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Private Pilot - Overview


Private pilot programs teach people how to fly airplanes and helicopters. Students learn ground rules, radio operation, and safety. They prepare to take FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) license exams.

Have you ever dreamt that you were flying? For some, it's scary. For others, it's liberating to zoom through the air and look at the earth below as you speed along. If the thought of flight gives you a thrill, you'll be happy to know that it's surprisingly easy to get your private pilot's license.

Private pilot programs usually consist of ground courses and in-flight training. The ground course prepares you to take a knowledge test. You learn the basics about flying, including aerodynamics, types of aircraft, and flight instruments. You also learn about weather, navigation, and how airports work.

Once you have passed the knowledge test, you can begin flight training. This consists of renting a plane and buying flight lessons from an FAA-approved flight instructor. You learn how to determine a plane's proper weight and balance, fuel requirements, and altitude. You also learn how to take off and land, decide proper runway lengths, and prepare your plane for a flight. In addition, you learn how to make good decisions while flying during difficult weather and situations.

FAA regulations state that you must complete a minimum of 40 hours of flight training. These hours include 20 hours with an instructor and 10 hours of flying solo. Of these hours, you must fly certain distances (cross-country) and at night. You must also complete several successful takeoffs and landings and use your instruments. Your flight instructor will teach you all these things during your lessons.

Once you have completed the ground course, and passed the knowledge test and flight training, your instructor then "endorses" your logbook. This means that you have met the requirements and successfully can pilot your plane. Then, as long as you are 17, you can take the practice test. During the test, the examiner asks you questions that you must answer orally. You also demonstrate all aspects of flying an airplane. This includes preparing the plane for flight, taking off, using your instruments correctly, and landing.
The practical test must be given by an FAA-designated examiner.

Ground courses are offered by private flight schools, community colleges, high schools, four-year colleges and universities, and through ROTC training. You can also self-study for the knowledge test by buying textbooks and materials through the Internet and private companies.

You can take flying lessons from private flight schools, independent flight instructors, and some community colleges. Many people learn to fly through military service. The length of flight training varies depending on the type of school, the type of flight training, and the student's ability to learn the required knowledge and skills.

Source: Illinois Career Information System (CIS) brought to you by Illinois Department of Employment Security.
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