Learning to fly is an experience that demands dedication and effort, yet yields a lifetime of benefits. Getting a Private Pilot's license may be the first step toward an aviation career, open business opportunities, or may be just for fun. Although there are many reasons to learn to fly, there is only one way to begin.
Becoming a Student Pilot
All pilots begin as student pilots. To be eligible, you must obtain a flight physical examination by a physician designated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The airport can help you find the designated physician in your area.
A medical certificate will be issued to you at the time of the physical examination, which will be valid for two or five years, depending on your age at the time of the examination. The next step is applying for your student pilot certificate with the FAA, which can be done online. When you meet with your instructor, they can help you with the application. You can start training prior to receiving your certificate, but you will need it when you fly solo.
To begin your flight training, no prior experience is necessary. All you need to do is schedule a flight lesson with a flight instructor. Additionally, you will need to prove your U.S. citizenship, by means of a current passport, or a combination of your Driver's License and Birth Certificate.
The first thing that your instructor will show you is how to inspect the aircraft to determine it is ready for safe flight. During this time you will become familiar with the basic aircraft components, flight instruments, controls, and how to use checklists to ensure that all tasks are completed.
Under the careful guidance of your instructor, you will start the engine, taxi to the runway, and make your first “hands-on” takeoff!
As soon as you become proficient enough to demonstrate the knowledge and skills required to control the aircraft safely, your instructor will supervise your first solo – you will be in the aircraft at the controls by yourself. This will be a great milestone in your training.
The next several hours of your flight training will expose you to different flying conditions. This will include flying at night, taking off and landing in cross-winds, emergency procedures, and cross country flights to other airports. This phase of training will focus on building the flight time experience requirements for certification.
The Knowledge Test
The FAA requires you to pass a knowledge test administered on a computer. This can be done at any time throughout your training, but must be completed before taking your checkride to receive your license.
There are two common ways of preparing for the knowledge test. One is by using a FAA approved home study course. This is a good method for people who have hectic schedules, and cannot commit to a routine study time. The home study course materials can be purchased at the airport. The second way is by taking a ground school class. Contact Lincoln Land Community College for class locations and schedules.
Becoming a Private Pilot
When you have completed all of the flight requirements, and have successfully complete the knowledge test, you will demonstrate your aviation knowledge and skills to a flight examiner. The first part of the exam will be an oral test, followed by a flight test. When the examiner is satisfied that you have the proper knowledge and can perform all flight operations safely, he or she will issue you a license certifying you as a Private Pilot!
Consistent flight training of at least twice a week will ensure you attain your license in a minimum amount of time.