Learn to Fly
"Pursue your Dream"

Basic Information, Universities and Flight Schools, Links,
and "motivational" P-51 fly-by audio  
(98 KB)

Cessna 150
The Cessna 150 - a great flight training airplane
Cessna 150 interior
Step right in!   You CAN fly!

Slew to: Military Flight Training - Civilian Flight Training - Universities with Flight Programs - Flight Schools - Learn to Fly Links

Basic Information

Military Flight Training:
  If you qualify (both physically and academically), learning to fly in the military is an excellent, and probably the best option. The advantages are:
  • Excellent quality training. The military will invest over a million dollars in training you to be a pilot.
  • Rapid progression to complex and / or jet equipment.
  • It's free, and you will be paid an Officer's salary the entire time.
  • Airlines tend to look favorably on military-trained pilots.
  • The camaraderie among fellow Officers and pilots.
The disadvantages include:
  • A significant commitment of years to the military. Now typically nine years after attaining your wings.
  • Deployments overseas, on board ship or to land-based locations that may not appeal to you or that take you away from your family for many months at a time.
  • In times of war, the possibility of increase in physical risk
  • Generally, you need a four-year college degree before being trained as a pilot
ROTC, the Reserve Officer Training Corps can help pay for your college while attaining your degree.
So, if you can qualify, I'd recommend looking into the military.

Civilian Flight Training:

The pilot licenses:
Student Pilot License (Required to 'solo', or fly by yourself)
  • Usually issued as a combined "Student Pilot License / Third Class Medical Certificate" by an Aviation Medical Examiner. This is a fairly simple medical exam. The medical is valid for 5 years / 60 months if obtained when under 40 years old, 24 months if issued when 40 or older.
  • Flight instruction can be received at any age, but to solo an airplane, you must be 16 years old.
  • Gliders and balloons can be soloed at age 14.
  • The back of the certificate and the Student Pilot's logbook is signed by a Certified Flight Instructor ("CFI") to allow you to solo, and later, to take solo cross-country flights.
  • No minimum hours are specified, but details of training required are spelled out in Federal Aviation Regulations ("FARs") 61.81 thru 61.95.
  • Passengers may NEVER be carried by a Student Pilot.

Private Pilot License (the license to fly passengers)
  • Minimum age - 17
  • Allows carrying of passengers in relatively good weather - Visual Flight Rules ("VFR") both day and night.
  • Third Class medical required. (Same duration as for Student Pilots listed above).
  • Specified flight training, solo and solo cross-country experience, a "Knowledge Test" and written recommendation from a CFI is required prior to taking the Practical Test (an Oral and Flight Test) from a Designated Pilot Examiner.
  • Either of two possible sets of rules can be used to get your Private Pilot's License: either FAR Part 141 - at an "FAA Approved" Flight school, or FAR Part 61
  • FAR 61 Minimum flight experience (full list is in FAR 61.109)
    • 40 hours total flight time
    • 20 hours dual instruction ('dual' is flight time with an instructor)
    • 3 hours night, including 10 night takeoffs and landings and a 100 nautical mile night flight.
    • 10 hours solo, of which 5 hours is solo cross-country, including one 150 nautical mile cross-country solo flight.
  • FAR Part 141 allows some ground simulator time to be applied toward the license and has different requirements.

Commercial Pilot License
  • Minimum age: 18
  • Allows you to earn money for flying.
  • A Second Class Medical is required. The medical is valid for 5 years / 60 months if obtained when under 40 years old, 24 months if issued when 40 or older.
  • Minimum hours under FAR 61.129 : 250 hours.
  • FAR 141 generally requires fewer hours.
  • Another Knowledge Test and Practical Test is required.

Instrument Rating
  • Allows flying in weather 'less-than VFR' or in 'Instrument conditions', such as in the clouds.
  • Rating goes onto a Private or Commercial license.
  • Minimum hours under FAR 61.65:
    • 50 hours cross-country time as Pilot in Command.
    • 40 hours of simulated instrument time under the 'hood' - which is flying with an instructor while you wear a 'view-limiting device' allowing you to only see the instruments.
  • FAR 141 generally requires fewer hours.
  • Another Knowledge Test and Practical Test is required.

Multi-engine Rating
  • Rating goes onto a Private, Commercial or ATP license.
  • Allows flying multi-engine airplanes.
  • No Knowledge Test, but a Practical Test is required.

Certified Flight Instructor
  • Commercial License and Instrument Rating (or ATP) required first.
  • Allows you to teach flying - which many people do to build flying experience.
  • Ratings on the CFI include: Single-Engine, Multi-Engine and Instrument.
  • An extensive Knowledge Test and Practical Test is required.

Airline Transport Pilot

Universities with Flight Programs:

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Aerospace Programs
Florida Institute of Technology School of Aeronautics
Middle Tennessee State University Aerospace Programs
University of Alaska Anchorage Professional Piloting
University of Memphis Commercial Aviation
University of North Dakota Aerospace Programs

Flight Schools:

Aerosim Flight Academy
Flight Safety Academy
Pan Am International Flight Academy
Sierra Academy of Aeronautics
Spartan School of Aeronautics

Other Learn-to-Fly Links:

Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association Learn to Fly section
Airline Training Orientation Program - Fly a B-737 Simulator ! (Student and Private Pilots welcome)
Becoming an Aviation Pilot by Trade-A-Plane
Becoming a Pilot
FAA Information on becoming a pilot
     Airman Search - FAA's Pilot Registry
     FARs - Current list of all Federal Aviation Regulations
FedEx Flight Operations Careers
'Flight Training' magazine by the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association
Four Forces of Flight by Trade-A-Plane
Instrument Procedures Handbook Excellent, color online book [FREE] from the FAA
Learn to Fly.com Cessna Aircraft Company's Learn-to-Fly site
Learn to Fly Here.com Sporty's Pilot Shop's Learn-to-Fly site
Los Angeles Flight Training
Piper Aircraft's Learn to Fly program
P-51 fly-by audio  
(98 KB)

Updated August 13, 2015

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