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Frequently Asked Questions

Private Pilot 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!

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Take a Discovery Flight™. It’s the easiest, least expensive way to find out whether or not becoming a pilot is for you. This introductory flight will give you an opportunity to do a bit of aerial sightseeing, and even manipulate the controls – under the supervision of one of our experienced FAA Certified Flight Instructors, of course.

At the end of your flight, you’ll get your own logbook and be able to make your first entry, recording every minute you spent flying. Once you’ve felt the sensation of flying an airplane yourself, you’ll know whether becoming a pilot is for you.

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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!

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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. It is health, not age, which determines a person’s ability to fly.

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The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires pilots to pass a routine medical exam every two years (every three years for persons under 40 years old). 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.

The physical exam can be obtained anytime 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 or you can consult the AOPA’s list of Aviation Medical Examiners

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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.

Windy City Flyers’ Flight Training operates a full length, formal classroom-based Ground School that is designed to complement our full-curriculum Flight Training program. By the time you complete your training, you’ll be secure in the knowledge that you’re a safe and competent pilot.

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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).

Obviously, 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 65 and 75 hours. Although you may complete your training faster, initially budgeting for about 70 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 six month period to accomplish your goal is quite reasonable.

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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.

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You will have your choice between a Cessna Skyhawk or a Cirrus SR20 (costs vary).

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No test is required for a student pilot certificate. But before a private pilot license is issued, you must pass two tests. One is a written FAA examination, largely a practical exam on flying rules and regulations. You will also have to work out the details of a hypothetical flight for this exam. 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 exam 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.

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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.

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.

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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 over 20 years. To learn more please call us at 847-808-1188 and speak to one of our Aviation Services Directors.

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Commercial Pilot Training

The requirements to begin flight training for your Commercial Pilot Certificate are:

  1. You must be at least 18 years old
  2. Hold a current Third Class Medical
  3. Have a Private Pilot Certificate
  4. You must be able to read, speak, and understand English.
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The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires a minimum of a Third Class Medical for training. A Second Class Medical is required when exercising the privileges of a Commercial Pilot.

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No, however, carrying of passengers for hire on cross-crountry flights in excess of 50 NM miles or at night is prohibited

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A majority of your training will be performed in a “complex aircraft”, an aircraft that is equipped with a controllable pitch propeller and retractable landing. This can be accomplished in either a single-engine or multi-engine aircraft

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Similar to the Private Pilot Practical Exam, you must pass two exams prior to receiving you Commercial Pilot Certificate. The first is a written FAA examination, the second is a practical exam given by an FAA Designated Pilot Examiner. When training with Windy City Flyers, you will have practiced everything many times before and there will be no surprises –  you will be fully prepared!

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You will have access to a whole new world of Aviation. Not only will have a greater knowledge aviation in general your airmanship will also be vastly superior.

Once you’ve completed your training you will be qualified to work for

  • Commercial part 121 Air Carrier
  • Commercial part 135 Air Carrier
  • Corporate flight department
  • Conduct Nonstop Commercial Air Tours
  • Ferry Flights
  • Crop Dusting, Seeding, Spraying and Bird chasing
  • Banner towing
  • Firefighting
  • Powerline or pipeline patrol
  • Aerial photography or survey
  • Conducting intentional parachute operations
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