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Frequently Asked Questions – PPL

  • Do I need any special skills to begin training?
  • What is the first step?
  • Is learning to fly difficult?
  • What are the requirements to begin flight training?
  • What is a FAA Medical?
  • What kind of training is involved?
  • How long will it take to become a private pilot?
  • What will my first lesson be like?
  • What kind of aircraft will I fly in?
  • What kind of tests will I take?
  • Why should I learn to fly with Windy City Flyers?
  • What happens after I get my Private Pilot Certificate?

DO I NEED ANY SPECIAL SKILLS TO BEGIN TRAINING?

No! The most important element in successfully learning to fly is desire! You don’t need any special skills to get started. You’ll learn all that is required during the course of your training with Windy City Flyers!

WHAT IS THE FIRST STEP?

Take a Discovery Flight. It’s the easiest, least expensive way to find out whether or not becoming a pilot is for you. Click here for more information on a discovery flight.

IS LEARNING TO FLY DIFFICULT?

No! As with any other skill you master, flying is learned step by step. It’s a fascinating experience, but not particularly difficult. Practically anyone who is willing to invest some time and effort can learn to fly. Many thousands of people have done so – you can, too!

WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS TO BEGIN FLIGHT TRAINING?

There are three basic requirements for learning to fly powered airplanes in the United States:

  1. You must be at least 16 years old to fly “solo” in an airplane (you may begin training at any age).
  2. You must be able to read, speak, and understand English.
  3. You must be in good health.

You can apply for a student pilot certificate/medical if you are at least 16 years old. When you are 17, you can apply for a private pilot certificate. There is no maximum age limit.

WHAT IS AN FAA MEDICAL?

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires pilots to pass a routine medical exam. This simple physical examination ensures that pilots do not have medical problems that could interfere with their ability to fly safely. Allowances are made for many physical limitations. For example, glasses and contact lenses are perfectly acceptable. There are three classes of the medical exam based on your goals and aviation aspirations. Your flight instructor will be able to guide you in selecting the right class for you. If you can not pass the medical exam, you can still take regular flying lessons, you just will not be able to solo an aircraft.

The physical exam can be obtained from one of many FAA-designated physicians in your local area. If you’re planning to learn to fly, you may wish to complete the physical exam early in your flight training to assure that you are medically qualified (most people are). Windy City Flyers’ Flight Training can refer you to an FAA-designated physician near you.

WHAT KIND OF TRAINING IS INVOLVED?

Pilot training really has two aspects:

Ground training, logically, takes place on the ground. It involves learning about flight rules (regulations), flight planning, navigation, radio procedures, weather, and other important topics.

Flight training takes place in the airplane under the supervision of your flight instructor. That’s where you will learn the hands-on skills needed to pilot an airplane yourself.

HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE ME TO BECOME A PRIVATE PILOT?

The Federal Aviation Administration specifies minimum flight experience requirements for each grade of pilot certificate. To be eligible for a Private Pilot certificate, you must have logged at least 40 hours of flight time. However, in addition to the 40-hour minimum flight experience requirement, you must also be proficient at specific tasks (for example, takeoffs and landings). Your flight training, in large part, will be devoted to learning those tasks and then practicing them to the required level of proficiency. This includes time spent flying with an instructor aboard (“dual” time) and time spent flying alone (“solo” time). Training will include some night flying, some instrument flying (flying solely by reference to the airplane’s instruments), and some “cross-country” flying (that is, flight to and from other airports).

Everyone learns at a different pace. Most people require more than the FAA minimum of 40 hours to become proficient enough to earn a private pilot certificate. In fact, the national average (based on data from all flight schools in the U.S.A.) is between 70 and 90 flight hours. Although you may complete your training faster, initially budgeting for about 75 hours of flight time would be most practical.

You will maximize the efficiency of your training by flying on a regular basis. By doing so, you will retain more knowledge between lessons and thus progress faster. For most people, two to three activities per week (each activity lasting 2-3 hours) provides for a good learning rate. Depending upon the flight schedule you set with your instructor, a four to eight month period to accomplish your goal is quite reasonable.

WHAT WILL MY FIRST LESSON BE LIKE?

Your instructor will introduce you to the general aviation airplane you’ll learn to fly. You’ll be briefed on the instruments, controls, equipment in the plane, and what to watch for when you’re flying.

After this pre-flight briefing, you’ll both take off. Once aloft, working under the close supervision of the instructor, you’ll take control of the airplane. It will be unlike anything you have ever experienced before. It is an exhilarating feeling, one not easily described in words. When you return, you’ll debrief your flight by discussing how you performed and how to improve your performance. You’ll find the experience challenging and rewarding and you’ll be impatiently anticipating the next flight.

WHAT KIND OF AIRCRAFT WILL I FLY IN?

Your first lesson will be in either a Cessna Skyhawk or a Diamond DA-20.

WHAT KIND OF TESTS WILL I TAKE?

No test is required for a student pilot certificate. But before a private pilot certificate is issued, you must pass two tests. One is a written FAA examination, largely on flying rules and regulations. Windy City Flyers is an FAA designated written exam facility, you can take your private pilot written exam right here at the school.

In addition to your written exam, you will also have to work out the details of a hypothetical flight. But don’t worry: you will have done it all while planning the cross-country flights you made as part of your training program.

Following this is a practical examination of your flying ability. Not unlike a driving test, you will take an official examiner for a flight. The examiner, who has been specially designated by the FAA to give flight tests, will require you to demonstrate your ability to maneuver the airplane safely and confidently. But, as with the written test, you will have practiced everything many times before. There will be no surprises and you will be full prepared.

WHY SHOULD I LEARN TO FLY WITH WINDY CITY FLYERS?

Professional Flight Training Staff

Windy City Flyers’ Flight Training employs a full-time professional teaching staff. All instructors have complete credentials as FAA- Certificated Instructors. These highly experienced pilots come from richly diverse aviation backgrounds, but all have one thing in common: They are dedicated teachers. Our staff includes ex- airline pilots, corporate jet pilots, aerobatic pilots, and instructors who have served on the staffs of various university flight-training departments.

Structured Training Programs

Instructional programs at Windy City Flyers’ Flight Training are complete, structured, and thorough. All flight and ground instruction is conducted according to organized syllabi. Every lesson is structured to achieve a clearly defined goal and student progress is accurately tracked. No time is wasted and nothing is left out. Windy City Flyers’ Flight Training offers pilot training programs from Private Pilot all the way through to the Airline Transport Pilot level. You can earn single-engine, multi-engine, and instrument ratings here. We also have formal programs to help you earn certification as a Flight Instructor. We even have a structured program for those seeking acrobatic flight instruction!

Dedication to Safety

Safety is first and foremost at Windy City Flyers. In fact, three of the instructors from the Windy City Flyers’ staff are FAA- appointed Aviation Safety Counselors. Selected by the Federal Aviation Administration on the basis of their interest, qualifications, and knowledge, these individuals serve the local pilot community on a volunteer basis. They consult with pilots on safety-related matters, conduct free FAA Safety Seminars, and occasionally provide instruction to pilots with an FAA- identified need.

Meticulously Maintained Aircraft

All Windy City Flyers’ Flight Training aircraft undergo regular, detailed inspections and are rigorously maintained to FAA standards. We employ a full-time Director of Maintenance whose sole job is to make certain that our fleet is the safest and best in the sky. Nothing is overlooked.

WHAT HAPPENS AFTER I GET MY PRIVATE PILOT’S LICENSE?

You will never be quite the same person you were before. You will have access to a whole new world of personal freedom. You’ll think of travel in terms of hours, not miles. You’ll know what it means to make your own schedule, go your own way…far above the crowds, the congestion, the hassle, and the annoyances of ordinary transportation.

You’ll find a new sense of personal fulfillment in your ever-growing flying skills. You’ll push the old boundaries of your life forward and you’ll have the opportunity to plan, seek, and find new experiences that will enrich your life in countless ways. You’ll gain greater self-reliance and confidence.

Anyone can be taught to drive a car, use a typewriter or dial a phone. Flying is not just something else you learn to do. Once you learn to fly, you will become a pilot. Through your own initiative and effort, you’ll be a master of the 21ST century’s most distinctive and rewarding art – flying.

As a member of our flying club, you will belong to one of the largest aviation families in the Chicago area – Windy City Flyers – dedicated to serving it’s members’ aviation needs for almost 25 years. To learn more please call us at 847-808-1188 and speak to our Director of Client Servies who will be at your service to help guide you through every step of your training.

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