Obtaining a private pilot license is a goal for many who love aviation and have the desire to fly.
As a private pilot, you can fly a variety of different aircraft, operate in visual flight rules (VFR) conditions, and add additional ratings such as the multiengine or instrument ratings.
Even better you don’t need hundreds of flight hours to complete your training. In fact, it could take you only a few weeks to get the license if you’re super dedicated.
At Aviatek we’ve taken the leap into this whole PPL process as some members of our company are now obtaining their own licenses!
So let’s dig into a little more familiarization with this process and what some of our recent takeaways are from starting this process ourselves.
Private Pilot Training
Learning to fly is no small feat and involves a strong training and financial investment to become licensed.
It’s important to make sure you’re 100% ready to start the PPL so you can do it all in one go.
It’s not recommended to stretch out your training for too long. For example, flying once every two to three weeks will make it very difficult.
In the US, the minimum flight time required for an Airplane Single Engine Land rating is 35 hours through a part 141 flight school and 40 hours otherwise.
For most people it takes a lot more hours than that - 60 to 80, or sometimes even more.
However having access to a flight simulator can help to reduce those hours.
If you have any medical concerns, make sure you address those ahead of time before you spend thousands of dollars, pounds, euros, etc. in this investment.
For anyone seeking to go to the airlines one day, it doesn't hurt to ensure that you can obtain the highest level of medical certificate first before embarking on all the different ratings you will need.
Our best advice is, once you commit, commit fully so you can complete the training in a reasonable amount of time.
Differences Between Europe & USA
Something to note is the difference between taking your PPL in the USA versus Europe.
In the USA you don’t have to do your flight training at a flight school. You can hire a friend who is a flight instructor to go at your own pace.
However in Europe, it’s obligatory to go through a flight school environment.
There is an incredible amount of book learning required to complete the PPL.
You will definitely spend much more time with a book in your hands than a flight stick!
You need to understand weather, airspace, flight planning, normal and emergency producedures, regulations, aircraft systems, aeromedical issues, and much more.
It can be very daunting when you are first starting out.
YouTube can be a great resource to get started learning some of things mentioned above on the ground where it's a lot cheaper.
Just remember that things can get out of date on YouTube and your flight instructor/flight school supersede anything that you see on the internet.
Getting The Most Out Of Every Lesson
When training you want to get the most out of every lesson but there are some key questions you can ask yourself to help with that.
- Did you learn anything today?
- Did you have fun?
Seems obvious right? But so often people fall into the trap of not enjoying the process.
Flight training doesn’t have to be all smiles but when you spend so much money and time on the activity it should at least be enjoyable.
It’s easy to set the bar too high and get disappointed when you’re not where you want to be yet.
Try not to treat a bad flight as a failure but rather as a learning experience.
It's also important to approach the process with humilty and an openness to learning.
Flying is not like driving a car.
If your plane breaks in flight, you can’t pull over on the side of the road.
When you become a private pilot and you are flying your friends or family around, you are the pilot in command, and the safety of everybody onboard depends on you.
In the US, they drill five hazardous attitudes that have historically gotten people killed:
1. Anti-authority (“they can’t tell me what to do”)
2. Invulnerability (“it won’t happen to me”)
3. Impulsivity (“do it quickly”)
4. Macho (“hold my beer and watch this”)
5. Resignation (“what’s the use?”)
These help to examine yourself and see how you have exhibited these behaviors in your life and avoid them in the future when you're in the air.
To be sure that you learn everything you can from your flight experiences do these two things:
- Keep notes about your flights to review on your own time.
- Video record all your flights (if allowed by your flight school) with the ATC to debrief every flight on your own and with your flight instructor.
Using A Flight Simulator For Training
Flight simulation can be an incredible tool for any type of flight training as long as it’s used from the start and in this case with your instructor.
This is important because you want to create good habits first and foremost.
If you use a simulator and create bad habits before you get into the airplane it can be hard to reverse.
It’s also recommended to wait to use the flight simulator until you get the correct procedures from your flight instructor.
A number of flight intructors say that people who use flight simulators typically keep their eyes on the instrument panel too much.
When flying VFR most of your time should be spent looking outside while glancing at your instruments from time to time.
When you go for your instrument rating however you will spend more time looking down.
Get comfortable flying a traffic pattern/circuit and make sure you can fly in an actual rectangle.
Some caution against practicing any kind of flight maneuvers like stalls and saving those for the plane unless you are very confident in your flight model and have control loading hardware like a Brunner with a carefully calibrated flight profile.
VOR navigation in flight simulator can be very helpful though as you can get familiar with taxiing around your local field and any other airports you might fly to in real life.
See if your local field has any identified “hot spots” (areas where incursions have happened in the past) and become familiar with them in the simulator.
Practice diverting to another airport. Practice getting lost and figuring out where you are. Practice talking to ATC, either through a network like VATSIM or IVAO, or just start calling out what you would say in the middle of your flight.
Having the chance to jump in a flight simulator to go over everything with your instructor is ideal, as flight simulation helps greatly with muscle memory and confidence before getting in the air.
Flight simulators are amazing tools and can be very helpful even during initial flight training.
Just make sure to use it correctly and ideally when supervised by a flight instructor to avoid learning bad habits.
Tell Us About Your Experience
We’re super excited to be taking on the PPL and will be sharing more of our journey!
In the meantime we’d love to hear from you. Comment below the best advice you have or anything else you’d like to know about this process.