In this article we look at the requirements to earn your private pilot certificate.
The private pilot certificate (also typically referred to as a license by many) really is the driver’s license of the sky. Earning this designation is an achievement that many dream of. If you’re interested in learning to fly and eventually earning your private pilot certificate, you should make sure you meet all the requirements before you get too far into the process.
Before you begin your flight training, you should make sure you meet the basic qualifications to even be able to earn this certificate. Here is a list of requirements you should make sure you meet before you go any further.
- Be at least 17 year old: The FAA requires you be at least 17 years old to take the test to earn your private pilot certificate. If you’re reading this and are not yet 17, there is some good news. You can start taking lessons at 16, you just can’t take the test to earn your license quite yet.
- Be able to read, write, and speak fluent English: The FAA wants to make sure that communication is standardized among everyone flying, so the rule is that you have to be fluent in English.
- Obtain a 3rd class medical certificate: The FAA requires most pilots to earn one of the medical certificates depending on which type of pilot certificate they are earning. In this case you’ll need a 3rd class medical certificate The 3rd class is the most basic of the FAA Medical Exams. If you want to know more specifics on this test and what is included, read our FAA Medical Exam Guide.
Assuming you can meet those requirements, you can start training for your private pilot certificate.
Flight Time Requirements
Before actually earning your pilot license, you’ll have to meet the following flight time requirements:
- 40 total hours of flight instruction: This includes both flying with an instructor and solo flying time.
- At least 20 hours of flight time with an instructor
- At least 10 hours of solo flight time
The 20 hours of flight time with your instructor must include:
- 3 hours of cross country flight
- 3 hours of night flying which includes at least 1 cross country flight of over 100 nm and 10 take offs and landings to a full stop at an airport
- 3 hours of instrument training
- 3 hours of flight training within the 60 days prior to the practical test
The 10 hours of solo flight time must include:
- 5 hours of cross country flights
- 1 solo cross country flight of at least 150 nm total distance with full stop landings at 3 points and one segment of at least 50 nm between T/O and landings
- Three solo takeoffs and landings to a full stop at an airport with an operating control tower
Before you can show off your awesome new private pilot license to your friends, the last thing you have to do is pass the FAA required exams. This includes:
- Pass written knowledge test and receive original embossed Airman Knowledge Test Report
- Pass practical (flight) test as a final exam
If you accomplished all that you have earned your private pilot certificate. This is something that a lot of people dream about but few achieve. Enjoy your new skill and fly as often as you can!