Private Pilot License: Requirements, Cost & Training

Becoming a licensed private pilot can give you the opportunity to take to the skies and fly a single-engine airplane on your own. However, knowing what is required to obtain your pilot private license can be a bit challenging, especially since there are specific guidelines that you will have to follow. This guide will walk you through the private pilot requirements, as well as the training costs that you will want to keep in mind when striving for your certificate.

What privileges are granted by obtaining a private pilot license?

Despite the fact that it’s often referred to as a license, it’s technically a private pilot certificate that one must acquire before being able to take the helm. After obtaining your certificate you will be allowed to fly under certain visual flight rules (at least three miles of visibility) and take passengers with you. However, you will not be able to charge for the trip. For many pilots, it’s the first stepping stone to becoming a commercial pilot or flight instructor.

What are the private pilot license requirements?

There are a number of private pilot requirements that are used to determine if you’re eligible to receive a private pilot certificate:

  • You must be at least 16 years of age to get a “student pilot license” or 17 years of age to obtain a regular pilot’s certificate.
  • You must have passed a thorough medical exam and been given a clean bill of health. Those who suffer from serious medical conditions, such as seizures, may be ineligible to receive a certificate. The medical exam must be administered by an FAA-approved medical examiner, which will typically cost around $75.
  • You should have a firm grasp of the English language. This means that you must be able to read, write, and speak English. This is true even for those living in non-English speaking countries due to the fact that all airport control towers use English as their primary language.

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What costs are associated with a private pilot license?

A bulk of the private pilot license cost is attributed to the training itself. You will have to enroll in private pilot school in order to receive the private pilot lessons needed to advance. Typically, you can expect to pay around $5,000, a bulk of which is accrued through instructor charges and plane rental fees. However, it’s usually not payable in one lump sum, and you can take care of payments as you go along. An experienced instructor will charge roughly $25 per hour, while renting a plan may set you back about $50.

What practice and training is required to obtain a private pilot certification?

There is a step-by-step process you will typically be asked to follow during your private pilot training if you want to obtain a certificate:

  1. First, you will have to enroll in a ground course school, where you will be studying all of the basics: aerodynamics, flight regulations, and radio control communications. This is the time when you should be learning about weather patterns, airport operations and physiology.
  2. Next is in-flight training (or practical training). During this period, you will fly roughly 30 to 40 hours with an instructor in order to gain experience. This step generally takes about five months to complete. There are some schools, however, that offer accelerated private pilot training, which can be finished within a month.
  3. Once the instructor believes that you’re ready, you will get the chance to fly solo. If you accomplish this successfully, then you’re ready to prepare for the license exam by taking the private pilot practice test.
  4. When you feel comfortable enough in your knowledge and flying skills, you can take the FAA written test. This test consists of 60 multiple choice questions, of which you need to answer 70 percent correctly to pass. The test administration cost is $70.
  5. The last step is taking the “check ride” test. An FAA examiner will ask you questions for roughly one to two hours, verify that you have a recommendation from a flight instructor, then administer an in-flight test. If you pass this exam, you will be issued a temporary pilot certificate until you receive your official permanent license in the mail.

Getting your private pilot certificate will involve a great deal of hard work and time. However, the effort is well worth the reward, particularly if you’ve always wanted to experience the freedom and excitement that comes with flying your own plane.

Good luck!