Want to know how to become a pilot? Follow the five steps below to get a private pilot’s license.
1: Find a flight school near you and start flying today!
There is nothing that you have to do before you can take an introductory lesson with a flight instructor. Your certified flight instructor (CFI) will help guide you and answer your questions on how to become a pilot. You won’t be able to fly solo until you have a student pilot certificate and your instructor endorses it for solo flight.
Flight schools for private pilots
2: Obtain a student pilot certificate
The next step is to obtain a third class medical certificate from an aviation medical examiner (AME). The AME will examine you and if you are healthy enough to fly, give you the student pilot and medical certificate. A student pilot certificate does not permit you to fly solo until your CFI decides that you are ready and endorses your certificate for solo flight. It is important to do this step early because further training can be expensive and there is a chance that you will not pass the medical exam. In case you don’t qualify medically it is better to know before you spend thousands of dollars on training. The student pilot certificate will last 60 months (five years) unless you are 40 years old, in which case it is only good for 24 months.
Step 3: Knowledge testing (Ground school)
All pilot licenses require some knowledge testing. While students traditionally attended classes to study for this test, many students today prefer to study on their own or online to save money. This is acceptable but you will need to have some form of official documentation stating that you have completed ground instruction. If you buy a course that is pure memorization, demand your money back! Memorizing answers will not get you through this test. Even if the FAA used the same test every time (they don’t) the knowledge that you are being tested on is essential to a pilot and not knowing it is very unsafe.
Step 4: Dual and solo flight training
Once you have passed the written test, you can focus on flying. The schedule here is up to you and your CFI, but you will need a minimum of 40 hours of flight time before you are allowed to move on. Flight time can get expensive, and your flight school may have some financing available. Many flight schools will hire back their students as CFIs once they are fully certified, which is a great way to rack up flight time while getting paid for it. Your CFI will let you know when you are ready to take the practical test.
Step 5: Practical Test
When your CFI has approved it, make an appointment for your oral test and flight test to show our abilities. Congratulations, you are now certified as a private pilot! If you intend to fly for personal non-commercial reasons only, this is all you need to fly under most conditions. If you want to fly commercially you will need a commercial pilot certificate.