How to Get a Private Pilot's License

Many people dream of getting a private pilot's license. Whether as a profession or as a hobby, flying an aircraft represents the ultimate in technological achievement-and for good reason. You'll have to work hard and take several different types of tests before you attain your license.

Getting Started
To get a private pilot's license, you must be at least 17 years old. Also, you'll need to find aviation schools with qualified flight instructors. There are thousands of schools across the country. After an introductory flight, you can decide if you'd like to continue with pilot training.

Medical Certification
In order to be awarded a private pilot's license, you must pass a medical examination. An Aviation Medical Examiner, who is appointed by the Federal Aviation Administration, must perform this procedure. Simply make an appointment, fill out the appropriate paperwork, get the examination and collect a medical certificate.

The instructor will outline the number of flying lessons you'll need to learn the basics to obtain a private pilot license, but the amount of lessons will also be tailored based on how quickly or slowly you master certain maneuvers and concepts. You'll have to log a certain number of flight hours-at least 40, and probably more-and demonstrate proficiency in such complex maneuvers as takeoffs and landings. Once your instructor feels that you are ready, you can proceed to the next step.

Pilot Testing
Before receiving a license, you will need to pass a private pilot exam. It contains both a written portion and a practical flight test. The private pilot's exam is a 60-question exam that is usually offered at the aviation school. The flight exam generally consists of a flight with an examiner who asks that you perform various maneuvers with the plane and also asks questions to gauge your knowledge of the process, equipment and emergency methods. Many private pilots also go on to receive further training in instrument rating, which is flying using just the instruments on the plane.

Time Frame And Cost
Full-time students can receive a private pilot's license in about 2 months, while part-time students can complete the process in about 4 months. The cost for the entire procedure averages about $5,000. Keep in mind that, as a private pilot, you will not recoup the investment, since private pilots are not compensated for their flights. If you want to make money at flying, you will need to work toward a commercial license. But who knows? Once you get your private pilot's license, you may want to fly even higher.

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