Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Is there an age limit for
obtaining a private pilot rating? (What about max age?)
A: The Federal Aviation Regulations require an individual to be at
least 16 years of age to operate an aircraft solo and 17 years of
age to obtain a private pilot certificate. There is not an age
limitation on beginning flight lessons with a certified flight
instructor. There is no maximum age for acquiring a private pilot
certificate. Once someone gets this certificate, they may exercise
the privileges of that certificate as long as they continue to get a
medical certificate and a biannual flight review.
Q: What written tests and flight tests
are required to obtain my private pilot rating?
A: Student pilots have to pass a pre-solo written exam before solo,
a private pilot written exam (FAA), and a practical exam (flight
Q: What exams are required to get my
private pilot rating (and where do I take them)?
A: To obtain a private pilot rating, you must obtain at least a 3rd
class medical, and these are available from FAA medical examiners
(refer to phonebook or contact flight school).
Q: What is a medical certificate?
A: Every pilot must obtain a medical certificate in order to
exercise the privileges of their pilot's license – there are three
classes; 1st (most stringent, and good for six months), 2nd (good
for one year and required for use with a commercial rating), and 3rd
(good for three years if you are under 40, two years if 40 or
Q: Are there any medical restrictions
to prevent me from becoming a pilot?
A: Some medical conditions may require a waiver for a pilot to get a
medical certificate, and these are best described by the FAA medical
Selecting a Flight School
Q: What is the
difference between a Part 141 school and Part 61?
A: The "Parts" refer to different sections of the Federal Aviation
Regulations, and the different Parts dictate different requirements
for flight schools. Generally, Part 61 flight schools have less
stringent requirements – no chief flight instructor, no training
course outline or sylibus. Part 141 schools must have a chief
flight instructor, have their syllabus or training course outline (TCO)
approved by the local Flight Standards District Office (FSDO), and
progress through that syllabus exactly as outlined, additionally the
flight instructors must be have passed a Part 141 authorization oral
and flight with the local FAA FSDO office. Because of this the FAA
has lower time requirements for Part 141 schools than Part 61.
Saving you money on your training.
Q: What is the
difference between a Cessna Pilot Center (CPC) and a flight school?
A: Cessna Pilot Centers must meet higher standards than the typical
flight school in order to be eligible to operate under the Cessna
logo. They must be clean, neat, and provide superior customer
service and flight training. They must make available for flight
training fully insured, new Cessna 172 aircraft that are currently
under factory warranty. Most importantly, Cessna Pilot Centers are
the only schools that utilize Cessna's integrated computer-based
instruction – a revolutionary method of teaching ground school that
is easy, thorough and fun.
Q: What is a Discovery
A: A Discovery Flight is a flight of approximately 30 minutes
intended to familiarize a student with the airplane, the airport,
and with the flying environment. During most Discovery Flights, the
student sits in the left seat, and the instructor allows the student
to fly for a majority of the flight.
Q: How and
where can I get a student pilot certificate?
An aviation medical examiner (AME) typically gives you a
student pilot certificate to fill out as
part of the third class medical exam. Your flight instructor will
likely refer you to a local AME, or you can find an examiner online
database of AME's searchable by city and
state. A student pilot certificate is valid for 24 calendar months
and a third class medical could be valid for up to 36 months,
depending on your age at the time of your AME visit. If your student
pilot certificate expires first, you can get a new one from a
designated pilot examiner (DPE) or your local Flight Standards
District Office (FSDO).
For how long is a student pilot certificate
A student pilot certificate is valid for 24 calendar months.
What are the vision, hearing, and general medical health
requirements that must be met in order to be a pilot?
Your vision must be at least 20/40 for near and distant vision with
or without corrective lenses, and you must be able to perceive those
colors necessary for the safe pilot performance. For general health
and medical related questions, refer to AOPA's medical subject
Web page prior to visiting your AME.
Q: How much does it cost to learn to fly and get
a pilot certificate?
There are a lot of variables that affect the cost of learning to
fly, including the frequency of flight lessons, weather conditions,
the kind of aircraft in which you are training and its availability
for scheduling, and individual aptitude. A rough estimate to obtain
your Private certificate would range between $8,000 and $10,000.
Q: Is there a source of loans, scholarships, or
other financial resources that can help support my flight training?
A: Pilot Finance has an excellent
program to pay for your flight training and make it affordable.
click on our finance tab to see more.
Some flight schools have aircraft with "glass cockpits" and others
do not. Are there any advantages of training in either aircraft?
A controversial subject at times, there is no doubt that modern
technology has inundated the general aviation cockpit, including
training aircraft. The choice is ultimately yours, but some things
to consider will be the cost of training in the "glass cockpit"
versus conventionally equipped aircraft. Additionally, your future
ambitions might involve or require extensive use of glass-cockpit
aircraft. In either case, train in an aircraft that best suits your
present and future needs and interests. Glass cockpits are
undoubtedly the way of the future, many companies no longer build
anything but the glass cockpit and with increased situational
awareness, traffic and weather radar, and IFR charts built in, there
is no need to mention increased safety for the pilot.
Q: How old do I have to be before I can start
taking flying lessons?
You don't have to be a particular age before you can begin to take
flying lessons. That said, however, you do have to be at least 16
years old before you can solo an airplane, and 17 before you can be
issued a pilot certificate. Therefore, it may not be particularly
efficient from the standpoint of cost and flight hours to begin
lessons too early.
Q: How old is too old to begin flying lessons?
Say "student pilot," and most people think of a youngster chasing a
dream. In reality, today's fledgling is likely a middle-aged adult
who's not only chasing, but actually fulfilling a lifelong
ambition to be a pilot. The average student pilot today is in his
30s, and the typical average active pilot is a decade older. In
addition, more than 25 percent of all U.S. pilots with current
medical certificates are in their 50s. And some pilots learn to fly
after they retire.