After compiling the article on riding in a hot air balloon, I began wondering if there wasn’t a better way to fly. Don’t get me wrong–hot air balloons are a wonderful hobby. But what about those of us who want a little more from our flight experiences?
Piloting a plane can be both exhilarating and freeing. At the same time, you need to know what you’re doing or else it’s, you know, extremely dangerous. Whatever you do, don’t jump into the little piloty area just yet (and if you’re still calling it the “little pilot area” you’re definitely not ready).
This short guide will tell you everything you need to know about obtaining your Private Pilot License, or PPL in the United States.
1. First, be old enough to get the license
Unfortunately, this isn’t something you can help. In order to get your PPL, you must be 17 years of age. If you want to be a “private glider pilot” or to be rated for free flight in a balloon you must be 16.
2. Search for Flight Schools
Search online for flight schools near your area. The website www.justflightschools.com is a great resource for finding schools near you. Contact the school for further details, including information about cost and registration.
4. Obtain a current FAA third-class medical certificate
Unfortunately, a note from your family doctor isn’t enough. In order to fly, you need a physical examination from an FAA certified medical examiner. The good news is there are more than 6,000 of them in the U.S., so it shouldn’t be that hard. For more information, see this article on the FAA website.
5. Log 40 Hours of Flight
at least 20 hours of flight from an authorized flight instructor; and
at least 10 hours of solo flight time
6. Pass the FAA Private Pilot Knowledge Test
This is a written test. For information on preparing for the test, see this article on the FAA website.
7. Pass the Final Exam
This is a flight test with an FAA-certified examiner accompanying you on the ride. It’s basically like your final driver’s ed test…only it’s, you know, much higher up.
When you pass the final flight test, you’ll be issued a temporary pilot’s certificate until your qualifications are reviewed at which time you will be issued a permanent pilot’s certificate. Best of luck!