Requirements for Obtaining Your Private Pilot Certificate
- You must be at least 17 years of age when you finish your training and
take your FAA practical (flight) test.
- You must be able to read, speak, write, and converse fluently in English.
- You must obtain a student pilot certificate (see the sample below) and at
least a third-class FAA medical certificate.
- You must be at least 16 years of age to receive a student pilot
- You must undergo a routine medical examination that may only be
administered by a FAA-designated doctor, which are called aviation
medical examiners (AMEs).
- A third-class medical certificate is valid for 3 years if the date
of the examination was before your 40th birthday, or 2 years if the
date of the examination was on or after your 40th birthday. The
medical certificate expires on the last day of the month issued
(when another medical examination is required).
- Your certificated flight instructor (CFI) (find a CFI in your area) or
fixed base operator (FBO) will be able to recommend an AME.
- An FBO is an airport business that gives flight lessons, sells
aviation fuel, repairs airplanes, etc.
- Even if you have a physical handicap, medical certificates can be
issued in many cases. Operating limitations may be imposed depending
upon the nature of the disability.
- You must pass the private pilot knowledge test with a score of 70% or
better. All FAA tests are administered at FAA-designated computer testing
centers (AvTest, CATS, or LaserGrade).
- The private pilot knowledge test consists of 60 multiple-choice
questions selected from the 738 airplane-related questions in the FAA's
test bank. The questions test the following topics:
- Airplanes and Aerodynamics
- Airplane Instruments, Engines, and Systems
- Airports, Air Traffic Control, and Airspace
- Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs)
- Airplane Performance and Weight and Balance
- Aeromedical Factors
- Aviation Weather
- Aviation Weather Services
- Navigation: Charts, Publications, and Flight Computers
- Navigation Systems
- Cross-Country Flight Planning
- The FAA pilot knowledge test is a learning opportunity. Rather than
memorizing the answers to 738 questions, studying a book or software
assures you of a high passing score on the test and the acquisition of
useful knowledge to make you a better, safer pilot.
- You must undertake flight training. Many of the lessons will require
more than one flight to make you comfortable and proficient. The
lessons/topics are shown below.
||Introduction to Flight
||Four Fundamentals of Flight
||Short-Field and Soft-Field Takeoffs and Landings
||Basic Instrument Maneuvers
||Slow Flight and Stalls
||Solo Maneuvers Review
||Steep Turns and Ground Reference Maneuvers
||Night Flight -- Local
||Go-Around and Forward Slip to a Landing
||Solo Cross-Country (Part 61)
||Solo Cross-Country (Part 61)
||Stage One Check
||Stage Two Check
- Under Part 61 of the Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs), you must
receive a total of 40 hr. of flight time, including a minimum of
- 20 hr. of flight training from a certificated flight instructor,
including at least
- 3 hr. of cross-country, i.e., to other airports
- 3 hr. at night, including
- One night cross-country flight of over 100 nautical miles
(NM) total distance
- 10 night takeoffs and 10 landings to a full stop at an
- 3 hr. of maneuvering an airplane solely by reference to
- 3 hr. in airplanes in preparation for the private pilot
practical test within 60 days prior to that test
- 10 hr. of solo flight time in an airplane, including at least
- 5 hr. of solo cross-country time
- One solo cross-country flight of at least 150 NM total
distance, with full-stop landings at a minimum of three points
and with one segment of the flight consisting of a straight-line
distance of at least 50 NM between the takeoff and landing
- Three solo takeoffs and landings to a full stop at an airport
with an operating control tower
- As an alternative to Part 61 training, you may enroll in an
FAA-certificated pilot school that has an approved private pilot
certification course (airplane).
- These schools are known as Part 141 schools because they are
authorized by Part 141 of the Federal Aviation Regulations.
- All other regulations concerning certification of pilots are found
in Part 61.
- The Part 141 course must consist of at least 35 hr. of ground training
and 35 hr. of flight training.
- The syllabus used by a Part 141 school must be approved by the
- If you are only interested in obtaining a private pilot certificate,
there is little difference, except that a Part 61 course has more
flexibility to adjust to your individual needs.
- You must successfully complete a practical (flight) test, which will be
given as a final exam by an FAA-designated pilot examiner.
- FAA-designated pilot examiners are proficient, experienced flight
instructors/pilots who are authorized by the FAA to conduct practical
tests. They charge a fee.
- The FAA has issued private pilot practical test standards (PTS). Each
of the 50 tasks/maneuvers is required to be covered/tested on each
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