Posts: 168
Joined: Sat Oct 16, 1999 5:18 pm

Private Pilot's License

Mon Dec 13, 1999 4:24 pm


I've decided to try to get my private pilot's license. I had a few questions though.

1) What are the requirements?
2) If I fly with a friend (so that we split the cost of airplane rental), can we both get the hours flown?
3) Is it hard to get?
4) If you do get your private pilots' license, can you fly a) alone b) at night c) in any weather, at your discretion d) are you restricted to where you can fly?
4) What is VFR and IFR?
5) What is the average cost? I can only do it within a 8-month span. Is it possible to get it during that timeframe?


RE: Private Pilot's License

Tue Dec 14, 1999 5:00 am

Hi, Alex. I commend you for your decision - it's a lot of fun! I'll try to answer your questions to the best of my ability below:

1) The Federal Aviation Regulations spell out the requirements for an Airman Certificate. FAR 61.102-61.109 list the certification requirements. You must be 17 years old; be able to read, speak, and understand English; pass a knowledege test on information that you will learn in training; and have the following flight experience (all are minimum times):
40 hours total time
20 hours dual instruction
10 hours of solo flight
3 hours of cross country training (flight to airports 50 NM+ away from departure)
3 hours of night training
One cross country flight over 100 NM at night
10 takeoffs and landings to a full stop at night
3 hours of training on instrument flying
5 hours of solo cross country

The 40 hours total, 20 dual, 10 solo include all of the other requirements listed.

2) I'm pretty sure that wouldn't work for several reasons:
* You need to be in the front seat to receive instruction, your instructor also needs to be in the front seat
* As a student pilot, flights without an instructor must be solo (i.e. nobody else in the aircraft), so you couldn't have a friend in the plane when you don't have an instructor
You can go on each other's dual lessons just for the learining that would probably occur, but you couldn't log it.

3)The Private Pilot Certificate is not inherently hard to get. You need to really dedicate yourself to earning it, you need to work hard to learn the maneuvers and to learn the knowledge, and you have to face the reality that you are not perfect and things may not always work out of the first try. If you keep at it, though, you shouldn't have too much trouble learning to fly the plane. The hardest part for a lot of people, I think, is the knowledge part, because they don't realize how important the knowledge is. If, however, you focus just on flying and not on learning the knowledge, you will have a harder time of it. You will need to learn about weather, aerodynamics, the flight environment, and other things. As long as you are dedicated and work hard, it shouldn't be that difficult.

a) You can fly alone in a single engine land airplane with less than 201 horsepower, fixed gear, and a fixed pitch propeller. Other aircraft require additional training.
b) You can fly at night
c) Not in any weather - there are VFR weather and cloud clearance requirements that you must meet (see #5 for "VFR")
d) You can fly wherever your aircraft is capable of flying (use caution flying underpowered aircraft in mountains, for example. The FAA doesn't restrict you as to where you can fly, but you need to use good judgement.)

5) VFR stands for "Visual Flight Rules." That is how you will have to fly until you are instrument rated. VFR flying requires you to maintain certain visibility requirements and distances from clouds (exact numbers for these distances vary based on where you are, so you'll learn that when you start). IFR satnds for "Instrument Flight Rules," and lets you fly through clouds and in conditions with absolutely no visibility. You must be able to accurately interpret your instruments and to fly them precisely, so the instrument rating required to fly IFR will take some work. The reason this system is used is for safety. Statistics show that the leading cause of accidents in aviation is a pilot continuing flight VFR into bad weather conditions (not thunderstorms, neccessarily, but clouds, fog, or low visibility). Pilot who are not flying by instruments proficiently tend to get disoriented very quickly in such conditions, so this is a good system.

6) The cost varies widely based on the aircraft and instructor rates where you train. Here at Purdue, it took me 52 hours and about $5,000 to get my private. My understanding is that it normally takes 75-80 hour sto get certificated, but the cost per hour will be lower most likely. I would estimate to expect about $5000, but make sure you ask your flight school before you start to train. By the way, if your flight school gives you prices based on 40 hours of flight, beware - most people don't finish that quickly! It is definitely possible to finish in 8 months if you are diligent about flying frequently and your aircraft anmd instructor are sufficiently available for you to do so. As an example of how quickly it is possible to do it, I came to Purdue and began flying on August 26, 1998 and earned my certificate less than 3 months later, on November 13, 1998. That was flying 3 times a week, 2 hours at a time. I think that the more frequently you fly, the less total time it will take and the quicker you can finish.

I hope that this has helped. If you have any other questions, feel free to post them or e-mail me privately.
Posts: 830
Joined: Wed Oct 06, 1999 5:49 am

RE: Private Pilot's License

Tue Dec 14, 1999 5:46 am

It only took you three hours to get your license! I have been flying for 2 months and have 3 hours of flight time. This is for two reasons, I have to go to thsi thing called "high school" during the week ansd can only fly on the weekend and secondly because british weather sucks hard. It is always raining or too windy so i can't fly. I also have to wait 2 years until i am 17 beofre I get my license, so I can't get my ppl no matter what. I wish I could fly 3x a week for two hours.

Generally, how many hours is it until you solo for the first time? Is it seem a lot different with out your instructor sitting there next to you incase you screw up?

About the VFR, when you mean you have to stay away from clouds, are these just the big clouds or even the smallest clouds which don't hurt your visibility in any way?

It only costs you $5000 for yor license! It cost 4500 pounds here which is about $7000. Man, my parnets are getting ripped off paying for my lessons, but I am just glad I don't have to pay.

I know this is kind of long, but hopefully purdue cadet can answer my questions I have about his post.
Posts: 168
Joined: Sat Oct 16, 1999 5:18 pm

RE: Private Pilot's License

Tue Dec 14, 1999 9:17 am

Hello again.

Thanks to PerdueCadet for your quick and thorough response. A few more questions though:

1) With a private pilot's license, am I allowed to fly with guests? Or does it have to be solo?

2) what is the hierarchy of pilot licenses? I know that there is something called a "recreational pilot's license". What is that and how does it compare to a private pilot's license? Also, what are the different licenses above a private pilot's license up to, for instance, the ATP

3) how long is the private pilot's license valid for?

Posts: 2276
Joined: Thu Aug 05, 1999 1:42 pm

Koopas Let Me Pick Up Where Purdue Cadet Left Off

Tue Dec 14, 1999 12:08 pm

Purdue Cadet has explained this very well. However, it seems like he responded to you new questions yet. So, I guess I'll pick up where he left off.

I was going to explain the answers to your first questions, but I got lazy... I have to admit. Sorry...

Anyhow... enough babble. Here we go:

1.) You can fly with passengers when you get your PPL. However, you CANNOT receive any form of compensation for this. The FAA is really big on that. The amount of people that you can take up with you depends on the amount of seat belts. In the Piper Cherokee Warrior you can take up to 3 other people with you.

Also there are limitations to this rule. In order to carry passengers you need to make 3 take-offs and landings during the day and if you want to carry them during the night, you need to make 3 take-offs and landings to a full stop. A full stop means that you have to land, get off the runway, taxi back to the threshold, and take off again.

2.) The hierachy of licenses goes like this:
-Student Certificate (strictist license)
-Recreational Pilot (a little less strict)
-Private Pilot (less strict still)
-Instrument License (lesser still)
-Commerical License (lesser still)
-Multi-Engine License
-Airline Transport Pilot License
-Ratings (for the turbine jets)

3.) The PPL is good for as long as your medical certificate is good for. A Third Class is good for 3 years. A Second Class is good for 2 years. A First Class is good for 6 calander months. It must be said that once a First Class medical expires it reverts to a Second Class and thus takes on those limitations. When a Second Class expires it reverts to a Third Class.

In addition, you must get a BFR. A BFR is a Bi-Annual Flight Review. That must accomplished every 24 calander months. For that you must attend a minimum of 1 hour of ground school (refresher course) and 1 hour of instructor time (that means that you have to fly with an instructor).

If you need anymore questions you can email me or Purdue Cadet (Michael McDonald). You can find my email address under "User Info".

- Neil Harrison


Tue Dec 14, 1999 12:57 pm

Flying in the UK is far more expensive then flying in the US. I am going to England next year to do my Instrument and it will cost almost 150% more! The British weatehr is not the best to learn in I must admit but at the rate you are going it will take you about 20 years to be a Privatr Pilot. I would consider putting my name down every weekend and go flying as much as you can. As if you do not plan it like that it take too much time to get any where.

Questions about solo and times like that are the hardest questions to answer (along with cost). If you learn to fly out of a small grass strip it takes far less time then C class airspace. It took my about 40 hours to solo and I will be around 100 before I get my license that is high but when you are flying out of the busiest private airport in the world that is what you can expect!

More Answers!

Tue Dec 14, 1999 1:25 pm

AA737 -
The reason that I had the luxury of flying so much here is that I am a flight major in school, so this was a class for me scheduled through the University. I'm not really sure how long is normal in the real world, but here at Purdue we generally solo after about 10-25 hours. It is really dependent on the student, and it's ok if you take a little longer to get to the point of soloing. As for being different, the biggest difference is that you really have to think for yourself. When your instructor is there, you can ask all sorts of mundane questions, like "what altitude should I do the maneuver at?" or "can I do the checklist yet?" When you fly solo, you have to think for yourself and answer these questions on your own. I didn't think it was that bad, some people get pretty scared. Finally, that does mean any cloud. Even small ones must be avoid to remain legal.

I have found that the most limiting factor in carrying passengers is actually weight. While the Cherokee has three extra seatbelts, it will generally be overweight with four adults and fuel. To add to what Neil said about the hierarchy, let me clarify one thing - Instrument and multi-engine are actually ratings; that is, they are "add-ons" to a certificate. You can be a private pilot with a multi-engine rating, you can be a commercial pilot without an instrument rating, and so on. The certificate classes are student, recreational, private, commercial, and ATP. To those, them you add ratings and type ratings to earn extra privleges.
Finally, as Neil said, the pilot certificate has no expiration date. For it to remain current, you must have a current medical and have a qualifying event in the last 24 calendar months. Qualifying events include: earning a new certificate or rating, a bienniel flight review (which Neil explained but misspelled), or completion of a phase of the FAA Pilot Proficiency (Wings Award) Program.

Did that answer evrything?
Posts: 2276
Joined: Thu Aug 05, 1999 1:42 pm

RE: More Answers!

Tue Dec 14, 1999 2:00 pm

Thanks, P.C. for clearing up what I neglected to say.

What can I say? My spelling is awful! I didn't do so great in grammer. Well... I kinda failed it. Never was my cup of tea.

Now, I put my faith in the good people at Microsoft when they put that grammer correction feature into Word2000!  

- Neil Harrison
Posts: 983
Joined: Sun Oct 24, 1999 8:28 am

RE: Private Pilot's License

Tue Dec 14, 1999 9:14 pm

Hey guys
well everybody seemed to cover the whole story in great detail, so theres not much for me to add. Just wondering if you are going to go on a intensive training course or in your spare time. I went to a flight school in the US back in 96, and leaved 'on campus. I flew everyday twice a day for just over an hour. It's claimed that if you are being instructed, anything over an hour and you start to loose your concentration. Anyway I had a great time. went solo after 12 hours and had my licence after the 40, and in only four weeks. Then I went up to San francisco (from San Diego). It was great trip and took me just over 5 hours in a C152.
If you have the time, think about an intensive course only cos you get to enjoy the thrills of a PPL very quickly.

P.S. I forgot to metion, as far as I can remember, a recreational pilot does have as many restrictions on the hours that must be completed, but you are comfined to a 50 mile radius of your airport base. I won't see it as a very popular license cos if you are going to spend that much time and effort on flying go the extra mile and get a full PPL
Aircraft I've flown: A300/A310/A320/A321/A330/A340/B727/B732/B733/B734/B735/B738/B741/B742/B744/DC10/MD80/IL62/Bae146/AR

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