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Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How long does it take to learn to fly?
A: Learning to fly is not difficult, but it does requires study and practice. Federal Aviation Regulation Part 61 itemizes the things you must learn and requires a minimum of 40 hours of training (20 with an instructor and at least 10 hours solo) to earn a private pilot certificate. Few people complete their training in the minimum time, however.  The national average is slightly over 70 hours.  How long it will take you depends mainly on how often you fly. If you do anything every day, you'll learn it quicker than doing it once or twice a week because you won't have to "re-learn" what you "forgot" between lessons.  If you fly every day, or at least several times a week, you may earn your certificate in 40-45 hours flown over one or two months.  If you can fly only once a week or less, it will probably take you closer to 50-60 hours flown over several months to earn your private ticket.


Q: How much does it cost to learn to fly?
A: Your flight training is billed on an hourly basis. You pay separately for the airplane rental and for your instructor's time.  Thus, the total cost will vary, depending on the number of hours of flying and instruction you need.  Most new pilots will spend between $8,000 and $10,000 on their flight training.  For a more complete explanation of the costs of earning your pilot certificate with Metroplex Flyers, see the Private Pilot Certificate page.


Q: What is ground school?
A: Learning to fly is divided into two parts, ground training and flight training. Your ground training teaches you the
principles, procedures, and regulations you will put into practice in an airplane-- such as how a wing generates lift, how
to navigate from one airport to another, and in what kind of weather you can fly. Before you can earn a pilot certificate, you must pass a computerized FAA knowledge test (with a score of at least 70 percent). Metroplex uses the Cessna Pilot Center "Cleared for Takeoff" pilot training kit. You'll find web-based instruction with modules that are never out of date, plus a step-by-step syllabus to guide you through your instruction.


Q: When will I actually begin flying?
A: You'll be flying on your first lesson, with your CFI's help, of course.  With each lesson, your CFI will be helping less, until you won't need any help at all.  When you reach this point, you will make your first solo flight, an important milestone in every pilot's training.  After you solo, you and your CFI will work on such things as flying cross-country (that is, to an airport at least 50 miles away).  And when you're ready, you'll make at least two solo cross-country flights. When you are able to consistently demonstrate all of the FAA-required skills, your instructor will recommend you for the FAA checkride.


Q: How long does a flight lesson last?
A: While most lessons are based on a 1.2- to 1.5-hour flight, they will usually take about 2 hours from start to finish, because there's more to it than flying.  You'll spend about 10-15 minutes before the flight checking your aircraft inside and out for safety.  There are also pre- and post-flight discussions, during which you and your certified flight instructor (CFI) talk about what you're going to do, how you did, what you did well, what needs work, and what you'll do on your next lesson.


Q: What is the checkride like?
A: The FAA checkride (which is actually called a "practical test") is broken down into two parts, an oral quiz, where the examiner will ask about knowledge you learned in ground school, and the flight test, where you will demonstrate your ability to perform the skills you have learned in the aircraft.  The test is given by an FAA Designated Pilot Examiner:  a highly experienced pilot whom the FAA has authorized to give checkrides.  But don't be intimidated.  The examiner assumes you are qualified, or else we would not have recommended you for the test.  The examiner wants to assure, just as your instructor did and that you are a safe pilot.  And although it's not the examiner's job to teach you, you can't help but learn something useful from flying with a pilot of that caliber.


Q: How safe is it?
A: General aviation is as safe as any other mode of travel, if not safer.  The Cessna 172 Skyhawk and the Diamond DA-400 are statistically the safest and most reliable general aviation available.  How to fly safely, and to deal with the rare emergencies that are beyond the pilot's influence, will be covered in your training.


Q: Can I carry passengers?
A: Yes, after you have earned your private pilot certificate.  You may even share the expenses of a flight with your passengers (as long as you pay your share), but you may not charge people for flying them someplace.  While you're a student pilot, you cannot carry passengers (other than your CFI).


Q: Where can I fly?
A: Private pilots can actually fly anywhere they want, so long as they follow the applicable regulations. Even while you're a student pilot you can basically fly anywhere your instructor allows.  The good news is that there are more than 12,000 airports in the United States alone--many in small towns, parks and resort areas that you couldn't reach directly by airliner--so you're unlikely to run out of new and exciting destinations.  


Q: How do I get from one airport to another?
A: By using modern navigation systems such as GPS. You'll learn other methods, but GPS will be your primary navigation tool.


Q:What about the medical exam?
A: Your student pilot certificate is also your medical certificate. This dual-purpose piece of paper is good for 24 months (or 60 months if you are under 40 at the time of the exam).

The exam is not rigorous.  In fact is it so simple that there is a very good possibility that in the near term, you will be able to fly as a Private Pilot without a medical -- you'll use your driving license.


Q: What's the difference between Part 61 and 141?
A: Whether you train under Part 141 or Part 61, you'll learn the same things and take the same FAA tests. The only real difference will be the order in which you learn things. Part 141 schools, which are designed mainly for students who train full time and fly every day, must use a structured curriculum that teaches skills in a specific order. Instructors may not deviate from the curriculum. In contrast, Part 61 instructors (such as Metroplex) are not bound to a structured curriculum, and can rearrange the order in which you learn things to suit your schedule and style of learning. This approach is especially beneficial to those who can fly only on weekends and evenings a few times a week.


Make an appointment at either of our locations to discuss your aviation future!