You must successfully complete a practical (flight) test, which will be given as a final exam by an FAA-designated pilot examiner.
    1. FAA-designated pilot examiners are proficient, experienced flight instructors/pilots who are authorized by the FAA to conduct practical tests. They typically charge a fee for their services.
    2. The FAA has issued private pilot practical test standards (PTS). Each of the 50 tasks/maneuvers is required to be covered/tested on each practical test.