To obtain a Private Pilot certificate, you need to fulfill certain requirements set by the FAA. Your first step will be to get a flight physical by a doctor designated by the FAA. You will need at least a 3rd class medical certificate (which also serves as your student license). I recommend getting a 1st class medical since that is what you will eventually need to be an airline pilot or equivalent. This way if any medical defects are noted, you will be aware of it now rather than later after spending $30,000 for a pilot career.
The Private Pilot flight experience requirements:
1. 40 hours of total flight time
2. 20 hours of flight instruction (of which is included in the 40hrs total flight time)
3. 10 hours of solo flight time (included in the 40hrs of total flight time)
Included in the above flight hours, you must complete:
1. 3 hours of cross-country flight training (a cross country is a flight 50 miles or more from the departure airport)
2. 3 hours of night flight instruction (one cross country flight over 100 nautical miles and 10 takeoff's and landings to a full stop)
3. 3 hours of flight training involving flying solely by reference of instruments
4. 3 hours of flight training in preparation for the practical test in a single engine airplane
5. 5 hours of solo cross country time
(a) one solo cross-country flight at least 150 nautical miles with full stop landings at a minimum of 3 points.
6. 3 take offs and 3 landings to a full stop at an airport with an operating control tower.
7. Must be 16 years of age
Pass the FAA Private Pilot written exam.
One of the more challenging yet rewarding ratings you will need to get is the Instrument rating. Nothing gives you more satisfaction than flying through the clouds with no visible horizon outside the cockpit and then breaking out of those clouds at 200 feet above the ground and 1/2mile from the runway in order to make a landing. Without this important rating, it is quite dangerous to fly in the clouds or fog. Another aspect to flying instrument that you probably didn't use very much with just a VFR Private license, is that you will be communicating with ATC (Air Traffic Control). They will be responsible for separation between you and other aircraft as well as aid you in navigating to the final approach course to your destination airport.
The Instrument Rating flight experience requirements:
1. At least 50 hours of cross country flight time as pilot in command (PIC)
2. A total of 40 hours of actual or simulated instrument time to include:
(a) At least 15 hours of instrument training from a Certified Instrument Flight Instructor
(b) At least 3 hours of instrument training in preparation for the practical test
3. Instrument training on cross country flight procedures that include at least one cross country performed under IFR and consists of:
(a) A distance of at least 250 nautical miles along airways or ATC directed routing
(b) An instrument approach at each airport (3 different type of instrument approaches)
4. Of the 40 hours of actual or simulated instrument time, 20 hours maximum can be in an approved flight simulator or training device.
Pass the FAA Instrument Pilot written exam
The Commercial Pilot certificate is required if you want to use your talents as a pilot to make money. Without this certificate, you cannot charge anyone for your services but instead split the expenses equally. The Commercial Pilot training will teach you to sharpen your skills as a pilot and master your aircraft. You will also need a minimum of a second-class medical certificate to operate as a Commercial Pilot.
Commercial Pilot flight experience requirements:
1. Log at least 250 hours as a pilot that consists of at least:
(a) 100 hours in powered aircraft, of which 50 hours must be in airplanes
(b) 100 hours of pilot in command flight time, which includes:
(i) 50 hours in airplanes and 50 hours in cross country flight of which 10 hours must be in airplanes.
2. 20 hours of training that include at least:
(a) 10 hours of instrument training of which at least 5 hours must be in a single engine airplane
(b) 10 hours of training in an airplane that has retractable landing gear, flaps and a controllable pitch propeller
3. One cross country flight of at least 2 hours in a single engine airplane in day VFR conditions consisting of one leg of 100 nm.
4. One cross country flight of at least 2 hours in a single engine airplane in night VFR conditions consisting of one leg of 100 nm.
5. 3 hours in a single engine airplane in preparation for the practical test.
6. 10 hours of solo flight which include at least:
(a) One cross country flight not less than 300 nautical miles total distance with landings at a minimum of 3 points, one leg at least 250 nautical miles
7. 5 hours in night VFR conditions with 10 take
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