Flight School

How long does it take to get my private pilot certificate?

The Federal Aviation regulations (under part 61) require a minimum of 40 hours total flight time before you can become a licensed pilot. However, this minimum flight time was based on requirements established over 20 years ago. Since then, flying has become slightly more complex. Today, the average time to get your certificate, is approximately 60-70 hours. The length of time it takes to achieve your license depends on how often you fly and your skill level. In most cases, the more frequently you fly the more economical your training. A shorter length of time between flight lessons allows you to build your skills more quickly.

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How much does it cost?

Your financial investment in flight lessons will vary depending on the type of aircraft flown and the frequency of your lessons. An average flight lesson lasts approximately 1.0-1.3 hours. At Colonial Air, our Cessna 172’s ranging in price from $120.00 to $140.00 per hour. We also have a 172RG which rents for $140.00. All aircraft rental rates include fuel and oil.

The Instructor fees are as follows. The rate for our instructor is $45.00 per hour. Overall, your total investment for flight training for a Private Pilot's Licence is approximately $10,000 - $13,000.

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How do I choose a good flight instructor?

First, choose a flight instructor who is certificated through the FAA. He/she should be credentialed as a CFI (certificated flight instructor) CFII or MEI.

Second, interview a few flight instructors before making a decision. Ask about their flying experiences, their approach to training, why they chose to be a flight instructor, length of time flying and their success rate. Are they enthusiastic and professional? Many flight instructors are only building time to move on to the airlines and may have very little teaching experience. Others have chosen flight instructing as a career.

Third, chose a flight instructor who can adapt to your learning style. Good flight instructors recognize that everyone learns differently. He/she will be able to alter their style of teaching to meet your needs.

Finally, choose someone you like and feel you could trust. Learning to fly is a wonderful and challenging experience. Your flight instructor should share your enthusiasm and be committed to your success!

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I enjoyed my introductory flight but I feel a little nervous about flying, does this mean I shouldn’t fly?

It is perfectly normal to feel somewhat anxious about flying. Even seasoned pilots have some level of anxiety. In fact, many professionals believe that a certain level of anxiety actually increases your situational awareness and can be considered an added safety measure. If it gets too overwhelming, talk to your flight instructor. There could be several reasons why you are feeling the way you do.

Quite often, as you progress through your training, any concerns may be put to rest simply because you are learning more about the airplane and it’s capabilities as well as becoming more comfortable in the flight environment.

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There is so much going on when I fly, how am I going to learn all this?

The first few hours usually takes the most getting used to. Flying requires a unique set of skills performed in a rather unnatural environment. As pilots, we learn to evaluate and visualize our position in space, interpret the instruments and make decisions, all while flying the aircraft.

When you are first starting, the amount of information to absorb can overload your sensory system. This may lead to a feeling of being overwhelmed. Not too worry. As you progress through your training, your mind begins to adapt to this new experience by establishing memory pathways. Soon, you will automatically focus on the important stimulus and be able to filter out the less important. This will help you to feel more in control and less overwhelmed.

I work full time, how much time do I need to devote to training?

Many of our students are either working full time or are full time students. The advantage of learning to fly in a Part 61 environment is that we can tailor the training to your learning style and schedule. A good rule of thumb is to fly at least once per week and devote approximately 2 hours per week to studying.

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What is the difference between a Part 61 flight school and a Part 141 flight school?

According to the Federal Aviation Regulations, a part 141 flight school has a syllabus and/or training curriculum approved by the FAA. The flight training requirements are similar to Part 61 with the exception of the total flight time required and your cross country requirements. Under part 141 the total time required for your license is 35 hours, and your solo cross country flight is required to be 100 nm. Under part 61 your total time required is 40 hours and your solo cross country is 150 nm.

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I started my private pilot training under Part 61 and I want to train at a part 141 flight school. How much of my training credit can I transfer?

According to FAR 141.77 paragraph 2: “…The credit given that student for the previous pilot experience and knowledge shall not exceed more than 25% of the curriculum requirements and must be based upon a proficiency test or knowledge test or both conducted by the receiving pilot school.”

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I don’t understand what my flight instructor is telling me to do.

This is a very important issue to address right away. Safe flying depends on clear precise and understandable communication between you and your flight instructor. If at any time you are uncertain about what he/she is asking you to do, stop and request a clearer explanation before attempting any maneuver or procedure. In fact, you should have a clear understanding of the lesson and the maneuvers you will learn before ever leaving the ground. Most good flight instructors know that teaching takes place on the ground and not in the air.

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What should I do if I don’t feel comfortable with my flight instructor?

Your flight instructor may not be aware that something is bothering you. Since your flight instructor has come to know you and your skill level, perhaps trying to work it out first is a good idea. It may be something as fixable as a communication or teaching issue. If you do not feel comfortable doing this, talk to the flight school manager about your concerns.

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What do I need to get my private pilot license?

According to CFR Part 61 the following aeronautical knowledge and flight requirements must be met.

You must either be a US Citizen with proof of citizenship on file (Passport or birth certificate and photo ID) or have TSA approval before beginning flight training. You must be able to read write, speak and understand the English language. In order to receive your license you must be 17 years of age. In order to act as pilot in command of the aircraft (solo) you need to be at least 16 years of age. Prior to acting as pilot in command you must obtain at least a Third Class Medical Certificate from a qualified aviation medical examiner.

Under Part CFR Part 61 you will need 40 hours of total flight time of which 30 hours is dual training with your flight instructor and 10 hours of solo; where you are the pilot in command and the sole manipulator of the flight controls. Of the 30 hours dual training, 10 hours must be devoted to pre solo flight training. Pre solo flight training is where you learn how to fly the airplane. All the skills you are required to learn prior to your first solo are listed in CFR 61-87. The remaining 20 hours consists of cross country preparation, simulated instrument flight, practical test preparation, night flight, take offs and landings.

You must also pass an FAA written exam and an FAA practical exam, usually known as a “check ride”. Your practical flight test is taken with an authorized examiner. Prior to taking your check ride you will have received an endorsement from your instructor stating that you are proficient and have been prepared accordingly to take your flight test.

For more information on the specific requirements, please refer to the Federal Aviaition Administration web site.

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Colonial Air