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Becoming a Pilot

What is the first step to becoming a pilot?

Decide what you want to fly. FAA's rules for getting a pilot's license (certificate) differ depending on the type of aircraft you fly. You can choose among airplanes, gyroplanes, helicopters, gliders, balloons, or airships. If you are interested in flying ultralight vehicles, you don't need a pilot's license.

You should also think about what type of flying you want to do. There are several different types of pilot's licenses, from student pilot all the way up to airline transport pilot. The information below describes the eligibility, training, experience, and testing requirements for Student Pilots, Recreational Pilots and Private Pilots.

 

Types of Certificates

Student

All pilots start out as students. With the proper training, the student pilot certificate allows you to work toward the first big milestone in aviation: the solo. That’s right, a solo is when your instructor cuts you loose to fly on your own. It will be one of the most exciting and memorable moments of your life. After additional training, you earn either your private, recreational, or sport pilot certificate, which allows you to take one or more passengers for rides.

 

Private

Almost all pilots in the United States earn a traditional private pilot certificate. It’s what most people think of when we say that someone has their “private.” It has the fewest limitations and, with additional training, can be upgraded to include more advanced capabilities such as flying in bad weather, flying an airplane with two or more engines, or flying professionally.

The minimum flight experience required by the FAA to obtain a Private Pilot Certificate is 40 hours. Of those 40 hours, 20 hours must be with a flight instructor and at least 10 hours of those 40 are solo flight hours. For a person to obtain a Private Pilot Certificate in the minimum 40 hours is possible but not very common. The national average is 76 hours, but that’s taking into account many people who drag their training out for years, or never even finish. The average person who is able to make it to the airport for 2-3 lessons per week is able to complete the training in under 55 hours.

While the cost of flight training varies depending on several factors, the tables below outline the cost of the Private Pilot Certificate based on both the 40 hour bare minimum and the 50 hour average. Included and itemized are estimates of all other costs you will have during your training. This estimate is based on our typical student and does not include tax. Results & cost may vary. Costs represent flight time in J3 Cub.

 

FAA Minimum 40 Hours

ItemCost/HourQuantityTotal
Ground School -- 1 Class Free
Airplane With Instructor $130 20 Hours $2,600
Airplane Solo $95 20 Hours $1,900
Ground Instruction $40 10 Hours $400
FAA Medical Exam -- 1 Exam $100
Knowledge Test -- 1 Exam $150
Flight Test -- 1 Exam $350
Pilot Supplies -- Full Kit $400
    Grand Total $5,900

 

National Average 55 Hours

ItemCost/HourQuantityTotal
Ground School -- 1 Class Free
Airplane With Instructor $130 35 Hours $4,550
Airplane Solo $95 15 Hours $1,425
Ground Instruction $40 10 Hours $400
FAA Medical Exam -- 1 Exam $100
Knowledge Test -- 1 Exam $150
Flight Test -- 1 Exam $350
Pilot Supplies -- Full Kit $400
    Grand Total $7,375

 

Sport

The sport pilot certificate was introduced in 2004. It’s perfect for people who want to get back to—or want to start with—the basics of flying. Sport pilots fly smaller, lighter, less-complex, one- or two-seat airplanes. Sport pilots can only fly a special limited class of aircraft known as light sport aircraft (LSA). LSAs are popular around the world and are now being manufactured and sold in the United States. Some older certificated airplanes are also certificated as LSA including J3 Cubs. Not every flight school will have light sport aircraft available. Sport pilots are not required to have medical certificates. With additional training and a medical certificate, you can easily upgrade to a higher level of certificate.

The minimum flight experience required by the FAA to obtain a Sport Pilot Certificate is 20 hours. Of those 20 hours, 10 hours must be with a flight instructor and at least 5 hours of those 20 are solo flight hours. For a person to obtain a Sport Pilot Certificate in the minimum 20 hours is possible but not very common. The national average is 35 hours, but that’s taking into account many people who drag their training out for years, or never even finish. The average person who is able to make it to the airport for 2-3 lessons per week is able to complete the training in under 25 hours.

While the cost of flight training varies depending on several factors, the tables below outline the cost of the Sport Pilot Certificate based on both the 20 hour bare minimum and the 35 hour average. Included and itemized are estimates of all other costs you will have during your training. This estimate is based on our typical student and does not include tax. Results & cost may vary. Costs represent flight time in a J3 Cub.

 

FAA Minimum 20 Hours

ItemCost/HourQuantityTotal
Ground School -- 1 Class Free
Airplane With Instructor $130 10 Hours $1,300
Airplane Solo $95 10 Hours $950
Ground Instruction $40 10 Hours $400
FAA Medical Exam -- 1 Exam $100
Knowledge Test -- 1 Exam $150
Flight Test -- 1 Exam $350
Pilot Supplies -- Full Kit $400
    Grand Total $3,650

 

National Average 35 Hours

ItemCost/HourQuantityTotal
Ground School -- 1 Class Free
Airplane With Instructor $130 20 Hours $2,600
Airplane Solo $95 15 Hours $1,425
Ground Instruction $40 10 Hours $400
FAA Medical Exam -- 1 Exam $100
Knowledge Test -- 1 Exam $150
Flight Test -- 1 Exam $350
Pilot Supplies -- Full Kit $400
    Grand Total $5,425

Find Us Here!

Hartford Municipal

Airport (KHXF)
4200 Highway U
Hartford, WI 53027

Our Staff

Steve Krog
Jamie Weber

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